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My 5 favorite spots to unwind in Eastern Crete

Updated: Mar 21

Whether you are looking for the perfect place to relax with a cocktail, a deserted beach to soak up the sun, or a small village hotel to chill by the pool, the eastern part of Crete, from Heraklion to Lasithi provinces has it all figured out for you with many wonderful spots to explore during your Greek holidays.

Agios Nikolaos – This adorable little fisherman village in the Lasithi province displays a large promenade by the old harbor/ town to lake Voulismeni where co-exist bars, restaurants, and many little market stands. My favorite place to chill and relax by the water with all the necessities at the tip of my finger is Kimzu Sea Lounge. The food was not the best for my “hard to please” taste buds, but the staff is great, and the location is just nothing other than a fantastic beachfront park with an amazing view of the bay, eager to provide a relaxing and zen beach atmosphere and experience within the city.

Elounda – Just a short 12 km drive north of Agios Nikolaos, Elounda was made famous by celebrities who had fallen in love with it’s various villages and facets including the deserted island of Elounda where the crystal clear waters will call in any mermaids.

The more popular Island of Spinalonga an ancient Venetian fort transformed in the 1900s into a leper colony is a short boat ride away. You can live the Elounda dream on this merely deserted island at the only habitation Elounda island villa.

After soaking up the sun you will surely love to enjoy a nice lunch or better, a romantic dinner at the only restaurant on the island called Kanali , located at the start of the peninsula right after the salt pan after passing an old stone bridge with two windmills from the early 1900. The surroundings of the restaurant is to be explored as it sits on the ruins of the ancient city of Oloundas. You can even access directly to the restaurant by boat, using the old Canal built by the French to facilitate the navigation between Elounda and Agios Nikolaos back in the day.

Koutouloufari – A little village became big when many hotels and resorts started to pop up on the higher side of the hill to lighten up the already pretty crowded seaside. Catering to tourism and leisure, you will for sure find anything to entertain yourself in Koutouloufari, Piskopiano and the third more renowned village of Hersonissos. Yet while you can easily forget about being in Greece, due to the number of English speakers you will pass by as you scroll down the streets, the minute you step foot in the small boutique hotel called Villa Ippocampi .

You will instantly feel like you are either home or visiting your old Greek friends or relatives. As you walk in, you will be greeted by a blue sky welcome cocktail and the amazing smile of one of the girls from the staff. Lydia, the owner, devotes her time and attention to creating a serene and tasteful decor and ambiance while making sure you feel welcome and at home during your entire stay.

No doubt that you will enjoy, relax, and rest in the most pleasant atmosphere at Villa Ippocampi, as it is the quintessential adult retreat in the area.

Kapetaniana – You will not stop by while passing through this village, but if you drive up there, turn right at the only intersection, and you will discover the enchanted village of Thalori.

Once a traditional village, Thalori villagers deserted it for the call of the big city and left behind a few abandoned houses and a handful of irreducible. One family convinced of a better life than what the city had to offer, bought and restored some of the deserted houses one by one and turned them into the most unnoticeable hotel complex.

For sure as you scroll around the village you will notice some houses looking nicer than others, but the fact is that this family’s action to bring life back to the village gave a real boost to the entire community and recreates a balance and lively energy around a centered restaurant, where you will find villagers drink coffee or Raki at the end of the day. Thalori is the perfect place to unwind and take the time to enjoy the simple things in life such as horseback riding, trekking up the mountains, yoga, and meditation as well as enjoying the most awesome local organic food.

Mont Dictee and Zeus’ cave – in the middle of the island, hidden between mountains is the Lasithi plateau.

Not only does the location itself release some kind of divine serenity, but knowing that Rhéa, Zeus‘ mother climbed up to this plateau to give birth to him and kept him from being eaten by his father Kronos, (for sure you will have to read this part of the mythology if you don’t know it), makes the place even more magical.

At the center of this little town’s place where you will start your journey to the cave, you will notice some donkeys. Don’t hesitate to pay 10 Eur for your one-way ride up, not only it will ease your legs before you attack the equivalent of a 30 stories climb down and up into the cave, but it is also the only way the surrounding villagers found to keep this animal alive on the island.

True, over 50 years ago, Crete could count a donkey population of over half a million, but in modern times they no longer have use for them, and today the population dropped to a mere 14 thousand headstock so the locals found this use for them during the summer. Rest assured, they are well-treated, and will never climb more than 6 times a day. As for the low season, to recuperate from their summer labors feeding and sleeping. You can read more about their life and how they are being rescued in Crete by clicking on the link here

👉🏽 donkey-rescue.

We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us… Anonymous
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