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Crete, the biggest of Greece's numerous islands and the fifth-biggest of all of the Mediterranean Sea's islands, is often said to resemble a small nation in its own right. Crete's own Minoan civilisation gave Europe its first palaces and predates the ancient Greek empire on the mainland to Crete's north. All four of Crete's unique prefectures are easily explored with car hire in Crete.
Most foreign tourists enter Crete by boat or through Heraklion International Airport, by far the largest of Crete's three airports. Passengers can compare car hire online before arriving to secure the lowest rates at all three of Crete's airports. Buses and ferries are Crete's two main public transportation choices.
Heraklion International Airport, only five kilometres from Iraklio, boasts one of the island's widest selections of vehicles for rent. Car rental in Crete is often the only way to access the island's more intimate resorts and isolated attractions. Jeeps are the safest vehicles for exploring many of southern Crete's unpaved roads, and are stocked by most rental firms.
Crete's most important thoroughfare is its National Highway, which travels along the island's northern coast between Kissamos and Agios Nikolaos. There is an average of 45kms between fuel stations in most parts of Crete, and many fuel stations only accept cash payments and close around dark. Much of Crete's rugged, mountainous and undeveloped south coast is accessible only by boat or unpaved roads.
Crete is most famous for its Minoan, Byzantine and Venetian ruins as well as its beautiful beaches. However, this is also an island of dramatic contrasts where visitors can encounter myriad different landscapes and communities while driving around the island. Visitors can also trek across one of Europe's most stunning gorges at Samaria National Park, sunbathe in Europe's southernmost city of Ierapetra or party the night away at Hersonissos or Malia.
Even by Greek island standards, Crete enjoys warmer than average weather with more sunny days than any other Mediterranean island other than Cyprus. Rain is virtually non-existent during Crete's hottest and busiest months of July and August, when average 30°C daytime temperatures are frequently cooled by Meltemi breezes. However, visitors who prefer Crete's less crowded spring and autumn seasons can comfortably swim on the island's south shore nearly any time between April and November.