Car rental in Heraklion
Rent a car in Heraklion

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Heraklion is the main city on the Greek island of Crete and many visitors' first point of arrival. Rent a car in Heraklion and discover a huge degree of flexibility over what you do next. Base yourself in the city and explore the museums and nightlife, or strike out along the coast, enjoying the sleepy fishing villages and mountainous scenery for which Crete is so well known. The island's diverse landscape and history has something for every visitor.

It's your choice: Where to go in Heraklion?

Heraklion is an ancient city. Anyone who's interested in life in Ancient Greece will want to make visiting the Palace of Knossos a priority. This site dates back to the Bronze Age, and is often named as Europe's oldest city. Visit the fascinating archaeological museum to see items found at the site throughout the ages, then head out into the old city to see the frescoes and architecture. It's worth taking a guided tour to get the most from a Knossos visit. Back in town, stroll around the sights of the Old Town such as the Cathedral of St Minas or Koules Cathedral. If you're still interested in learning more about Cretan history, there is an interesting Natural History and Archaeological museum in the centre of town too.

What to do in Crete?

One of the main advantages of renting a car in Heraklion is that you have the option of exploring further afield too. Take a drive east through the mountains to Elounda, where boat trips leave for the little island of Spinalonga. A former leper colony, the now deserted island is small enough to walk around in an afternoon. It's the sort of place where time appears to have stood still. Don't miss the little chapel and great coastal views from the path above the town.
Drive in the other direction for Chania, one of Crete's smartest beach resorts with beautiful sandy beaches and all the restaurants, bars and water parks which you'd expect from a busy visitor area.
One of the quietest beaches on Crete is at Kastelli, just west of Chania and easily accessible when you rent a car in Heraklion. On the way back to Heraklion, stop off at Rethymno to watch the sun set at the famous port and lighthouse.

Important info about Heraklion

Heraklion is Crete's largest city, main port and has a population of around 140,000. It's on the north coast of the island and the main airport is just outside of town. Ferries depart from Heraklion's port to other Greek islands and to the mainland too. Heraklion's position in the eastern Mediterranean guarantees a year round warm climate, with temperatures rarely dropping below 17C even in the middle of winter. In the summer, the temperature can easily be up into the 30s.
Heraklion and the surrounding coastal resorts cater for an international crowd, so you can expect to find restaurants serving every cuisine you can think of. It's worth seeking out a traditional Greek or Cretan restaurant though. Cheese is possibly the most famous product of the island, and one of the must-try dishes is Kalitsounia, a cheese pastry pie which is sweet and served with deliciously fresh honey.

Weather in Heraklion
Country Greece
Language Greek
Currency Euro
Time-Zones EET
Capital Athens

Good to know

You are allowed to rent a car in Figari if you are at least 21 years old – some car rentals demand an age of 26 years or have special offers to reduce the age to 18 years - and have held an EU driver’s license for more than a year. Present your driving license, valid credit card and identification for car hire at Figari airport. Remember to drive within the designated speed limits: 50 km/h in urban areas, 110 km/h on 2/3 lane highways and 90km/h on other roads.
Corsican roads follow the beautiful Mediterranean coastline, sometimes passing through alpine mountain ranges with rewarding scenic views. The main highways, T50 and T20, offer a pleasant, smooth drive. However, be prepared to meet several narrow minor routes, especially in the island's rural parts. As most roads pass through mountains, steep drops and sharp bends are common. Avoid making road trips during rush hour in Corsica's main cities, when traffic can slow down greatly.

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Good to know

Touring Crete by car is relatively straightforward, and recent investment has improved the island's roads considerably. Drive on the right and be prepared to slow down on windy mountain roads with hairpin bends. In built-up areas, the speed limit is 50 km per hour, with a 90 km per hour limit on the highways and main roads. Keep an eye open for any signs advising you of different limits which might apply in some areas of the island. Don't be tempted to drive home after a night in the Heraklion bars – the alcohol limit is lower than in England and Wales at 50 microgrammes, and is strictly enforced. Most fuel stations will close around 7pm and many don't accept credit cards so ensure you have some euros with you should you need to fill the tank.

What to taste in Heraklion

There's a huge diversity of food in Heraklion to suit all tastes. The narrow streets of the Old Town are the best places to seek out authentically Greek cuisine, with fresh fish and lamb based dishes being particularly good.
Vegetarians won't have any trouble finding tasty dishes either, as the island is famous for producing some of Greece's best bread – and what could be better than a Greek salad with fresh vegetables, olives and crumbly feta cheese?
If you'd prefer pizza, steak or other international cuisine you won't have to look far. Crete's also a famous wine producing region, with local wines sold by the glass in many local tavernas. If you're interested in how the grapes are grown and turned into wine, pay a visit to one of the many wineries a short drive from Heraklion which are happy to welcome visitors for tours and sampling.

What to bring to your friends from Heraklion

Heraklion has some great shopping opportunities, with both large malls and little craft shops. Olive oil and related products are perhaps the island's most iconic products and are sold all over Heraklion. Soap and beauty products made with olive oil make the perfect gift.
Honey is also made all over the island and is a sweet reminder of your time on Crete. Ceramics are also popular, especially intricately patterned bowls and serving plates which are guaranteed to provide a splash of colour to any British kitchen.
Leather goods are also good value for money. Look out also for the typically Greek "mati" jewellery, featuring a blue eye symbol which is said to bring luck and ward off evil spirits. These are sold made into pendants, earrings or keyrings and are ideal for small mementos to take home.