Crete, Greece Holiday
Crete, the largest island of Greece, is a great place for a family vacation. Many people speak English, accommodation is available as a hotel, apartment or villa at better prices than in much of Europe. Car rental is so affordable and convenient that it makes sense to book a car for the whole duration of your stay (e.g. delivered and picked up directly at the airport for your flight).
Central and Western regions of Crete are the best to travel to. There are historic sites, superb beaches, beautiful landscapes and awesome gorges. Eastern Crete has less to offer and the tourist facilities are also sparser. Food is great, and the grilled Souvlaki is delicious and omnipresent.
Road maps are can be bought at tourist shops. Compare for the level of detail you require.
Crete Overview Map
Get your accommodation fixed in advance. You have significant choices to search and book on the web and a good starting point is Interkriti. Once you have identified several possible places to stay, it's best to send all the contacts an email specifying your requirements and stay-duration and ask for a quote. Responses are quick and good and it's well possible that you'll get a price below that indicated on the website. An air-conditioner might be a good idea if you're in Crete when it's hot (August).
Apartments provide more bang for the buck, are roomier than hotels and can have a separate bedroom which is a good idea if you travel with kids. They generally come equipped with a functional kitchen, so cooking yourself is an option. You may or may not have to pay an advance when booking.
I haven't tried villas, but they're available and perhaps a good option if you're a large group.
Is a very good idea in Crete. They're cheap and great to get around, to the beach, for shopping, or to do tours of the island. They'll throw in the baby seat if you need one and drop/fetch the car at the airport. An air-conditioner is a good idea if you're there when it's hot (August). Payment is standard by credit card.
With a car you can travel quickly and conveniently. Roads are good and the Cretans are defensive drivers. Our two-week trip brought us by air to Heraklion airport, where we claimed our car. Via Rethymnos we drove to Stavros where we had booked an apartment for one week. Based in Stavros, we visited Chania, the beaches around Stavros and took extended tours east and southward to the start of the Sameria Gorge, to Falasarna beach and by boat to Balos Island. For the second week we had booked a different apartment in Plakias on the south coast for the second week. The south has a very different landscape and is well worth the contrast. The beaches are wonderful and the inland trips, e.g. to Matala, interesting.
Stavros, near Hania: Great, clean, quiet apartments, family run - Paradisio Apartmentsl
Plakias: At the time we were there, Ifigenia Apartments had careless ownership. In 2010 it has changed hands and the message I got from the current owner sounds very promising, so you might want to check it out: "I took over the Ifigenia Apartments this year and so I am on the way to restart the business. It is very clean now (I am from swiss origin...). And I relaunched the tavern as a vegetarian tavern with Greek-Cretan and international cuisine, most of it from organic products, and still with very reasonable prices. Almost all of the guests I had until now, did come back to eat, or/and want to come back to the apartments because of the friendly athmosphere, the good food, etc. I know English as well as French, German and a little Italian, so I can give ideas and advice for activities and excursions to almost all of my guests."
Heraklion: No-Nonsense car-rentals Car Rental Crete
Matala: Villa, Hotel, Apartment, Rental Car Xenophon (in German)
Crete: Various Apartments and Infos Petros (German and English)
Do you have any tips to share? Please send me the details.