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Roads on Crete are not too congested, yet the accident rate is high compared to other parts of Europe. Driving in the main towns can be nerve-racking, to say the least. Most road signs are in Greek and English, though signage is often nonexistent or inadequate. Be sure to carry a road map at all times, and to stop and ask directions when the need arises—otherwise, you may drive miles out of your way. Gas stations are not plentiful outside the big towns, and gasoline is more expensive in Crete than it is in the United States—expect to pay about €1 a liter (about €4 a gallon).
Drive defensively wherever you are, as Cretan drivers are aggressive and liable to ignore the rules of the road. Sheep and goats frequently stray onto the roads, with or without their shepherd or sheepdog. In July and August, tourists on motor scooters can be a hazard. Night driving is not advisable.
As for car rentals, you can arrange beforehand with a major agency in the United States or in Athens to pick up a car on arrival in Crete, or work through one of the many local car-rental agencies that have offices in the airports and in the cities, as well as in some resort villages.
For the most part, these local agencies are extremely reliable, provide excellent service, and charge very low rates. Many, such as the excellent Crete Car Rental, will meet your ship or plane and drop you off again at no extra charge.
Even without advance reservations, expect to pay about €40 or less a day in high season for a medium-size car with unlimited mileage. Weekly prices are negotiable, but with unlimited mileage rentals start at about €200 in summer.
Crete Car Rental (Kallipoleos 11, Heraklion, 71306. 2810/213445. www.crete-car-rental.com.)
Sixt (Akti Konudourou 28, Ayios Nikolaos, Crete, 72100. 28410/82055. www.sixt.com. Hania Airport, 73100. 28210/20905. Heraklion Airport, 71202. 2810/280915. Ikariou 93, Heraklion, 71202. 2810/284260.)
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