For people who are going to Crete for the first time, we have prepared a set of basic information useful during their stay on the island. The following topics are relevant from our point of view and we have described them based on our own experience. Of course, this article does not cover all topics, and it is likely that this toolkit will grow over time.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, non-standard procedures are in place when crossing the Greek border. The Greek side is of the opinion that human health is a priority and the following rules are not negotiable.
Requirements when crossing the Greek border
Any citizen of the EU, US, UK and several other countries who has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or presents a negative PCR test result no earlier than 72 hours prior to entry can enter Greece. It is worth bearing in mind that 14 days must pass from the second dose of vaccination for the vaccination to be considered valid. If there is less than 14 days between vaccination and entry to Greece, PCR testing will be mandatory.
Only children under the age of 5 have been exempted from this obligation this year. Unfortunately, this change in regulations means that children over five years of age who are not currently vaccinated against Covid-19, must have a PCR test.
Both the vaccination certificate and the PCR test result must be in English. Greece only honors vaccinations made with preparations approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
If you do not have your vaccination certificate or test result with you, you may simply not enter Greece, or may be placed under compulsory quarantine. Of course, it may happen that someone, despite the procedures, sneaks across the border without the required documents, but such action is always taken at your own risk and responsibility.
The Greek side is also working on the rules of admitting convalescents, but at the moment there are no specific guidelines. Perhaps this will be tantamount to the need to present a positive PCR test result several months earlier, which will confirm the previous coronavirus infection.
A small percentage of tourists with a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test result will still be subjected to random testing when crossing the border. If you are instructed to do such tests, they are mandatory. If, as a result of a random test, you get a positive result indicating a coronavirus infection, unfortunately, you will have to quarantine at least 10 days and repeat the tests. Quarantine takes place only in designated hotels and is carried out at the expense of the Greek state.
As in the previous year, it is mandatory to complete a special Passenger Location Form (PLF) before travel. It must be sent at least 24 hours prior to entry. The form is available here: travel.gov.gr
In case you plan to cross the Greek border by land, almost the same rules apply as above. The difference appears when the tourist shows a positive result of a random test. In this case, you even have to take into account a ban on entry to Greece.
At present, only the road crossings in Promachonas and Nymfea are operational.
Travel between regions of Greece
The ban on irrelevant travel between regions of Greece was introduced in November 2020. In principle, only professional or medical reasons were exempt from it. Fortunately, from May 14, 2021, this ban is lifted, so the possibility of traveling between individual regions of the country is restored.
However, journeys between the regions of mainland Greece and the Greek islands are an exception. In this case, you will always be required to present a negative PCR test result, an antigen test or a special self-test available only to Greek citizens. The certificate of vaccination will also be a "pass", confirming that at least 14 days have passed after receiving the second dose. This will be a necessary requirement when traveling by plane or ship between the Greek mainland and the islands.
Do the above rules also apply to tourists? Yes, if you organize your own vacation and plan to combine a trip around mainland Greece with a trip to the Greek island.
This year, Greek politicians announced that tourists will be subject to the same restrictions as Greek citizens. Therefore, you must take into account the obligation to wear the mask indoors and outdoors; respecting social distance, as well as restrictions on the number of people when shopping or visiting such facilities as, for example, museums or places of worship. Only on beaches and swimming pools, masks will not be required.
From May 3, restaurants, taverns and cafes are operational again, but at the moment you can only occupy places outside the premises. These places are not allowed to play music throughout May. The sanitary restrictions introduced are: the arrangement of tables in accordance with the guidelines, mandatory hand disinfectants at each table, the maximum number of six guests at the table. The restaurant staff and customers waiting for a table must wear masks. The masks can only be removed after you have taken your seats at the table.
At the moment, entertainment venues, discos, etc. are closed. At the moment there are no cinemas yet, there are no performances or concerts. They will be released gradually according to the assumed plan.
From May 14, there will be a reduced "curfew" from 0:30 to 5:00.
Sanitary restrictions also apply to shops, public transport, zoos and nature reserves. In this matter, it is worth just reading the information provided at the entrance and listening to the operating instructions.
Remember that due to a pandemic, regulations may change. Therefore, we encourage you to read regularly the news published on our website or on the official websites of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The official language is Greek. However, in tourist destinations and cities you can communicate in English, German, Russian and French. Sometimes in the tavern you can find a waiter who can say a few words in Polish. :) But don't count on dialogue in your native language.
Before traveling, however, it is worth knowing at least a few words and polite phrases in Greek. Local people really appreciate it! Especially if you plan to visit mountain regions and villages away from tourist areas, the basic resource of Greek words and phrases will be useful for sure, because in such places you may have problems communicating even in basic English.
The mild Mediterranean climate is one of the factors that make Crete attractive. In summer, in high season, the weather is stable, rainfall is rare. The average temperature during the day varies between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius, although the maximum values reached may be around 40 degrees. The heat is easier to bear when the wind blows, which luckily happens often. The southern part of Crete near Sfakia is generally windier than the rest of the island, so it may happen that you will have windstorms while relaxing in these areas, while on the northern coast the wind will be much weaker at this time. Cretan spring and autumn are seasons with lower temperatures, so if you plan trips to the mountains and trails, these months will be more suitable for this type of vacation. When driving in spring, however, you also need to get warmer clothes, because the evenings are usually cold, and the weather can be capricious and can be rainy. Autumn, on the other hand, is warmer than spring, and the temperature of the sea warmed up after summer lasts longer in this period.
The general rule is that eastern Crete is warmer than west, south more than north. Regardless of the location in the mountains, it will be much cooler, unless you happen to meet extremely high temperatures.
In summer, the sun shines very intensely every day and regardless of the type of vacation you choose, its power should not be underestimated. When going to the beach or the trail, you need to take a hat, sunscreen and the right amount of drink.
If your vacation is active and spent on the Cretan routes, drinks will be the most important issue. On the trail, dehydration can happen at the least expected moment and if you do not stock up on an adequate supply of water, juice, etc., the story may end badly. Every year there are accidents on the trails when local services have to intervene and bring in tourists who have suffered a sunstroke. This can happen even on the seemingly straight and crowded road leading to Balos. It is worth remembering because, unfortunately, stroke and dehydration also take a deadly toll.
If, on the other hand, you overdo it with the sun and burn yourself, the best available remedy for burning skin is… Greek yogurt. It really works!
The current time zone in Crete is UTC (Universal Time Clock) +2 hours in winter and UTC + 3 hours in summer. In relation to the time in Poland, it is a shift of one hour. It is worth taking this fact into account when considering arrival and departure times, which are usually given in local time. So remember that when we come to Crete, we adjust the watches by setting the hour ahead.
Crete has a wide range of mobile telephony, so you will be able to use your mobile phone practically in most parts of the island without any obstacles. However, in the mountainous regions and gorges, there is generally no range and it is worth bearing in mind when choosing these areas of Crete. It is worth remembering that since 2017 in Poland the rates for international calls within the European Union have been made equal to the rates for local calls. So it is a significant reduction in connection costs for tourists going on vacation.
If you are planning a longer stay on the island, it will be better to buy a Greek SIM card. Such a card gives a larger data package for permanent access to the Internet. They can be purchased at the showrooms of mobile operators, a passport or ID card is required to purchase. You can ask about the parameters and costs directly at the operators' outlets. On our vacation, this type of internet access proved to be perfect and was much cheaper than buying data packages from a Polish operator.
The dialing code to Greece is +30 after dialing, which you need to dial the correct phone number.
The wireless internet network is systematically expanded. At the moment, most hotels and guesthouses offer access to wi-fi in the building (also in rooms), although there are still facilities without this facility. However, the quality of these connections varies. The same goes for tavernas and restaurants. It is worth remembering that in general you should ask at the reception or from the waiter (in the case of a tavern) for the password to access the network.
Since January 2002, the euro is the official currency of Greece. It replaced the former drahma, which was completely withdrawn from the market. The exchange rate for € 1 was 370 Greek drachmas. When going to Crete, it is worth taking banknotes with small denominations. With banknotes worth 200 or 500 euros, you can have problems with accepting them and exchanging them for smaller denominations. In the Greeks, they arouse considerable suspicion and fear of counterfeits.
However, if you have the misfortune of having such a large denomination, we will reveal to you a very interesting way to liquidate it. One of the local Cretans advised us to use such a large denomination to pay at a gas station. Drive the car, ask for full refueling, and then press the "unfortunate" banknote as payment. The station employee will have to deal with spending the rest somehow, because we won't give fuel to him anymore;)
In the case of larger retail outlets, there should be no problems with paying with credit or debit cards. In the case of smaller outlets, it is always worth making sure that the store has a terminal that supports the type of card we have.
In larger towns and popular tourist resorts you can also find exchange offices where you can easily exchange your zloty or other foreign currencies.
Greece is a member state of the European Union and has ratified the Schengen Agreement, so citizens traveling within the EU can enter here on the basis of an identity card. We strongly encourage you to do it, because the ID card is a much more convenient and handy document than a passport. In addition, it is also worth knowing that the latter document has been quite valued among thieves for a long time.
To get access to medical care, you need to obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, it should be remembered that this card entitles you to receive the necessary and free medical assistance in public institutions in the event of emergencies and illnesses. However, having an EHIC does not mean that we will not incur any costs of the necessary treatment.
What is the medical assistance and treatment costs in Greece now?
The current rules for providing free medical assistance are slightly different than they were some time ago. Therefore, we encourage you to read these terms on the websites of the National Health Fund or the European Commission . Below we present the most important information.
If necessary, you need to start by looking for a suitable facility that has a contract with EOPYY (ΕΟΠΥΥ), i.e. the National System of Health Benefits . Only in such a place will we receive free medical assistance. As a rule, such contracts are held by public health practitioners (the so-called PEDY departments - the national primary health care network - and ESY - laboratory services ). The links are provided below.
In the case of doctors employed in private clinics, you need to look for those who have signed contracts with EOPYY. However, in this case there is a limitation: only the first 200 patients per month will be admitted free of charge. When the limit is reached, the patient has to pay for an appointment. Therefore, if you decide to visit a private clinic, you need to find out whether such a facility provides free medical services to EHIC holders and whether there is still a limit of places available.
Visits to other doctors who have not signed a contract with EOPYY are always payable.
As far as dental care is concerned, it is currently as follows: in urgent cases, after presenting the EHIC card, free visits are available only in public health care facilities at PEDY and ESY wards. Visits to private dentists are always paid.
Emergency treatment in a public / state hospital is free, but a doctor's referral is usually required. Here, too, it is necessary to present the EHIC. You may also need to show proof of identity. Before departure, it is worth making a few photocopies of the EHIC card and ID card, because in cases of emergency it will be necessary to leave a copy of the card, and not all facilities have photocopying equipment.
If you choose a private hospital that has a contract with EOPYY ( National System of Health Benefits ), then 30% of the cost of the medical procedure or 10% for each day of stay in the hospital is borne by the patient. e.g. for a higher standard of the room.
In clinics that do not have a contract with EOPYY at all, hospital treatment is fully paid.
Laboratory tests at PEDY and ESY facilities are free of charge. In private clinics that have a contract with EOPYY, the patient covers 15% of the costs.
If the doctor issues you a prescription, it can be dispensed in pharmacies that accept the EHIC card (search below). There is an additional non-returnable fee of € 1 when redeeming an e-prescription. The deductible is generally 25% of the cost of prescription drugs.
In emergency and serious situations, you can use the ambulance available at 166 . The patient will be transported to the public hospital on duty. This service is free of charge, as long as it is provided by the National Medical Rescue Center EKAV. The provision of assistance by air rescue is similar.
It is worth remembering that in many tourist resorts doctors only see them privately and do not honor the EHIC. After returning from vacation, you can apply for reimbursement , but in this case, remember that the National Health Fund will reimburse the costs, but according to the Polish price list applicable in settlements between the Fund and Polish medical institutions.
It should also be borne in mind that medical assistance provided as a result of accidents while practicing sports may be subject to higher charges. Just in case, it is worth buying additional insurance before leaving, which will cover the costs of such care and possible transport to the country, because the costs of the latter are covered entirely by the patient.
Search engine for all medical facilities that have signed a contract with EOPYY:
List of state pharmacies operating under the public EOPYY system: https://www.eopyy.gov.gr/PharmacyList . The above pages are in Greek ONLY.
All medical facilities, including private and private pharmacies contracted with EOPYY: https://www.healthatlas.gov.gr The website is also available in English. It is possible to filter only outlets that have a contract with EOPYY.
Search engines on both sites operate according to nomos, i.e. regions of Greece. Therefore, you should not look for medical points in specific cities (eg Hersonissos) only in one of the four regions of Crete: Heraklion, Chania, Rethymno and Lassithi.
Of course, there are no contraindications for photographing landscapes, but if you want to take a photo of a black robin or a Cretan in traditional clothes, it is better to get their consent. We did not experience an unpleasant situation, but we know that there are Greek bloods on donkeys, who do not like the fact that they become a destination in a tourist lens. If someone does not want photos and refuses you, it is better to respect it.
It is forbidden to photograph military objects, which are always marked with special information boards and appropriate pictograms. Of course, nowadays, if someone insists, he will take a photo, but it is worth being careful because the Greeks are sensitive to "strangers" and "spies" ;-)
In museums, you can generally film and photograph, but without using a flash. It may happen that some of the exhibited items are completely prohibited from immortalizing. This is the case of artifacts whose photos have not yet been published by archaeologists, or those that are currently being described. Compliance with such a prohibition is then supervised by vigilant guards :)
It can be different in monasteries, usually photography is not allowed in the temple itself, sometimes also in the entire area.
Although everyone likes to dress in an informal and loose manner on vacation, it is worth knowing that there are some rules in Crete. They mainly concern visiting sacred buildings, where strict dress guidelines are defined. Typically a long skirt for ladies and long trousers for men (sometimes knee-length shorts are acceptable). You will probably also be asked to cover your bare shoulders. If you forget about the appropriate clothes while visiting the monastery, in the case of more famous places you will be able to borrow polyester scarves and skirts. Nevertheless, it may also happen that the monks will not let you enter the monastery.
These rules seem to be quite obvious, but during our travels we have seen many tourists who came to visit monasteries in bathing suits (!).
If the hotel where you will be located in a typical tourist town, eg Stalida or Hersonissos, no one will be offended by walking in the streets in beach clothes or in bathing shorts. This is not the case in these places… but in larger towns or villages it is not appropriate.
Evening dress depends on the place where you rest. If it is a better hotel or SPA, men will probably need long trousers, for women it cannot be beachwear. A holiday spent in a less formal place, of course, allows for more freedom in choosing the outfit.
The electrical network supplies 230V alternating current. In general, plugs conforming to European standards can be used, although in small guesthouses you can come across slightly more exotic sockets that do not always accept traditional round plugs. However, as we wrote above - these are usually rare cases and you will certainly not have problems with typical flat plugs, such as are used in chargers and other similar devices.
Being in Crete, you may have to deal with planned power cuts, of course with unplanned ones as well. These breaks mean that there will be no electricity in the entire area for several minutes or even several hours. Some of the larger hotels and taverns have their own emergency generators and the local shopkeepers are also not surprised by such situations. In cases of failure, when the cash registers do not work stoically, using special forms, they start to write out bills for your purchases. Of course, as long as you have the right amount of traditional money, because payment by card will not be possible in such a situation.
While tap water is safe for consumption, bottled water is recommended for drinking. If your hotel room is equipped with a kitchenette, you can easily use tap water to prepare hot dishes and brew tea.
Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places in accordance with Law 3868/10. It is worth knowing that the Greeks are a nation of smokers, so a cigarette smoke can accompany you in many places, including those that are theoretically prohibited.
If you come to Crete for the first time, the plates like the one below may amaze you: D. So it's time to face the truth: toilet paper should be thrown into special buckets that can be found in almost every toilet. Throwing it in the usual place, i.e. in the toilet, may clog the drain and cause a flood: D hence such a polite request.
They happen quite often because it is a seismically active region of Europe. Fortunately, however, their strength is usually so small that they are practically not felt. Sometimes there are slightly larger shocks, but such shocks are relatively rare.
This is one of the most common questions sent to our website from the google search engine. Looking at the map, it is easy to see that Crete is not on popular smuggling routes. For this reason, it is generally not struggling with the influx of large numbers of refugees. It is rare (compared to other islands) that boats with refugees land on its shores. And if this happens, the authorities of Crete quickly transfer these people to centers located on the mainland. So far, in our opinion, this topic should not raise anyone's concerns. You will meet workers from Albania or Bulgaria etc. here more often than refugees from Syria or other African countries.
In 2017, some of the refugees currently residing in Greece were deployed in Crete. They were mainly Syrian families with children. However, this relocation did not lead to the creation of other camps typically intended for refugees. Relocated families found their new homes in apartments located in Cretan cities. This way of helping quickly allows them to become part of local communities.
1. Public offices: Monday - Friday 07:30 - 15:00
2. Post offices: Monday to Friday 7:30 - 14:30. In large cities, the working time may be longer, but you have to take into account that there may be a scheduled break in the afternoon.
3. Banks: Monday - Thursday 8:00 am - 2:30 pm and Friday 8:00 am - 1:30 pm. The banks of banks in tourist towns and airports are usually open longer.
4. Shops are open on Monday and Wednesday: 09:00 - 15:00, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9:00 - 14:00 and 17:30 - 21:00, Saturday: 09:00 - 15:00. In tourist areas, in high season, shops are open even late in the evening. Remember, however, that unlike in Poland, in Greece, Sunday is not treated as an ordinary trading day. Even at the peak of the tourist season, it may happen that regular stores (especially chain stores such as Lidl or Carrefour) will be closed.
5. Pharmacies are usually open between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm and in the afternoon between 5:30 pm and 9:00 pm on selected days. There are also emergency pharmacies open 24 hours and at weekends.
ul. 1821 39, 712 01 Heraklion - Crete
Tel .: (+30) 2810 221786 Tel. emergency: (+30) 2810 325242
E-mail: [email protected]
1/4 of Greek beaches marked with the Blue Flag are located in Crete. This year, this distinction has been won by 119 Cretan beaches. You can find more information on this topic here . Some of these beaches also have facilities for the disabled. You can find our list of the most famous and most interesting beaches here: Top 20 beaches.
When going to Crete, it is worth remembering that only some of the beaches are sandy. There is a lot of gravel, rocky or mixed. When going to the water in such places, special shoes may be useful.
During the season, every popular or sensibly located beach is equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas. Of course, there is no obligation to buy such a set, but if you plan to spend a few hours on the beach, it is rather inevitable. The sand around noon heats up so much that it is difficult to walk on it, so lying on it for many hours is probably out of the question. Depending on the location and the beach infrastructure, two sun loungers with an umbrella can be rented from about 5-6 € to 9 € (e.g. on Vai beach). It is a daily fee. At the same time, it does not completely matter that, for example, you want to spend only 2-3 hours on the beach. In some places, fees are slightly lower, e.g. from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. However, this is not a rule. If you already take the sunbeds, the Greek who charges the fee will find you and approach you.
A small note about very popular places such as Balos, i.e. those where crowds of people go every day. It may happen that when you leave your deckchairs and go swimming, someone who has just come "obligingly" will appropriate them. This is not a rule, but we warn you that such situations also happen.
In Crete, there are resorts entirely dedicated to the needs of nudists. Quite often you can also find beaches only for "naked people", although usually the beach is simply divided into a textile part and a neighboring nudist part. Most often, at the junction of both parts of the beach, both sunbathe and bathe with each other. So… who likes what.
Visiting the island on your own is the best way to get to know it as much as possible, so we always strongly encourage you to plan and organize your own escapades. The most comfortable way to travel will, of course, be a car, but you have to remember that the costs of renting a car and refueling are considerable. The Cretan roads are an additional obstacle, especially for inexperienced drivers. Driving in the mountainous part of the island is much more difficult than in the Polish lowlands. However, if you feel confident behind the wheel, it is worth renting a car, get a good map and a guide and go ahead!
If you do not want or can not rent a car, it does not mean that you have to say goodbye to your plans to explore Crete on your own. It is worth knowing that the KTEL company operates here, with comfortable coaches you can reach many places. You just have to remember to carefully check the bus departure tables and plan your trip in advance. Buses run rarely to remote places (1-2 times a day), and sometimes it is necessary to make a change. You can read more about KTEL in this article . Currently, wi-fi is working in most coaches.
Due to the pandemic, one must take into account changes in the functioning of public transport. The well-known and popular KTEL significantly reduced the number of connections. If you planned to use this way of moving around the island during this vacation, be sure to check the new timetables on a regular basis.
Along a large part of the coast of Crete, there are also ferries, thanks to which you can get to many nice places (especially in the south of Crete). These connections allow you to plan many interesting trips. The cruise times are available on the Internet, so you can check them before leaving Poland. It is also worth knowing that the number of cruises and hourly tables are different in the case of summer months and different in winter. It is therefore necessary to wait with planning until the summer "timetables" appear.
Along part of the southern coast of Crete, the ANENDYK ferries run regularly, thanks to which you can get to many several places on the island. These connections allow you to plan many interesting trips. The number of sailings and hourly tables are different for the summer months than for the winter months, so detailed planning can only be started after the current schedules are published.
ANENDYK offers cruises in two main directions: Paleochora - Sougia - Agia Roumeli and Chora Sfakion - Loutro - Agia Roumeli. In addition, on certain days from these ports it is possible to sail to the island of Gavdos, located south of Crete. In the spring and autumn months, it must also be taken into account that in the absence of suitable weather, the operation of the ferries may be temporarily suspended.
Connections serving the return of tourists from the Samaria Gorge are synchronized with the departures of KTEL buses. In each of the towns (Sougia, Paleochora and Chora Sfakion), the driver who follows the course leaves only after the ferry arrives.
This year, in April, the afternoon cruise from Agia Roumeli to Chora Sfakion (via Loutro) will depart at 5:00 PM, while from May the departure time will be postponed to 5:30 PM. The same timetable will apply on the Agia Roumeli - Sougia - Paleochora route.
People who would like to get from Chora Sfakion to Loutro can also count on a fairly dense network of connections. During this holiday season, as many as seven connections will be available every day. However, some of them will only take on board pedestrians. The great advantage of this connection is the much lower price compared to private cruises costing up to € 20 per person. The cost of a single ANENDYK ferry ticket on this route is just € 6.
From June 2018, a new shipowner ΝΕΝ Κρήτης was inaugurated. Ultimately, the voyages operated by the Apollon K. are to connect all ports, starting from Chora Sfakion and ending with Paleochora. Currently, however, the connections carried out by NEN Κρήτης will include cruises on the following route: Chora Sfakion - Loutro - Agia Roumeli - Sougia. The prices offered by the new shipowner are so far lower than in Anendyk.
Gas stations are usually open 7 days a week from 07:00 to 21:00, although some stations are closed on Sundays. Common types of fuel are available. It is forbidden to carry fuel in canisters, so make sure you have a full tank of fuel before driving to remote mountain areas where petrol stations are rare.
It is also worth knowing that there is no self-service at Cretan stations, so after arriving at the distributor, an employee will immediately approach the distributor, to whom you only give the amount for which you want to buy fuel.
Gasoline is much more expensive than in Poland. In 2019, the price per liter of unleaded goes up to: 1.8 €.
There are not many surprises in this regard, as most of the international road traffic regulations apply here. Traffic is right-handed, we wear seat belts, and if we are driving a scooter, quad bike or motorcycle, we must wear a helmet. Children must travel in car seats. Until the age of 13, children are not allowed to ride in the front seats. Calls on mobile phones are allowed only by hands-free kits.
Driving the New National Road, breaking the speed limit may result in a fine, as for several years the police have started a fight with road pirates. Inspections are quite frequent and it is worth knowing that tourists generally do not have a reduced tariff when it comes to breaking the regulations. Radars have also been operating since 2014, and the collection of fines has increased significantly. So if you already get a ticket for an offense, it is better to pay it without undue delay.
During the tourist season, the police like to raid tourist resorts and mercilessly issue fines for all kinds of offenses.
During the day, dipped headlights should not be turned on, we only turn them on after dark and in tunnels. The maximum allowable blood alcohol concentration is slightly more than in Poland, i.e. 0.5 per mille.
The speed limit on the national road is 90 km / h, on the national road: 70-90 km / h, in the built-up area: 50 km / h.
You can find more information on how to navigate the Cretan roads in a separate article .
When planning your stay in Crete, you can choose from offers of various types of guesthouses, private accommodation and a very rich hotel base. The vast majority of hotels are located in towns along the more popular northern coast of Crete. Depending on the cost of a day, hotels offer a very diverse range and quality of services. There is no shortage of cheap, simple offers in two-star hotels, as well as among much more expensive large five-star "self-sufficient complexes" SPA, which also offer many additional attractions at the price of a hotel day. The offer is currently so diverse that virtually everyone will be able to choose a hotel that will meet their requirements - of course, taking into account the wealth of the wallet.
Those who plan an individual stay in Crete should search and book accommodation in advance. In a large part of popular cities, finding free rooms in such months as July or August can be a very difficult task. This relationship also applies to the south coast, where, for example, accommodation in Loutro must be booked in January at the latest.
When organizing an individual trip, it is worth remembering that offers in private guesthouses, those with good opinions, disappear quickly, so planning and reservations should be started a few months before the holidays. Of course, you can also book accommodation later, but as the high season approaches the market, the offers are expensive or weaker. Search engines such as booking.com will be very helpful in browsing through accommodation offers, they are simple and friendly tools with an extensive system of customer ratings and reviews.
Finally, a word about the standard of hotels in Crete. As in Greece, a slightly different system of awarding hotel stars operates here. It is worth getting acquainted with this system to avoid surprises on site, because the standard of local hotels rated three or four stars will be noticeably lower than Polish hotels with a similar rating. Hotel rating system
Currently, departures to Crete and Greece are available in the offer of a large number of travel agencies. Many of them start selling trips for specific holiday seasons usually about a year in advance as part of the so-called First Minute offer. All Inclusive is the dominant form of recreation offered by tour operators. If you intend to take advantage of the form of organized leisure, we encourage you to use the search engine provided by lata.pl, where in one place you can find holiday trip offers offered by the majority of large and respected Polish travel agencies.
Since 2018, the so-called residence fees. The new tax is mandatory and the rates charged depend on the standard of the hotel or private apartment. According to the new regulations, the rates of the tourist tax for hotels are as follows:
According to the latest sources, in the case of guesthouses there is one rate, which is 0.5 € per day. The new tax is charged per room (not per person). This tax is usually paid at the time of check-in, although in the case of private guesthouses booked through Booking.com, it is already included in the rental price. More information about this tax can be found in our news Residential tax in Greece .
Cretan and Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest and tastiest. The quality and freshness of local products is a recipe for tasty but generally simple dishes. However, in order to try real local cuisine, it is not enough to go anywhere.
In tourist places, you will most often find pubs, where, of course, there are also Cretan dishes, but most often they do not taste as good as they should. Moreover, the choice of local dishes is usually limited to the most famous and popular. You will eat moussaka or souvlaki here, but not horta or octopus in wine.
To eat well, look for a tavern away from the tourist hustle and bustle. Of course, local residents know good places, but they will rather keep this knowledge for themselves ;-)
However, if you want to look for such a place in large cities, in our opinion, you need to move away from the port and main tourist attractions. Delving into less known streets you will find good taverns (ταβέρνα), which are often quite inconspicuous and have a slightly unleavened appearance (e.g. non-steam chairs ;-)). It is in such places that it is usually tastier and cheaper ... You can also see where the locals are sitting, but you should not be influenced by the choice of young Greeks, as they often prefer modern local fast food.
There are much better tavernas in small non-touristic towns and villages, and the food served is much more delicious. They are eaten by locals, so the quality of the food has to be just good. In complete "holes" it may happen that there will be no menu and the choice will be limited to 2-3 dishes that the cook has prepared on a given day.
If you want to eat fish, it is worth looking for a special type of tavern, the so-called psarotaverns Ψαροταβέρνα, i.e. fish taverns. However, you should get ready for a larger expense, as fresh fish is expensive.
Cretans like to hang out in the so-called ouzeri, where the local ouzo drink is served along with small snacks or meze. The second favorite place of especially older men is kafeneío (καφενείο), which can be compared to cafes where traditional Greek coffee ellinikó kafé (ελληνικό καφέ) is served with a glass of water. Cretans love to spend long hours here, sipping coffee slowly alternately with water. It is in such venues that hot political, sports and life discussions take place. Kαφενείο are therefore an important part of social life. We did not notice women in such places, because these premises are intended for men.
Tips of 5-10% of the bill are welcome in taverns, restaurants or taxis. If you are satisfied with the quality of the meal and the quality of service, think about leaving a few small coins corresponding to this value.
Crete is full of museums and archaeological sites, most of which you need to buy an admission ticket. There are still a few places where admission is free, but each year their number decreases. Until recently, the cost of sightseeing was low, unfortunately, from April 1, 2016, the prices of admission tickets to the most famous places increased significantly. The largest price increases were recorded in key places such as the Palace of Knossos, the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, or the admission ticket to the island of lepers, i.e. Spinalonga. The list of the most important changes can be found in this news:
Current price list of admission tickets to museums and excavations
In 2018, a pilot e-ticket sales program was launched in Greece. For now, in Crete, you can buy tickets to Knossos and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion in this way, as well as a combined ticket to both places. This is a convenient option and we encourage you to try it out, because if you have an e-ticket, you don't have to queue anymore. We hope that over time, the possibility of purchasing electronic tickets will cover all museums and excavations in Crete and Greece. We write about how and where to buy an e-ticket in this article: how to buy an e-ticket
Most of the inhabitants of Crete are Orthodox. It is a very religious community, so on the island you will find a lot of large churches and countless small churches and chapels that can be found on beaches, in gorges, caves or on mountain peaks. Sometimes they are built under the surrounding rocks, to which they are "stuck". In some such places, Cretans gather once a year on the occasion of a local holiday. On a daily basis, local residents take care of them. Most often, you can enter them, because the role of a lock can be played by e.g. a bent nail.
Large monasteries can also be visited, which, however, is associated with the payment of an appropriate fee and the need to observe the rules of modest dress. Sometimes you can take photos in the monasteries and sometimes not. The rules are set by the monks. It is also worth knowing that each monastery has fixed admission times for visitors. If you plan to visit such a place, be sure to check the opening hours first.
Crete is a fairly large island, so interesting and beautiful places are scattered almost all over its surface. If you are going there for the first time, it is difficult to choose and see all the highlights. Their availability is also limited by the location of your hotel and the time and financial resources you want to spend on sightseeing. Renting a car for several days means that when choosing your destinations, you must select them very carefully. In order not to get lost in the maze of possibilities, we have selected 12 different most important and most visited places located on the entire island. Of course, this must-see does not mean that you have to see all these places during one trip. Top 12 is just the basis, inspiration and facilitation to plan your vacation.
We suggest choosing places that are located a short distance from the hotel. Additional suggestions for less popular and less known places can be found on our map and in the index of interesting places . It is constantly updated by us, we create it based on our experience.
In addition to the beautiful beaches and ancient monuments, the island has many gorges and mountain trails that attract people who prefer active holidays and hiking. Many of the trails are relatively easy, others have varying degrees of difficulty, and some are very difficult and dangerous. If you do not have the appropriate skills and equipment preparation, do not go to the latter places.
We encourage you to prepare well, even for seemingly easy passages, when you go out in the field. It can happen, even in the case of highly frequented places, that what was supposed to be a simple and pleasant trip ends up completely different.
Good trekking shoes, water, hat, provisions, sunscreen are essential. If the trail is not used much (or not at all) you will need a good map of the area (Avenza, Anavasi), GPS with a map, eg Locus Map, charged power bank. Your mobile phone may not have coverage, you need to remember about it and leave the hotel / guesthouse with information about where you are going and when you plan to return when going on the trail. Cretan mountains and other trails are demanding and can be dangerous, and the summer sun is merciless. You just have to remember about it. You can read more about this in this article.
Crete (Greek: Κρήτη ) is the largest Greek island and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the strong ties that connect Crete with mainland Greece, the island has retained its separate language dialect and local cultural traditions to this day. The distinctiveness is also evidenced by the fact that most of the inhabitants, when asked about their origin, will first say that they are Cretans, and only then will define themselves as Greeks.
As a result of the administrative reform carried out in 1987, Crete was separated as one of the 13 regions of Greece. Another administrative reform carried out in 2011 reduced the number of regions to 7, however, the status of Crete as a separate region was maintained. The largest city of this island is Heraklion, which also functions as the capital. Crete is divided into four nomos (prefectures): Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lasithi (with its capital at Agios Nikolaos). Stavros Arnaoutakis (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) has been the governor of this region since January 2011.
The most important cities:
When in 2008 we went to Crete for the first time, we did not think that this island would enter our life so much, changing it even from the kitchen. Since then, along its roads, we have driven a total of over 6.5 thousand kilometers, we went several dozen kilometers on footpaths and visited several places using local public transport. Over the two months that we spent together in this cradle of civilization, we traveled this island along the length and breadth of sightseeing not only the most famous and described places in guidebooks, but also those mentioned by only a few sources.
Below are photos of the most amazing and the most beautiful places you can see in Crete. Of course, this gallery does not exhaust the list of all the interesting corners that are worth visiting during the holidays on this island.