Nice to know while on Crete

Below is an alphabetical list of topics that might be useful knowledge on a holiday in Crete.

Banks
Banks on Crete are open 8am to 2pm Monday to Friday. There are 24-hour cash machines in all towns and most of the larger villages.

Buses
The bus company in Crete is called KTEL (Kino Tamio Eisproxeon Leoforon). Buses run regularly between the three major cities in Crete: Chania, Rethymnon and Heraklion along the major road on the island (New National Road). Also most other smaller towns on Crete are served by buses. Bus timetables can be found here.

Churches and monasteries
You should visit some of Crete's many churches and monasteries. Here you will find some of the most beautiful buildings and gardens in Crete. And monasteries are usually located in places where the view and surroundings are the very best. One must remember decent attire. This means that the shoulders and knees must be covered. One can see a description of some of the monasteries (as well as museums and archaeological sites) here.

Crime
Crete has a significantly lower incidence of crime than other southern European countries and regions. It is not uncommon in Crete to leave the car or the front door unlocked. This is not a recommendation, however, as Crete is not completely free of crime cases.
In very touristic areas it is not uncommon that it is the other tourists who commit the thefts. Also, in recent years there have been stories about Eastern European 'gangs' and the Cretan Roma population are also named in the speculations over who commit crimes in Crete.
But generally, the ordinary caution is sufficient to avoid unpleasant situations. One can expect a more secure environment than in most UK cities.

Dangerous animals
There are not many dangerous animals in Crete. And certainly not large, dangerous animals. There are sharks in the Mediterranean, but there have been reported shark attacks on Crete.
Scorpions are commonly found in Crete. Their sting hurts, but their venom is not fatal to otherwise healthy people. People with allergies or weakened physique, however, should seek medical advice if they get stung.
There are some toxic spiders in Crete, but only very few reports of people who have been bitten by them. Again, otherwise healthy people are unlikely to experience more than discomfort if they are bitten.
Finally, a poisonous snake: The Cat snake (Telescopus fallax) lives on the island. But it is less toxic than an adder and it is unlikely even to meet it.

Drinking water
Tap water is drinkable everywhere in Crete except for the easternmost part, where it tastes very salty. Yet it may be a good idea to buy bottled water if you are only in Crete for a short period of a few weeks. Regardless the water is clean and in good order, if you're unaccustomed to he minerals and other ingredients it may be bothersome to some people. Bottled water is very cheap if you buy eg. 6 x 1.5 liter at a time.

Electricity
Like the rest of Europe Crete uses 220 volts. Sockets suitable for electrical appliances from the UK.

Forest fires
Forest fires occur every year in Crete's warm, dry summers. Worst in August and September, when it hasn't rained for long. We have ourselves seen a few small fires near our house over the last 5 years. And because the wind conditions in Crete are very different - (it can change from calm to strong winds in under 30 seconds) - fires can spread very quickly. One can only advise extreme caution with fire. On the other hand, the fire brigade is usually effective and quickly present either with vehicles or helicopters.

Holidays
You will find both an overview and descriptions of the Greek and Cretan festivals, holidays, local and national festivals etc. here.

Internet
There are Internet cafes in major cities and at tourist sites, where you can send emails.

Language ​​& Phrases
You can read about the Greek language and learn a little of it, if you click here. Besides a description you will also find a small film, where you can learn the basic phrases in Greek. Greeks are proud of their language and culture and a little knowledge of it is appreciated.

Money and payment
There are ATMs in most towns and larger villages. In smaller villages in the mountains, there may be up to 25-30 km to the nearest ATM. At most restaurants and cafes as well as in many stores, it is not possible to pay by credit card. The same applies to petrol stations.

Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are a problem in some parts of Crete, especially at sunset, especially near water - and especially during the tourist season (May to October). Pharmacies sell insect repellent, which can be a very good idea to buy. Since you will not be used to Cretan kind of mosquitoes a bite can be more itchy than if you were bitten by a mosquito at home.

Museums
You will find both an overview and descriptions of all museums and other sights in Crete here.

Photography
Photography is not allowed at military installations or airports. At most museums, it is also forbidden to take pictures. Otherwise there are no restrictions, but you should ask for permission if you want to photograph people.

Post Offices
Post Offices in smaller towns are usually open from 7am to 2pm from Monday to Friday. In larger cities, perhaps a little longer. The Greek Post Office is notorious for being the slowest in Europe. And many Greeks avoid sending important papers in the mail for fear that they should get lost. We have ourselves received documents, where the sender chose to drive 300 km back and forth with them rather than sending them.

Smoking
Smoking is more prevalent in Greece than any other country in Europe. And although it is now officially banned in public offices, restuarants, etc. it is quite common that the ban is consistently violated.

Shops and supermarkets
A description of shops and supermarkets in Crete, products, prices, hours of local products and souvenirs etc. can be found here.

Time Zone
In Crete the time is UTC +2. I.e. two hours ahead of British time.

Tipping
There is no expectation of a tip, but it is customary to reward good service with for example 5-10% on top of the bill. This applies to restaurants and cafes, but can also apply to hotels and taxi driving.

Units of measurement
In Crete the metric system is used for measuring. Beverage is often expressed in kilograms. For example you ask for half a kilo of wine if you want half a liter. (Should you however order your beverages in liters the Greeks will understand it anyway).