Heraklion International Airport, also known as "Nikos Kazantzakis," is located three miles away from the city center of Heraklion. It's the main airport on the Island of Crete and the second busiest airport in Greece. Interestingly, since there is an air force base at the airport, airlines often ask that visitors not take pictures of the runway.
Facilities at Heraklion Airport include a restaurant, ATMs, currency exchange bureau, duty-free shops, and baby changing facilities. There is an information center for passengers located near the baggage area. Facilities for the disabled are limited, but airlines often help with the necessary arrangements on request. In addition to the airport's car parking facility, there are private car parks opposite the airport.
Renting a car at Heraklion Airport is the most convenient way to explore the beautiful island of Crete and its quaint villages.
Finding a Rental Car at Heraklion International Airport
Several car rental companies have counters at the arrivals hall of Heraklion International Airport. Prominent among them are Eurodollar, Travel Star, Avis, and Autohellas. Visitors can also book a car online or through a phone call so they can hit the road as soon as they arrive at the airport. It's also advisable to book a navigation device along with the vehicle, unless one has his own GPS device with Greek maps installed.
European Union citizens can drive in Greece with their regular driver's license. Others need to have an international driver's license issued by their home country.
Driving Around Heraklion International Airport
To reach the city center of Heraklion, one needs to drive west from the airport, along the local roads. The E75 highway, right outside the airport, runs along the north coast, and leads to Rethymnon in the West.
Fueling up is not a problem because there are lots of service stations on the E75 highway. However, many of them do not accept credit cards, so prudent travelers carry some cash.
People in Greece drive on the right-hand side of the road. Crete has a speed limit of 56 mph on most of its highways and usually 30 mph at other places. Driving in Crete can be challenging at times due to poorly maintained roads and signs that aren't easily visible.
Attractions Near Heraklion International Airport
It takes less than 10 minutes to drive from Heraklion International Airport to the city center of Heraklion. The capital and the largest city of Crete, Heraklion is famous for the archaeological site Knossos, and the archaeological museum and the Koules Venetian Fortress are both worth a visit.
The Palace of Knossos, located about three miles from the main city, dates back to 1900 B.C. This archaeological site, associated with the Minoan civilization, is one of the most impressive sites in Greece and is thought to be evidence of the oldest civilization of Europe.
Those looking to experience the exotic beaches of Crete can drive towards the coastal town of Malia. Located 21 miles east of Heraklion, Malia is known for its bars, nightclubs, and restaurants.
Other must-visit attractions near Heraklion Airport include the resort town of Chersonissos, the Palace of Phaestos, and the Cretaquarium aquarium.
With a rented a car at their disposal, visitors can venture a little further out and check out the village of Matala and city of Chania.