Experience Cretan Culture With a Food Tour in Chania

Chania is known for its wonderful people, warm hospitality, and fresh produce. And if you would like to learn about the Cretan cuisine and culture, this unique food and wine tour run by a local will allow you to experience all the gastronomical delights this beautiful city has to offer on foot. 

Awaken your senses as you leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets of Chania that are adorned with a fascinating history; and immerse yourself in the aromas and flavours of Cretan cuisine, as a hospitable local Cretan host guides you to spots where you can taste authentic savoury and sweet treats. 

Kelly Michelakis from The Greek Odyssey, says her tours are designed for guests to “learn about the food that makes Crete so special, as you will be able to sample many Cretan delicacies and learn what the Cretan culture is all about by a local. 

“Sip on a Greek coffee and enjoy every bite of the famous Cretan bougatsa, as well as enjoy a light lunch at an iconic Cretan eatery. Our guests can learn about the different cakes and biscuits on display as we browse the local bakery, sample Greece’s famous loukoumades, try local cheese that you can’t find elsewhere and view the regional and seasonal produce of the passionate traders who are so proud to share their knowledge,” says Kelly. 

With two tours currently available, there is a three-hour Food Day Tour through the backstreets and little-known pockets; where guests can sample Cretan specialties, in between visiting some old traditional stores to learn about Cretan culture and heritage.

There is also a Food and Wine Night Tour that allows guests to taste Cretan delicacies as they sip on local wine and spirits. This is where you can enjoy every bite of traditional Cretan appetizer, while admiring the stunning views of the city by night.

To learn more head to The Hellenic Odyssey 

9 Best Beaches in Chania

Whether you are seeking breathtaking natural landscapes, crystal blue seas, shallow waters, or seaside taverns- discover the best beaches in Chania, from our list of favourites! 

Seitan Limani 

From the breathtaking scenery to the magical views and pristine water, Seitan Limani boasts rocky land, beautiful coves, and emerald waters. It’s a bit of a hike to get there, as you need to walk down quite a few steep steps but it’s worth the effort! Tip: it’s not an organised beach so make sure you come prepared with water, sunscreen, a hat, and snacks! 

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania

For a morning swim and a great Freddo (cold coffee), head to Loutraki beach, which has a  great cafe, and lots of sunbeds that are located on both the grass hill (with steps to the sea) and the sandy beach end. 

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania

This is the perfect spot for families!  With two beaches to choose from- both are sandy and organised. Here you will also find a range of traditional taverns that serve local dishes and delicacies! 

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania

This has been voted the best beach in Crete and one of the ten best beaches in Europe! Featuring a huge bay, which consists of five exotic beaches, Falassarna has pink sand, stunning blue waters, and a wonderful landscape.

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania
Stavros Beach 

Where “Zorba the Greek” was filmed, this is a peaceful and organised sandy beach that is less crowded than most. Actually a lagoon, it’s nestled in a bay and protected from the strong winds. The striking mountains that surround it create a unique scenery that you won’t find elsewhere. 

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania
Balos Lagoon

One of Chania’s most popular beaches (for a good reason) the waters at Balos are warm and shallow, while some parts of the beach also boast pink sand! Located near Kissamos, Balos beach can be reached either by car from Chania or by boat from Kasteli. 

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania

Another must-see beach that offers both organised and unorganised sections. One of the most photographed beaches in Greece, Elafonisi is a perfect day trip from town- where you can spend hours swimming and relaxing. 

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania
Gramvousa Islet 

A 15-minute cruise from Balos, this 200-metre-long beach is one of the most stunning in all of Greece. Boasting soft golden sand and crystal-clear turquoise water, it’s the perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling.

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania
Golden Beach 

Often named one of the best beaches in Chania, here you will find golden sand and clear, calm waters. It’s one of the closest beaches to Chania Town and has a range of sunbeds and umbrellas to choose from. Perfect for families, as there are so many kid-friendly activities available here too. 

Insights Greece - 9 Best Beaches in Chania
Getting to Chania

Flights to Chania from Athens are around one hour, otherwise, you can take a ferry. There is one ferry line that takes 6.5 hours, or you can do an overnight trip, which is roughly nine hours. 

Cool New Brasserie Opens in Chania

Housed in a 1950s building, Maiami, a cool new concept store – that’s “part painting studio, part brasserie, and part boutique” recently opened its doors in Kum Kapi, at the east end of the picturesque port of Chania. 

The brainchild of artist and ceramist Alexandra Manousakis, a talented Greek American who remodels her personal experiences into colourful abstract and ceramic art, Maiama is Manousakis’ latest project – allowing the artist to combine her love of art, design, food and wine- all under the one roof. 

From the bright entrance to the vibrant paintings on the walls, the bright blue chairs, and the striking emerald green fireplace- Manousakis carefully designed each element to inspire dialogue and other creative projects. 

As the name suggests, there is a hint of American influence in both the design and food/ drinks menu, which reflects Manousakis’ personal life and taste. The Miami/Greek island vibe creates a modern yet authentic feel that’s both warm and cozy for guests who are invited to share in Manousakis’ world.  

Stand-out starters include Salad Shirazi- finely diced tomatoes and cucumbers in a spicy lemon dressing with Mizithra goat cheese, and a Spinach + Artichoke Dip served with pita chips. 

Signature dishes include the Steak Fritters- filet mignon served with French fries and pepper sauce, Afshin chicken -sautéed chicken with seared broccoli and Persian rice, and the Mama Sharma shrimp with turmeric, mustard seed and onion. 

For dessert there is a warm chocolate chip cookies and milk combo, or a New York-style cheesecake; while the wines are all exclusively chosen from Manousakis estates (located nearby) and feature a Syrah, Assyrtiko and Mourvèdre. And for those seeking a cocktail- check out the Maiami with Mastiha liqueur and mandarin soda, or the Molavi- a classic margarita with Vodka and hints of cucumber. 

A: Akti Miaouli and 11 Mesolongiou, Chania 

Open: Thursday to Monday 5 pm to 12 am (closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays)

Images Courtesy of Maiami 

Rustic Chic Mountainside Apartments in Chania

If you prefer staying in an intimate hotel rather than a large resort, Monastery Estate Retreat is the perfect place where you can experience rustic luxury, tranquility, and true Cretan hospitality in a converted 200- year- old family home surrounded by olive groves and the stunning mountainside. 

Located in the remote village of Moni, in Sougia Chania, the Monastery Estate Retreat is a small boutique hotel that’s ideal for those in search of an exclusive and authentic concept of hospitality that uniquely blends luxury, tradition, and modern living. 

The Monastery Retreat effortlessly blends into its natural environment, allowing guests to enjoy the simple beauty and beautiful nature that surrounds the property. 

Offering eleven minimalist rooms divided into four categories, each one offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Lefka Ori Mountains and olive trees. The rooms exude a rustic-chic, minimalist design, featuring concrete, wood, metal, and contemporary furniture, soft touches, warm tones, and natural materials, that creates a perfect balance between comfort and style. Each room has a sunny terrace and a private swimming pool with built-in sun loungers and whirlpool baths. 

A delightful and traditional Cretan breakfast with fresh products is served on the ground floor room which opens onto an outdoor terrace, otherwise, you can enjoy the morning feast on your private balcony. Breakfast options include traditional Dakos rusks, yogurt, fresh fruit, juices, delicious homemade jams and plenty of homemade bread and sweet local pastries.

If you are in need of some pampering, you can take advantage of the spa area with a sauna, hammam, and a range of relaxing massages. And if you are wondering what’s nearby- Sougia beach is only a 10-minute drive away from the hotel, and local shops and taverns are roughly 12 minutes away. 

The family-run hotel prides itself on its friendly staff who go out of their way to guide guests on what to see and do and are also able to book tours and other unique experiences on offer close by. 

A: Moni Village, Sougia, Chania, Crete 

Monastery Estate Retreat 

Discover our Complete Travel Guide to Chania here 

Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels

All wines get a holiday and February 16th is International Syrah Day, when wine enthusiasts worldwide celebrate Syrah, a red wine also named Shiraz- as it’s more commonly known in Australia.

The grapes are known for their deep red colour and small size. They can be round but have also been referred to as egg-shaped. Syrah has a short ripening period. When grown in the Old World it tends to be spicier, less fruit-forward, earthier, and more tannic. In New World, where it is also known as Shiraz, it tends to be “larger”, “bolder” and “jammier”, with less spice.

Syrah managed to spread to the Greek vineyard, in a relatively short time, producing wines of very high quality. This is no coincidence for producers, as Syrah is considered to thrive in the warm climatic conditions of Greece.

Greek Syrah is very close to the style of its New World counterpart, displaying a high alcoholic degree, prolonged extraction, dense structure, strong tannins, moderate acidity and sweets, and ripe aromas of black fruits and spices. It has the potential to age for many years and is often mixed with other international and local varieties; and gives very qualitative wines.

Below we will review five Greek labels that represent a range of styles and prices to suit every taste and budget.

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
Collection by Avantis Estate

Courtesy of Avantis Estate
Mytikas Evia

A scarce Syrah, as the production does not exceed 1,000 bottles per year. The yield per hectare ranges from 300 -350 kilos. It’s a soft, graceful wine that offers a bouquet and palate marked by dark cherry, plum, dark chocolate, and a smidge of espresso. The acidity is balanced with the delicious fruit and the tannins are intact, leaving ample room for each to develop and flourish in an elegant finish. If there was a pedestal, surely one place would belong to the Collection. It is certainly up for the challenge of grilled roasted meat, hunt stewed red and hard yellow aged cheese.

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
Oenotria by Domaine Costa Lazaridi

Oenotria Land
Courtesy of Domaine Costa Lazaridi
Kapandriti – Athens

This wine is dominated by Syrah (90%) with Agiorgitiko adding background notes.
The small area yield (approximately 250kg per acre) gives enormous condensation to all levels of the wine.
Intense and complex aromas of cherry, plum, vanilla, fig and chocolate.
It has a rich flavor with balanced acidity and silky tannins while its finish is a very long intersession with notes of vanilla.
It’s sure to add charm to a dinner, especially when paired with a beef fillet as well as with red-grilled meats. 

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
The Naked King by Pieria Winery

The Naked King
Courtesy of Pieria Eratini Winery
Kolindros – Pieria

Looking for a rich Syrah wine but you can’t afford to wait for it to evolve over the years? Then check out this classic, well-made wine from Pieria in Northern Greece. A blend of 85% Syrah and 15% of the rare local variety Kolindrino. The name Naked King may be very original, but the wine is not characterized by nakedness as it wears armor of condensation and exuberance. The Naked King brings to our glass intense aromas of dried fruits, fresh framboise, cassis and cranberry while sweet spices and notes of the barrel complete its complex and charming palette. Mouth saturating, very well structured and balanced. Made for rich dishes of red meat. It’s also sure to impress with foie gras.

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
Emphasis by Pavlidis Estate

Courtesy of Pavlidis Estate
Kokinogeia – Drama

If you are looking for a solid, typical expression of Syrah variety, Emphasis is a perfect pick. It offers a bouquet and a palate of black fruits leather, thyme, black pepper, chocolate, and vanilla. High acidity, velvety tannins, long, spicy aftertaste. You’ll also appreciate that it’s easy to find and a sure shot with red fatty meats with spicy sauces or roasted lamb. So … Emphasis on Syrah!

Manousakis Winery
Vatolakkos – Chania

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
Nostos by Manousakis Winery

Nostos is a theme used in Ancient Greek literature that refers to an epic hero returning home by the sea. The return isn’t just about returning home physically but also about retaining the very virtues and qualities that characterized him before he went away.
In this particular case, we have a strong and robust Syrah from the beautiful island of Crete. Its bold tannins are a good asset for long-term aging. It has an oriented personality of red and black fruits with black pepper notes. A rich must try Greek Syrah. Give it a go with grilled meats or meats with tomato-based sauces and a variety of sausages.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. By the way, what’s your favourite Greek Syrah wine?

Feel free to share some of your own great wine picks … 

For more wonderful wine explorations, follow George on Instagram @george.winestories

40 Million Euro ‘Small Hellinikon’ Project Signed for Crete

Greek company REDS S.A. has been awarded the development of the former U.S. base in Gournes, Heraklion, Crete, for 40.2 million euros, the country’s privatizations agency announced.

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) said that the sale was conducted through the process of electronic auction and that the board will soon convene to ratify the e-auction result.

Dubbed the ‘Small Ellinikon”, after the development of the former Athens international airport, the asset is considered to be a key item in the country’s privatizations agenda.

The real estate property of Gournes consists of a beachfront land plot of 345,567 sqm located 13km from the airport “Nikos Kazantzakis” and 16 km from Heraklion. During the last 20 years, land plots neighboring the property have been developed, the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, the Cretaquarium Thalassocosmos, the International Exhibition and Conference Centre of Crete, etc.

The tender, which follows years of delay, comes amid an emerging investment and building boom on Crete, the Mediterranean’s fifth-largest island.

Long one of Greece’s leading tourist destinations, Crete welcomes more than 5 million visitors a year and boasts several world-class tourist attractions like the Minoan era Knossos Palace, the legendary site of King Minos, and the Minotaur. Over the last two years, foreign investors have engaged in a number of deals and resort projects on the island.

In 2020, Hines acquired five hotels on Crete and Russia-based developer Mirum began work on its long-awaited Elounda Hills resort project in the summer. U.S. investment fund Blackstone recently acquired the Elounda Blu hotel in Crete – its sixth hotel property in Greece – through its Spanish subsidiary Hotel Investment Partners.

At the same time, the Greek government is investing billions of euros to upgrade Crete’s transport and power infrastructure. Work has recently begun on a new 1.5 billion euro international airport in Kastelli — located about 20 kilometers from Gournes – and is expected to be in operation by the end of 2023.

Also, underway is a 2 billion euro highway project stretching along the north coast of Crete, said to be one of the largest public works projects in Europe.

This article was first published here. 

For more Real Estate News & Views on Greece and Europe’s South, head to The Greek Guru.

Chania’s Stunning New Gourmet Store

Located on the historic waterfront of Chania’s Old Town, this new food store, which won ‘Best Interior Décor Shop’ at the Design Awards 2021, is part of the famous Pallas Restaurant (right next door), and features a beautiful bakery, delicatessen, and wine cellar all under the one roof!

Pallas Philocaly is set in a striking neoclassical 1900’s building that recently received an award-winning renovation by leading Cretan designers Dimiourgiki. The new complex features modern décor, which blends in beautifully with the traditional architecture of Chania’s charming Old Town.


Boasting modern leather chairs, oakwood tables, and contemporary open display cabinets, there is also a range of fine metals and glamorous marble featured throughout the large open space- giving it a sleek, stylish, and classy feel.

The shop is divided into sections for visitors to easily browse through each area, which includes a grand marble display that’s always loaded with delicious creations both savoury and sweet. The bakery specialises in croissants, pastries, pralines, eclairs, and tarts that are handmade daily.

Step over to the wine tasting area with a cellar that includes over 400 local and international wine labels. The experienced sommelier shortlists a rotating selection of bottles and serves guests by the glass. 

Pair your wine tasting with a delightful platter that features products from the dairy and cold cuts section- including a range of Cretan cheeses like Kefalotiri, Mizithra, Anthotyra, Staka, and local cold meats such as Pastrami, Vinegar Sausages, and Smoke-Cured pork cuts.

The pantry corner offers carefully selected artisanal products from local and international producers and here you will find honey, olive oil, and rusks from local Cretan producers; as well as handmade chocolates, pasta, jams, and other local and international products. 

Opposite the pantry corner is an open grill counter where the chef prepares premium cuts and fish- just the way you like it- and you can eat indoors at the dining space or the bar area- otherwise there are also a few tables outside. On the menu, you will also find a range of sandwiches, salads, and other enticing light dishes. 

A: Akti Tompazi 14, Chania

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 8 am to 1 am 

Images courtesy of Dimiourgiki and Pallas Philocoly

Top 5 Greek Islands to Visit in Autumn

While Greece is world-renowned as one of the best places to spend summer, there is something quaint about visiting the Greek islands in the autumn months.  

The crowds begin to subside by the end of October without ever really clearing completely as many locals live on the islands year-round. Temperatures drop to a balmy 15 degrees and the air begins to feel crisp, but hints of sunshine still touch the skin and occasionally temperatures rise to 25 degrees- making a swim in the beautiful Aegean Sea possible.  

There are many Greek islands that “shut down” after peak summer to rest and rejuvenate before they do it all again the following year. However, the places we’ve listed below are destinations we’ve visited in the cooler months- with locals who keep their beautiful islands alive all year round and warmly welcome visitors to experience island life without the crowds. 


Greece’s largest island boasts world-famous archaeological sites, breathtaking beaches, charming villages, world-famous hikes, and amazing wineries. The temperatures in Crete are never too cold, and the autumn days feel endless, with plenty of sunny afternoons allowing locals to head to the beach for a swim until the end of November. Make sure you check out the archaeological and historical sites including Knossos, Arkadi Monastery, and Preveli Monastery and it’s also an ideal time to stay at one of the many eco-lodges. A highlight by far is hiking at the famous Samaria Gorge and the delightful Cretan cuisine– make sure you try as many of the local dishes as possible and if you are brave enough have a few shots of Raki, which will definitely warm you up!  


The largest island of the Dodecanese, Rhodes boasts the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. The medieval Old Town with its impressive castle and fortifications and cobbled streets is one of the most beautiful historic sites in Greece, and one that is best enjoyed out of peak season. Stunning Lindos has one of the best microclimates in the Mediterranean, so you are pretty much guaranteed a swim here in October and November. Make sure you also visit Petaloúdes (Butterfly Valley) one of Rhodes’ most popular attractions; the nature reserve combines stunning rivers and waterfalls with colourful butterflies. The cooler months are when Rhodes’ beautiful villages also come to life and it’s a great time to visit a few of them. Make sure you sit at one of the traditional cafes or tavernas with the locals and enjoy the island’s delightful cuisine.


Corfu’s lovely capital is fast becoming one of Europe’s popular winter destinations. Its charming Venetian Old Town, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is ideal in the wintertime- perfect for exploring the museums and markets. This is also a great chance to explore Liston, the “French” part of town- a pretty promenade whose arcade is lined with chic cafés, restaurants, and boutiques. Also, hit the hiking trails that wind through mountain villages- there are hundreds of paths and routes to try. And although Corfu is busiest during Easter and summer- Corfu Town is also a popular destination during the Christmas and New Year period, so there’s a great range of tavernas to discover as well as many events, art exhibitions, and festivals that take place at the end of the year. 


An ideal Greek island year-round as it’s located just two hours from Athens, Andros is filled with lush vegetation, abundant water, and stunning beaches. The beautiful Cycladic isle owes its lush greenery to its rich underground and surface water resources. Autumn in Andros is perfect for those who want to experience the island’s rich culture and culinary experiences; as here you can taste traditional dishes and modern cuisine. Visit one of the many historic monasteries and churches, the amazing museums (Museum of Contemporary Art, Archaeological Museum, Nautical Museum, Cyclades Olive Museum, Goulandris Museum) and enjoy the endless nature and its hiking trails. Also make sure you head to the wonderful natural environment and the healing properties of the Sariza spring water.


The Cyclades’ largest island offers a great range of outdoor activities in Autumn, including hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Numerous hiking trails and bicycle routes take visitors through some of the island’s and Cyclades’ most impressive archaeological and spiritual monuments including Mount Zas, the Cyclades’ tallest mountain peak; one of Greece’s largest collections of Byzantine monuments; the Temple of Demeter and more. Foodies are also in for a treat as you can check out the island’s vibrant farming and agricultural industry including potato picking, cheese making, citron liqueur distillation, and more. 

Featured image: Naxos 

Live Like a Local at a Village Farm in Crete

If you are looking for an authentic countryside getaway that will allow you to experience true Cretan hospitality and to become a part of a wonderful community during your stay- this destination is for you!

Vamos Fabrica Farm is located in a charming village in Chania and lies between the sea and the mountains, offering wonderful views and traditional architecture that blends in beautifully with nature.

Fabrica provides guests with a chance to become familiar with local agriculture and the rich traditions and culture that make Crete so unique and famous. Here you will also have the opportunity to take part in rural activities, to taste local products, delicacies and traditional cuisine- as you gain an understanding of everyday life on a local village. 

Owned by the friendly Frantzeskakis family, who warmly greet each guest- here you will not only get to know the Cretan way of life- you will also become a part of it.

The family’s aim is to showcase a lesser-known side of Greece that can provide guests with an authentic experience that also allows them to appreciate the slower pace of life. Owner Nikos and his wife Lola introduce guests to the beauty, nature, history, and style of cooking that is synonymous with Cretan village life and create an experience any guest will treasure for a lifetime.

The Farm

Featuring an organic olive grove, with fruit trees and vegetables, birds and farm animals, flowers and herbs- here smells and colours come to life. You will also find a small stone-built theatre, where you may meet a philosopher reciting a poem. On another day, you will bake homemade bread with Nikos or help him cook other dishes in the traditional firewood oven; and assist Lola in collecting eggs or picking some fresh vegetables.

You may also accompany Lola and collect some herbs and wild greens from the garden and make a homemade pie or pick some fresh oranges or other fruits to make marmalades or spoon sweets. Guests are also able to feed the farm animals and enjoy tranquility and peacefulness while relaxing by the Romantic Corner or lying on a hammock.

Fabrica Guesthouses 

The guesthouses are separated into “Fabrica Houses” and the “Fabrica Farm Houses.” The houses are made of white stone and the smell of thyme and oregano floats in the air welcoming every guest, who feels a sense of coziness and familiarity inside their room. The Farm Houses are built in the olive grove and are inspired by the rich Cretan Flora, with each guesthouse named after an aromatic plant. 

Cooking Classes

A cooking lesson day begins with a visit to the local bakery and grocery store. When you get back you will prepare several mezedes (appetisers) and main dishes. You also have the chance to learn about olive oil varieties and the philosophy behind Cretan food. With the help of local and experienced housewives, participants prepare traditional recipes using fresh and local ingredients. Some of the dishes include cuttlefish with fennel, escargots with crushed wheat, stuffed vegetables, dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves), kalitsounia (sweet cheese pies), tzatziki, a braised rooster with spaghetti, lamb with stamnagathi (pine chicory), pies, and many more. 

While food is the main aspect of most of the cooking classes, guests also have the opportunity to chat, listen to live music, drink local wine- as they learn the secrets of Cretan cuisine. When it’s all done, everyone sits together around a large table and they enjoy a feast as well as dancing and singing- the Cretan way! 

Wild Greens Lessons

If you plan your trip around the beginning of spring, you will have the chance to visit different places around the farm, collect wild greens and herbs and learn how to cook them, and taste local and traditional recipes that are based on these fresh ingredients.

Soap Making Workshop

Learn how to make handmade soap with pure ingredients. Based on the olive oil- which is produced by the Frantzeskakis’ family in their biological cultivated olive grove- you will also use a variety of essential oils and herbs, to make soaps that you will love. 

Grape Harvesting

The grape harvest is held during the first ten days of September. This is done in small or larger groups of people who are interested in living the experience of harvesting, which takes place in the family vineyard located at Kasteli, an area between Kalyves and Almyrida.

Natural Skincare Workshop

Learn how to prepare creams and other skincare products based on natural and pure beeswax. It begins with a walk around the biologically cultivated olive grove and farm where you will collect aromatic plants and learn about their properties and uses. Then, using essential oils, plants, and vegetable oils, and herbs- you can create your own personalised products.

Botanical Farm Tour

Held all year round, this unique experience brings guests in touch with aromatic and medicinal plants of Greek flora. Stroll around the farm and learn about some of the plants and their properties. Here you have the chance to observe them, smell, touch, and collect some of them, while learning about their properties and uses, their connection to Mythology, their importance in people’s daily life, and their involvement in traditional medicine.

A: Vamos Apokoronou, Crete

Abandoned Villages in Crete Restored into Eco-lodges

Many abandoned villages in Crete have been restored -with respect to tradition and their natural environment- into top eco-lodges; offering guests an authentic and memorable experience.

Scattered amid olive, chestnut, and oak, above a ravine running with fresh mountain water- these stone houses take guests back to a simple era. In their pared-back elegance, they provide the perfect setting in which to embrace a lifestyle close to, and in harmony with, nature.

Milia- The village without electricity in Chania 

A magical village that seems to have sprung from a fairy tale or the land of the Hobbits, hidden in a ravine in the mountains. Milia was abandoned for about four decades when the idea of ​​turning the old houses of the village into a hotel was born. Today, 13 stone houses with small gates and views of the Cretan mountains from their veranda or terraces, fully justify why this ecological village without electricity, was included by Lonely Planet in the fifty best corners of the earth.

Don’t miss: Dinner at the restaurant of Milia, only by candlelight, they serve delicious dishes made with what has been produced from the garden and the farm of the village and cooked in the pot or the wood oven, from where the handmade bread comes out.

A: Vlatos, Chania

Enagron- Ecotourism in Rethymnon

Located on a farm of 50 acres with crops- from olives to vegetables and wild vegetation- and set above the springs of Mylopotamos, (at the foot of Psiloritis) at an altitude of 500 meters, Enagron sits opposite gorges and caves and features 32 houses perfectly adapted to the natural environment. Built in a village formation, they are complemented by the wood-fired oven, the cheese factory, the small grocery store with selected traditional products, the winery, the traditional cafe and restaurant; decorated with old objects, tools and works of art and the courtyard under the huge οak.

Don’t miss: The swimming pool built in the most impressive spot opposite the cliffs where the eagles have their nests; and the jacuzzi overlooking the steep rocks of the gorge of the Vultures.

A: Axos, Mylopotamos

Aspros Potamos – Green Tourism in Ierapetra

In the prefecture of Lassithi, 60 km from Agios Nikolaos, in this old metochi (monastery) of the larger village of Pefki, there are ten 300-year-old stone-built houses featuring old Cretan architecture, which are connected by a cobbled path. Old chests, paintings, and stone beds, beamed ceilings and thick stone walls keep the houses cool in summer and warm in winter. The operation of Aspros Potamos is based exclusively on alternative forms of energy. The lights, the refrigerators and the hot water exist thanks to its photovoltaic system, which has won the first European award for Greece. There are no sockets in the houses.

Don’t miss: The view of the terraces overlooking the mountains and the valley. The atmosphere was created by the fact that the main lighting of the houses is done with paraffin lamps and candles and the energy given that the reconstruction of the houses was done by groups of Austrian hippies, in exchange for their accommodation and food.

A: Makrigialos, Crete 

Kapsaliana Village Hotel 

In the heart of the largest olive grove in Crete, at an altitude of 260m. is a 17th-century settlement in the Old Metochi of the Holy Monastery of Arkadi. Restored with absolute respect for the history and architecture there, it was transformed into the Kapsaliana Village Hotel, a member of the Historic Hotels of Europe. Focusing on the historic monastery olive mill of 1763, the hotel settlement is spread over a privately owned landscaped area of ​​30 acres, with gardens, paths, a swimming pool, and 22 rooms and suites with independent entrances. Here, the contact with nature marries the aesthetics.

Don’t miss: The aromas of thyme, sage, and Cretan herbs from the veranda of your room. Breakfast with fresh products, from local producers but mainly dinner, at the romantic restaurant in the magical environment of the hotel.

A: Kapsaliana, Rethymno

Lassinthos An ecological park in Lassithi

At a distance of about 50 km from the city of Heraklion, Lassinthos is spread over two hundred acres of ecological park, with various types of residencies, dominated by Cretan traditional architecture- with materials such as marble, stone and wood. Patterned paths lead to farms with various species of animals, such as chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, impressive peacocks, pigeons, noisy partridges, pheasants, quails, tall ostriches, wild boars, horses and goats. The strolls end at the park restaurant, built of stone, wood, marble and tiles; where traditional Cretan dishes are served cooked by chefs trained especially in Cretan gastronomy and using organic ingredients from the farm.

Don’t miss: At Lassinthos’ ‘zoo’, in addition to the usual farm animals, you can also find the famous Cretan kri-kri, the arkalos (badger) hidden in its burrows, the beautiful deer that gracefully display their impressive horns, and the cute ponies.

A: St. George, Lassithi Plateau

Chania Set to Receive a Bike-Friendly Makeover

The center of Chania, on the island of Crete, is set for a makeover as of next year with the municipality expected to introduce pedestrian and bike-friendly changes.

The plan, currently in public consultation, is seen being finalised soon with construction work likely to commence in the spring of 2022, municipality officials tell GreekGuru.net. 

According to the blueprint, work will include increasing the number of one-way streets, reducing car traffic in central districts, widening streets and footpaths and adding bike lanes.

Insights Greece - Chania Set to Receive a Bike-Friendly Makeover
Chania to become a more bike-friendly city

Apart from introducing greener solutions for the city, which has a population of about 110,000 people, the plan also targets a drop in traffic accidents, officials say.

Long one of Greece’s leading tourist destinations, Crete welcomes more than 5 million visitors a year and boasts several world-class tourist attractions like the Minoan era Knossos Palace, the legendary site of King Minos and the Minotaur. Over the last two years, foreign investors have engaged in a number of deals and resort projects on the island. 

Cities like Chania and Heraklion have also become increasingly popular with buyers seeking a second home, pushing real estate prices higher.

Demand for homes in the two cities is outpacing supply despite the uncertainty created by the pandemic, say consultants Danos. The market in Crete for beachside holiday homes and villas looks poised to benefit quickly from Greece’s improved economic conditions, property experts add.

The island, the Mediterranean’s fifth-largest, has also been drawing a growing number of digital nomads. In an attempt to provide a boost to this lucrative market, the Greek government tabled a bill in parliament in late August introducing a digital nomad visa allowing stays of up to 18 months in the country.

Improving infrastructure

Greece is currently investing billions of euros to upgrade Crete’s transport and power infrastructure.

Work has recently begun on a new 1.5 billion euro international airport in Kastelli – southeast of Heraklion — and is expected to be in operation by the end of 2023.

Also, underway is a 2 billion euro highway project stretching along the north coast of Crete, said to be one of the largest public works projects in Europe. 

Greece’s power transmission company also recently linked Crete with the mainland’s power grid for the first time following the laying of a 397 million euros, 174 kilometer subsea power cable, boosting energy reliability on the island.

This article was first published here. 

For more Real Estate News & Views on Greece and Europe’s South, head to The Greek Guru.

Old Hammam in Chania Becomes an Art Gallery 

One of Chania’s oldest hammams (Turkish baths) has been turned into a unique art gallery and will now host a variety of exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year. 

Insights Greece - Old Hammam in Chania Becomes an Art Gallery 
Old hammam becomes an art gallery

Located on Katre Street in Kastelli Hill, an old part of the city, the hammam is surrounded by vaulted arcades and smaller domes. This was once an elaborate two-floor building, however many parts of its exterior and interior were destroyed during the Second World War. Restoration work recently took place to makeover the building into a new cultural space, however it still features the old character and architecture of the building. 

Chania’s Deputy Mayor for Culture, Yiannis Yiannakakis, revealed to Athens News Agency (ANA), that the old hammam will be used for cultural projects exhibitions and events, emphasising the promotion of art creations, including paintings, photographs, ceramics and sculptures.

History of the Turkish Hammam 

The Turkish Hamam on Katre Street is one of the many public baths built by the Ottomans when they occupied Chania. It’s a type of Turkish bath that continues the tradition of Roman and Byzantine baths, with the underground hypocaust (heating system) and the earthen pipes circulating hot water and steam to the floor and surrounding walls.

Historic Area of Kastelli Hill 

Insights Greece - Old Hammam in Chania Becomes an Art Gallery 
Area of Kastelli Hill

Kastelli is located on the hill above the old harbor in the city of Chania, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and what became later became known as Kastelli Hill (because of the Byzantine fortification that was built here). This was the first place to be inhabited over 5000 years ago.

Much later the Venetians established their headquarters, as did the Turks. Unfortunately, most of the district was destroyed by German bombings during WWII. 

The main place for visitors to see the area (from the outside as the site is fenced off) is the excavations at Agia Ekaterini Square, only a few minute’s walk from the harbour.