Nowadays most visitors seem to come to Crete directly
by plane, especially by charter. There are however a number of other
Charter flights from Europe are quite numerous from
some time in April until the end of October. There are a lot more
flights to Heraklion than to Chania, making them often cheaper (and
not as heavily booked) as flights to Chania.
Bear in mind that charter flights are not always cheaper than scheduled flights
(especially with kids who rarely get a price reduction) and that they give
you far less flexibility in choosing your travel dates. They give you of course
the convenience of a direct flight with no stopover in Athens.
Almost all scheduled international flights transit
through Athens where you must take a scheduled domestic flight
to Chania or Heraklion. These are quite frequent (around
6 a day to Chania and more to Heraklion) and run by other companies
beside the national carrier Olympic Airlines.
Transiting through Athens
Athens is a very large congested city with a high
level of air pollution in summer. It also offers some superb museums
and renowned archaeological sites and is worth a stopover, at least
once. You can continue your journey from Athens to Crete by plane
or ferryboat from Piraeus. Athens airport offers good public transport connections to the city center as well as to the port of Piraeus.
Ferryboat from Piraeus
There is a regular ferryboat service from the port
of Piraeus to Heraklion and Chania. Ships depart every evening
around 8.00 or 8.30 (times vary a little depending on the season)
and arrive very early morning (5.00 or 6.00 am). The ships are
quite modern, cheaper than flying and can be quite romantic (if
they are not too crowded). Avoid weekends and especially the beginning
and end of holidays! If you want a cabin it is often safer to book
The main company is Anek
lines a company created in the 60s by Cretans who wanted better and safer
service to and from the mainland of Greece. and runs daily between Piraeus,
Chania, Rethymnon and Heraklion. Another company, Minoan
Lines sails every day to Heraklion. Rethymnon Lines run ferries to Rethymnon
in the summer.
A word of caution: In winter (but at other times
too) the sea is often stormy and it is not unusual for the ferries
to be delayed, sometimes for days, until the storm passes. If you
must return by a specific date go by air - planes will fly in worse
weather and are only grounded when winds reach gale forces
Ferryboat from Italy
Several shipping companies connect Italy (Venice, Trieste,
Ancona, Bari, Brindisi) with the mainland of Greece (Patras and Igoumenitsa).
The fastest service to Patras is provided by SuperFast
Ferries. It is slightly more expensive than other companies.
It is preferable to book your passage in advance in the summer season.
Ferryboat from the Peloponnese and the Cyclades
ANEN Lines run a service connecting the South
Peloponnese (Gythion, Neapolis or Kalamata) to Kastelli (45 km
west of Chania). Timetables are rather erratic (and very difficult to find) but it is an option
if you want to spend time on the Peloponnese or simply avoid Athens.
From April to October you can also get boats from
Santorini (and other Cycladic islands) to Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos.
Overland to Greece
Traveling to Greece overland has virtually stopped
since the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. The alternative
through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria takes so long that it is
not worth thinking about unless you want to visit these countries.
The only option if you want to come by car or bike is by ferry
Arrival on Crete
The airport of Chania is situated on the peninsula
of Akrotiri, 13 km from the town centre. There is only very limited bus service
from the airport to the city. Taxis to Chania cost around Euro
30 (2012 prices including a small airport surcharge). Check-in time is about
45 min. for domestic flights and 90 min. for charters.
The airport of Heraklion is situated about 4 km from
the city centre. There is now a regular bus service to the city
centre as well as taxis (insist on the driver turning the meter
If you arrive in Heraklion and wish to proceed immediately to Chania or Rethymnon
you must go to the KTEL bus
stop in the city. Heraklion has several terminals so make sure that you tell
the taxi driver where you are planning to take the bus to. Buses leave every
hour during the day and the trip to Chania takes about 2½ hours. There
are no buses after 8.30 pm and your only alternative is a taxi, costing about
Euro 90. It seems expensive but it is a 140 km journey. Try to share with
Souda (the harbour of Chania)
Souda harbour is situated 7 km east of Chania. There
is a regular city bus service. If you arrive very early by ferry
from Piraeus you will need to take a taxi or go have a coffee in
one of the cafes situated just outside the harbour enclosure to
wait for the day to start.
If you arrive by ferry in Heraklion or Rethymnon you will arrive in the centre