Car Rental Heraklion
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Why rent a car in Heraklion?
Heraklion is a great place for renting a car. The capital and largest city of Crete offers everything from fascinating historic sites to great beaches, fun nightlife, and extraordinary local cuisine. The city also serves as a great base for exploring the rest of the island, especially its central parts and the northeast.
Top ways to enter Heraklion
- Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis Airport. Named after a Greek writer who hailed from the island, Heraklion Airport is the second busiest in Greece. In 2018, for the first time in its history it served more than eight million passengers. The most popular destinations from Heraklion are London, Paris, and Moscow, but the airport is served by more than 50 different airlines and offers flights to most European countries. Heraklion Airport is just 5 km (3.1 mi) east of the city center.
- Chania Airport. Crete’s other international airport, serving its second city, is about 150 km (93 mi) west of Heraklion. The two hour drive takes you along the island’s northern coast, offering some amazing views along the way.
- Santorini Airport. Serving the beautiful island of the same name, the small and cozy Santorini Airport is especially busy during the summer months. It is connected to Crete by a frequent ferry service.
- By sea. Heraklion boasts one of the busiest ports in Greece and, indeed, the Mediterranean. There are ferry services to a lot of nearby Greek islands as well as to the mainland and the capital, Athens. If you’re arriving in Heraklion by ferry, you can conveniently pick up your rental car at Heraklion Port.
Useful city facts
- With a typical Mediterranean climate, Heraklion has enjoyable weather throughout the year. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 30 °C (86 °F) which means that is rarely scorching hot in the city. Precipitation is nearly non-existent from June to August. Winters are mild and pleasant, but generally more humid.
- With a population of about 173,000, Heraklion is the fifth largest city in Greece and the largest that’s not on the Greek mainland. Nearly every third inhabitant of Crete lives in the city or its near proximity.
- There have been permanent human settlements near the present-day location of Heraklion for around 9000 years. In the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC, the area was home to the Minoan Civilization, considered by most historians to be the first human civilization in Europe.
Top destinations and activities
- Heraklion Archaeological Museum. A museum of archeology might not be the first thing on your mind when visiting a Mediterranean island, but this one will get you excited even if history is not your thing. With many fine examples of Minoan, Hellenic, and Roman art objects, weapons, and other artifacts like the Snake Goddess or the Bull-Leaping Fresco, this museum tells the fascinating and ancient story of the island. Come here first, then drive to the nearby Palace of Knossos where the capital of the Minoan civilization once stood. Its ruins are said to have once made up the mythical labyrinth that guarded the Minotaur.
- Amoudara. Located just west of the city center, this blue flag beach that stretches for about 3 km (1.6 mi) is the most famous coastal area of Heraklion. Spend a fine and leisurely day in the golden sands, have a delicious meal at the beach taverna, or, if you’re up for something more exciting, go surfing or kitesurfing for which there are many opportunities. Should you ever grow tired of this hip and busy area, just jump in your rental car and drive up or down the coast and you’ll find many other, more private beaches near Heraklion.
- Lychnostatis Open-Air Museum. While many other of the Heraklion museums deal with the more epic and belligerent chapters of the island’s history, in Lychnostatis you can experience what the rural, bucolic life of Crete was (and still is). See the wine and olive presses at work, take a look inside the folk art gallery, or even try your hand at a weaving workshop.
Traffic and parking tips
- There are no highways on Crete (nor on any other Greek islands).
- Unless specifically indicated otherwise, the speed limits are 90 km/h (55.9 mph) on roads outside populated areas and 50 km/h (31 mph) in populated and built-up areas.
- Many gas stations might be closed during the weekends and public holidays.
- It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.02% for novice drivers. Exceeding these limits can lead to steep fines and a licence ban. Exceeding the limit of 0.08% is a criminal offence and can lead to up to two years of imprisonment.
- The insurance and car documentation needs to be in the car whenever you’re driving.
- If you’re the driver, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
- The general emergency number, like elsewhere in the EU, is 112. The police number is 100, the ambulance number is 166, and the fire brigade number is 199.
There are no toll roads in Crete. There are a number of toll roads, tunnels, and bridges on the mainland of Greece. Many travelers find them very hard to navigate and some choose to avoid using the toll roads altogether because of the very complex toll road system that is in place. Different toll roads are administered by different private companies and so there is not a single, nationwide (or even region-wide) toll road system in place.
For most toll roads, the payment can be either made with cash at a toll gate, by credit card, or with coins at an automatic toll machine. For some roads, an electronic transponder might be used to pay for using the toll road. Some rental cars might be equipped with such an electronic transponder. However, because of the aforementioned different toll road systems that are in place, this payment method might work for some toll roads but not for others. Determine your route in advance and ask your car rental provider about the best way to pay for the toll roads that you plan to use.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Rethymno. This cute little town about 80 km (50 mi) from Heraklion has some of the best architectural examples of the times when the island was ruled by Venetians. In addition to history (and a good number of interesting museums), it also has beautiful stony beaches and a lighthouse.
- Psychro. The village of Psychro that’s about 1 hour’s drive inland from Heraklion might be a sleepy and idyllic place, but its main attraction, the Psychro Cave or Dikteon Cave, has often been mentioned as the birthplace of Zeus, the king of the ancient Greek gods. Even if you don’t believe this amazing legend, the cave is worth visiting thanks to its otherworldly stalagmite structures. Do keep in mind that although the Latishi plateau where the cave is located is close to the coast, the elevation rises quite rapidly as you drive inland and the cave is at a height of more than 1,000 meters (3,280 ft).
- Agios Nikolaos. A calm and relaxed town about an hour’s drive east of Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos is in many ways a serene alternative to the busyness of the big city. From here, you can also go on a boat trip to Spinalonga Island that at different times in history has been a Venetian fortress and a leper colony.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental in Heraklion is the Citroen C3, although travelers also love the Fiat Panda, and the Citroen C1. The most popular rental car types are economy, mini, and compact. The larger and more central streets of Heraklion are wide and in good shape, but streets in some neighborhoods, as well as in many nearby towns and villages, can be quite narrow, so getting a smaller rental car can be a good idea.
Note: While you can bring a vehicle on some ferries, be sure to ask your car rental provider, in advance, if they permit it and whether you can later drop off the car in another location or if you need to return to Crete. Alternatively, you could always travel to another destination and rent another car there.
- Chania. Mixing the Greek, Italian, and Turkish influences of its past, Crete’s second largest city is a charming and atmospheric place to visit. Visit Chania’s Municipal Agora, its main historic market and its beautiful ancient churches. Also, don’t miss out on Samariá National Park and its many impressive gorges that’s just south of the city.
- Santorini. With its white Cycladic buildings, the black pebble beach of Kamari, scuba diving opportunities, and many traditional wineries and restaurants, Santorini is perhaps even more idyllic than all other small Greek islands. There is a frequent ferry service between Heraklion in Santorini.
- Athens. The birthplace of modern democracy, home to many important Hellenic sites, and also a modern, vibrant metropolis, the Greek capital is as diverse and interesting as you’d expect it to be. There are frequent ferry service between Heraklion and Athens as well as daily flights.
How can I save money on my rental car?
These are the tricks that can help you land a good car rental deal in Heraklion:
- Compare rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Heraklion is the cheapest in March when renting a car is about 62% cheaper than the yearly average and an entire 80% cheaper than renting a car in August.
Top 20 Cities near Heraklion
Athens Car Rentals from $11.43 per day309.1 km / 192.0 miles away
Corfu Car Rentals from $9.33 per day663.7 km / 412.4 miles away
Rhodes Car Rentals from $7.45 per day287.4 km / 178.6 miles away
Thessaloniki Car Rentals from $9.97 per day607.7 km / 377.6 miles away
Chania Car Rentals from $11.82 per day95.8 km / 59.5 miles away
Mykonos Car Rentals from $10.19 per day233.5 km / 145.1 miles away
Zakynthos Car Rentals from $5.89 per day468.1 km / 290.8 miles away
Kefalonia Car Rentals from $6.66 per day519.0 km / 322.5 miles away
Santorini Car Rentals from $22.59 per day120.8 km / 75.1 miles away
Preveza Car Rentals from $6.61 per day558.6 km / 347.1 miles away
Kos Car Rentals from $10.97 per day235.9 km / 146.6 miles away
Naxos Car Rentals from $19.05 per day194.3 km / 120.7 miles away
Samos Car Rentals from $10.31 per day303.7 km / 188.7 miles away
Skiathos Car Rentals from $15.65 per day451.7 km / 280.7 miles away
Kalamata Car Rentals from $9.00 per day342.1 km / 212.6 miles away
Paros Car Rentals from $15.08 per day185.8 km / 115.5 miles away
Lesvos Car Rentals from $22.08 per day432.0 km / 268.4 miles away
Chios Car Rentals from $15.01 per day344.7 km / 214.2 miles away
Kavala Car Rentals from $16.31 per day621.9 km / 386.4 miles away
Karpathos Car Rentals from $15.73 per day178.4 km / 110.9 miles away
Top 20 Locations near Heraklion
Heraklion Airport Car Rentals from $8.57 per day
Heraklion, Downtown Car Rentals from $8.57 per day
Heraklion Port Car Rentals from $9.56 per day
Sitia Public Airport Car Rentals from $32.26 per day84.7 km / 52.6 miles away
Chania Airport Car Rentals from $11.82 per day95.8 km / 59.5 miles away
Santorini Airport Car Rentals from $22.59 per day120.8 km / 75.1 miles away
Milos Airport Car Rentals from $19.65 per day163.5 km / 101.6 miles away
Karpathos Airport Car Rentals from $15.73 per day178.4 km / 110.9 miles away
Paros Airport Car Rentals from $15.08 per day185.8 km / 115.5 miles away
Naxos Airport Car Rentals from $19.05 per day194.3 km / 120.7 miles away
Syros Airport Car Rentals from $24.12 per day232.5 km / 144.5 miles away
Mykonos Airport Car Rentals from $10.19 per day233.5 km / 145.1 miles away
Kos Airport Car Rentals from $10.97 per day235.9 km / 146.6 miles away
Rhodes Airport Car Rentals from $7.45 per day287.4 km / 178.6 miles away
Samos Airport Car Rentals from $10.31 per day303.7 km / 188.7 miles away
Athens Airport Car Rentals from $11.43 per day309.1 km / 192.0 miles away
Kalamata Airport Car Rentals from $9.00 per day342.1 km / 212.6 miles away
Chios Airport Car Rentals from $15.01 per day344.7 km / 214.2 miles away
Skyros Island National Airport Car Rentals from $24.54 per day407.9 km / 253.4 miles away
Lesvos, Airport Mytilene (Lesbos) Car Rentals from $22.08 per day432.0 km / 268.4 miles away
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