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Money and transport

Where to exchange money

In Greece, particularly in tourist destinations, there are two different price lists. Prices for the people speaking good Greek and price list for people who want to communicate in English. It is good to do some things in advance. The most important problem for tourists from countries where the euro is not applicable, is where to exchange money. Our advice is : at home. At home it is easy to see where the best course is and who wants to take the most money from you. If you don’t have enough time to exchange the money at home, you really shouldn’t take a foreign currency with you but take it out later out of the cash point. The rates are fairly good, you will need to choose beforehand, if you want the money calculated by your bank or by the bank which you are taking it from. We cannot say which is more profitable, but if you want to take out a bigger sum, it will be better to find the cash machines nearby and look up on the internet, which one is the best choice.

Where to shop

Whatever you will want to buy, there are a couple of rules you need to know about Crete: the highest prices are in the port, the airport and around the highroads. This applies to everything, whether it is coffee, postcards or car rentals. For better prices, you should go to shopping centres in tourist destinations and the bigger supermarkets which are found in the suburbs of almost every town and city.

Curiosities with payments - tips

Just like in every town and country, the tips are calculated differently in Greece, too. The prices in restaurants and shops are similar to our prices, but the tips are automatically added. In better restaurants you will find it on the cheque as a special addition, in most taverns it is added to the price of the meal. They don’t have a custom to add extra money as tips. Most owners of the tavern will become offended as they will think that by giving them a tip, you think they look like beggars. However, they are now used to it as they know it is a custom in Europe and they will calmly give you back the money.

How to travel to (and on) Crete

By bus

VThere is not a railway available on Crete, as in most of the islands, therefore, the usual way of transport is by bus. There is only one company - K.T.E.L., that provides transport around the whole island. If you just want to travel to different cities, there is no need to look for a different way of transport as buses are reliable, but most importantly, the cheapest. They have AC set to the lowest temperatures so if you plan of traveling for a longer time, be prepared that it will get a little chilly.

Some advice:

The bus has two different staff - driver and steward. If you start in the place where is the counter for ticket sales, your ticket must be bought here. If you start in the initial bus station, the ticket will be checked by the driver as you get in the bus, then when the bus moves off, the steward will pluck half of the ticket. If you are boarding on some of the other bus stops, get on through the back door and buy your ticket at the steward, who will find a place for you to sit. The steward also checks to see if someone wants to get out and reports it to the driver. To foreigners, he usually reports that the next stop is where they get off. The company K.T.E.L. also has its auditors, who check whethereveryone is where they are supposed to be. Inspectors usually stay in the bus until the next stop and occur about as often as supervisors in our public transport. Timetables can be found in larger cities at the bus station, or can be requested at the counter or some transport office or they are found onKTEL website.
As for city buses, habits are a little different. The most experience we have of Heraklion, however, by visiting other cities, it is similar everywhere. Tickets can be bought at newsagents or in vending machines and you will get them checked by the driver when boarding the bus. The ticket must be held very firmly in your hand, as the driver grabs a half to pluck it. One ticket is valid for one busand one ride, so if you are planning a more complex way, it works out quite expensive. The way to save is to buy a student ticket. You will pass as a student if you do not look too much like a tourist, if you look sufficiently knowledgeable.The drivers are ordered to check all students, so immediately as you hear the word “paso” (that is when the driver wants to see the student pass - and ISIC is not an option) you can either look as if you don’t understand (but this way has only worked out once) or take out a different ticket, which is full priced. This is usually what young Greeks do.

By car

NYou will get to most of the beaches and places described on this website by car. Crete is an interesting region which you will discover fully only by seeing every part of it and that is easiest to do with a car from a car rental. For trips to Heraklion, Chania or Rethymno we advise you to use the bus, but to visit smaller towns and beaches on the edge of the island, you should definitely rent a car as buses don’t usually stop there.

Driving on Crete

Driving on Crete is a bit of an anarchy and we definitely do not recommend to select a larger city as a first tourist site. It is best to avoid bigger cities as there are many cars and you won’t understand the politics of Greek driving very easily. In smaller cities, it is necessary to realise that even though you are on the main road, it doesn’t mean that the drivers will wait for you to pass, a one way does not guarantee that all cars will move in the same direction, and traffic lights are purely indicative affairs. If you are standing at the crossroads where the direction has a green and no one is there, it is quite common that someone just goes from another side even though they have a red. Buses or trucks waning to the main road are not uncommon and it is simply necessary to count withabsolutely everything. If someone turns on the hazard lights, it is as if to say, "Now I can stand wherever I want!" and that is exactly what he will do then.
On the main roads between towns on the north side of the island are wide roads with a pretty good quality on which happens a lot of overtaking. Usually, do not drive in the right lane, but rather on the shoulder so that there always is a place for overtaking. You do not have to worry, the shoulder is really treated as an additional lane on the road, and if by any chance the hard shoulder disappearsfor some time, it is marked with a road sign narrowed roadway. Overtaking is, therefore, a little safer and this type of management is quite a pleasant habit because if everyone follows these steps, it is an advantage for you. Traveling on these roads can be considered safe. If you want to get to the south or outside the populated area, you have to count with narrow steep switchbacks running through Cretan mountains, where an occasional wide bus or tractor can be seen. Overtaking or avoidance in these locations will give your way a lot of adrenaline, but both are viable.

Car and scooter rentals

You will find a car and scooter rental in every tourist town. Cars are rented usually to drivers older than 23, sometimes when you are older than 21. The prices are in a very wide spectrum which is affected mostly by the season and the length of the rental. Off-season, you can get a small car for 25€, during season about 30 € a day, but you should definitely take a look around all the car rentals to find the best deals. Its is not advised to rent a car at airports and ports as the prices there are doubled. In bigger networks like Kosmos, Hertz or Budget you can agree on returning the car in a different city where they have their branch office.
You should also be informed about the insurance, which is added to the price of the car. Most car rentals give you full insurance, but in every one of them it means something else. The differences are mainly in the deductible for damage to the vehicle. It ranges from 0 to 1,000 €, which should be carefully considered. Rental services in the event of malfunction of the vehicle are generally good.A flat tyre on the Renault Clio at the rental Kosmos, which happened shortly after hiring the car,was repaired within 30 minutes from the moment we arrived to report what had happened. Fiat Panda from Auto Candia, refused to go on the other side of the island, and after calling the service hotline technicians arrived and within an hour everything was in order. This means you should not be worried about any car defects. Most rental also offer new cars that are in a very good condition.
The return of cars takes place either at headquarters or, at a special time requirements, you canleave the car somewhere in a parking lot. A little curiosity is that you need to leave it unlocked. A common practice is to leave the keys somewhere inside an unlocked car or under or around the lid of a locked car. In the event that you somehow damaged the car and came back with an insufficient amount of gasoline (returns exactly with the amount with which it was borrow) the insurance company will copy your credit card number and postal address where you will be sent an acco

By boat

You can, of course, travel to the beaches of Crete by boat. To interesting places with difficult access, it's worth it because if, for example, you have small children, it is hard to convince themthat the palm forest on the beach Preveli is really that amazing, that walking two kilometers up the stairs in the morning and back down again at night is really worth it. In such a situation, it is really helpful to use a cruise ship, which will take you directly to the beach for a few euro. A similar case is also Balos beach, where the boat trip has the added an advantage of stopping on the island of Gramvousa. But this way is so popular that it is really brutal tourist surcharge and from Falasarna it works out around 20 € per person. The thing is, do you really want to miss the best part of the trip - view from the top, for just a little comfort?
If you are interested just in having a trip on a boat, there are many trips without a specific goal and you can arrange them at all ports, where they are arranged about a day or two beforehand. Seller inports can be found throughout the day, but the largest selection is during dinner. Most of the trips use a form of sailing, pirate boat, party boat and sail for a couple of hours.There are usually stops for swimming and snorkeling, often with interesting small islands or just fro fun. Although all these ships look like sailboats, unfortunately we could not find any that really could ride on a windy drive, masts are mostly just a decoration and an attraction for tourists.
If you are interested other islands, not just Crete, most of the surrounding can be reached by ferry or speedboat from Heraklion. If you have more time on the trip, it is interesting to ride and overnight ferry to Athens and from there continue with trips to northern islands. A very pleasant experience isthe island of Santorini, on which boats leave from Heraklion.

By plane

There are three civilian airports on Crete - the largest airport in Heraklion, where there are severalhundreds of arrivals and departures per day during season. Smaller airports are Chania and Sitia. If we focus on low-cost companies then the cheapest way to get to Crete is with Ryanair, which flies to Chania. Flights with only on-board luggage can be bought very cheap.