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Heraklion

Hire a Car to Discover this Ancient City

Heraklion is the capital of the Heraklion prefecture and its population is around 270.000 people. There have been settlements in this area since the Neotholic times and we can trace the history of the town this far back. One of the sights we can visit today in Heraklion is the Koules Fortress Castle, which is located at Heraklion port. The castle was constructed by the Venetians in the early 13th century, when they conquered the town (Koules means fortress in Turkish). It was built primarily as a storage area for food and military supplies, it also served as a prison and also as quarters for the officers.

Another interesting site in this prefecture is Knossos, the palace of Minos which was excavated in 1990 by Arthur Evans, although a merchant of Heraklion had already found two of the palace store rooms in 1878. The palace is about 130 square meters and it has been suggested as the source of the myth of the Labyrinth since the Roman period. The Labyrinth was an elaborate mazelike structure built for King Minos of Crete and designed by the legendary artificer Daedalus to hold the Minotaur, a creature that was half man and half bull and was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.

The palace of Phaistos is located on the east side of the Kastri Hill, at the end of the Mesara valley on central south region of Crete. The palace is consisted of two different parts: the Old and the New Palace. The Old Palace was built in the beginning of 2000 B.C, also known as the Protopalatial Period, and the New Palace, which was built at the same spot when the Old Palace was almost devastated by an earthquake. The New Palace was destroyed in the mid 15th Century B.C and afterwards only some parts of it remained inhabited. The new palace covers a smaller area compared to the old palace, allowing the visitors to see the remains of the old one.

Discover Natural Beauty of Heraklion

With our Heraklion InterCar car rental service, you’ll be able to explore the natural beauty of this province. Heraklion city have many places to explore, inside the city as well as in remote areas. Many picturesque surroundings and beautiful spots are located on the remote areas of Heraklion and to reach those beautiful places, there is always the need to hire a car. You can hire a car in Heraklion and start visiting coastal regions of Heraklion, where you will find golden sand stretched over miles. Heraklion also have some beautiful mountains notably in the south and some beautiful caves and mountain villages. Reach those mountain villages and enjoy the rural life with our car rental service.

Another exciting place to visit with your rented car is Matala. The artificial caves in the cliff of the Matala bay were created in the Neolithic Age. Matala was the port of Phaistos during the Minoan period. In the year 220 B.C. Matala was occupied by the Gortynians and during the Roman period Matala became the port of Gortys. In the 1st and 2nd centuries the caves were used as tombs. One of the caves is called "Brutospeliana" because according to the legend it was frequented by the Roman general Brutus. Matala was then a fishing village. In the 1960s the caves were occupied by hippies who were later driven out by the church and the military junta. Now Matala is a small village living mainly from tourism. Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell's experiences with the Matala hippies were immortalized in her 1971 song Carey.

Eating Out in Heraklion

With a rented car, visitors can make some instant dinner or lunch plans on holidays and visit famous world class hotels or restaurants whenever they want. A rented car can make your spontaneous plans realizable as it gives you the freedom to make your own plans. It’s always a joyful holiday experience to have local Greek food with your family. Many tasty traditional Greek dishes and other variety of dishes represent the taste and culture of Greece.

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Lassithi

Drive up to the Windmills in Crete

Lassithi Plateau is one of the few areas in the Mediterranean with permanent inhabitants at an altitude over 800 metres. Next to Lasithi Plateau we can find the cave where it is said that Zeus was born, Dikteon Andron. You need to have walking shoes with you as the stairs leading to the cave are slippery. There are many small villages on the plateau which maintain their traditional character. Don't hesitate to come out of your car and walk along the lanes. You will be rewarded with nostalgic sights of windmill in Lassithi plateau, authentic farm living. Most of the tourist guides describe the place as a plateau of 10,000 windmills. There are also some old black and white photos showing thousands of windmills scattered throughout the area. Unfortunately, most of those windmills, with crude pumping engines and iron towers of simple technology, no longer exist. Originally, the locally-constructed windmills made their appearance in the valley at the end of the 1800s. During the 1950s there were about 4,000 structures offering invaluable assistance to the local farmers. Today, with modern means of irrigation and power supply, that number has been greatly reduced, depriving Lassithi of its unique identity.

Historical Sights

Leaving the Lassithi Plateau and heading towards Heraklion, we meet an area just before the village of Kera, where 24 stone flour mills once stood, dating back to the 1800s. They operated until the end of WWII, but today most of them are ruined and only three have been restored so far.

Another interesting place to visit is Kato Zakros. Some hundred meters away from the beach there is the Palace of Zakros. The palace of Zakros was built at about 1900 B.C. The present ruins are from the second building phase, at about 1600 BC. It was found by the Greek archaeologist N. Platon at 1961. Politically and commercially, the Palace of Zakros is oriented towards the major civilisations of the Middle East.

Lassithi Nightlife

Most nightlife venues in the Lassithi Prefecture are situated in Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Elounda, and Ierapetra, including a very good selection of clubs, bars and cafes, although most seaside settlements also offer a number of entertainment venues. In Lassithi there are traditional tavernas and restaurants everywhere, from the smallest village to the most popular resort, so visitors will find hundreds of place to eat in Agios Nikolaos, Crete, as well as elsewhere in the prefecture. Rent now a car from InterCar car rental and visit all the places you like!

Agios Nikolaos is an international and cosmopolitan resort that welcomes thousands of visitors annually. The lake is its most charming feature. Legend suggests that Athena and Armetis bathed in its waters. This lake is connected to the sea by a straight channel, while its natural surroundings of red rock and trees attract the visitor magnetically. At a small open-air theatre by the lake, locals and visitors alike can enjoy interesting artistic and cultural presentations. A walk around the shops of Agios Nikolaos is an enjoyable experience. In the many stores the visitor can find a wide selection of traditional Cretan artwork, copies of pieces from different archaeological museums, jewelry, and embroidery.

A few kilometers North from Agios Nikolaos we meet the beautiful resort of Elounda and on the opposite bank is the island of Spinalonga. This island was a leper colony and this is the island that the book “The Island” is based on.

Lassithi Beaches

The beautiful shoreline of the Lassithi Prefecture provides visitors with a plethora of splendid beaches on which to spend leisure time basking in the sun and swimming in the cool waters of the Cretan and Libyan Seas. On the northern coast of Lassithi, Crete, the waters are warmer and shallower than the southern waters, although the beaches on the southern coast of Lassithi are less crowded than those on the northern coast. If you prefer beaches that are serene and secluded, we suggest visiting the northern Lassithi beaches Driros, Sissi, Havania, and Pachia Ammos or the southern Lassithi beaches of Agia Fotia, Xerokambos, Koutsounari, Achlia, and Lagada. Close to Vai Palm Beach on the eastern shore of Lassithi are the wonderful beaches in the Palekastro region, Itanos Beach and Kato Zakros Beach. The majority of Lassithi beaches provide beach facilities, such as tavernas, cafes, umbrellas and chaise longues, while others are fully-organized and have water sports facilities. A rented car from InterCar car rental gives you the opportunity to visit a different beach and find out whether you prefer a crowded or an isolated one.

On the south of Lasithi prefecture we meet the beautiful town, Ierapetra. From the port there we can take the ferry which is 4 hours away from Chrissi Island, where its sandy beaches are a match to Hawaii!! The water there is crystal blue and you can clearly identify the fishes swimming there!

Vai is also a beautiful village. There you can find the only self-sown palm trees in all Greece! Legend says that when the Romans reached Vai they didn’t know where they were. They were laying on the beach all day eating plums and throwing the stones on the sand and this is how the palm trees came to grow.

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Rethymno

Hire a Car to Explore Rethymno

Rethymno is the capital of the prefecture of the same name. Rethymno, like Heraklion was also under the control of the Venetians for many years. It is a very graphic town with beautiful sights. In this town we can see the “old town” which is famous for its narrow streets and for the fort, which was built in 1590, which protected the town from pirates and the Turks. It is located at the top of a low hill named “Palaiokastro“. The name “Palaiokastro” means 'The old Castle" and it was in use even by the Venetians which demonstrates the existance of an even older castle at this place. - Probably the acropolis of the ancient town of Rithymna. The interior of Fortezza accommodated the following basic buildings: the storeroom of the artillery, where canons and weapons were kept, the residence of the Councillors, where one of the city's two Venetian councillors lived, the residence of the Rector, which represented a luxurious, magnificent building in the central square of the fortress. Today parts of those buildings, as well as of some others built later, can be seen. The view from up there is magnificent, especially at night. The municipal theatre "Erofili" stands also at Fortezza's premises. It is an outdoor theatre that hosts almost all the performances during the Renaissance Festival.

Historical Sights

With our Rethumno car hire service, you’ll be able to explore the historical sights of this province. East of Rethymno you can find Moni Arkadiou. The Monastery has been a continuous and inseparable part of the Cretan history during the last eight centuries. The Monastery multi-faceted deed unfolds in the passage of time. Sources show that the Monastery had been a centre of education and manuscripts copying. They also produced needlework embroidered with gold during the 17th and 18th centuries dazzling the whole world. The Monastery battled against conquerors and inspired the whole world. The sacrifice of the people living and dying there affected and attracted the attention of the rest of the world. The Cretan occupation by the Turks occurred during the prosperity of the Monastery. The monks participated in the 1821 Revolt and play a leading part in the events. The first havoc was on the way. It is then that the Monastery is ransacked and abandoned by the monks for a small period of time. However, they return soon. The highest offer of the Monastery is its self-sacrifice, heroism and pious altruism. It is the Holocaust of November 8th 1866. The Monastery gave its fights against slavery. It managed to shake off the traces that the enemy fiercely desired to settle and succeeded in changing the course of the Cretan history. Ever since the Monastery has endured the brunt of the history on its shoulders and continues taking part in the battles which followed the much afflicted island of Crete and strives in all possible ways to meet the expectations of its glory past. Another monastery worth a visit which ruled in the middle ages is the monastery Bosakos.

The independence that offers a rented car from InterCar allows you to visit whenever you choose the monastery of Holy Cross in Vosako, which is built in a small plateau between the peaks Koutroulis and Mesokofinas of the Talean Mountains, 50km east of Rethymno. The monastery can be accessed by car via the village Doxaro and the rough landscape is amazing. There is a second road starting from Sisses village. Vosako name comes from the abbreviation of the greek words vous (buff) and sakos (fold) and means cattle pen, as the plateau probably was used for feeding cattle. The monastery is built like a fortress and the main temple (Katholiko) is dedicated to the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros). Up until the late 90s, the monastery was completely deserted and ruined, but today it has been restored and is operates normally. The buildings are located on two levels with two courtyards. The main temple is built on the south courtyard. Outside the temple stands a beautiful Venetian fountain, while the main entrance is imposing. The monastery played an important revolutionary role against the Turks, so it was twice destroyed by them.

Driving with your car on the road to Previli, you can find a gorge where you can stop to relax and admire the lake which lays parallel to the road and may also visit another beautiful small monastery which is located next to the rocks there.

Eating Out in Rethymno

In general, cuisine is good in all restaurants in Rethymno. From taverns to classy restaurants you will be amazed by the variety of choices. The atmosphere, the food quality and the warm reception will definitely be strongly impressed on your memory.

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Chania

Hire a Car to Discover this Ancient City

The city of Chania was slowly regaining its normal pace of development during the 1950s, trying to overcome the difficulties that the war had left as an aftermath. During the 1970s Crete became a major tourist destination for Greek and international tourists, something that gave a significant boost to the city's economy and affected the everyday life and the overall culture of the locals. The capital of Crete was moved from Chania to Heraklion in 1971. Chania and the rest of the island of Crete, unlike the mainland of Greece, it is not suffering from the economical crisis, as the local economy is based on the horticulture products like the olive oil. Chania is the site of the Minoan settlement the Greeks called Kydonia, Greek for quince. Some notable archaeological evidence for the existence of this Minoan city below some parts of today's Chania was found by excavations in the district of Kasteli in the Old Town. This area appears to have been inhabited since the Neolithic era.

The city reemerged after the end of the Minoan period as an important city-state in Classical Greece, one whose domain extended from Chania Bay to the feet of the White Mountains. The first major wave of settlers from mainland Greece was by the Dorian Greeks who came around 1100 BC. Kydonia was constantly at war with other Cretan city-states such as Aptera, Phalasarna and Polyrrinia and was important enough for the Kydonians to be mentioned in Homer's Odyssey (iii.330). In 69 BC, the Roman consul Caecilius Metellus defeated the Cretans and conquered Kydonia to which he granted the privileges of an independent city-state. Kydonia reserved the right to mint its own coins until the third century AD.

Beaches of Chania

From warm sand to colorful pebbles, the prefecture has a type of beach for everyone. Small and secluded coves can be found everywhere as well as long, busy and fully equipped beaches. All beaches have crystalline waters. Some of the many beaches are: Golden beach, Agia Marina, Georgoupoli, Stalos.

Take the opportunity to rent a car and drive 10 kilometers north from Kalyviani, around 58 Kilometers from Chania, at the north side of Gramvousa Peninsula lies Balos Lagoon beach, which is one of the best beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. Balos Lagoon beach is at the entrance of the homonymous cove and it is not affected by the “meltemia” (northern summer winds), since the islet of Gramvousa at the mouth of the cove protects it very well. The beach at the lagoon is sandy with pinkish – white sand and thousands of broken and intact seashells, with shallow water, very warm especially in summer. One problem is that the beach has a smooth but muddy seabed, which may make walking on it a bit disgusting, and occasionally, due to the shallow water, it has a bad odor. Outside of the lagoon you can swim in a deep crystal clear sea and if you like snorkel you that is the ideal place. There are no other facilities apart from a small cafe for a cold frappe coffee and drinks. Some people choose the place for free camping, although there is no shade and the place is not as quiet as it used to be in the past. Access is possible by boat from Kastelli (departure at 9:30 in the morning and returning at 16:00). If you wish to drive you will definitely have to rent a 4WD car or special motorbikes, because there is approximately 10 kilometers of road which is not asphalted and is in bad condition, making it difficult for conventional vehicles. Even so you cannot avoid walking, since you have to leave your vehicle about 15 minutes before the beach and follow the path on foot.

On the other hand, if you choose not to take your car or motorbike, you should be prepared for an approximately 3 hours walking from Kalyviani. Had you chosen these longer paths to reach the beach, you will be well rewarded by the marvelous view of the lagoon from the parking place. Moni Gouvernetou, which is also located close to Chania, is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete. It was built in 1537.It flourished and had a lot of influence on the region. In 1645, it is said that 60 monks used to live there before the Turkish invasion. The Turks, however, soon began to influence the path of the monastery, which was looted and burned by the Turks, like other neighboring monasteries. Numerous sacred and priceless historical relics were lost and many monks were killed. The Turks also destroyed the archives of the monastery, which was partially restored in the recent years. During the World War II monastery moved to single outpost of the Germans to control the area where there were many battles with the resistance groups. Since 2005 the monks of the monastery Gouvernetou have begun restoration works of the temple enclosure space trying to maintain this historic monastery of Crete.

Shipping Trips

Another place that simply has to be recommended is Elafonisi. It is an island located close to the southwestern side of the mediterranean island of Crete, which partly belongs administratively in the prefecture of Chania. When the weather is fine it is possible to walk to the island through the shallow water. The island is a protected nature reserve. At the highest point on the island there is a plaque that commemorates a tragic event. On Easter Sunday of 24 April 1824 several hundred Greeks, mostly women and children, were killed on Elafonisi by Ottoman soldiers. To inhibit advancing Ottoman troops, 40 armed men had taken refuge on the island with women, children and old folk where they were waiting for a ship to take them to the Ionian Islands. The Ottoman soldiers had decided to camp on the beach opposite the island. One of their horses walked along the shallow water to the island and the people hiding on the island were discovered. According to several sources there were between 640 and 850 people in total, most of whom were killed and the remaining survivors were sold in to slavery in Egypt. Also a large wooden cross commemorates a shipwreck from 22 February 1907. It was an Austrian Lloyd passenger steamer, called the Imperatrix. Due to strong northwest winds 38 people died in a lifeboat that tried to reach the shore. They were all buried on the island. Imperatrix still lies on the seabed in front of the island's cliffs and was the reason that a lighthouse was built on an island hilltop. The lighthouse was destroyed during the Second World War by the occupying German troops.

Sfakia

You do not want to leave Chania without visiting Chora Sfakion. The region of Sfakia is the highest populated area in all of Greece. Sfakia is characterized by the natural beauty of a wild mountain landscape which is perfectly combined with the sea. Sfakia includes the greatest part of White Mountains (or Lefka Ori) including Pachnes, the highest peak (2454 meters). There we meet the Samaria Gorge, one of the most popular attractions on Crete. Other canyons in Sfakia are the gorge of Imbros, Agia Eirini in Selino, Aradena, Kallikratis and Gorge Elygia.

Chania Nightlife

Numerous modern bars proposing various atmospheres can be found in the capital of the prefecture of Chania and in the touristy beach resorts of the prefecture, particularly in Platanias and Paleohora.

Night clubs are also available and are playing a wide range of music and stay open until morning. Beach bars are located on some beaches.

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Address: Kato Gouves Vlixadas 
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