As the largest of the Greek islands, naturally you might be inclined to think Crete operates in the same way as any other traditional island nation. However, you’d be required to view the public transport system in Crete as one that’s designed mainly to service the tourism industry. Even though there’s taxi availability for the public, that service is not really what one would refer to as proper public transportation. The only proper means of established public transportation in Crete is a bus.
However, it must be acknowledged that Crete’s bus network is quite impressively extensive, making it easy enough to get around pretty much the entirety of the island. And although it’s nothing short of a tourism geared island, by European standards, the fares are pretty reasonable as they’re regulated by the government.
The main coastal road hugging the north of the island is the busiest of the bus routes, boasting an hourly service. The south coast gets less frequent services, so too the inland villages.
Major tourist attractions are also serviced, including Knossos,Phaestos, Moni Arkadiou, Moni Preveli, Omalas Plateau and Gortys. Even Hora Sfakion is accessible with a ferry that departs from Loutro and another one from Agia Roumeli.
Tavern which double-up ticket offices for the smaller bus stations might very well have you questioning their authenticity. Otherwise the bigger towns there have are covered central bus stations which are pretty much easily distinguishable. You should always take the opportunity to ask around if you’re not sure. Tickets can also be paid for on the bus, but be mindful of the fact that schedules can change pretty much any time.
Taking a bus inevitably denies you the option of stopping wherever and whenever your heart desires, perhaps to explore some of those places where you might enjoy a bit more time alone along with the unique culture. So all in all car rental in Crete is a much better option – the best option, in fact. It’s way better even than relying on the transportation provide as part of the many guided tours to get around.
For any first-time visitor, Chania would most probably make for the nearest central point to want to stay.
If you’re rather on the lookout for more of a small-town charm to go with the radiance of some of the cutest, remote villages, the south of the island is where you should look.
So, while it is indeed possible to get around with the island of Crete’s version of what can be loosely referred to as public transport, you won’t quite have the flexibility which will be required of someone who can come away from this part of the world having had the fully quintessential experience of the city. Having access to a car means that you can decide to drive from the east coast all the way to the west coast, at your own leisure, in no more than an hour-and-a-half. Try to that by bus or taxi and you’ll inevitably come away from the experience frustrated.