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From the endless dreamy beaches and the doll-like old towns to the castles, the palm groves and the unique archeological sites, the largest island of Greece is big in everything and offers whatever you ask for. Unforgettable flavors, safaris in villages forgotten in time, the luxury of seclusion on a beach but also high level services in the famous resorts  We make you a compass of holidays in summer Crete with 20 separate experiences for each mood, although of course we could continue indefinitely! From Kiki Vassalou

# 1 Agiofarago: a good dive is hard

To swim on the beautiful pebble beach south of Heraklion (80 km from the city), you will reach the end of the road, you will take food, water and shade (although the high cliffs “do the job”) and you will follow the path. Twenty minutes to half an hour will pass until you see the sea, but without difficulty but with some interest: you will pass through the caves where ascetics lived and from the church of Agios Antonios with the small well, hence the “Gorge of the Saints”. With properly calculated supplies and sleeping bag, it is also offered for overnight. The weekends are crowded and not worth it.

# 2 Morning walk in Chania

No matter how many times you have walked in Chania, it is not enough. The walk in the alleys of the Old Town and in the Venetian Port hides treasures, which multiply year by year. It is probably a good idea to move around the city in the morning, like the locals. Start with a warm bougatsa with mizithra, sugar and cinnamon from “Iordanis” (2821088855) and continue for coffee, gas or the first tsikoudia of the day under the shady plane trees of 1821 Square (Splantzia) in the cafe “Bourbakis”. Alternatively, for views and photos with the lighthouse in the background, look for Neorio Moro, the wonderful multipurpose space of the Chania Sailing Club.

# 3 Dinner at the restaurant “Zeen”

Whether you have chosen the incredible -adults only– “Domes Noruz Chania” for your stay or not, a dinner at sunset in the restaurant “Zeen” is an experience not to be missed. This is where chef Dionysis Pliatsikas approaches creative classic dishes of the Cretan tradition. Somehow, his sponge includes apaki, the sausages are served with onion jam and gruyere cream and the smoked octopus is accompanied by eggplant salad, cherry tomatoes, fennel and basil. The list of more than 160 labels of the Greek and foreign vineyard completes the enjoyment, as well as the Cretan version of the cheesecake.

# 4 For food in the Old Town of Rethymnon

Rethymno is cute and always hospitable, it also offers excellent food. In “Avli”, in a Venetian mansion of 1600, the chef George Stylianoudakis signs the menu, balancing between classic and creative dishes of local gastronomy, with Aristea Dafnomili and Eva Arapai performing it perfectly. At “Veneto” it is worth trying the imaginative flavors of chef Nikolas Stavrakakis, in combination with the award-winning wine list of hostess and oenologist Argyros Petrakis.

# 5 The White River experience

One kilometer away from the sea and Makry Gialos, are the stone houses of Aspro Potamos, built about 300 years ago, according to the traditional architecture of the area, and gently renovated in 2011. Staying here is an experience different from the others. The operation of the hostel is based exclusively on alternative forms of energy. Some lights and appliances work thanks to the photovoltaic system of the hostel, while the main lighting of the houses is done with paraffin lamps and candles. There are no sockets in the houses. Guests can charge any electrical appliance in the reception area, which also has a library and wi-fi. Back to the past!

# 6 Bath: an island on the island

With Cycladic color and without cars, the tiny Bath in Sfakia welcomes its visitors, where you will reach either by boat (from Chora Sfakion) or on foot, following the European path E4. Here the daily routine includes walking, swimming and excellent food, so it is worth spending the night – a good and affordable option is the renovated rooms “Sofia” (2825091354). At noon the “Blue House” (2825091035) serves the most delicious mamadis cooked, while in the evenings an unforgettable meat-eating experience awaits you at the tavern “Stratis” (2825091348), run by Sifis and all the meats are his.

# 7 CRETAquarium for young and old

You will come to the CRETAquarium for the children and you will be more impressed by them, so you can come independently. Scorpions, scorpions, magpies, groupers, ribs, sea bass, octopuses, lobsters, loggerhead turtles and bull sharks, which are somewhat scary in appearance, will parade in front of you. Yes, with all of the above we share the Mediterranean, whose diversity is inexhaustible. Each tank is accompanied by inscriptions with the items it hosts, while there is also the possibility for audio or personal tour. Come early to avoid the crowds and stock up on street snacks, as the choices around you will not excite you.

# 8 Fine dining like Elounda

The emblematic hotel complexes of Elounda were among the first to invest so systematically in the gastronomic dimension of the accommodation experience, often reaching the threshold of the Golden Hats and raising the bar in the wider area. If you love gastronomy, it is worth enjoying a dinner experience at one of them, such as “Dionysos” and “Blue Lagoon by Mistura” at “Elounda Beach”, “Calypso” at “Elounda Peninsula”, “Old Mill At “Elounda Mare”, “La Bouillabaisse” at “Minos Beach”, or outside hotels, at “Ferryman” with the open-air kitchen and the always interesting Greek flavors of the award-winning chef Giannis Baxevanis.

# 9 Cocktail o’clock in Chania

Magnificent sunset in Chania. The sun that disappears, the purple color of the sky, the thought that calms and let you be among thousands. And after the sunset what? Then he has cocktails in the most special bars of the city. The “Synagogue” (2821095242), the “Monastery of Charles” (2821050172) and the “Boheme” (2821095955) have very well informed cellars and famous barristi. At “Boheme” it is worth trying the award-winning “Cretan” cocktail El Gran Viaje based on rum and local ingredients-surprise! Outside the city, the best cocktails of the South are served in the bar “Agios” of Paleochora (2823041258).

# 10 You have to go to Kapsaliana

A real village, 4 km from Arkadi, is the “Kapsaliana Village Hotel” (2831083400). A preserved Venetian settlement, an old part of the monastery, created for the harvest of olives and the production of olive oil, with an olive mill in 1763. Today an olive mill and buildings have been restored and the whole settlement is a different accommodation proposal, which includes 18 luxurious rooms and suites, swimming pool, restaurant and lovely public areas. It is open all year round and is a starting point for activities such as hiking, cycling, canyon hike (crossing the Patsos gorge) every spring and summer, and even rowing by sea kayak in the area of ​​Triopetra around the same time.

# 11 What does “Pelagos” taste like?

The answer is not only seafood, when the conversation comes to this corner of Crete and to the “Pelagos Seaside Restaurant”, which operates inside the hotel “Coriva Beach” in Koutsounari, near Ierapetra. Here you will meet Konstantina Voulgari-Kontesopoulou, who always takes care of the quality of her ingredients, to be passed on later in execution, with references to both the Cretan tradition and Greek gastronomy in general. What does this mean; That you will enjoy her grouper and her lamb equally. And you will make sure to come a second time before saying goodbye to Megalonisos.

# 12 Summer city break in Heraklion

The largest city of Crete has beautified and is proving it day by day. It is worth devoting some time to sightseeing, shopping, food and you will not regret it. The renewed Archaeological Museum of Heraklion (Xanthoudidi & Hatzidaki 1, 2810279000) is considered one of the most important in Europe, Lions Square is always crowded, while the walk includes both the pedestrian center and the coastal front of the city, which has finally turned its eyes to sea. Look for Antonella, one of the most interesting boutiques in the city for clothes, shoes and accessories for everyone and book the wonderful “Peskesi” for Cretan cuisine in κουζίνα style.

# 13 Discover Kato Zakros

When hikers from all over the world arrived years ago to take the last steps of the European E4 trail, which starts in Portugal and ends here, at the far southeastern tip of Crete, the locals looked at them rather strangely. A lot has changed since then. Ano Zakros still largely lives from agricultural production, in the coastal settlement however, where the fourth most important Minoan palace of Crete has been unveiled and the Gorge of the Dead is completed, tourism has opened its doors. And not unfair. It is worth getting to know this place. Search for “Stella Apartments” (2843023739). Here Xenios Zeus has left a legacy.

# 14 Visit to Ancient Eleftherna

In the heart of Crete was Ancient Eleftherna, between Knossos, Kydonia (Chania), Phaistos and Gortyna. A city founded by the Dorians in the 9th century BC. and a prominent archaeological site today, whose excavations began in 1985 and are still ongoing. Here, at the foot of Psiloritis, it is worth a visit both to the site itself, where the excavations have brought to light exceptional finds from different eras, from the Neolithic period to the Byzantine years, and the Archaeological Museum, which opened just before from two years. Tip: the trip to Eleftherna is combined with a stop at the historic monastery of Arkadi.

# 15 Lentas: swimming, yoga and claims food

It is one of those places where you come for a while and stay a long time. It is far away, it takes effort to reach it, it is relaxed – a place of true vacation. Among other things, it recently re-entered the tourist map of Crete with the brand new “Levinthos” (6972662473), a hotel for those who love swimming – it has a beach just below -, yoga – has all the necessary infrastructure for group retreats – and mom (owner) food with ingredients from the garden. But Lentas and the surrounding area are something else. A routine you love; the afternoon swim in Dyskos until the sun goes down, the dinner in the exquisite “Lavris” (2892095293) a little further, the drink in the bars of the settlement later.

# 16 Atsipopoulo: a revelation village

It is located just a breath away from Rethymno and it is worth walking. It has buildings that stand from the years of the Venetians and other more recent ones, stone with wooden sliding doors, it has narrow streets that enter in covered areas with arches and others with nice sea views. Here are, among others, the famous Xylofournos Mystraki, from where it is worth getting their incredible traditional Cretan nut, but also the “Casa dell ‘Aristea” (2831031431), a beautifully renovated mansion of the 15th century with 7 luxurious and different their rooms.

# 17 Beach safari in Rethymnon

From Rodakino to Agia Galini, the Prefecture of Rethymno has without a doubt the most, most beautiful and most easily accessible beaches in the entire Cretan South. What does it take to discover them? Car, appetite for kilometers, updated GPS and all the necessary equipment for a long stay on the beach. Most have from one to more canteens, taverns and beach bars, but there is no waste anywhere – not even in the busy Plakias. And their waters, as you move east, are more and more delicious, clean and cool. Preveli is green again, Triopetra is endless and well-photographed, the west is unforgettable in Agios Pavlos with the impressive dunes, the Ligres are constantly relaxed. If it’s windy, don’t even start.

# 18 All day ’n’ night Armenoi

The hot days want their “Cicada”. It is a paradise location in Armeni, 21 km from Chania, between the plane trees and the running waters. Kitchen with organic ingredients, vegetarian and vegan options and handmade ice cream. If you stay overnight in the village, there is continuity: well-cooked meats and crispy french fries in “Karydia” (6977629691) and tsikoudia for digestion in the cafe of Michalis in the square. This is the after cafe of the whole area, which stays open as long as the company keeps, maybe until the morning. And if you are hungry again, Michalis will not leave you like that. Whatever time it is.

# 19 The Captains gaze at the Libyan

On the one hand the sacred peak of Kofinas and on the other the endless Libyan Sea. On this natural balcony are built the Kapetaniana, which took their name when, after the revolution of Daskalogiannis (1770), residents from Asfendos Sfakion emigrated here. In the middle of the last century, the German occupation led the settlement to decline, but tourism development, many years later, took it back. The -twenty more- traditional residences of “Thaloris” are the reason why the Captains came to life again. A picturesque settlement that is worth walking, residents that you will be happy to meet and products that you will enjoy and take with you when you leave.

# 20 Agios Nikolaos: the Venice of Crete

The small town of Lassithi, with a trademark Lake Voulismeni, has a special picturesqueness that bears little resemblance to the other Cretan “capitals”. Walk around as long as it takes to get tired and hungry. The sequel goes by the name “Carnagio” and is fantastic. Lambuka (Lassithi fish) smoked, flavored with dragon (herb), thrapsalo stuffed with coarse, herbs and flavored cream cheese with crumbs (wild thyme), vetouli (small scales) with galeni and cigarettes είναι are just some of the words that will be pleasures.