Your travel guide on Crete

Category Archives: Crete

Individual, private or tailored tours for you…what is it?

And what is the difference between group tours and private tours?

There are many tourists visiting Crete who wish to travel a lot.They have their holiday plan and want to see most famous places of the island. So what is the options to travel on Crete, if you don’t want to rent a car or take a public bus?

Guided coach tour and traditional routs

Some of them just book common excursions with big group and big coach and follow usual or traditional routs. This is the easiest and  cheapest way to visit Crete’s must see places.  The excursion usually follows the exact rout with exact stops, and it can more than one language in the coach. Yes, it is the cheapest way, but is it the best? The minus of this tours is that you have to follow routine tour, routine stop, you are tied to other  co-tourist. You have no choice where to stop, or where to spend more time, if you like the place. You follow the group, time ad rout.

Guided tailor  made mini group

This tours are made for you!!! You can choose your rout, stops, places to visit, you can make your excursion plan according to you interests.

Usually individual tours are by mini bus up to 7 seats and private guide following tailor made rout only for you.

It is not as cheap as traditional big coach tours, but the advance is obvious: comfortable mini group, private tour guide, only one language of your choice, routs and stops made according to your wishes and interests.

Guided tailor made tours by big coach

It almost the same as mini private tours, just by big coach. This means, that these tours are offered to the groups up to 15-70 people. Tailor made big groups tours are very suitable for corporative travelers, big teams, big families or big group of friends. It is cheaper than mini private tours, but still provides you possibility to travel your own rout, with private guide.

So don’t miss the opportunity to travel on Crete!!! Crete is covering deep in it’s mountains, caves, small beaches, in it’s history, culture and monasteries.  Open that secrets fr you!!!

 

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In Crete, we are blessed to live in a place, which is the birthplace of olive cultivation, which history began from the ancient time of the Minoan civilization.

Olive oil as a way of developing tourism

Wherever you look at in Crete, you will see an olive tree. There are many, but not all are the same. In Crete there are three well-established varieties of olives. Each variety varies in taste, calories and nutrients. The differences in the nutrients mainly concern quantities and antioxidant action. Studies have shown that Cretan olives have more types of antioxidants, especially 19 kinds of polyphenols.

Koroneiki or Psilolia

It is the most famous variety of fine olive oil production, occupying 60% of Greek production. It has small size fruits and ripen from October to December. It is known as a very productive variety, resistant to dry and hot conditions and the content of the olive oil is 27%. The tree needs little care and can withstand low temperatures.

Chondrolia or Throumbolia

Grown extensively in Greece for the production of olive oil and table olives. The tree reaches a height of 5-10 meters and the fruit content in olive oil reaches 28%. The fruit of Chondrolia during ripe stage on the tree loses part of its humidity and oleuropein, a substance responsible for the bitter taste of olives. Variety is demanding to moisture and nutrients, and during dry periods it doesn’t fructify.

Tsounati or Mouratolia

This variety blooms from the end of April until the end of May and the fruit ripens from late October until the end of November. Withstand low temperatures produces good quality olive oil. The fruit has a medium oil content close to 25% and requires good soil and cultivation.


The scenic village of Zaros is one of the most important villages in Psiloritis Riza and one of the most historic main villages of Crete with a total population of 2,000 who mostly work in agriculture, tourism, beekeeping and animal husbandry.

Zaros

It is approximately 45 km from Heraklion and its name derives from the words Za(much) and Rous(flow). The area has always been inhabited during the times of recorder history, due to the abundance of water. Also, there used to be quite a few watermills, whose ruins remain along a water canal, while nowadays there is only one working at Votomos. The natural environment of Zaros is quite rich in ecological and geomorphological terms, and features special landscapes. Its environmental resources are unique and its flora and fauna is of special value. At the same time, it features some significant cultural elements, discovered in traces that date from the Late Minoan period until our days. Its natural and cultural adequacy, as well as the utilization of traditional farming activities have provided a solid ground for sustainable development. Nowadays, in Zaros, there is a regional health clinic, a kindergarten, an Elementary School, a Junior High School, banks and hostels for visitors. The Byzantine monasteries decorated with magnificent murals, the gorges, the crystal-clear beaches of the South and the live concerts of Cretan music are some places that are worth visiting in this naturally beautiful region.


The women who constitute the Women’s Cultural Association of Spili, wishing to reinforce the cultural life and the folk tradition of their town, worked passionately and established the Folklife Museum of Spili, which has been housed in a two-story traditional house since 2011.

Folklife Museum of Spili

These women have collected objects which had been almost extinct from the village, maintained them and positioned them in the rooms of the ground-floor with the aid of Vorrin Museum Manager Mr. Vilianos, offering visitors a glimpse to traditional Cretan homes, while there is also an event room on the first floor. The exhibition includes farming tools, cobbler tools, a loom, traditional utensils etc. and the women have never ceased collecting objects with which many people – mostly the youth – are unfamiliar, to enrich the collection.


Chrysi is one of the 81th uninhabited islands of Crete, approximately 8 miles south of Ierapetra. It is 5 km in length and 1 km in width.

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The highest point of the island named Kefala, it is 31 m of the ground. It’s a real paradise on earth with beaches of golden and white sand, which are changing to rose in many points thanks to shell fragments and to crystal clear waters. At Chrysi there is an enough big forest of cedar, an area of 350 acres, full of big, impressive, perennial cedars and 49 species of fossils had been found on the volcanic rock of the island. At the north beaches, namely Mpelegrina, Chatzivolaka and Kataprosopo beaches, there is a large number of small shells and those beaches are a little organized with sun beds and sun umbrellas. On the southeast side of the island, Vougiou Mati position, there is the cove for the little boats which transfer the visitors, a traditional restaurant and a very beautiful beach. The daily access at the island is guaranteed thanks to the small ship from Ierapetra and the trip lasts less than an hour. It’s good for the visitor to know that at the Gaidouronisi camp, changing the trail marking, the seashell and sand collection as well are –typically – forbidden. The place is suitable for relaxing and calm and gives the impression to visitor that he is in an exotic island.

On the western and eastern parts of the island, some activity from the Minoan era is visible. On the northwestern side there is a little church dedicated to St Nicholas, which was probably built in the 13th century. To the northeast of the church is an old saltern and the only house on the island, which is built over ancient ruins. To the northern and northwestern side of St Nicholas, there are wells and curved tombs. The largest one is from the Roman period. The prevailing plants are cedar, juniper, mastic tree, either in the form of shrubs or a trees, as well as anemophilous vegetation. The roots of the cedar are at least double in size of their hight. Apart from the long roots, they also have a lot of very thin ones which form a dense net holding the sand. Chrysi has a fantastic cedar forest which is unique in Europe. It is 350 hectares in size and has approximately 14 trees per hectare. The average age of the trees is 200-300 years and the forest covers about a quarter of the island. These trees are a rare variety of Lebanese cedar. They grow up to 10 metres high and the diameter of their trunk is up to 1 metre. Compared to its size, Chrysi has a very large number of plant species which correspond to one twentieth of the Cretan flora. There are more than 100 recorded species. 13 are endemic to Greece, five of them are endemic to Crete and one is endemic to Chrysi, which means that it cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is a type of colchicum called Colchicum Costurieri.

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Frescoes are the source of some of the most striking imagery handed down to us from the Minoan civilization of Bronze Age Crete (2000-1500 BCE). Further, without written records, they are often the only source, along with decorated pottery, of just how the world appeared to the Minoans and give us tantalizing glimpses of their beliefs, cultural practices and aesthetic tastes.

Minoan Bull Leaping

Inherent problems with frescoes are their fragility, incompleteness and artistic anonymity. In addition, in archaeological sites they are often found removed from their original settings, making them extremely difficult to date. Perhaps, restoration has at times been over-imaginative but nevertheless, the overwhelming impression given by this art form is the Minoan’s sheer joy in fluid, naturalistic and graceful forms represented in an impressionistic manner. There are also many surviving fresco fragments dating from the second phase palaces of 1550 to 1450 BCE, when the Mycenaeans began to take over the Minoan sites. However, as these are stylistically very similar to earlier Minoan frescoes, they are discussed as one in the following remarks.

As a technique, true fresco painting (buon fresco) is the painting of colour pigments on wet lime plaster without a binding agent and when the paint is absorbed by the plaster it is fixed and protected from fading. That the Minoans employed such a technique in their buildings is evidenced by string impressions in the plaster and by the depth of the paint employed. Fresco secco, which is the application of paint, in particular for details, onto a dry plaster was also used throughout the palaces as was the use of low relief in the plaster to give a shallow three dimensional effect. Colours employed were black (carbonaceous shale), red (haematite), white (hydrate of lime), yellow (ochre), blue (silicate of copper), and green (blue and yellow mixed). There are no surviving examples of shading effects in Minoan frescoes, although interestingly, sometimes the colour of the background changes whilst the foreground subjects remain unchanged. Although the Egyptians did not use true fresco, some of the colour conventions of their architectural painting were adopted by the Minoans. Male skin is usually red, female is white, and for metals: gold is yellow, silver is blue and bronze is red.

Griffin Fresco, Knossos, Crete

The first examples of fresco in Crete are limited to simple monochrome walls, most often red but sometimes also black. With improvements in the quality of plaster and pigments, the advent of monumental Minoan architecture and possibly through influence from Egypt and the Near East, the technique was employed to decorate the walls (either in their entirety, above windows and doors or below the dado), ceilings, wooden beams and sometimes floors of the palace complexes, depicting first abstract shapes and geometric designs and then later, all manner of subjects ranging in size from miniature to larger than life size.

As in earlier seal and ring engravings, popular scenes for frescoes – and perhaps indicative of the role of the palaces in Minoan society – were of rituals, processions, festivals, ceremonies and bull sports. Celebrated examples include two seated priestesses on either side of a shrine, a grove of olive trees with dancers and audience, two boxers, young men in a procession carrying rhytons, and a scene of both male and female figures in various stages of bull leaping – grasping the horns or somersaulting over the back of the animal. On occasion, fresco was also used to imitate architectural features, for example, veined alabaster slabs painted on the lower portions of walls.

Natural subjects included flowers such as lilies, irises, crocuses, roses, and also plants such as ivy and reeds. Indeed, the Minoans were one of the earliest cultures to paint natural landscapes without any humans present in the scene; such was their admiration of nature.

Animals were also commonly portrayed, most often in their natural habitat, for example, monkeys, birds, cats, goats, deer, sea urchins, dolphins and fish. Although Minoan frescoes were often framed with decorative borders of geometric designs (spirals, diagonals, rosettes, and ‘maze’ patterns), the principal fresco itself, on occasion, went beyond conventional boundaries such as corners and covered several walls, surrounding the viewer.

Dolphin Fresco, Knossos, Crete

Other objects which received the fresco treatment include the celebrated limestone sarcophagus from Hagia Triada, a rare example of a fresco surviving complete. Within decorated frames, different sides of the coffin show two goddesses, each in a chariot, one drawn by goats and the other by griffins, a scene of a bull sacrifice and a funeral scene.

The Minoan style in frescoes was influential both with contemporary cultures such as in the Cyclades (e.g. Akrotiri on Thera, Phylakopi on Melos and Hagia Irini on Keos) and with later cultures, especially the Mycenaean, albeit with slightly different subject matter such as shields and other martial paraphernalia and perhaps with a lesser importance given to naturalism. Indeed, as far afield as Tel el Dab’a in Egypt, frescoes have been discovered which are notable for their similarity in style to the Minoan.

Source: http://www.ancient.eu


The impressive Gorge of Aradainas is located on the southern slopes of the White Mountains, just 84 miles from the city of Chania and is one of the most interesting and impressive gorges of Sfakia municipality.

Aradainas Gorge

It has high vertical walls, rich vegetation and wildlife. It is easily accessible and can be visited throughout the year, as long as the weather permits it. The path can take 3 to 4 hours, depending on the level of hiking experience, since Aradainas Gorge  extends approximately 7 km far from the entrance of the sea and the route is described as of medium difficulty. Visitors should be equipped with raincoats and waterproof boots. At the exit of the gorge, Dialiskari, there is a small, isolated and pristine beach, Marmara (“marbles”), which is the best compensation for the long hiking. From Marmara beach, there is a coastal path to Foinika (“Palme”), Loutro (“Bath”) and Chora Sfakion. The path is narrow and quite dangerous in the area between Loutro and Chora Sfakion. Otherwise, visitors can take the boat from Loutro to Sfakia, provided they have checked the route schedule of the ship.