THE CRETAN CRAWL
This is Don's account of a 41-day, 1,097-mile motorhome tour of Crete from 21 March to 30 April 2010. Don travelled with Maureen in their Timberland Camper.
In our crawl around Crete we clocked 1,097 miles in 41 days. We circled the island in a clockwise direction starting at Heraklion. The places are listed below as we found them; we either stayed overnight, lunch stopped or checked their suitability
for night stops or longer stays. As we are loners/isolationists, some of the places are remote mountain stops or secluded beaches.
We only used two campsites (Camping Greta and Camping No Problem), both of which were found adequate but a bit pricy for the facilities they offered. We paid €120 site fees for seven nights and free camped for 33 nights
with no problems at all, except for one night when we were parked on a high cliff and the wind became troublesome!!!!! We relocated in a valley by a river - still windy but much safer.
We have not listed all the ancient sites as these are readily available in guides like the Lonely Planet. The ones we have listed are suitable for overnight stops. We have also listed watering holes that have space for
a motorhome to fill up safely, large supermarkets and service stations selling LPG.
The ferries for Crete depart from the port of Piraeus (Athens), which is a huge place. For Crete sailings you enter by Gate E3 (N37.94514 E23.63495). Wifi is available on the port complex.
HERAKLION PORT: N35.34167 E25.14551. We spent the first and last night on the port area, parked next to the port police building. There is wifi available at the café in the passenger terminal and, parked in the vicinity
of the port police building, we got a good signal in the van.
GOUVES: N35.3329 E25.29182. Camping Greta. We spent three nights at the site (€16 per night) as we found the 1,170 mile journey from Turkey rather tiring.
PLAKA: N35.30231 E25.72644. A small fishing village 10 miles north of Agios Nikolaos. There is a large car park at the far end (north) of the village with sea views. There are fish tavernas with a water-front setting.
AGIOS NIKOLAOS: Lidl. N35.18008 E25.69293
ISTRON: Small village with supermarket and tavernas. Water N35.13115 E25.71582. Karavostasi beach signed on west of village: a long beach with plenty of parking space.
THOLOS. N35.15239 E25.86093. Small bay with taverna, fair amount of parking area. The turn off the main road at Kavousi is at an acute angle and is best approached from the west.
MOHLOS. N35.15240 E25.86093. Small ex-fishing village, many fish tavernas. Only parking available in field car park, not suitable for motorhomes over 6 metres due to narrow streets and tight turns. Water available at church
at the junction of the E75 and turn off for Mochlos. N35.15771 E25.89439
SITIA: Lidl. N35.20208 E26.08597
MONI TOPLOU MONASTERY: N35.22096 E26.2157. Large car park ideal for overnight stop.
AS FAR NORTH AS YOU CAN GO IN CRETE: N35.28792 E26.29032. Overnight stop on a narrow strip of land between two bays. This is one of the most isolated spots that we have stayed at.
ITANOS RUINS: N35.26406 E26.26184. Secluded sandy/shingle beach - plenty of parking but not right on the beach.
VAI PALM BEACH: N35.25292 E26.26472. Quite a nice sandy beach with palms - plenty of parking behind beach out of season. Obviously marketed as a tourist attraction and would be very crowded at times. Definitely not our
KOUREMENOS BEACH: N35.21485 E26.26751. Long beach good for windsurfing. Small harbour at one end, OK for overnight stop at harbour.
HIONA BEACH: N35.19760 E26.27650. Small bay with fish tavernas on beach. OK for overnight stop.
ZAKROS: N35.09697 E26.23525. Water tap is situated by the footpath at the start of the Zakros gorge walk. There is a water tap on edge of village but there is a parking problem as the road is narrow.
KATO ZAKROS: N35.09598 E26.26318. Shingle beach with fish tavernas. Parking is quite limited.
XEROKOMBOS: N35.04049 E26.23273. Ambelos (north) beach - small remote beach with limited parking. N35.03648 E26.72042. Mazidas (south) beach - large remote beach with limited parking, good for wind surfing.
MONI KAPSA MONASTERY: N35.01978 E26.05136. Water at the end of the Perivolakia Gorge below the monastery. There are several spots that are convenient for a night stop between Moni Kapsa and Goudouras.
IERAPETRA: N35.01539 E25.74434. Lidl. N35.01166 E25.74980. APIADNH (ARIADNE) Supermarket. Parking for motorhomes is limited at these stores. Water at War Memorial on E97 about 13 miles west of Mirtos N35.03904 E25.44295.
Water on road between Ano Vianos and Keratokambas at N35.01492 E25.41388 and N.35.00304 E25.39094. There are two or three water taps in Keratokambos/Kastri. Night stop in Keratokambos/Kastri behind church N34.99663 E25.36946.
TSOUTOUROS: N34.98550 E25.28665. Small fishing village with fish tavernas and small harbour with water available - good for overnight stop.
MATALLA: N34.99384 E24.75081. Very touristy, reasonable parking out of season. It is an attractive bay with caves in the cliffs and a good beach, but its fame is more due to the occupation of the caves by the Hippies of
KOMMOS BEACH: N35.01240 E24.76039. Good overnight stop but limited parking.
KAMILARI: N35.03192 E24.79078. Water tap situated in the square.
KALAMAKI VILLAGE: N35.02946 E24.75866. Limited parking at beach, several fish tavernas.
AGIA GALINI: N35.09548 E24.68844. Parking at harbour, water available. Camping No Problem N35.10460 E24.69528. We paid €18 per night including electric and wifi. Excellent taverna on site with very reasonably priced menus.
AGIOS PAVLOS: N35.10331 E24.56367. Secluded beach with bar but very narrow roads in the villages to get there. Suitable for overnight stop.
SPILI: N35.21818 E24.53515. Large, mostly sloping, car park with water and toilets suitable for overnight stop. Water N35.20461 E24.54331, 1 mile south of Spili on right.
MONI PREVELI MONASTERY: N35.15712 E24.45770. Large car park suitable for overnight stop. N35.15656 E24.46453. War memorial car park suitable for overnight stop, 1 mile from the monastery.
PLAKIAS: N35.18608 E24.39955. Long beach suitable for overnight stop.
FRANGOKASTELLE: N35.18253 E24.23475. Castle car park suitable for overnight stop.
KOUTELOS BEACH: N35.20014 E24.18992. Secluded beach suitable for overnight stop.
HORA SFAKION: N35.19893 E24.13894. Excellent night stop on commercial quay. Water available on quay. Tavernas around village harbour.
FILLIPOS: N35.36481 E24.19882. Water at church/cemetery.
SOUDA BAY: N35.50028 E24.05988. British war cemetery, well worth a visit, parking limited.
STAVROS: N35.59209 E24.09175. Good overnight stop on beach. N35.52620 E24.07245. Spar supermarket with large car park on Stavros – Hania road.
AGIA: N3547348 E23.93343. Water in front of church, wooded parking beside church.
LAKKI: N35.39687 E23.94133. Water tap in village square.
SAMARIA GORGE: N35.30828 E23.91801. We spent the night in the large car park at the entrance to the Samaria Gorge at an altitude of 2250 metres (?).
DERES/NTERES: N35.41970 E23.84729. Water tap. Also two other water points in village.
KOLIMBARI: N35.54097 E23.78689. Ideal for overnight stops. N35.54629 E23.77817. Harbour area excellent stop-over, water available.
TOPOLIANO GORGE: N35.41852 E23.68697. Gorge viewing area suitable for a night stop.
PALEOHORA: Night stop in harbour area and general vicinity. Fair size town with supermarkets. There's a 2 ton weight limit in the town centre. There's a bypass (of sorts): as you approach from the north the bypass goes
off to the right. When we were there the sign had been obliterated by gun fire. Follow the Camping Grameno signs and then turn left when you get to the sea.
KOUNTOURA: N35.23447 E23.63818. Grameno beach, good for night stops or longer.
KAVALARIANA: N35.32845 E23.75249. Water - this is a spring not a tap.
SOUGIA: N35.24775 E23.80855. Excellent place for night stops or longer. There's a long beach with a harbour to the west and to the east plenty of parking on the beach. There's water at the harbour and at the east beach
as well. There are tavernas and a supermarket in the village centre. This is an ideal spot to have some R&R. The local tavernas are good value and some have wifi as well.
VATHI: N35.35869 E23.59347. Water tap in village square.
ELAFONISI: N35.27522 E23.54432. Beautiful sandy beach with ample parking space but the last 400 metres is a very rough track, making it unsuitable for vans with a long rear overhang or vans with low ground clearance. Some
of the available parking is difficult to access. The easy parking area is part of a nature reserve where overnight stays are forbidden. Excellent beach for windsurfing.
PAPADIANA: N35.36239 E23.58997. Water tap.
KERAMOTI: N35.37013 E23.56233. Water tap.
KAMPOS: N35.39082 E23.57386. Water tap in village square.
SFINARI: N35.41566 E23.56150. Shingle beach and about three fish tavernas. Limited parking.
PLATANOS: N35.46404 E23.59910. Water tap in village.
KISSAMOS: N35.49762 E23.64785. Carrefour Supermarket. Parking not suitable for large motorhomes.
FALASARNA: N35.47588 E23.56473. Long sandy/rocky beach, several coves, plenty of parking and suitable for long stays.
GEORGIOUPOLI: N35.36379 E24.26123. A fair sized village, a bit touristy. Parking in sea view car park. There is also additional parking around the harbour area.
LAKE KOURNAS: N35.33273 E24.28049. Limited parking around the lake, with many tavernas which are very busy on a weekend if the weather is fine.
RETHIMNO: N35.36231 E24.44526. Lidl Supermarket.
LASITHI PLATEAU: There are several free parking spots on the Plateau. Also there are many tavernas with parking areas if one uses their services. We stayed on a piece of waste ground at N35.18119 E25.50204 as we were quite
late getting to the Plateau. The plateau is about 900 metres altitude.
KNOSSOS: N35.29960 E25.16225. Knossos ancient site. Large car park suitable for overnight stop.
This information applies to the time we were in Crete (21 March to 30 April 2010). During that period Orthodox and non-Orthodox Easter (2-4 April) fell on the same weekend. There were not the crowds that we expected, in
fact it has been fairly quiet all round.
LPG: Before we left Athens we topped up our LPG bottle at the BP filling station at N37.99304 E23.69742, as auto gas is hard to come by in Crete. There are only two outlets selling LPG on Crete, one in
Heraklion and the other in Galatos near Hania, both with the claw gun dispenser. It was a very stressful experience locating them as the GPS co-ordinates I got from the web were way out.
The Galatos outlet is an EKO service station. They had no additional adapters.
Galatos. EKO. N35.49961 E23.96641. LPG is €1.04 per litre.
The Heraklion outlet is an Avin service station, where they had additional adapters so might be able to refill other bottles.
Heraklion. Avin. N35.30461 E25.11587. LPG was €0.95 per litre
ROADS: We found the roads to be in a lot better condition than we expected. There's one big drawback: many of the roads are very narrow going through some towns and villages, so if you are not happy with
manoeuvring your van in confined spaces or are not happy driving on narrow mountain roads, Crete might not be for you. I know some drivers are very reluctant to use first gear on mountain roads but in Crete it is a necessity in places. In many tight spots
there are large mirrors situated so you can see if the road around the corner is clear.
Road signing is a nightmare in many places. Usually the direction signs appear first in Greek and then in English. That works out OK except, like Corsica, the Cretans use the road signs as target practice and often make
reading the sign almost impossible. Even with the Sat Nav and a good map we had problems. We used the Marco Polo map of Crete.
The E75 main northern coast road that runs from Hania to Sitia can be a very dangerous road. It changes from single carriageway to dual carriageway and back again with no warning at all.
WATER: At the water sources we have recorded there is sufficient room for an average motorhome to stop.
FREE CAMPING: We found it was not a problem free camping on the island. There were many no camping signs but they just showed a caravan and tent. Anyway the Greeks never bother - if they want to camp they
just do it. However, I think it would be impossible in June, July and August to free camp in some of the places we used.
WEATHER: It was sunny and warm most of the time, sometimes windy. Average daytime temperature was 22C. It rained a couple of times overnight. All in all the weather was very good.
PRICES: Greece is no longer a cheap option for a holiday. On Crete we paid €1.28 for a litre of diesel, about €1 for a loaf of bread. On the mainland diesel was €1.20 per litre. In Athens LPG was €0.69
ATM's: There were plenty of ATM's, mainly in the towns and villages that were large enough to support a bank. There were also ATM's at some of the larger supermarkets.
CREDIT CARDS: We found that most of the larger supermarkets were taking the plastic but at many service stations it was cash only. Some tavernas were accepting the plastic.
FERRY: We departed Crete as we arrived, on the Minoan day sailing; this saves the cost of a cabin on the night sailing. We also had two nights free parking on Heraklion port.
We arrived at Piraeus at 1815 hrs and decided to stay the night on the port area before heading north for Albania.
If I can be of any help regarding Crete please get in touch.