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 

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

Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town

Rethymno is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Crete. Located between Chania and Heraklion, it’s very close to magnificent beaches and natural landscapes.

This romantic city with a relaxing atmosphere boasts picturesque alleyways, a stunning mix of architecture, history and cultural influences in styles ranging from Venetian to Ottoman Empire.

Old Town of Rethymno 

Featuring bright Venetian mansions, charming courtyards, historic churches, minareted mosques, elaborate fountains, and ornate doorframes; the Old Town is worth a visit any time of year- where you can explore a place that’s filled with rich history, friendly locals, and a delightful range of places to eat. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
One of Crete’s most beautiful towns

Discover History & Landmarks

– A walk around the Old Town of Rethymnon allows visitors the chance to view the magnificent Venetian Architecture, that was mostly built by the Venetians in the 16th century. Strolling around the picturesque alleys of Rethymnon, you can admire the imposing Venetian buildings with their distinct style. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Alleyways filled with a rich history

-The Venetian Loggia is a 16th-century Venetian building situated right in the heart of the Old Town. Originally open and covered with a wooden roof, the Loggia was a meeting place for Venetian officials.

-Continuing down Ethnikis Antistaseos, you arrive at the Church of St Francis, built by the Venetians as a Franciscan Friary church. The building now houses Rethymno’s Archaeological Museum. 

-The Neratzi Mosque with its huge minaret (built in 1890) and three domes is an impressive building that was originally the Katholikon (main church) of an Augustinian monastery and today, it is also known as the Minaret/Odeon of Rethymno– a music hall that hosts concerts. 

-At Platanos Square, you’ll walk past a range of wonderful eateries and then arrive at the famous Rimondi Fountain. Constructed in 1626, it supplied Rethymno with fresh water from Mount Vrysinas and is one of the most popular spots of the Old Town. What makes it even more special is that the three lion heads of the fountain still spill water into their basins, as they did when the Venetians built it in 1626. 

Mikrasiaton Square is one of the most modern parts of the town; on the western side of the square, you will find Makri Steno (Long Alley), otherwise known as Nikiforou Foka Street. This is one of the most charming alleyways in Rethymno- with Venetian houses, stone fountains and the charming Church of Kyria ton Angelon, which is a must-see. 


Be sure to make time for the Historical and Folklore Museum, situated in a 17th-century manor house, and the Archaeological Museum, opposite the main gate of the Fortezza. Here you will discover ancient artifacts and items that reveal so much about the Cretan history and Cretan Folklore culture.

Local Delicacies & Dishes

Rethymno allows visitors to taste authentic Cretan flavours and cuisine, at the many taverns, restaurants and cafes that serve delicious Cretan recipes and local products. One of the best things to do is to walk around and discover traditional eateries housed in old buildings with charming gardens, Rakadika- that serve mezedes that accompany local raki, and quaint little tavernas that are run by locals. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Cretan delicacies

Definitely try 

  • Antikristo (roast lamb)
  • Skioufixta (traditional Cretan pasta)
  • Staka (Cretan dairy product)
  • Kalitsounia (traditional sweets)
  • Apaki (smoked pork)
  • Dakos (Cretan rusks topped with tomato and cheese) 
  • Gamopilafo (‘Wedding’ pilaf with goat or rooster)
  • Tsigaristo (slow-cooked lamb)
  • Hochli (snails)
  • Apaki (cured pork)
  • Boureki (courgette and potato pie)
  • Raki (Crete’s famous spirit) 
Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Lemonokipos Restaurant

Where to Eat 

-At 30 Vernardou Street, you will find the workshop of Mr. Hatziparaschos, the last traditional phyllo master who is well-renowned for making ultra-thin phyllo pastry. Here you can watch the talented master in action and also try his famous pastry. 

Laiki (open market) If you are in town on a Thursday or Saturday morning, you can check out the open-air market, called the Laiki, while those in town on Wednesday afternoon can visit the farmer’s market.

– Avli restaurant, a wonderful restaurant where you will experience true Cretan cuisine and hospitality. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Avli Restaurant | Image by Melissa Peltenburg (Copyright)|

– Veneto Restaurant is another great spot that serves dishes using fresh, seasonal and local Cretan products.  

Lemonokipos is an all-day family restaurant in the centre of town and offers authentic Cretan and Mediterranean cuisine.

Hasika, is a quaint restaurant in the old town of Rethymnon, with head chef Michalis Chasikos serving Cretan cuisine with a nod to the rest of Greece. 

Castelo in the heart of town is a classic restaurant serving modern Cretan cuisine. 

-For coffee or brunch head to Cul de Sac, Living Room, or Fraoules. 

– For sweets and pastries make your way over to Mona Lisa Skartsilakis, Yaourtaki, Fournos Apostolakis and Fournos Sampson

Where to Shop

-The archway of the Guora Gate opens up to Ethnikis Antistaseos Street, which leads onto Platia Mikrasiaton and is the heart of the historic centre, filled with a range of shops. 

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Meiz Concept Store

Souliou Street, here you will find a range of locally made jewellery, art, sandals and other fashion accessories as well as books, pottery, beauty products, plus herbs, honey and food items. 

Meiz Concept Store in the heart of town is a lovely boutique that stocks a range of fashion items made by local Greek designers. 

Muses Rethymno is another great boutique for those in search of unique Greek designer fashion. 

-For contemporary souvenirs make your way over to Greek Unique

Where To Sleep 

– Avli Suites is a wonderful place to stay in the heart of the old town of Rethymno with one of the best restaurants in Crete.

Insights Greece - Guide to Rethymno’s Colourful Old Town
Palazzino Di Corina

The historical Palazzino Di Corina is located in a quiet street in the heart of Rethymno’s Old Town. It offers a 24-hour front desk, nearby parking, and an outdoor pool.   

-Set amidst the Renaissance Venetian architecture of Rethymnon Old Town, Rimondi Boutique Hotels is located in a narrow, quiet alley next to Rethymno’s charming old town.

-Mythos Suites Boutique Hotel, is a superb boutique hotel featuring 15 stunning rooms and suites with unique character. 

How to get to Rethymnon

There is no airport in Rethymno. From Athens, you can fly to Chania and then drive to Rethymno, which takes around an hour. You can get to Rethymnon by ferry from mainland Greece and the Cyclades. In the winter, the ferry route from Piraeus to Rethymnon is operated with Heraklion or Chania as an intermediate station. Then, Rethymno is a 1-hour drive from both Cretan cities. In the summer, there are direct ferries to Rethymnon from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina.

Unique Flavours of Cretan Cuisine

Cretan cuisine is renowned worldwide for its unique ingredients and rich flavours. Cooking here is based on simple techniques and lush local produce, making the island’s dishes stand out. 

From organic mountain herbs and a variety of greens to handmade cheeses, an abundance of fresh seafood, renowned Cretan oil, floral honey and famous Raki- there is something very special about the delicacies on offer.

We recently spoke with Kelly Michelakis, founder of The Hellenic Odyssey, a passionate home cook who hails from Crete and runs popular online cooking classes. Kelly offers lessons to people around the world on how to prepare Greek food and also shares her Cretan family recipes that have been handed down through generations.

What do you think makes Cretan cuisine unique, and what dishes from the island do you enjoy making?

Cretan cuisine aligns with the values of the Mediterranean diet, which in fact originated in Crete in the post WWII period. Cretan food relies on fresh, local and seasonal produce. Dishes are simple but full of flavour which comes from high-quality products such as extra virgin olive oil and fresh aromatic herbs. I love making Cretan Kaltsounia and Boureki the most.

Having spent a lot of time in Chania, where are some of your favourite places to eat out? 

Ntounias set in the mountainous region of Nerokouros, Gramvousa restaurant in Kaliviani with beach views in the distance, and Chrisostomos, Tamam and Oasis all in the town centre and for the sweet tooth Kronos and Ioardanis.

What Cretan delicacies/dishes do you suggest people try when visiting?

Bougatsa: It comes in two forms. The sweet version is filled with custard and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Also, there is a savoury version which is made using a local cheese called Mizithra.

Boureki: This delicious dish is traditionally made by layering thickly cut pieces of zucchini and potatoes, topped with a cheese and mint mix.

Dakos: A refreshing Greek appetiser consisting of a large barley rusk, it is topped with extra virgin olive oil, grated tomatoes and mizithra cheese.

Insights Greece - Unique Flavours of Cretan Cuisine

Pilafi: This traditional rice pilaf is made using chicken or beef stock or even a combination of both. It is then finished with lemon juice and butter.

Kaltsounia: Filo pastry parcels with any type of soft local Cretan cheese and/or wild greens and herbs.

Loukoumades: Fluffy doughnuts, which are soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, there are so many Loukoumades stores in every part of Crete serving this popular sweet. 

Yoghurt: Crete is a large producer of dairy making yoghurt varieties, from sheep to cow and to goat.

Myzithra: A cheese similar to ricotta but made with goats milk. It is extremely soft in texture and absolutely delicious.

Raki: This is a very strong spirit made using the traditional evaporation method. Leftover grape pomace is used to make the following harvest and winemaking.

Sfakianopita: A scrumptious pie from the mountainous region of Sfakia. This is a really thin flat pie which is filled with a small amount of cheese, lightly fried and topped with lots of honey.

Staka: A very traditional dish made from goat’s milk butterfat. In fact, Staka is a dish you will only find in Crete.

Xerotigana: A light pastry fluffy dough fried in olive oil, soaked in honey, and topped with sesame seeds or walnuts- delivering a super crunchy texture.

The Hellenic Odyssey

Cover image via

Greece’s Fearless Wine Warriors  

Wine writer Nico Manessis introduces us to two young Greek women who are determined to create change in the local winemaking industry.

Women who have brought changes have never had it easy, yet, we should be grateful, they continue to persist. In the Greek wine scene, an increasing number of women have been quietly offering on several fronts. Pioneers like Maria Tzitzi, teacher extraordinaire, started her career taking over a wine analysis laboratory in Athens. She is now head of education at the Le Monde Institute of Hotel & Tourism Studies in a part of Athens named Moshato (once a vineyard). There are numerous others that come to mind.

Insights Greece - Greece’s Fearless Wine Warriors  

In a male dominated profession (not forgetting winery spouses) the laboratory services up and down the country are mostly women-managed. And this for the better of cellar hygiene and the consistency it offers to consumers. It is not only the ‘white coats’ that are contributing to the ongoing Greek wine renaissance. In the vineyards, important work has been accomplished by ampelographer Haroula Spinthiropoulou. Her research in the rich indigenous grapes and authoring the first in decades publication of wine producing grapes was an important bridge to the ongoing revival. The success of today’s Greek wine rests, in part, to these rediscovered age-old-vines now with a bright future, yes, even in the post Covid 19 era.

Recently two young women have stepped up to the front lines. Both are formidable. Iliana Malihin, aged 27 and Evmorfia Kostaki, aged 25, are bringing a cosmopolitan vision to their respective islands – but not only. Malihin is an oenologist (wine chemist) and Kostaki has a joint Master of viticulture and oenology. Both have an agenda in motivating and ushering farming techniques to enhance, in what the French term call terroir – wine’s sense of place.

Malihin has set up a winery on her native Crete. Specifically, in forgotten organic terraced old vineyards around Melampés, on the southern shoreline of Rethymno. Her focus on Vidiano, the rising star white grape originating in these hills, has brought, rightly so, international attention. While inspecting the vineyards that she contracts from older and younger farmers, she looks like an ethereal creature out of real or imaginary myth. The truth is a more somber back story: a woman with steely resolve and the kind of great attention to detail that her male colleagues, well, often miss. Crete is the most exciting wine region and this fearless wine warrior has added valuable momentum. Who knew anything of sleeper Rethymno? Now, we do.

Insights Greece - Greece’s Fearless Wine Warriors  

Evmorfia Kostaki is from Samos. Perhaps the most famous of Greek wines, feted in Versailles with the other two great sweet wines, Hungary’s Tokay and South Africa’s Vin de Constance. More recently in Sweden, such was the repute of Samos Vin Doux that during geography lesson a pupil who was asked where Greece, cutely answered “next to Samos”. Kostakis is starting out with her father in partnership in the NOPERA winery, with Nikos Mitilineos, scion of a historic wine merchant family; one of the several new ventures on this island vineyard, famous for sweet Muscat and more recently bone dry examples. While contributing to NOPERA she is laying out plans for the future. She’s modest and has no cult status nor is she seeking ambitions.

In 1934 the Samos Cooperative was made compulsory by the government due to civil unrest as merchants in Karlovasi and Vathi took advantage of the farmers resulting in a full out revolt. For decades most of the islands’ sweet wine has been shipped to Issy-les-Moulineaux, to the cellars in a Paris suburb now owned by La Martiniquaise group. It is this bulk shipment which champions Greek wine by volume exports. There are other smaller wineries than the Union of Co-opperatives now on the island. Local boy Nikos Vakakis, whose remarkable life journey from a priest’s son to an elite commando officer, founded and manages Vakakis Wines.


Kostakis’ recent project has been helping her father with a impressive dry Muscat marketed by natural wine specialist Yorgos Ioannidis. Clearly, these vineyards, replanted initially again in 1540 AD have unrealised potential. Perhaps the Swedish boy’s enlightened education hinted of how good Samos muscat really is.

With two exemplary figures as these two young women bringing wine to new levels in Greece, one can only expect that things can only get better in the local wine industry, and that the world will keep offering more and more well-deserved recognition to the efforts being made.

You can find more of Nico’s grape adventures at greekwineworld