Getting to Crete
Getting to Crete Walk and Cycle in Crete
By land and sea
From London to the east coast of Italy is close to 1770 kilometres (1100 miles) by the shortest road route which incurs substantial motorway tolls. The easiest route to Greece by car from the rest of the EC is via Ancona in Italy with a two-day car ferry journey to Patras and thence by road or railway to Athens and Piraeus.
In the low season, all months except July and August, 1993 vehicle return fares from Ancona to Patras were £131 for cars up to 4.25 metres and £149 for longer cars. Passenger fares were £72 for the cheapest deck tickets and £88 for seats for the return journey. Bicycles travel free of charge.
In the high season, in July and August, vehicle fares from Ancona to Patras were £193 for cars up to 4.25 metres and £228 for longer cars. Passenger fares were £109 for the cheapest deck tickets and £126 for seats for the return journey
Car ferries run from Brindisi or Bari to Patras with a shorter 20 hour crossing time. Low season 1993 vehicle return fares from Bari to Patras were £63 for cars up to 4.25 metres and £69 for longer cars. Passenger fares were £38 for the cheapest deck tickets and £50 for seats for the return journey. High season 1993 vehicle return fares from Bari to Patras were £99 for cars up to 4.25 metres and £150 for longer cars. Passenger fares were £74 for the cheapest deck tickets and £90 for seats for the return journey.
Adriatica lines sail from Venice to Iraklion three or four times each month between April and December and Marlines sail from Ancona to Iraklion once a week between June and September. In the low season 1993 vehicle return fares from Ancona to Iraklion were £248 for cars up to 4.25 metres and £304 for longer cars. Passenger fares were £128 for the cheapest deck tickets and £144 for seats for the return journey. Bicycles travel free of charge.
In the high season, in July and August, vehicle fares from Ancona to Patras were £272 for cars up to 4.25 metres and £332 for longer cars. Passenger fares were £132 for the cheapest deck tickets and £148 for seats for the return journey.
The Greek ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa have seen a dramatic increase in traffic as a result of the strife in Bosnia Herzegovina. Igoumenitsa handled 250, 000 passengers in 1991, and one million in 1992. Both ports are now extremely congested and tickets must be booked months in advance.
Car ferries from Piraeus, the port for Athens, run several times a day to Iraklion and Hania taking 12 hours for the journey. There is also a new daily service from Piraeus to Rethimnon. Sea transport in Greece is usually inexpensive and efficient but you must get your ticket for the correct boat.
In 1993 car fares for the one way crossing from Piraeus to Iraklion were between 9850 drm. (£30) and 12870 drm. (£39). Passenger fares were 3944 drm. (£12) tourist class and 2923 drm. (£9) on deck. There were also taxes of 340 drm. (£1.10) and 8% VAT to pay. On the return trip there is an extra 5% tax to pay. Children under two years travel free and children under ten years pay half fare.
It is essential to book ferry tickets before leaving home, particularly in the summer months.
If you want a car in Crete it is much cheaper to fly there with a package holiday which includes the car hire.
Iraklion international airport is the main entry point to the island with charter flights from most European cities in the summer months.
Flight-only seats from Gatwick or Manchester to Iraklion were available through cut price outlets advertised in the newspapers and on Teletext for £115 + Greek airport tax of £14.95 for all but the peak holiday weekends in 1993. Some flights now continue through the winter months. There is no need to book accommodation in advance.
Scheduled flights to Iraklion from European cities with Olympic Airways go via Athens. The change of flights in Athens involves a short transfer from the West terminal for international flights to the East terminal for domestic flights. These can be booked at any travel agent.
Iraklion has a new terminal in an advanced stage of construction but it is still in an advanced state of chaos. Although partly in use, expect problems. The old building has difficulty coping with peak period crowds. The hall for arrivals now in the new building has two baggage carousels but your bags may arrive on either or both. The baggage system can be very efficient if it is not overloaded out of season.
Baggage trolleys cost 250 drm. from the lost and found office but you don't have to carry your bags very far if you can manage without.
There is room for the passengers of only one modern jet in the rather airless hall. If a second jet arrives before the first has cleared then the arrival area can be packed out. Seating is very limited and the toilets here have insufficient facilities for the number of people using them and there is no baby changing area. A good tip is to use the toilets by the entrance door into the building before you go through passport control rather than waiting until you have reached the baggage hall.
There is a Bank of Greece where money can be changed but only in normal banking hours, between 08.00 and 14.00 hours. The exchange rates here are as good as you will get anywhere on the island.
The tourist information desk is open 08.00 to 21.00 hours and the staff speak good English. Food and other refreshments are not available in the arrivals area at the moment.