There are a number of ways getting to Crete from UK, the most obvious one being to fly, however as convenient as it is, flying is not the most interesting way to get here, especially if it is the full move with kids, pets and lots of personal effects, then the drive is best.
I prefer the Ferry and Drive UK to Crete personally and not only is it more interesting it is also more practical if you want to bring stuff with you that you cannot carry in a suitcase. The actual journey to Crete from the UK is only actually about 900 to 1000 (on the road) Miles (not including mileage in the UK).
From Calais to Venice is around 950 driving miles and if you want to drive that little bit further you can drive to Ancona which adds approximately another 200 Miles, the rest of the journey is taken by Ferry. Superfast from Ancona/Venice, then Minoan Lines or Anek Lines from Pireaus, Greece to Heraklion or Chania on Crete.
Your Journey really starts in France. I apologise to any French person reading this, but I have to say I do not like driving in France, I don't like the roads, I don't like the excessive amount of Toll Booths and worst of all, if you get on the wrong road, going the wrong way, you may have to travel 100km or more before you can turn around and go back because for some unknown reason (probably to do with the infernal toll booths) there are solid metal barriers all the way down the middle of the roads with no breaks whatsoever. Madness!! Also to be quite honest the French countryside that you will see on this particular journey is so very like the UK that you'll find yourself wondering if you've left the UK at all. On the plus side, provided you are on the right road going in the right direction, the roads are very good and smooth. Watch out for Traffic Cops though as speeding will land you in jail for the night, no questions asked. (This didn't happen to me, but I know someone who spent a very uncomfortable night in a prison cell and its not something I would want to experience).
SWISS EASE BORDER CONTROLS, MAKING IT FASTER TO USE SWITZERLAND ON THE DRIVE FROM THE CHANNEL OR NORTH SEA PORTS DOWN TO ITALY FOR GREECE DESTINATIONS. More in the BBC NEWS STORY, December 2008.
Eventually after what seems like hours and hours of driving getting nowhere, you will hit Switzerland. Now Switzerland is a different kettle of fish entirely, fabulous scenery, and again good roads. However it does have it's drawbacks. Firstly Switzerland is not in the EU and doesn't officially have the Euro, but they will take the Euro as payment but at a vastly inflated exchange rate. For Example: Three Big Mac Meals from a Swiss MacDonalds (UK price approximately £9.00 maybe £10.00) €27.50 yes that's right TWENTY SEVEN EUROS and 50 CENTS for three Big Macs, Fries and a Medium Drink!! Also there is a Swiss Border Customs Office, so don't try sneaking anything through just because you're not on a plane. Having said this on the three occasions I have been through there all they have wanted to see was my passport.
I have always said that driving through Switzerland is like driving on a Model Railway, it has to be one of the most picturesque countries in continental Europe, the only problem is that if you hit Switzerland in the morning by mid afternoon you will be out of it and into Italy, it's not very big! My advice is, unless you have a Ferry pre booked at Ancona or Venice try and take in some of the Swiss Air and Scenery by taking it slow through the country. Enjoy the Drive!
Once you have passed the Border Checkpoint of Switzerland you're into Italy. Now Northern Italy is very much like Switzerland as far as scenery goes, the main difference being that as Italy is in the EU, your Euros take on a more sensible rate of exchange. The roads in Italy are very good, but the sign posting is not, so be very careful. My advice is stay on the Motorways, if you get off on any side roads you could wander around for hours getting completely lost.
The first time I drove through Italy, I practically had a coronary because I was so tired and wanted to stop and was very relieved when I saw a HOTEL sign, so I merrily pulled off the Motorway into....PITCH BLACK and no signs whatsoever on the unlit roundabout as to which exit the hotel might be situated, after trying all three, we eventually found it, I was so angry that when we were given the HUGE bill on check out the next morning I told the Hotel receptionist that at those prices the Hotel could possibly afford to put up more signs in an effort to actually help people find the place, my remark was met with indifference! I won't be staying there again - probably wouldn't be able to find it anyway :-)
Once you arrive at the port in Ancona (or Venice, Rimini, Bari or Brindisi - also other choices) it's plain sailing from there (no pun intended). From Ancona, you will board the Superfast Ferry to Patras, these ferries are like Cruise Ships, with all mod cons, casinos, bars, swimming pools and lots of TV channels to watch. Depending on the time of year there is also a swimming pool on deck. The journey is approximately 20 hours, so an overnight cabin is a must, although they are not cheap it is worth it, as you will have little if any chance of a good nights kip on the deck or in the stair wells.
By Geoff - the Webmaster 2004-2006 Brits in Crete.
On arriving in Patras you then have a 2 to 3 hour drive to Pireaus where you will catch the Ferry to Heraklion, Chania, Rethymnon, Aghios Nikolaos or Sitia. Whichever destination, the journey takes about 6 to 8 hours, depending on which company you use and again is overnight, cabins are not as expensive but not that cheap either and in all honesty as the ferry leaves around 9pm and docks at 6am, it's a moot point as to whether it's actually worth it or not.
You can also take another route from Patras. That is to drive across the Peloponese from Patras to Kalamata then take a ferry to Kissimos (Kissamos/Kastelli), which is the most westerly port in Crete. The ferry timetable only in summer can be a bit erratic.
If you are travelling from Scotland with kids and the pets and taking the overland route, you can visit our Brits in Crete Forum for useful information on suggested routes from Scotland to Crete across the North Sea and then the overland route as shown on this page.
Taking the return journey from Crete to U.K. by car or van is just as fascinating. Recent experiences are re-counted with actual costs and timings. Go there now.
British retirees on Crete, Bob and Carole handled the same journey at end of 2007 - this makes interesting reading too.
These are actual driving experiences by members of Brits in Crete Forum. Find other updated comments.
Brits in Crete Web Portal
|EasyJet operates Routes to Crete Airports:
Chania(CHQ) and Heraklion(HER)
|From/To: Chania (CHQ) (Hania/Xania)|
|Chania(CHQ) - London Gatwick(LGW)|
|From/To: Heraklion (HER) (Iraklio/Iraklion)|
|Heraklion(HER) and Berlin-Schoenefeld(SXF)|
|Heraklion(HER) and Bristol(BRS)|
|Heraklion(HER) and Geneva(GVA)|
|Heraklion(HER) and Manchester(MAN)|
|Heraklion(HER) and Milan-Malpensa(MXP)|
|Heraklion(HER) and Rome-Fiumicino(FCO)|
|EasyJet's Other Greek Destinations Served|
Athens(ATH), Mykonos(JMK), Rhodes(RHO), Corfu(CFU),
Thessaloniki(SKG) and Zante-Zakynthos(ZTH)
|EasyJet's Cyprus Destinations|
|Larnaca(LCA) and Paphos(PFO)|
OA OlympicAir - To/from Hania, Heraklion and Sitia
Services withdrawn to UK in May 2011
Aegean Airways (Partner of Lufthansa, code shares flight numbers with Lufthansa)
Aegean has a new Summer route directly between Heraklion and London Heathrow starting May 2011.
SkyExpress - From Heraklion/Siteia to other domestic flights
In May 2011, Ryanair launches routes to Crete linking Chania with their German base at Hahn near Frankfurt and Bergamo (serving the Milan market).
This is the first time Ryanair has scheduled flights to Crete.
For the most up-to-date, travel information to Crete check the Brits in Crete Forum - Greek Travel Notice Board