Crete information

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Estimated 2001 Population: About 601.000 inhabitants.

Getting there and getting around: Crete is connected -by sea- to the other parts of Greece, from six ports at the North of the island: Iraklion, Hania, Rethymno, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia and Kissamos. There are daily boat departures to and from Athens. The duration of the trip varies from 6 to 10 hours, depending on the schedule and the boat, a deck class ticket costs about €30 and a berth in a 4-bed cabin about €59. Four boat companies are operating ferry schedules to and from Athens: Minoan Lines (daily from Iraklion and Athens at 9pm - duration of trip 8 hours-, with a few morning schedules as well during Christmas, Easter and summer at 11am - duration of trip 6 hours), Anek Lines (daily from Hania and Athens at 9pm and from Iraklion and Athens at 9pm - duration of trip 9 hours-, with many morning departures during Easter and summer), Superfast Ferries (daily at 3.30pm from Athens and at 11.45 pm from Iraklion - duration of trip 7 hours), Lane Lines (every Sunday from Rethymno and every Friday from Athens, at 7pm - duration of trip 12 hours). In the summer, Hellenik SeawaysLane LinesSea Jets  boat companies connect Crete with the islands of Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, Rodos and Kythira. In Crete there are three airports, at Hania, Iraklio and Sitia. Five airline companies operate direct domestic flights to Athens, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupoli, Kalamata, Patra and the islands of Rodos, Kos, Santorini, Mykonos, Mytilini and Ikaria: Olympic Airlines, Aegean Airlines, Sky Express and Cyprus Airways. Many direct charter, low cost and scheduled flights (mostly during the tourist period), operate to many European cities. Buses, operated by KTEL, run frequently between the major towns and less efficiently to villages, beaches and other places of tourist interest. Travelling by bus may involve a change of bus at the major bus stations of Iraklion, Hania, Rethymno, Ag. Nikolaos, Sitia and Ierapetra. Within each region there are services between the capital and the smaller towns, villages, or other places of interest. Tickets can be bought from the bus stations, or inside the bus and should be kept until the end of the journey, in case of inspector's control. Tickets for local buses, inside the towns, should be bought from the bus station, or kiosks. Public bus schedules to the villages, not of common tourist interest,may not be convenient or sufficient for travellers, but organized tours, operated by travel agencies, car rental or taxi hiring could be an alternative way to visit every place of interest. Taxis in Crete can be easily found at taxi ranks, stopped in the street, or called by phone (an extra charge would be applied). They have meters, but prices can also be fixed for the most common destinations and should be checked before setting off. Rates to all main towns from Iraklion's airport are displayed in the airport, in and outside the domestic arrival hall. Around the island there are many agencies that rent cars, motorcycles and bicycles.

Distances: Hania to Rethymno 56 km, Rethymno to Iraklion 78km, Iraklion to Ag. Nikolaos 64 km.

Tourist information: At the offices of E.O. T.(Greek Tourist Organisation). No room reservations, only information about Crete, places of interest, activities, transport schedules, routes. Free maps of Crete and the major towns. Some information about other parts of Greece.

Telephone: In Greece the telephone office (O.T.E, daily 8am-10pm) is separate from the post office. Phone calls from public phone stands or OTE's offices, can be made only with phone cards. Prepaid phone cards can be bought at kiosks or mini markets, charge less and can be used from any fixed public or private tone phone. Phoning home is cheaper from 3-5pm and 10pm-8am on the weekdays and from 3pm at Saturday till 8am Monday (Greek time). Transferred calls can be operated through the operator, dialling 161. Telegrams can be sent from OTE's offices and faxes from OTE, travel agencies and hotels. Emergency phone: 100.

Post office (ELTA): Main offices, in the bigger towns are open Mon-Sat 8am-8pm. Letter boxes are painted yellow and can be found in the most central locations in towns and villages. Stamps can be bought from main post offices or from kiosks and shops selling postcards and foreign newspapers, with a small premium being charged.

Medical treatment: Towns and the main tourist resorts have a public hospital (First aid phone: 166) and private medical centers. There is always a pharmacy staying open from 8a.m. to 8p.m. and another one from 8p.m. to 8a.m. Lists of these pharmacies, for each day, can be found on the window of any pharmacy. Every person in holiday, during the summer, should apply high factor sun cream regurarly, especially in the first days. Babies under six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Special attention should be paid for the hours between 11a.m. and 3p.m. when the sun is at its hottest.

Weather: The climate is mild mediterranean, with long hot dry summers and mild winters. The weather is generally very warm and from April to late October the daytime is gifted by sunshine. The summer temperature can be moderated by often strong fresh winds, called meltemia. The rain season starts at the end of November till the mid of March, while snow can fall only on the mountains. The sea is warm enough to swim from mid April until November. The maximum sea temperature at summer is 24 °C and in winter 16°C. The average yearly temperature on Crete -19°C- is the highest in Greece.

Money: Euro, the european currency of the EMU zone, has taken the place of drachma, the Greek currency, since 1 January 2002. There are 7 euro notes in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 euros, and 8 euro coins denominated in 2 and 1 euros, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Every euro coin carries a common European face, on the one side, while on the obverse, each member state decorates the coins with their own motifs. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, travel agencies and exchange bureaus. For cheques, passport is required. Credit cards are accepted by the most shops, hotels and restaurants, but obtaining money with it, is only possible at banks or ATMs. For conversion of euro to your local currency, you can visit The Universal Currency Converter.

Safety: Some beaches can be dangerous if the weather is windy, especially for people that are not familiar with that specific sea. Swimmers, during these windy days, should pay special attention to the red flag notification of strong under-currents, that could exhaust and panic them, by taking them away from the shore. In a case like this, swimmers should stay calm and not to panic. Country roads can be narrow and with many turns. Drive always with fastened your seat belts.

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Last updated: 30 May 2009