Mykonos and Santorini might be on the top of everyone’s list, but if you’re going on a Greek vacation, you MUST include Crete. Crete has everything you could possibly want in a vacation: history, culture, beaches, and, of course, wine. Even in writing this recap, I soon realized it would have to be at least two posts because that’s just how much there is to do on the island!
SO, whether Crete is on your radar or not, below are the top things to do in an island that feels like its own little country.
Where to Stay
With the guidance of our travel agent, we decided to stay in old Rethmyno, which almost feels like Barcelona’s gothic quarter had a child with an old Venetian port (which is technically what Rethmyno is). The streets are filled with restaurants and little shops, everything is open and has outside seating, and stone is everywhere. Rethmyno is also almost smack dab in the middle of the island, which makes it easy if you want to explore beyond the city limits.
We stayed at the Veneto Hotel, a small boutique hotel right in the center of the old city with an amazing restaurant. The rooms are absolutely gorgeous and with only six (?) rooms, you’ll feel like the hotel’s only guest. Not to mention, breakfast is included every morning.
Things to Do
When in Crete, do as the Cretans do, which is basically drink olive oil. We stopped by Paraschakis Family Olive Oil Farm for a tour and tasting of their olive oils, and it did not disappoint. The farm has been in the family for generations, and the current owner Joanna will take you through how her ancestors made olive oil without modern technology and most importantly, host a small tasting of the product.
As you might guess, almost every vacation we take includes some form of wine, and Crete was no different. Joanna from the Olive Oil Farm actually recommended several wineries nearby to swing by for a tasting, and we landed on Klados Winery.
Klados is a bit tricky to get to – all I can say is follow the signs and be patient – as it’s a small winery off the beaten path. But small is good as you’ll most likely have the winery to yourself (which is great for a tour!), in addition to sweeping views of the countryside.
Where to Eat
Athens may win first prize in the food category overall, but Crete was not far behind and had some of my favorite meals during our vacation.
Our favorite spot right in the heart of the old city was Kouzoulo. I’m not sure how we ended up here as we walked through center city for awhile trying to determine the best place. It might have been the green decorations, the large patio, or the fact that we were starving, but this was our ultimate choice that turned out to be the best one.
Kouzoulo’s menu is almost overwhelming, but that also means you’ll be able to find something you’ll love. The waitstaff was fantastic, and when we stopped by later in the week for a second time (that’s how good it was!), they immediately recognized us and gave us several freebies on the house. This place is a must when you’re looking for something quick, close, and delicious.
The real star of the show though was Prima Plora, recommended to us by the owner of Klados Winery and was fittingly our last meal of our trip. The restaurant is beloved by locals and open year-round. It is right. on. the. water. So be sure to make a reservation around the time the sun sets.
Other notable mentions to check out:
Ready to hit the beach? Check out part 2 of Crete on the best beaches on the island and tips to not fall down the mountain on the way to one!