Visit quaint Spili for a cool break in the hot summer months
Spili is a small town situated south of Rethimnon on the route Rethymnon – Spili – Agia Galini. It is situated at an altitude of 450 meters above sea level, so it normally cools down in the evenings, which can be a blessing in the hot summer months.
The name Spili comes from the Greek word for cave (spilia) and the village is a pleasant and lively small town and a perfect place to make a stop when you are heading down south. In the center of the village square with the two huge plane trees, you see the Kefalovrisi (i.e. the main spring).
This is a series of 25 fountains with the form of a lion head, from the mouths of which 330 cubic meters of water flow every hour, at a constant temperature of 13 °C. Around Kefalovrisi you‘ll find several taverns with genuine Cretan cuisine, coffee shops and folk art shops.
Very popular is the European Union footpath E4 20 “Spili – Gerakari” which passes from the chapel of the Holy Spirit in the midst of olive groves, to the village’s north. Also, near the village begins the most beautiful gorge of Rethymno, “Kourtaliotiko”, that leads to the famous palm forest of Preveli. If you are looking for high quality accommodation in the wider area, explore the available rent-a-villa options.
Stay in Plakias village, the most cosmopolitan place in Rethymno region
Margarites is a vibrant centuries old pottery center in Crete
The traditional village of Margarites, 27 km east of Rethymnon in the foothills of Mt. Psiloritis, is one of Crete’s four main pottery centres. Many craftsmen still use age-old traditional techniques and skills, whether for small pieces of pottery or for the large storage jars used on the island in the Minoan period.
The village, which boasts some impressive architecture and lovely narrow winding streets, is well worth exploring. There are Venetian doorways, Byzantine churches and plenty of cafés to relax at, perhaps to try a Greek coffee.
Margarites, a village with Venetian roots, mentioned by sixteenth-century travellers, is one of several villages forming a clutch around the Margarites Gorge, a bio-diverse canyon that has aroused international interest.
It’s a short hike from the old houses and potteries of Margarites to the Gorge, where paths have been laid out for those keen to walk in the area and admire rare flora and fauna in their natural habitat.
Visit Plakias for great outdoor activities and excursions
Plakias is a popular tourist destination on the south coast of the Rethymnon Prefecture. The main beach is some 1.3 km long, sandy and organized (sunbeds, umbrellas and showers).
It is a perfect spot for surfing and diving and there is also a diving centre. All around you will find a sufficiency of hotels, villas to rent, restaurants, bars and shops. Round and about Plakias there are many choices for excursions and activities in the wider outdoors.
To those who like walking or biking the area is ideal. In the summer, ferries run to Preveli, Agia Galini and Frankokastello, or you can traverse the gorge of Kotsyfos by car and on foot, however to get to the impressive Kourtaliotikos gorge you can only use your own two feet!When in Plakias, do not miss out on a visit to Moni Preveli, a religious monument with a rich history and glorious past.
Visit Episkopi for a feeling of a traditional Cretan village
Episkopi is a small town of the prefecture of Rethymno, at 22.5 km from the city of Rethymno on the way to Chania, owing its prosperity to the area’s vineyards and olive groves.
The village itself is a small maze of narrow alleyways converging onto a square where the old church is the focus of social life, with traditional cafes where the village elders gather in the shade to talk politics sipping their raki. There is easy access to the beach which is sandy, clear and organized, also called Episkopi Beach.
The name Episcopi means bishopric, and is common to many villages in Crete, that used to be bishopric seats in the past. The area’s religious tradition is prevalent, by the omnipresent presence of churches, some of them with remarkable frescoes.
The village of Episkopi is fairly old, and is mentioned in the island’s archives as having 446 inhabitants before 1583. If you are looking for accommodation in the area, keep in mind that there are superb villas for rent, catering to the eclectic traveller.
Do not miss Anogia for its scenic landscape and true Cretan flavors
Anogia has a history that is both powerful and tragic – burned by the Turks, then by the Germans who during the second world war rounded up and shot all the men in the village as reprisal for the kidnapping of a German general. From Heraklion – the easiest and swiftest route – the drive is wonderful, via winding mountain roads, passing through some interesting villages including Tilissos.
Stockbreeding is the predominant source of wealth in this area. If lamb is to your liking, the savory aroma of it cooking at the tavernas in the lower part of the village, is tempting indeed. The air is mountain-fresh, the local raki and food genuinely good and usually made with local ingredients.
The square of Agios Georgios offers a splendid exhibition of local life and a good place to stop for coffee, buy local cheese and visit the small church of the same name. Traditional Cretan music can be enjoyed in the summer in concerts which are held in the open theatre, as well as in festivals the two first weeks of August.
Venture from Anogia to the awe-inspiring and enormous plateau, the Nida Plateau and visit the Ideon Cave in a truly scenic journey. If you are looking for high quality accommodation in the wider area, explore the available rent-a-villa options.
Stay in Episkopi village, one of the most cosmopolitan places in Rethymno region
Zoniana is the location of one of Crete’s most interesting caves
One of the most interesting caves in Crete is found at the village of Zoniana, just 43 km from Heraklion and 52 km from Rethymnon. The quaint village of Zoniana, which has a long and intriguing history, is situated 630 meters up on Psiloritis Mountain (Mount Idi) in the Mylopotamos region of the Rethymnon Prefecture.
Zoniana is the village’s modern name – prior to 1920 it was called Zeus’ Pit, possibly named after the God Zeus. The main occupation of the residents is cattle breeding. As you drive up the mountain road into Zoniana, which is located just a short distance from the renowned village of Anogeia, you will see the sign for the famous Sfentoni Cave, or Sfentoni’s Hole, one of the island’s most beautiful caves, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.
Following the signs will bring you to the parking lot which offers a panoramic view of the area. As you are not allowed to enter the cave on your own, the entry ticket price includes the services of a well-trained guide, who is responsible for both your personal safety and the protection of the cave.
The guides, all of whom are residents of the village who grew up playing children’s games in and around the cave’s galleries before it was open to visitors, are well versed in explaining all about the deep, dark secrets of this fascinating attraction.