Greece › Crete › Heraklion Car Rental
by Santorini Dave • Updated: May 24, 2022
The Heraklion airport is fairly small. The rental car parking lot is directly across from the terminal. It’s best to check prices and availability online and then pick up your car from the kiosks inside the Arrivals terminal.
Heraklion Airport Car Rental
My recommendation: Unlike most Greek islands, renting a car in Crete makes a big difference in what you can see and where you can go. Bus service between Crete’s main cities – Heraklion, Rethymnon, and Chania – is excellent, but getting to less popular towns, villages, and beaches is made much easier with a rental car. If you’re flying into Heraklion, then it’s best to reserve a car in advance at the Heraklion airport.
There is a wide variety of rental cars available including small budget sedans, family-friendly mini-vans, and large SUVs. I like reserving at airports because there are multiple rental car companies within steps of each other. If there’s a mistake in your reservation you walk a few feet in either direction and enquire about a different car.
In theory, it’s possible to take rental cars to Santorini (or any other Greek island) but in practice it’s an expensive hassle that involves booking car ferry tickets and getting written permission from the rental car company. It’s much easier and cost effective to simply rent a car in Santorini or Mykonos when you get there.
RentalCars.com is my favorite website for hiring rental cars. It gives multiple options for location pick up and drop off. Select “Crete – Heraklion Downtown” to pick up your rental car near the ferry port and downtown hotels. Select “Heraklion Airport” to pick up your car in the arrivals terminal of Heraklion International Airport (there is only one airport in Heraklion).
If you want to pick up your rental car near the Heraklion ferry port then select “Crete – Heraklion Downtown”. There are several car rental companies within a short walk of the ferry port. The main Heraklion bus station is also nearby. The narrow busy streets of Heraklion are not ideal for renting a car (which is why I prefer pick up from the airport).
Heraklion Airport Car Rental
RentalCars.com is the best way to rent a car at the Heraklion International Airport. The rental car kiosks are inside the arrivals terminal. If you’re going to rent a car for Crete it’s much easier to get the car at the airport than in the city center of Heraklion. Even if you’re arriving by ferry it’s often best to hop in a taxi for the 8-minute drive to the airport to get your car. (There is only one airport in Heraklion.)
Heraklion International Airport is a pretty small airport. It has many daily flights but never feels too busy.
The terminal is small and it’s an easy walk between the Arrivals and Departures areas. (The rental car kiosks are in Arrivals.)
The rental car companies are found in the Arrivals terminal immediately after you pass immigration/customs and pick up your luggage.
There are 7 car rental companies at the airport. If you’ve reserved in advance with RentalCars.com or directly with Budget, Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Thrifty, National, or Sixt then picking up a car is quick and easy. If you haven’t booked in advance be prepared for a higher rates and lot of haggling (last-minute bookings is how they make their money).
When you walk out of the Arrivals terminal of the airport turn left for the taxi stand and go straight for rental cars.
The rental car parking lot is directly across from the Arrivals Terminal at Heraklion Airport.
The parking lot for the rentral car companies is a short walk from the Arrivals terminal but there are free shuttle buses if you have a lot of luggage.
The bus stop is also across the street from the airport.
The taxi stand is steps from the main terminal.
Taxi fares from Heraklion Airport: Chania (174€), Rethymnon (100€), Hersonisos (36€), Malia (46€), Elounda (90€), Agios Nikolaos (78€), Sitia (172€), Matala (93€). This is a few years old so prices have likely increased a little.
The main highway along the north of Crete (from Agios Nikolaos to Heraklion to Rethymnon to Chania) is good quality road.
Most car rental companies will allow for drop-off at the Heraklion ferry port (or the Chania airport). There’s plenty of parking space steps from the ferries. Just ask your rental car company how and where to drop-off.
The ticket pick up for ferry tickets is located at the Heraklion ferry port. You can take a taxi right up to the ferry if you’re not dropping off a rental car.
At Chania Airport the rental car kiosks are inside the Arrivals terminal. Reserve on RentalCars.com for the best prices and variety.
Rental cars in Crete are new and well-maintained and come in everything from SUVs and mini-vans, to sports cars and convertibles.
The Heraklion Airport and Chania Airport have the best rates and largest inventory on RentalCars.com.