Enough with all the shoulds and musts for Crete. It is time to focus on a few common mistakes that you want to avoid for your trip to the island. They are as important as the things you should do. After all, any error has the potential to ruin your entire holiday. So better be careful and make the most of your time in this paradise.
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Last-minute plans for Crete?
Get there: Use Ferryhopper to book your tickets.
Stay: Find great accommodation deals on Booking.com.
Move around: Compare car rental prices with Discover Cars.
Tours: Check the most popular places on the island with GetYourGuide.
- Visit Elafonisi or discover Balos Beach.
- Hike Samaria or Explore the Archaeological Palace of Knossos.
Quick Guide to the Best Hotels in Crete
Budget: So Young Hostel in Heraklio, Cocoon City Hostel in Chania, Matthias Hotel Apartments in Rethymnon, and Villa Galini in Agios Nikolaos.
Mid-range: Capsis Astoria Heraklion in Heraklion, Porto Antico in Chania, Archipelagos Hotel in Rethymnon, or Hotel Port 7 in Agios Nikolaos.
Luxury: Galaxy Iraklio Hotel in Heraklion, Hotel OFF in Chania, Avli Lounge in Rethymnon, or Minos Beach Art Hotel in Agios Nikolaos.
Check more accommodation as well as home rentals.
Common Mistakes that you Want to Avoid During your Trip to Crete
Traveling to Crete any time soon and wondering how to spend a smooth holiday? Then this post is right for you! Here you can check those rookie mistakes you want to avoid when visiting Crete to have a wonderful time on the island… and not regret a thing!
Here you go…
Common Mistake #1
Thinking of Crete Just like a Beach Holiday
Yes, Crete is an island, but an island does not only mean gorgeous beaches. You do not have to drive or often walk far from the coastline to meet its enormous mountains.
Not only are those locations worth exploring, but you will also often have the whole place just for yourself.
If that sounds too remote or hard to reach for you, remember Crete is home to some of the most ancient civilizations on Earth.
Common Mistake #2
Trying to See the Whole Island at Ance
This is a no-no. Yet, so many tourists aspire to see the whole island on their first visit. It is when they come here that they realize the sheer size of this spectacular island.
Crete is not like other smaller Greek islands in the Aegean.
You may explore the entire island of Santorini in less than 4 days, but you would only touch the surface of Crete in under a week.
Trying to explore all of Crete in one go is not only impossible, but it will also leave you disappointed. You will miss so much of what Crete has to offer.
After all, the best experience on the island is when you settle in one place and allow yourself to be part of the community.
Common Mistake #3
Being Scared to Explore
Sticking to one region does not mean you should only see the popular attractions. Why go all the way to Crete and only view places that are packed with tourists?
If you do so, you will miss more than you can imagine. Crete is an island you have to explore if you want to see its authentic beauty.
If you are wondering, spending the entirety of your holidays on renowned beaches can make a great holiday. But it is only that good.
Why settle on mediocrity when perfection is within arm’s reach. Literally.
You do not have to go far from a popular attraction to discover a relatively unknown village, remote beach, hidden coves, or peaceful retreat.
Common Mistake #4
Being Put Off from Hiring a Car
You may hear stories of tourists renting a car and having to pay a fortune for car damage.
Although less common in Crete, any road accident can turn your long-anticipated holidays into an all-year struggle.
But it does not have to be. If you are cautious and follow the driving rules, everything will be fine.
And if you want that extra peace of mind, why not pay some extra bucks to get good insurance for your car? This will save you from a lot of trouble in case of an accident, however major it is.
If you think renting a car is not worth the money or hassle, think again.
There is no better way to see the raw beauty of the island than by hitting the road!
Common Mistake #5
Driving in the Middle of the Lane When You are Not a Fast Driver
Once you realize how great you did to rent a car, you will face the harsh reality of Cretan streets.
And this is not about the quality of the roads, which in most part go through frequent maintenance.
What you will find most challenging — and interesting at the same time — is nothing else than the way the locals often drive.
Don’t be surprised if Cretans ignore road markings and speed limits. For instance, locals will usually overtake in the presence of a double solid white line.
Don’t let that put you off. When you see any car approaching you with speed from behind, just head to the right of the road or get to the emergency lane if there is one.
Then, let the other car overtake you and keep exploring the island in peace.
Common Mistake #6
Expecting Other Drivers to be Using Common Sense
Apart from speeding and unexpected overtakes, locals often put aside their common sense when driving.
They are known for “forgetting” to indicate they are turning or suddenly stopping without any warning. Again, as long as you are focused, you will be just fine.
Whereas other drivers may not use common sense, it does not mean you shouldn’t. Put on your seat belt, respect the speed limits and follow the road markings.
Do not forget that these signs are there to keep you safe, not to make you slower.
Common Mistake #7
Forgetting about the Goats!
If you think local drivers will be your only concern while driving, you guessed wrong.
Crete is home to thousands of wild goats that often see the road network as a fast way to move around.
As a result, you may often bump into a few goats while driving around Crete, especially in the mountainous and more remote parts of the island.
Worry not, however! If you are cautious and aware of your surroundings, you will spot them from a distance and lower your speed in time.
Do not forget that those goats were there first before we built those roads trespassing their area.
Although goats are not near villages or towns, you still need to watch for stray cats and other wandering animals; there are many in Crete.
Common Mistake #8
Expecting to Easily Find a Place to Park
Once you have survived the rush of local drivers and zigzagged your way through any type of 4-leg animal, chances are you will come by a popular attraction.
And then you have to park. This can often be harder than driving. And more frustrating.
But, there is no need to worry. After all, you are not in a hurry. You are in Crete to have a joyful time, relax and view new places.
Do not let any minor issue ruin your mood, especially if that is struggling to find parking.
Use your patience, and a spot shall soon be found.
Common Mistake #9
Being too Nervous When you Drive (You’ll be missing a lot!)
Fair enough, driving a car in Crete often hides a few challenges here and there. But, at its core, renting a car and using it to move around the island is the most rewarding thing you can do.
You do not need to be nervous, or you will spoil the fun. You only have to be cautious and sensible.
If at any moment you get too nervous, ask your friend or spouse to drive the car. It will be safer for all of you.
And whether you are in the driving seat or not, be aware of the surroundings too.
For example, while you focus on the road, your eyes can fall into the background and notice the impressive peaks, stunning gorges, and magnificent sites spread all over the island!
Common Mistake #10
Expecting to Have Dinner Early
If you want to experience how the locals live, forget the 7-pm dinner.
In Greece, 7 pm means it is time for your afternoon coffee, ideally an iced frappe.
If you are wondering what is wrong with this country, remember the list is long. Yet, you never know how cool or convenient something is until you try it.
Cretans eat dinner around 10 pm or later, especially in summer. And there is a good reason for that.
If you eat your main meal of the day after work, you cannot do much during your day other than working and eating. So, moving dinner later opens up space for more activities.
You can use that approach to visit more places during your holidays.
Common Mistake #11
Refusing a Complimentary Shot of Raki
Cretans are proud people who value hospitality and sharing. When you visit their island, and especially their homes, they want to please you and make you feel at ease.
A way to thank you is to offer a shot of raki, a local alcoholic beverage made from grapes.
It is rude to say no to such an offer. In a way, it is equivalent to saying their hospitality is not good enough. This can hurt their feelings.
So, unless there is any health issue, take that sip, enjoy their company, and thank them with your kind words!
Common Mistake #12
Hoping for a Hearty Breakfast
Breakfast in Greece is not a hearty affair. And the same applies to Crete as well.
Some cereals, yogurt, or a few slices of bread with jam are usual meals that Greeks have in the morning, and sometimes even worse!
Eating late dinner also helps go away with a light breakfast.
As a result, it can be hard to find a restaurant or tavern that offers a great variety of breakfast dishes.
Many stores even open after 11 am. Do not let that put you off. Just act like a Greek. If you are hungry, visit the local bakery and get all the supplies you need.
And don’t forget to get an iced espresso or frappe.
Common Mistake #13
Eating Only Greek Salad and Moussaka
When you are in Crete, you will spend many evenings dining in a traditional tavern.
Although in the beginning, you may want to try the infamous moussaka and the standard xoriatiki salad (AKA Greek Salad), there is much more to discover than just these two traditional Greek dishes.
Apart from other popular Greek dishes, such as pastitsio, do not forget to taste the specialties of Cretan cuisine.
Try the local Dakos, the Gamopilafo rice dish, or the delicious smoked pork (apaki), usually found in the villages.
No matter where you go, ask the waiter to recommend a traditional dish and order it. You will not regret it,
Common Mistake #14
Going Overboard when Tipping
Tipping is not customary in Greece, especially for a small meal or a cup of coffee.
Although you are expected to tip if you dine at a fine restaurant or tavern, know that the waiters have a salary and the tips are extras. As a result, you do not need to go overboard with it.
At the same time, if you feel that the service the waiter has given you is exemplary, feel free to tip as much as you want.
They appreciate the gesture even though they do not expect or demand anything. Once you offer the tip, their smile will be the best reward you can get.
Common Mistake #15
The best way to experience an authentic Cretan meal is to visit a traditional tavern.
However, if you find the Cretan food appealing, you can also get to a grocery store and equip your hotel room with some delicious specialties.
And then prepare yourself a gorgeous breakfast or lunch for the next day!
Not only can you self-cater yourself with authentic food, but your wallet will also feel the difference.
And even better, you can bring some of the packed items back to your home country.
There is no better way to remind yourself of your holidays in Crete than to taste its cuisine.
Common Mistake #16
Forgetting Sunscreen Protection
Unfortunately, tourists often have another more unpleasant reminder of their Crete holidays. And that is their skin color.
Although we all want this darker skin, the in-between phase is often not too appealing or comfortable.
Everyone has been sunburned at some point in their lives, but not everyone takes action to avoid it.
Just listen to the stories of sunburned tourists that have temporary skin problems in the aftermath of their Greek holidays.
It is easy to avoid such issues; just use sunscreen protection.
Common Mistake #17
Booking the First Hotel you See
Although some hotels are nothing short of amazing, reviews on any booking platform do not guarantee that you will love your selected stay in Crete.
The island is too beautiful to go for a standard unappealing accommodation option. And it is certainly a pity if you do not experience authentic Cretan hospitality.
Fortunately, it is not hard to feel how welcoming and open Cretans can be. You only have to be around them to see their quality.
Common Mistake #18
Doing Always What the Guidebook Suggests
Although useful, guidebooks are not supposed to determine every single bit of your itinerary.
Regardless of how elaborate they are, no single guide can capture the full beauty of Crete in any definite amount of pages.
Guides are there to help you get the main picture and show you the places to visit first.
Always allow your guts and appetite to divert or dictate your next move, no matter how silly your idea may initially sound.
You never know how the next adventure may start. And in the end, you will remember those unexpected moments more than any planned activity.
Common Mistake #19
Flushing Toilet Paper
This may come as a shock to many, but you are not supposed to flush toilet paper down the toilet in Crete.
This is true in all Greek islands and most cities in the country. Greek sewage pipes are too thin to handle any amount of toilet paper.
There will always be garbage bins next to your toiletry, wherever you are in Crete.
You can kindly use those, and the locals will appreciate your gesture. Don’t forget that if the paper gets stuck to the thin pipes, you may witness and experience a rather unpleasant situation in your toilet.
You do not want that.
Common Mistake #20
Packing Too Much
Do not let the sheer size of Crete tempt you into packing an oversized suitcase.
The peace of mind that you will get from bringing lots of clothes is nothing compared to the discomfort of carrying a piece of hefty baggage around the island.
Pack light and your holidays in Crete can open up a world of adventure!
If you dare the change, try to only bring one backpack with you. It is not as difficult as it may initially sound.
With the right backpack, you can carry more clothes than you will ever need. After all, do not forget that you can wear only one set of clothes at a time.
One thing you do not want to forget to pack is your mood.
Keep positive, avoid the above mistakes, and enjoy your holidays. You are in paradise after all!
Have you made any of these mistakes?
Let me know in the comments below!
Travel Plans for Crete?
More Resources to Organize Your Trip!
Start by heading right to my tips to plan a trip to Crete for in-depth details you need to know about Greece. You can also check my post to better know what to pack for a trip to the island or read this info to visit Crete with children!
Get in touch if you need extra help to plan your trip. If you want to tour West Crete, check my guide. Want more? Join my Private Facebook Group to connect with like-minded travelers who love Crete as much as you do!
Make Sure You’ve Got Everything For a Hassle-Free Vacation!
I never move around the islands without my Osprey backpack, a sturdy but light travel partner I just love. For short trips, I carry this little crossbody bag. If I drive, I pack my Nikon D7200 and a good travel guide: Lonely Planet’s Best of Greece & the Greek Islands.
For accommodation, I use Booking.com. Traveling to remote places is easier with Discover Cars. Other times, I join organized tours with GetYourGuide, which features anything from cooking lessons to airport transfer!
Are you coming to Crete any time soon?
Get in touch and let me know!
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Written by Dimitrios Tsevremes
Passionate about travel, spirituality, and sports, I have lived in 5 countries and traveled to more places than I have counted. Writing for me is a way to express myself and my creativity. Whether I write for my blog or a freelancing gig, I always fall in love with the process and often lose my sense of time. If you want, you can check more about me and my work here.
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About the author of this blog:
Gabi has been living in Crete for the last five years. Here, she juggles being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours in the summer, translating, and working as a tech advisor.
She’s written for Greek Reporter, published two travel guides about Greece, and drunk more glasses of frappe than any regular person would be able to handle.