There are currently three civil airports in Crete, in Heraklion, Chania and Sitia and two military ones. Due to the high popularity of the island in the tourist market, there have recently been talks of building another airport.
There are only two ways to get to the island of Crete – by water or by air. The airports of Crete take on the main part of tourists arriving both from mainland Greece and from all over the world. Due to the fact that they are located in different parts of Crete, it will not be difficult to get to any resort, especially in summer, during the high season.
Heraklion International Airport is the main airport of Crete is located about 5 kilometres from the capital and is named after Nikos Kazantzakis, a famous Greek writer.
In 1939, the first plane arrived at the capital airport of Heraklion. In the difficult political situation of that time, it accepted only military flights of Italians and Germans, but after 1946 it opened its doors to ordinary passengers.
The number of flights grew, and already in the 60s, it became clear that expansion was needed. In 1972, a new terminal building and a second landing line were put into operation, and in the late 90s, a complete reconstruction was carried out.
The peculiarity of the airport is the location of the runways. When landing, it seems as if the plane is sinking into the water – only at the very end, the land becomes visible. Landing lines are built on the very shore, 20 meters from sea level. This is what creates the impression that the landing is made on the water’s surface.
The cheapest option to get to the Heraklion city centre is by bus. The public transport company KTEL takes travellers to and from the city. Especially in the summer months, there is a bus leaving to the centre of Heraklion regularly, approximately every 5 to 10 minutes, from 6:00 06:00 am to 12:00 am. The bus service does not run during the night. There are several bus lines that you can use, travel time is around 20 minutes. On Sundays and holidays, you have fewer options. The blue buses are city buses, the green coloured buses are regional bus services. In order to reach the centre of Heraklion, you have to take a blue bus. The price is from € 1.10 to € 2.00 for a single ticket. Make sure to have cash with you in EURO. Please consult the website KTEL for more information.
The 1st one (Station A), the central bus station that serves the airport is located on the port avenue and it is housed in the restored stone buildings of old factories. The station serves the lines towards Chania, Rethymno and different destinations in the prefecture of Lassithi including Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra and Sitia, the coastline northeast of Heraklion, and the eastern part of the prefecture of Heraklion.
The 2nd Bus Station (Station B) is located right outside the city walls on the west side, on the Chanioporta gate. The station serves the eastern part of the prefecture of Heraklion, including the southeastern coastline. From this travel station, travellers can go to the towns of Zaros, Agia Galini, Anogia, Matala, Mires, and Phaestos (and places in between).
If you are planning to rent a car to travel around Crete, Heraklion airport is the best place to do it. As a rule, car rental companies located here have the cheapest prices compared to their other offices in other cities of Crete.
The second international airport is located on the Akrotiri peninsula, 14 km (25-30 minutes drive) from the city of Chania. After Heraklion Airport, it is the second largest airport on the island.
The western airport of Crete began its history in 1954, but then it was a very small local airfield. Only 20 years later, the first international plane landed here, and the modern name was given to it in 2000, in honour of Ioannis Daskalogiannis, the leader of the Cretan uprising of the 18th century.
The airport is constantly being improved, in 1996 and 2005, due to the increase in load, the terminal was rebuilt.
The Chania airport receives about a million passengers a year. The overweight here is much calmer than at the capital’s airport, and the protection of suitcases is cheaper.
The bus service from the airport to the city of Chania for 2.30 euros regularly serves passengers from early morning until late evening.
The taxi rank is located directly next to the terminal. A trip to the city centre will cost you about 30 euros.
For domestic flights in Greece, it will be convenient to use the services of Sitia Airport. Built in 1984 in the eastern part of Lasithi, it now plays a significant role in the traffic flow of the island. In 1993, the airport terminal was modernized, and in 2003 a new runway was built here, 2100 meters long. Since April 2014, it has also received a small number of charter flights.
The airport is only 1 km from the city centre and there are bus and taxi services. The airport terminal is small, but everything you need is there: a cafe, a bar, an information desk, and an ATM. There is also a rest room.
Interesting fact, many tourists manage to fly from Heraklion or Chania to Sitia and make exciting excursions around the eastern part of the island.
Both in Sitia itself and in its surroundings there are many historical sights – the ancient Venetian fortress of Kazarma, the Toplou Monastery, and the Minoan palace in Zakros.
A two-hour drive from Sitia is Agios Nikolaos – one of the most comfortable resorts in Crete, famous for its excellent beaches, historical sights and natural beauties.
The famous Vai is located 30 kilometres from Sitia – a magnificent sandy beach, on the banks of which there is a palm grove.