Driving in Crete

What is the Cretan roads condition?

You should know that the roads in Crete and Greece vary in their quality and state of repair. Major cities are generally connected by national highways (with maximum speed of 90km/h), smaller towns and villages by country roads (with maximum speed of 50km/h).

Note: The national road is equipped with speed control cameras and your speed limit is checked every few kilometers.

In the northern part of Crete there is a highway from Istron to Chania passing by Heraklio and Rethymnon. So as you realize almost all the northern part of Crete is equipped with a national road in a very good condition. The part that is still on country roads is the north-eastern part of Crete, from Istron to Sitia.

There is a continuous program of improvement and maintenance going on, and the construction is being extended all the time.

As concerns the southern part, most of the roads are country roads, as this part is considered "virgin" and not projected so much to the mass tourism. National Country Roads are two lanes going in opposite directions separated by a double white line.

Note: Careful driving is required on all country roads.

Country Roads often have Pin Bends and require drivers to obey speed limits and drive careful driving. Roads in isolated areas and mountain villages are rough and in most cases require four-wheel 4x4 cars. Driving through country roads requires the use of maps or a GPS navigation system.

Tips about driving in Crete

  • Driving in Greece is on the right, the same as in the United States and most of Europe. Vehicles coming from the right have the right of way unless otherwise posted. This means that cars entering a traffic circle go first, drivers already in the circle must yield.
  • If there is little room to pass on the road, fast drivers expect slow drivers to pull onto the hard shoulder* in order to let them by. Sometimes they flash the lights behind you just to let you know they want to overtake. Be aware though that the hard shoulders* can end suddenly and that they may also be obstructed by rock falls.
    Note: *Hard shoulder is the emergency lane, which in Crete is very narrow.
  • Traffic signs throughout Greece are generally in Greek and English, and Greece uses internationally recognized traffic control and stop signs.
  • Alcohol tests are frequent and strict and the limit is 0,50 mg. Do not expect to be let off a traffic offence just because you are a tourist. You have to pay fines at the tax office in the area where the ticket is issued, so if people are on a days excursion they must make paying part of the day's activity or, if they return to their base on another part of the island, it will require another trip to the area just for paying the ticket.

How often do I see gas stations?

You will find many gas stations in Crete not only in national roads, bur in small country roads and inside towns and villages as well. Many gas stations close at 8pm but stations on the highway close much later usually. In every city or large town there will be at least one gas station which will be open during the night. Ask the locals for information.

A gas station's staff will fill your vehicle, there is no self-service in Crete . There are few gas stations where you can buy petrol with your credit card automatically after closing times.

Some stations accept credit cards. Regular unleaded petrol has an octane rating of 95; the octane rating of reaches up to 100.

Our general advice to have in mind

Be alerted at all times while driving. The strong sun and the long deserted roads can easily make you loose your concentration. But the common sense of defensive driving always helps anywhere, including Crete. Because the streets are narrower, hazardous condition can present itself in a second.

Every time you see all those small roadside shrines with a little oil cup and lamp, remember that they are tributes to friends and relatives who have died or seriously injured at those spots.

Note: Concentration is the key to safe driving in Crete. Remember the advice and you'll be safe when you set out to explore Crete.

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