Crete Self Drive 2 - Central Crete

Gorgeous Beaches, Gorges and Ancient History

About Crete Self Drive 2 - Central Crete


A wonderful exploration of Crete's ancient past together with some superb beaches and scenery without exhaustive driving.

START / FINISH - Heraklion

Activity code: GRFDCR02

Duration: 10 Days

A self drive holiday which takes you on a stunning journey with an emphasis on exploring a little off the beaten track. This freedom to explore comes about because some of the distances between locations are not so great so why not take some minor roads, head off for a walk or grab an unexpected lunch stop in one of Crete's many hillside villages.

On this fly drive you can visit the World-famous Minoan sites as well as some of our favourite lesser-visited locations on the island. Overall, it is an ideal choice to enable you to concentrate your time in the central region of Crete, combining sightseeing with relaxation and simply enjoying the Greek experience. If you or your family have an interest in the history and culture of ancient Greece but also want to "take it easy" then you will not be disappointed.

Highlights of the Central Crete Fly Drive

  • Heraklion is the largest city on the island of Crete and there is plenty to explore - the massive Venetian walls, the mediaeval castle in the harbour, Morozini's fountain and many other Venetian buildings and monuments which lend a special character to the city. The museum in Heraklion holds great treasures of the Minoan civilisation and is regarded as one of the most important museums in Europe. You may, of course, prefer to visit the world renowned Palace of Knossos, just outside the city.
  • Rethymnon more than any other town on the island, retains its ties with the past; it is an extremely picturesque city which is situated beside a long stretch of sandy beach with historic houses, a Venetian fortress and a Turkish minaret !
  • Agios Nikolaos in the beautiful Gulf of Mirabello on the north coast is the capital of the Lassithi province. There are lots of beaches nearby and good tavernas in the town; also close by is the island of Spinalonga, a former leper colony.
  • Aghia Gallini is an ideal place to relax in the middle of this fly drive itinerary; from here you can visit Matala, the ancient sites at Phaistos and Gortis or visit the monastery of Agios Nikolaos and the Rouvas Gorge near the lakes at Zaros in the southern foothills of Mount Ida.

Why Book with Rediscover Greece?

This recommended and very popular route is a tried and trusted itinerary which allows plenty of time to enjoy the countryside as you travel; however if you are looking for a modification of any kind then we can also offer a completely tailor made itinerary.

  • For example, the suggested itinerary is 10 days but this can be made up easily to 14 nights by extending any of the stays en route or by adding extra nights at the coast to relax at the end of your travels, such as in beautiful Panormos (between Rethymnon and Heraklion).

NB. All our fly-drive customers receive a pack which contains maps, hotel vouchers and a detailed programme with hotel information and confirmation of emergency contact details.

If you would like to visit these wonderful places without driving then we can supply a private driver for the duration of the tour.

What's included in this Greece Holiday:

  • 9 days car rental with unlimited mileage, full insurance, CDW, taxes, delivery and airport drop off.
  • 9 nights hotel accommodation on BB basis throughout.
  • Map of Crete
  • Sightseeing and walking suggestions
  • All local taxes
  • Fully protected for your peace of mind.

Please contact us if you would like a completely tailor made fly drive itinerary. All we would need to know are approximate dates of travel, what standard of hotel you would prefer, and if there are any particular areas or classical sites which you would like us to include (or to exclude!) in your itinerary. Your fly drive can be as active or leisurely as you please. Staying one night at each stop allows the maximum amount of sightseeing; two or more nights will allow you to do side trips, whilst staying in one place will give you the opportunity to relax and explore the local area.

Rediscover Greece Bonus

Ask about our fabulous bonus offers when you book this package with us:

  • Special add-on stays in a rural villa, boutique town hotel or beach resort.
  • Extend your holiday with a few days on Santorini [travel by hydrofoil].

Contact us to book this recommended holiday for any date.


  • Day 1: Arrive into Heraklion

    Take hire car from Heraklion Airport and head to your first hotel.

    • Overnight stay in boutique hotel in central Heraklion or family-run apartments in the countryside nearby.

  • Day 2: Heraklion & Knossos

    Full day exploring the fascinating site of Knossos and visiting the Heraklion museums.

    • Overnight stay in Heraklion or nearby.

  • Day 3: Heraklion - [ancient] Malia - Agios Nikolaos

    Onward drive east along coast (or across country for some of the way); visit ancient Malia en route to Agios Nikolaos.

    • Overnight stay in Agios Nikolaos.

  • Day 4: Agios Nikolaos - Spinalonga [optional] - Ierapetra

    Relax in Agios Nikolaos or a nearby beach (or even a morning visit to the island of Spinalonga) then head south across the island to Ierapetra (possible diversion to visit the Minoan site of Gournia).

    • Overnight stay in Ierapetra.

  • Day 5: Ierapetra - Gortis - Phaistos - Aghia Galini

    Travel back westwards but this time along the line of the south coast, a little-explored region of Crete. If you make an early start you can visit Gortis and/or Phaistos before the end of the day but if you get distracted by the scenery en route (such as Myrtos) you can always return the next day, it is not far from our recommended overnight stop at Aghia Galini.

    • Overnight stay in Aghia Galini.

  • Day 6: Aghia Galini (optional visits to Rouvas Gorge & monastery, Phaistos, Zaros Lakes)

    Either relax in Aghia Galini, visit Matala or return a little way east to visit Phaistos and/or Gortis if you didn't manage to do so on the previous day. An alternative day out would be to visit the monastery of Agios Nikolaos and the Rouvas Gorge near the lakes at Zaros in the southern foothills of Mount Ida.

    • Overnight stay in Aghia Galini.

  • Day 7: Aghia Galini - Spilli - Kourtaliotiko Gorge - Plakias

    Heading north out of Aghia Galini (two routes) we recommend a stop in the delightful village of Spili prior to driving down the Kourtaliotiko Gorge to Preveli to visit the monastery (and beach) and then on to Plakias.

    • Overnight stay in Plakias.

  • Day 8: Plakias - Rethymnon

    Return to the north coast at Rethymnon, visit the town's historic sights.

    • Overnight stay in Rethymnon.

    ** Why not consider an extra night in Plakias and/or an early start to go the long way around to Rethymnon via Frangokastello and the stunning Imbros Gorge. **

  • Day 9: Rethymnon - [optional] visit to Arkadi Monastery

    Full day to explore Rethymnon, possible side trip to the Arkadi Monastery.

    • Overnight stay in Rethymnon.

  • Day 10: Rethymnon - Heraklion

    Travel back to Heraklion and drop off car at airport for flight home.

    • extend your stay in beautiful Panormos (between Rethymnon and Heraklion).

  • Prices & Departure Dates

    Prices shown are 'per person' in UK Pounds and are based on a travelling party of at least 2 adults. A single supplement needs to be added to the twin/double price if single rooms are required.

    Prices are indicative and will vary depending on your chosen accommodation, room availability as well as time of travel. Please take this into consideration when comparing prices; we always aim to match a high quality experience with exceptional value for money. Please note that discounts will apply if there are 4 or more people in your travelling party as fixed costs such as transportation and any guides will be shared equally between the group.

    NB: Flights available to book with us through a range of airlines, from various UK airports.


"Your itinerary was well planned and delivered what we wanted. The amendment to go further west to take in the Imbros Gorge journey (spectacular drive up from the south coast) and stay the night in Rethymnon was well worth it. It did not feel too much like doubling back to Chania and well worth taking the return flight from there, even though there was a long wait at Gatwick at 1am whilst EasyJet went into meltdown with the luggage for several flights arriving in the early hours. We are early risers and on the road fairly promptly in the morning so did not find the drive to the next night’s stay arduous at all. Quite pleased not to be staying in Ag Nic as there was a cruise ship in and the town was absolutely crammed with tourists, nevertheless had a nice lunch there. Except for the last day we had absolutely superb weather but locals were telling us it was exceptional for mid-October. Overall we were very happy with your arrangements so thank you."

E Carter, October, 2019

"Just want to say thanks very much for arranging our self drive holiday to Crete and Santorini. We thoroughly enjoyed everything and the arrangements - hotels/car hire/transfers/ferry were perfect."

A Robinson, UK, June 2018

"This form can't convey how good we felt the service you provided was - each hotel seemed better than the last with the Palazzo Greco being absolute standout! The only complaint we had was the noise the night we stayed in Chania which went on until 5.00 am. If we did it again we wouldn't stay in the centre of Chania. The visit to Spinalonga was everything we anticipated and more."

J Hanson, UK, June, 2017


Independent Holidays for all budgets since 1998