We just got back from a 2.5 week trip to Crete, Delphi and Meteora. It was our second trip to Greece. This trip was different than others we have taken to Europe in that we moved around a lot. We generally like to stay 3-4 nights in one place but it became clear early on that Crete was not conducive to that. Then a few weeks before our trip we spent 3 nights living out of a suitcase while celebrating our son’s graduation. I found it really difficult as it seemed I was constantly looking for things. I was determined to do better for our Greece trip. Using advice from this forum both on how to organize stays and packing and some ideas I came up with as well, we were mostly successful.
We combined the bus and a car rental on Crete. That worked well for us. The bus is inexpensive (I recall 7.8 Euros to south coast) and comfortable. Masks were required to board but many people took them off once they were on. As a consequence, we moved to the back where there were fewer people. This did require me to take two Dramamine to survive the curves so do bring if you are prone to motion sickness (my husband was fine). The views are wonderful and no worries once you board.
We found driving to be challenging. We got lost. A lot. With and without google maps. The small towns have very narrow roads and while they are two way, only one car can pass through at a time. So when two cars are present, one must back up. My husband has better depth perception than I, so he drove in the small towns most of the time. Then when I did drive, he disliked being responsible for navigation. So basically he mostly drove and I mostly navigated.
I actually think the Greeks are very skilled drivers. I was constantly impressed by how they could maneuver. And I don’t think they take any more risks than what I see Americans do regularly.
We did not find driving on the mainland to Delphi and Meteora to be difficult but maybe that is because we had just survived Crete.
We used Autorentals Crete in Crete (352 Euros for 6 days for automatic) and Athens Car Rental on the mainland (260 Euros for three days for automatic). We rented a manual jeep for the day in Kissamos from Keramoti Rent a Car (50 Euros, 60 with A/C). Gas is expensive-about $10/gallon. We spent about 100 Euros on Crete for six day rental and similar on the mainland for three (we drove further).
Here is our general itinerary with the hotel we stayed in and what we paid, and whether or not that included breakfast. I booked all hotels through Booking.com, which simplified things considering how many places we stayed, except for Arvanes in Thronos which was not available on it. I paid attention to location and room size and having an outdoor area to sit in. We mostly stayed in smaller family owned places. On Crete, we paid 50 to 80 Euros a night for two. Our most expensive stay was at Avra in Rafina (136 Euros including breakfast) the night before flying back to U.S.
5/22 Arrive Chania (3 nights) Studio Kiara (55 Euros/night)
5/25 8:30 am bus from Chania to Chora Sfakion then ferry to Agia Roumeli (1 night) Calypso Hotel (50 Euros/night)
Walk Samarian Gorge from bottom to Samaria
Ferry to Sougia at 5:30 pm
5/26-5/28 Sougia (2 nights) Santa Irene (57 Euros/night)
5/28 – 5/30 return to Chania (7 am bus) and rent car. 2 nights in Kissimos. Castell Hotel (56 Euros/night)
Rent Jeep to drive to Balos.
5/30 Drive to Amari Valley- Stop in Rethimno and at Moni Arakadiou and then to Thronos (1 night)
Arvanes (60 Euros including breakfast)
5/31 Drive through east side of valley to Zaros where spent night (1 night) Keramos (54 Euros/night including breakfast)
6/1-6/3 Visit Gortys, visit winery, drive to Archanes, spend night in Archanes (2 nights Archanes)
Arhontiko hotel. (80 Euros)
6/2 Knossos and then bus to Irakio to visit Archaeological museum