Why you should go to the lesser traveled East side of Crete

Crete is the most popular of the Greek islands. But just like Mallorca you just need to step a bit off the main road to find a more quiet atmosphere.

I just returned from a week long trip with my husband and son to Agios Nikólaos on the East side of the Greek island of Crete. I have been to Crete at least 4 times – maybe more. Last time we stayed in Chania, because my sister was working there for half a year.  It is ok, but crowded. The East side on the other hand stretching beyond the touristy Hersonissos is more overlooked; probably because it is a bit harder to get there, and even in July it is not overrun. You can fly to Heraklion and then it’s just an hour’s drive.  But it is a more expensive side of the island with Elounda as the top notch place. I would recommend stay at an apartment just outside town – most have sea view and small pools.  The rough guide is one of the best guides to Crete.


Almyros beach


1: The small baroque church Panagia Kera near Kritsa with beautiful frescoes dating from 13th century. I like the one with the last upper that looks like it’s been painted by Picasso.

2: The Lasíthi plateau. The plateau is very fertile and it’s were you can find the famous windmills used for two centuries for irrigation. It takes a whole day.

3: The old leper colony on a small island of Spinalonga. The island is made up by a Venetian fortress from 14th century for protection against the Ottoman Empire who eventually seized it in 1715. In 1903 it became a leper colony until 1957! Take a ferry from Plaka or Elounda.

4: The ruins of the ancient town of Lato. The ruins are some of the best preserved Classical-Hellenic city and the views across the mountains and all the way to the Mediterranean are fantastic.  And you get to climb!

5: Almyros beach. The beach is just outside the city but because there runs a freshwater stream into the sea here the top 10 cm of the Mediterranean are ice cold and the bottom warm. Or the Váï beach which is known for its palms.


1: When it is hot, do like the Cretans and sit at a café drinking ice-coffee or raki and once in a while jump in the blue Mediterranean from a cliff. Many have ladders. We liked To Votsalo and the bar outside Polydoros –both just outside the city.

2: Rent a car. And not a big convertible – but a small one so you can park. And air con is for losers.

3: Learn to say “Efharisto” and “kalispera”. And then ask what they think of EU.

4: Order many appetizers and share. Remember the local snails, the fried cheese (saganaki) and the fish roe salad (taramo salad).

5: Greece have longest wine making tradition in Europe, so drink plenty of local white wine- I like the grape Assyrtiko. It is not easy or cheap to find back home.

Let me know if I missed anything, so I can do better next time! Because there is always a next time with Greece!