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Heraklion Airport is the second busiest air hub in Greece due to the popularity of the island of Crete as a summer holiday destination. It’s a small facility which is due to be replaced around 2015 by a modern, state-of-the-art airport able to deal comfortably with the high season crowds. Set three miles from Crete’s charming capital, Heraklion, the airport offers a range of ground transportation by charter coach, taxi or car hire, with the latter being the best means of touring the island.
Who to Book With
Heraklion Airport offers a choice of international car rental companies such as Hertz, Budget, Avis, Sixt and Europcar, all of which have offices in the Arrivals area. A number of local companies, including Athenscars, Clubcars, RentacarCrete and Babis, have offices in the car park opposite the terminal, a short walk from the Arrivals exit. Most companies accept online pre-booking but are very busy in the summer season, making reservation in advance essential. Local companies offer one-way rental to more distant resorts such as Chania and Agios Nikolaos.
Need to Know Essentials
Bring the following documents with you at vehicle collection:
- Your UK/EU driver’s licence
- The credit card used for the reservation
- Your passport to confirm your ID
- Confirmation of booking
Driving in Crete is on the right and varies widely over the island, from the fast, often dual-carriageway National Road linking the capital with the popular tourist destinations in the north to the narrow, twisting roads in the mountains and along the remainder of the coastline. You’ll need to allow more time than expected to cover even short distances in rural areas, but the views from the mountain roads are spectacular. Road signage is in both Greek and English, and traffic control signage is international. Parking on the island is relatively easy, although spaces in popular tourist destinations may be hard to find in the high season. In the capital and large resorts, parking card systems are often in place, with the cards purchased at streetside kiosks.
Access by car hire to Heraklion takes just 10 minutes or so, with the route easily followed via the E75 motorway and the Ikarou highway leading to the city centre. Other means of getting to your final destination are by local bus, taxi or charter coach. Local buses are cheap and run every 10 minutes, early through to late in the day, to the city centre and outlying destinations. Taxis can be booked in advance online, with routes covering all the popular resorts.
Airport taxis are found at a rank outside the Arrivals exit and can be booked online in advance with Global Taxi Reservations or a number of other online companies. Long-distance transfers by private taxi may only be available from May through September. Prices at the airport taxi rank may be 50 per cent cheaper than those of pre-booked cabs, especially during the shoulder seasons, and metered taxi travel for short distances around Heraklion and the resorts is comparatively inexpensive at around £2.50 per journey.
Heraklion Airport to Heraklion city centre is about £10
Heraklion Airport to Chania is about £150
Herakion Airport to Agios Nikolaos is about £40
Local buses, useful for travel from the airport or around the capital and resorts, are the cheapest form of transport here. For long journeys, KTEL Bus Services run between Heraklion, Hania and Rethymnon, and cover the villages in southwestern Crete. Heraklion to Chania by bus costs around £12, with village routes of 12 miles or so costing £2 and longer rural journeys of 90 miles at around £10. In general, services are more regular in the tourist season.
Heraklion’s single terminal is showing its age, especially during the tourism high season when it handles the majority of its four million passengers a year. Most of its plethora of scheduled and charter flights are seasonal, with delays commonplace. EasyJet, Monarch, Jet2, Thomas Cook and Thomson serve London and UK regional airports, and flights to Athens and several other Greek islands operate through Olympic Airlines, Aegean and Cyprus Airways.
The airport’s car park is located opposite the terminal, while several private car parks are found outside the complex.
There is no internet service at the airport.
An information desk is found adjacent to the Baggage Reclaim carousel in the Arrivals hall.
Service Centre: +30 281 039 7129
Heraklion Airport’s facilities for disabled passengers are limited, with only one modified toilet and no lifts giving wheelchair access. Helpers are available on request, but passengers with limited mobility are advised to contact their airline to request assistance in advance of travel.
Restaurants and Bars
The terminal offers a single restaurant in the landside area, which only accepts cash, and snack bars Landside and Airside that serve coffee, sandwiches and drinks.
There are no VIP lounges at the airport.
Money and ATMs
The terminal has several ATMs and one currency exchange desk.
Two small duty-free outlets are located on an upper landing in the Departures lounge, together with a kiosk selling cigarettes, newspapers, sweets and chocolates.