When you are living in a place its important not to lose that holiday energy and inquisitiveness. There really is so much to do – Crete offers such a variety. We have never tired of it, despite living on the island for 10 years.
This is a sort of cross section of ideas, compiled over years of moseying around Crete ourselves, and talking with others.
Sometimes you will want some real rest, relaxation and to recharge your batteries. But then sometimes the urge to wander and explore gets too great to ignore. So strike a balance, on the one hand chilling out around in our lush Mediterranean gardens & lazing on a sunbed by the pool. And on the other hand getting out to see some of the sites on a leisurely and relaxed basis.
For example here are our suggestions:
1. Walk a Gorge
Its one of the unique experiences of Crete, and there are accessible ones ranging from the Imbros – a couple of hours , to Aradhena – a full day’s walking.
For example take a look at our blog on gorges. Each has an itinerary which takes the hassle out of the planning because it looks after getting you back to where you started, and leaves you a chance of a cooling dip in the Libyan sea after your exertions!
2. Visit the old town of Chania
There’s a magic atmosphere in the back alleys, cool and shady even in the midday summer sun. History is all around, be it Minoan excavations or the warm stone of the massive Venetian fortifications. The old harbour with its iconic lighthouse is the magnet for tourists, but here are some spots where you can people watch without being part of the crowd. For instance take a look at our blog on the Chania harbour front.
3. Sample Olive oil
Olive oil is the mainstay of Cretan agriculture and the Cretans would claim most certainly it’s the best in the world! Drive through rolling hills with neat lines of olive trees. Judge for yourself at an olive oil tasting at Terra Creta, where you can see one of the most modern olive oil mills in Europe. In addition you can see the very olive grove that the oil you buy has come from! Then go on to see what is maybe the oldest olive tree at Vouves. Likewise we’ve got a blog which covers this too!
4. Visit the Lakes
There are only three freshwater lakes on Crete, and only one is natural. They are all great places to bird watch, and all within a comfortable drive from the villa. For instance, on Kournas you can take a pedalo for a leisurely exploration of its far shores; certainly Lake Agias has great birdwatching locations; in contrast Potami is wild and beautiful, with an impressive curved sweep of the dam, and a partially submerged village on one edge. Try our our drive which also takes in a Carob Factory and some Roman tombs.
5. Make a trip to a Winery
Manousakis, Karavitakis or Dourakis are all close by. Local Cretan wines are very good, with vineries which have passed thru several generations. That is to say the current sons and daughters are educated in oeneology in Italy or Germany. Firstly they combine the latest technologies and thinking with knowledge of the land and climate. Secondly they are rediscovering and experimenting with local grape varieties – Vidiano, Kotsifali, Liakoto, even the names have an exotic and romantic sound!
6. Walk into wonderful scenery.
Walk right out of the door into wonderful scenery. There is a “Five Villages” walk for example takes you over the hill behind the villa to typical mountain villages. Each will have their own character, some with a genuine kafenion. Certainly there will be Cretan shepherds and farmers discussing politics! Views change as you walk along the route, from wild and mountainous to well kept groves of olives to neat vineyards, spotted with village houses and also the odd characteristic abandoned car!
Here we describe a short easy walk to a lovely little white chapel in the foothills from Kyriakoselia. Make it one of your ten things to do in Crete.
7. Take a boat trip
Take a boat trip – to Loutro or Freshwater Beach from Hora Sfakion in the South. This is an impressive trip because the boat passes mountains which drop 1000m in vertical cliffs to the sea. Secondly the water at Freshwater is divinely warm, and finally Loutro has a very special atmosphere with some lovely restaurants and a bar serving splendid cocktails!
8. Experience Cretan country life
There are locally arranged tours that take you to an icon painter, a local dairy, beekeeper, olive mill or a lyra maker where you can see how these tiny Cretan instruments are made, and hear their sounds amongst the orange and olive trees.
9. See 5000 years of history
Signs of past civilizations are all around. For instance, just 15 min from the villais ancient Aptera -wonderfully preserved Roman aquifers, Greek temple and theatre remains, and a Turkish fort with a sweeping view over Souda Bay. Close by on the Akrotiri peninsula, there is a ruined monastery a short walk from Agia Triada where you can see the work of the monks and experience the quiet serenity of the monastery church and square. In contrast, Zakros, the bay where parts of Zorba the Greek were filmed is close by, and the War Cemetery in Souda a touching reminder of past conflicts.
10. Chill out back at the Villa
More about living in Crete
There is much more in our blogs. Try out the street markets, find out about beers!, discover the Cretan carnivals, and the charming Christmas nativities set up in the villages. And of course you’ll want to get the benefits of the Cretan diet – be it the yoghurt and cheese, or the olive oil.
This Dream Villa
And if you would like to live in a place where you can see these, here is just the place. This is a dream villa which we designed and built 10 years ago and now reluctantly are ready to sell and move on. Its in the Apokoronas, in the west of the island, 35min drive from Chania, 50min from the international airport.