Crete has been home to ancient Romans, Venetians, the Ottoman Empire and the world’s most famous half man-half bull, the Minotaur. These days it’s mostly ruins, LOTS of ruins, stunning beaches and some of the tastiest food in the Med.
Crete can feel a little like a country within a country and the island is now a mezze platter of rural little towns, small cities, heaving tourist spots and an unhealthy amount of tour organisers. Prices vary greatly and trying to get a grip on how much money you’ll need for Crete can be tricky.
But we’re here to help. We’ve looked at real data from real travellers and seen how much they spent and what on, we’ve consulted the experts and, while discovering some great recommendations in the process, put together this handy guide on how much spending money you’ll need in Crete.
|Average Daily Spend In Crete:€75|
|Currency in Crete||Euro|
|Bottle of Coke||€1.68|
|Eating Out €41 per day||Entertainment €29 per day||Transport €5 (€30 with car)|
WeSwap Traveller Average Daily Spend: €29
Knossos and Archaeological Museum, Heraklion: 16€ for a combined ticket
The Venetian Harbour, Chania: Free
Samaria Gorge, Samaria National Park, West Crete: 5€
Falásarna Beach, Kíssamos: Free
The majority of Crete’s 600,000 residents live in the three regions of Chania, Heraklion or Rethymnon with the rest of the population sparsely scattered around the rest of the island. To truly get the most of anywhere we’d always recommend trying to get off the beaten track as much as possible so our entertainment recommendations (influenced by the WeSwap travellers’ own sense of adventure, of course) reflect what’s available right across the island.
So we thought we’d start our recommendations with the classic Knossos. Think of this like the accessible first album you listen to before delving into an increasingly progressive back catalogue. The White Album of Crete ruins if you will. Knossos was the capital of the Minoan Empire and is home to the Minotaur’s maze and the Minoan palace.
Plus, for just 16€ a trip here can be combined with the stunning Heraklion Archaeological Museum, home to ancient treasures from all over the island. We’d recommend getting up early and rocking up before 10 am to beat the buses and the tour groups.
Stunning harbours are ten-a-drachma in Greece, but few were built up over 300 years by the Venetian empire and remain mostly intact. The aptly named Venetian Harbour on Crete, however, does. One of two free outings on our list, the harbour is home to the domed Mosque of Kioutsouk Hasan to the east, a 16th century 21m Lighthouse at the mouth of the harbour that looks out over the water, and bustling tavernas (not free, obviously) that serve locals and tourists (lots and lots of tourists) local delicacies and often-overpriced imported goods.
If it’s walking you’re after, Crete is conveniently home to Europe’s longest canyon. If you’re considering tackling all 16km of the Samaria Gorge, maybe consider first that just the descent down to the gorge floor takes a good five hours. It is worth every sweaty step, however, as in that half-day walk you’ll walk through alpine forests and passageways that narrow to just 10m across with 1,000ft cliffs flanking you on either side.
Our top beach pick is Falásarna Beach. Hidden away in a far-flung north-western corner, 7 miles from the nearest town of Kíssamos it’s surrounded by olive groves and small tavernas and made up of blonde sand and lush green water. Crete can get pretty overloaded with tourists, especially in summer, and Falásarna can be a welcome respite from the tour groups of Váï beach. For the history buffs, Falásarna Beach also just happens to have Phalasarna, an ancient port right at the end of it.
WeSwap Traveller Average Daily Spend: 41€
The Hope, Mavrikiano: mains 6-18€
Yiannis, Platanias: selection box for 12€
Skala Bar, Paleóhora: beers/cocktails 7€
Mitsakakis, Sitia: galaktoboureko 2.90€
There’s a lot of food in Crete. So. Much. Food. So much unbelievably tasty food. Fresh fish, fresher vegetables, hand-crafted pastries, all served from mountainside tavernas and waterfront bars where locals and tourists mix, drink and nibble on mezedhes platter (think tapas, but Greek). We’re not being overdramatic when we say narrowing this list down was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do.
A local hangout since the late 1930s, The Hope is now run by a charming young couple called Dimitris and Amalia. It hangs from a steep hillside in Mavrikiano and is home to a balcony that, in days gone by, fishermen would sit on and assess the conditions for the next day. Those fishermen have long been replaced by locals and tourists swilling wine and raki, chowing down on lamb chops and homemade mezedhes and trying to comprehend what they did in a past life to deserve the view.
If you’re looking to take a bit of risk, the 12€ selection boxes of mezedhes from local favourite Yiannis are 100% worth a punt. You’ll have exactly zero say what’s in there but we can guarantee you’ll love every little bite. It’s just one block away from the beautiful Kalamaki beach and for just 8€ the owners will throw a picnic together for you to take down to the shore.
If you’re looking to let your hair down after a long day of exploring ruins or looking to dance off one too many mezedhes platters, Skala Bar is always packed with drinkers and dancers alike. Right on the waterfront by the ferry jetty, you can grab a beer or cocktail here for around 7€, which is pretty good for Crete.
If you find yourself lagging after a day of exploring and your belly is rumbling for a sugary pick-me-up, then let us introduce you to Mitsakakis. Famous for its custard filled galaktoboureko pastries, this café also serves Greece’s answer to the doughnut, the loukoumades and the angel hair kataifi pastries.
One option especially popular with WeSwap travellers was some good old fashioned home cooking, i.e. self-catering. Supermarket wise, if you’re staying in any of the main towns and cities (think Chania, Heraklion or Rethymnon) then supermarkets popular with WeSwap travellers (and all residents of Crete it seems) are local brand SYNKA and your friend and ours, Lidl, of which there are 4 (4!) in Chania alone.
WeSwap Traveller Average Daily Spend: 5€ (30€ with a car)
Single bus ticket: 1.50€
Taxi from Heraklion Airport to city centre of Heraklion: 15€
Bus from Heraklion Airport to city centre of Heraklion: 0.75€
Taxi from Chania Airport to city centre of Chania: 30€
Bus from Chania Airport to city centre of Chania: 2.50€
Car Hire: Around 25€ per day
Working out how much travel will be on Crete can be tough. The island has three airports and the drive from one end of the island to the other can take up to three hours so it all depends on where you’ve decided to stay. Heraklion is the island’s capital and the majority of flights fly into Heraklion airport, while Chania airport and the city of Chania are also popular with WeSwap travellers, so we’ve based our recommendations on those two locations.
Our top tip when it comes to cabs would be to make sure you’re on the metre if you’re in the cities or towns and with rural taxi ranks make sure to agree on a price in advance if there’s isn’t a cost list pinned up somewhere.
If you’re able to, car hire is a great way to whizz around Crete. Just bear in mind that the further into rural Crete you go the more hazardous the roads become until it is strictly a 4×4 situation.
The bus system around Crete is surprisingly modern and famously efficient and cost-effective (for Europe that is). For the latest timetable, check www.bus-service-crete-ktel.com for western Crete and www.ktelherlas.gr for central and eastern Crete.
Most bars and restaurants in the towns and cities of Crete accept card but the empire that still reigns supreme on Crete is Cash. Opt for a travel card that gives you free cash withdrawals and lets you take out the money in Euros without converting. This will save you a lot in fees. As you venture out into rural Crete make sure you’ve got cash and make sure that cash is in its smallest form as a lack of change is still a huge issue for smaller shops, smalls and tavernas.