Cretan Days Have Twenty Five Hours- Greek Holiday Part Two

This is the post in which we’re emulating the (former) Top Gear cast and pretending to give useful and practical advice on a variety of subjects, while still actually pursuing our personal agenda of silliness and what not. So here it goes, touristy review of (the north coast of) Crete, the logistical edition.

How to get there. Sunday’s post had plenty of airport input, so yes, flying is probably option A to be considered. There are two main airports on the island, in Heraklion and Chania, and there are plenty of charter flights to both from pretty much everywhere in Europe. Since we’re Budapest based, Wizz also flies direct from the airport formerly known as Ferihegy to Heraklion in high season, on Sundays. In retrospect, we could say that flying charter to Chania could have been a better option, as Heraklion is frankly a bit of a letdown. I would hazard saying it’s as ugly as its airport, but there are actually one or two arguments in it’s favour, which we’ll touch upon later.

In case you feel particularly adventurous, you can take a Minoan lines ferry from the port of Piraeus to Heraklion- the trip lasts an entire night and can be a tad pricey if you don’t go for roughing it on deck for 50 euros. In case you want to bring along your car, you’ll need 80 more euros for a small one, which might or might not pay off in the long run, depending on how long you stay on the island. If you have time to potter about for a month or so (which is probably the minimum needed to see the significant majority of the island’s attractions) , then it definitely makes sense to ferry in your car if you have one.

How to get around. Two basic things: it’s a darn big island and no matter what you choose, there will be at least a bit of chaos involved. Renting a car is probably the best option if you don’t want to binge on local spirits and feel like going off the beaten track, but as already mentioned,  the general outlook of traffic is a bit on the wild side.  There are car rental points in pretty much every touristy area, and prices are mostly similar, so you shouldn’t run into much trouble in the process.

Long distance buses are also a fairly good option, once you get the hang of certain idiosyncrasies of local travel. If for no good reason you’d like to go from one end of the island to another, the ride would last around four hours, but otherwise most connections from one biggish town to another are between one and two and a half hours and will probably involve at least one stop where something will apparently go catastrophically wrong, there will be much bickering in Greek and some extra people (there are always extra people) will be ushered to another mysterious bus arriving from Zeus knows where.

As per the schedule of Heraklion Bus Station A, taking long distance buses also leads to the expansion of the time space continuum, as there’s a bus to Malia at 25:00. Hellenic time travel, because why not. And if this wouldn’t be enough, I am still totally tickled pink by the practicality of naming the stations A and B- since most streets and squares have totally unfathomable and unpronounceable names of national heroes and the likes, this one is clearly another kindhearted Greek concession to us weak minded foreign travelers.

Where to stay. Well I’ll just be totally useless at this bit, and go for the whatever rocks your boat solution. There’s really something for everyone on the island, from backpacker’s hostels to five star all inclusive dungeons for those who come to Crete to stay by a hotel pool and overeat souvlaki. Due to laziness, we opted for a travel agency package which planted us in Ammoudara next to Heraklion (quite naturally there’s another Ammoudara next to Agios Nikolaos as well), which is probably great if you want to have a fairly decent (albeit often windy) beach right at your doorstep but can get a tad boring in the long run. In retrospect, I would probably opt for a mid range hotel in Rethymno, which has a brilliant beach right next to the old Venetian harbour and great connections to the Eastern side of the island.

I must confess that the main reason why we chose something close to Heraklion was the airport transfer hassle, which cost us an arm and a leg on Corfu, and involved a hygienically challenged cab driver blasting Orthodox liturgies from the car radio. As it often happens, the situation on Crete is slightly different: bus number 6 goes from the airport straight to both long distance bus stations in Heraklion, from where you can catch a ride to about anywhere on the island within one hour. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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