Road Trip Ideas in Crete

Road Trip Ideas in Crete you might wanna consider!

Getting on the road in Crete can be a very rewarding experience, driving surrounded by an ever-changing majestic landscape is one of the perks of taking a road trip in Crete. In the section below you will find some fantastic road trip ideas to have a great time when visiting Crete!

From Heraklion to Matala

Matala beach and beach umbrellas
                                                                                                                                                      Matala Beach.

Drive 70 kilometers from Rethymno towards Matala on the southern side of Crete, and prepare for a route full of history and archaeological monuments. Although the ride is full of historical sites, expect to explore natural wonders such as the Labyrinth Cave or Nymphs Waterfall and monasteries like those of St. George Gorgolaini or Panagia Kaliviani.

Matala Caves
                                                                                                                                                 Matala Caves.

Above all, make sure to stop over at the picturesque mountain village of Zaros, where you can also spend the night. If you do, that’s a handy opportunity to explore the nearby lake and gorge early in the morning. And when you reach the end of your route at Matala, remember to head to Matala beach and cool down in its calm waters. If you still feel like discovering and seeing new things, go to the north of the beach, where you will find a selection of beautiful caves carved out back in the Neolithic Age.

From Chania to Rethymnon

places to visit in Crete by car

                                                                                                                Georgioupolis, on the way from Chania to Rethymnon. 

One of the most famous road trips you can take in Crete is no other than from Chania to Rethymnon. Although you can do the same route on a bus for around €7, nothing beats the fun and freedom of driving your own car. Let alone that you want to be able to visit the attractions along the way. Think of beaches like Episkopi, fishing villages such as Kalives and Georgioupoli, and picturesque churches like that of Agios Fanourios near Metohi. And all that in less than 70 kilometers! If you want to spend a night somewhere between Chania and Rethymno, consider staying near lake Kourna. There is nothing like waking up and walking around this small yet lovely enclave of water in the shadow of Mount Asfendou and its forest.

From Rethymnon to Plakias

Kourtaliotiko gorge in Crete
                                                                                           Kourtaliotiko Gorge is one of the best places to visit in Crete by car.
If you are in Rethymno, a must-route you have to take goes through Preveli in the south and then Plakias in the west. Although there is a fast road from Rethymno to Plakias, you want to take the longer, more scenic path through the mountains around Preveli. That way, you will have the chance to explore the breathtaking local scenery and visit Kourtaliotiko Gorge! For many, this gorge is as beautiful, if not more, as the more popular Samaria Gorge in the west.

places to visit in Crete by car
                                                                                                                             Boat from Preveli to Plakias.
And once you have admired Preveli’s lush landscape and mountains, head toward its beach, which is also the endpoint of the Kourtaliotiko gorge. Relax and take in the exotic scenery all around. This beach is the crossroad between the ocean’s blue, the forest’s green, and the brown of the mountains. In other words? A nature’s canvas like no other! Finally, your end stop Plakias does not fall far behind in natural beauty. You will have the Libyan sea in your footsteps and the tall Cretan mountains on your back. And in the middle of it all, Plakias settlement, with its beachfront restaurants and cafes, will be your playground for a holiday experience you will never forget.

From Agios Nikolaos to Vai Beach

Mochlos beach and village, Crete
                                                                                                         Mochlos, on the way from Agios to Vai.

If you want to go a bit off the beaten path, consider driving from Agios Nikolaos to Vai Beach in the eastern corner of Crete. It is about a 90-kilometer route that follows the northern coastline of Crete and travels you through ever-changing scenery. Expect to stop by the spectacular Richtis gorge, the seaside settlement of Mochlos, the archaeological site of Gourna, and tens of beaches along the way. Because there are so many things to see, it might be good to spend a night at Sitia and explore this picturesque little town and its delicious cuisine.  Then, prepare to drive uphill and stop by Toplou Monastery before you descend again towards Vai Beach. There awaits the highlight of your trip! Imagine a tropical-like beach with palm trees reaching the golden sand and the turquoise waters. In the end, you will wonder why you did not visit that part of Crete before!

From Sitia to Ierapetra

Ancient olive tree
                                                                                                             Monumental olive tree in Kavousi.

Again in the more secluded eastern part of Crete, a road trip from Sitia to Ierapetra can offer memories that will last a lifetime. The attractions in the area in between are so many that the biggest dilemma you’ll have is which specific route you shall take. If you follow the northern coastline and take the inland road, you will be driving through scenic routes and in between tall, imposing mountains. Apart from the must-visit to the spectacular Richtis Gorge, include in your itinerary stops in the traditional mountain villages of Exo Mouliana and Kavousi. If you instead take the southern route from Sitia to Ierapetra, you will be visiting beautiful coastal beaches and locals seaside settlements. Think of beaches like Diaskari or Makrigialos and fishing villages such as Makry Gialos, not to mention the amazing Mylonas Gorge and Waterfall. No matter which route you take, you will not regret the decision. And at the end of your road trip, you will be in the most southerly town in Europe, Ierapetra, famous for its endless sunlight throughout the year!

From Ierapetra to Matala

Places to visit in Crete by Car - Asterousia Mountains
                                                                                                                       Asterousia Mountains, south Heraklion.
If you want to explore a somewhat forgotten part of Crete, a road trip from Ierapetra to Matala will show you a different side of Crete. Although you will be driving along the southern coastline of Crete, more than half of the route is through mountainous terrain. The first 60 kilometers are flat and pass through the seaside settlement of Myrtos and the region of Viannos. Here, you will find most of the sandy beaches of this road trip. So, remember to take advantage of them before entering the rocky southern part of Archanes-Asterousia municipality. Although you can skip all the difficult driving by taking the highway in the north, the fun and the memories pass through the south. In other words, if you decide to take the challenging yet scenic route, you will come across little traditional villages such as Kaloi Limenes, secleded pebble beaches like Trypiti, and gorges such as Koumos canyon. This road trip is the one with the most surprises and one that can set you apart from your holiday itinerary. The reason? You’ll soon want to extend your stay in this quiet yet spectacular part of Crete!

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