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Air

Most travellers arrive in Crete by air, often with a change in Athens. Travellers from North America need to connect via a European gateway city such as Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt and sometimes again in Athens. To reach Crete by air from other Greek islands also requires a change in Athens, except for some flights operated by Crete-based airline Sky Express.

Airports & Airlines

Iraklio’s Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport is Crete’s busiest airport, although Hania is convenient for travellers heading to western Crete. Sitia only receives a handful of domestic and summertime international charter flights.

Between May and October, European low-cost carriers and charter airlines like easyJet (to Iraklio) and Ryanair (to Hania) operate direct flights to Crete, mostly from the UK, Poland, Sweden and Italy. Ryanair also offers domestic flights to Hania from Athens and Thessaloniki.

Domestic Carriers

Aegean Airlines Greece's largest carrier, has year-round flights between Athens and Iraklio, Hania and Sitia. From Iraklio it also flies to several other European destinations, including Paris, Berlin and Moscow (some seasonally). In 2013, Aegean merged with Olympic Air, but flights operate under both brands.

Sky Express This Iraklio-based airline serves 29 destinations, mostly within Greece, including Athens, Corfu, Mytilini (Lesvos), Rhodes, Kos, Samos, Chios, Karpathos and Volos. From Sitia it flies to 10 destinations, including Alexandroupolis, Rhodes and Preveza.

Astra Airlines This tiny Thessaloniki-based airline has flights from Thessaloniki to Iraklio and Hania and seasonal service to Dresden, Munich and Vienna.

Departure Tax

Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.

Land

Bus

Hardcore overlanders with plenty of time can cobble together a long-distance bus trip to Athens, which usually requires at least one change in an eastern European city, such as Bratislava, Budapest or Belgrade. The journey takes about two days and is more expensive than flying. A helpful website is www.rome2rio.com.

Car & Motorcycle

From most European countries, travelling to Crete by car takes several days and thus only makes sense for longer stays. The fastest way is to hop on a ferry from Italy. A high-speed ferry trip from Venice to Patra can be completed in 33 hours, from Bari in 18 hours. From Patra to Athens is a further 200km drive south to Piraeus (near Athens), where you can catch another ferry to Iraklio, Sitia or Hania.

It's possible to drive to Greece via Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but the savings are not huge and are far outweighed by the distance involved and the necessity of crossing five borders.

Train

Overland enthusiasts can reach Athens on a fascinating rail route through the Balkan peninsula, passing through Croatia, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A sample itinerary from London would see you catching the Eurostar to Paris and then an overnight sleeper to Bologna in Italy. From there, a coastal train takes you to Bari where you can pick up an overnight ferry to Patra. From there, it's a 4½-hour bus ride or train trip to Athens where you can hop on a ferry to Crete in Piraeus.

The excellent website www.seat61.com has comprehensive details.

Sea

Crete is well served by ferry with at least one daily departure from Piraeus (near Athens) to Iraklio and Hania year-round and several per day in summer. There are also ports in Sita in the east and Kissamos in the west, which have slow-ferry routes. Services are considerably curtailed from November to April. Timetables change from season to season, and ferries are subject to delays and cancellations at short notice due to bad weather, strikes or mechanical problems.

Ferry Routes to & from Crete

Schedules and fares change all the time, so the following is merely a guideline of what to expect during the peak summer months. Fares listed are for the cheapest option (usually a deck chair). For current routes and timetables, consult the ferry company’s website or go to www.gtp.gr, www.openseas.gr, www.ferries.gr and www.greekferries.gr.

Hania-Piraeus

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

38

Duration (hours)

9

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Halki

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

22

Duration (hours)

12

Frequency

2 weekly

Iraklio-Ios

Company

Hellenic Seaways

Fare (from €)

70

Duration (hours)

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Ios

Company

Sea Jets

Fare (from €)

70

Duration (hours)

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Karpathos

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

19

Duration (hours)

8

Frequency

2 weekly

Iraklio-Kasos

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

20

Duration (hours)

6

Frequency

2 weekly

Iraklio-Milos

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

23

Duration (hours)

11

Frequency

weekly

Iraklio-Mykonos

Company

Hellenic Seaways

Fare (from €)

84.50

Duration (hours)

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Mykonos

Company

Sea Jets

Fare (from €)

84.30

Duration (hours)

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Paros

Company

Hellenic Seaways

Fare (from €)

74.50

Duration (hours)

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Naxos

Company

Sea Jets

Fare (from €)

77.80

Duration (hours)

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Piraeus

Company

Minoan

Fare (from €)

46

Duration (hours)

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Piraeus

Company

Anek (Bluestar)

Fare (from €)

38

Duration (hours)

9

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Rhodes

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

29

Duration (hours)

14½

Frequency

2 weekly

Iraklio-Santorini (Thira)

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

28

Duration (hours)

Frequency

2 weekly

Iraklio-Santorini (Thira)

Company

Sea Jets

Fare (from €)

68.80

Duration (hours)

2

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Santorini (Thira)

Company

Hellenic Seaways

Fare (from €)

69

Duration (hours)

Frequency

daily

Iraklio-Sitia

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

16

Duration (hours)

3

Frequency

2 weekly

Kissamos-Antikythira

Company

Lane

Fare (from €)

11

Duration (hours)

Frequency

2 weekly

Kissamos-Gythion

Company

Lane

Fare (from €)

27

Duration (hours)

8

Frequency

weekly

Kissamos-Kythira

Company

Lane

Fare (from €)

18

Duration (hours)

5

Frequency

4 weekly

Kissamos-Piraeus

Company

Lane

Fare (from €)

28

Duration (hours)

13

Frequency

2 weekly

Sitia-Iraklio

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

16

Duration (hours)

3

Frequency

2 weekly

Sitia-Karpathos

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

19

Duration (hours)

Frequency

2 weekly

Sitia-Kassos

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

12

Duration (hours)

Frequency

2 weekly

Sitia-Milos

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

26

Duration (hours)

15

Frequency

weekly

Sitia-Piraeus

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

44

Duration (hours)

18

Frequency

weekly

Sitia-Rhodes

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

28

Duration (hours)

11¼

Frequency

2 weekly

Sitia-Santorini (Thira)

Company

Anek

Fare (from €)

28

Duration (hours)

8

Frequency

weekly

Ferry Companies

Anek Lines (www.anek.gr) To/from Piraeus; one weekly ferry to the Cyclades operated by affiliated Bluestar Ferries company.

Hellenic Seaways (www.hellenicseaways.gr) High-speed services to the Cyclades.

Lane Sea Lines (www.lane-kithira.gr) Long-haul ferries to/from Piraeus from Kissamos.

Minoan Lines (www.minoan.gr) High-speed luxury ferries to/from Piraeus.

Sea Jets (www.seajets.gr) High-speed catamarans to/from Cyclades.

Tickets

  • During high season, or if you’re bringing a car, book well in advance, especially for overnight and high-speed catamaran services.
  • Tickets are best purchased online either from the ferry company directly or through a booking engine such as www.greekferries.gr and www.ferries.gr.
  • If a service is cancelled, you can transfer your ticket to the next available service with that company.
  • Prices are determined by the distance and the class, which ranges from deck class to double-berth outside cabins.
  • Children, students and seniors usually qualify for discounts ranging from 10% to 50%. Children under the age of five often travel free.

Yacht

Although yachting is a popular way to explore the Greek islands, Crete is a long way from other islands and does not have a huge yachting industry. The sailing season lasts from April until October; however, between July and September the meltemi (dry northerly) winds can ground you regularly.