Plakias is 35 kilometres south of Rethymno, on the southern coast of Crete on the Libyan Sea and is a popular tourist resort well-known for its award-winning Blue Flag sandy beach stretching for 1400 metres.
is a top destination for tourists for many reasons, and Marketing
Greece has recently launched a new campaign to show off the islands
greatest assets – from the mountains and ancient Minoan culture, to the
The goal of the campaign is to increase the average monetary spending
of tourists as well an encourage them to see more of the island by
extending their stay.
This is the 4th season of Wanderlust Greece,
and after spending 15 days on the island all of the enchanting and
authentic charm of the Crete revealed the reasons why travelers should
add this Greek island to their list of holiday destinations.
“The trip to Crete has been a real challenge for us as the
destination constitutes a top Greek tourist brand. One of our quests was
to follow the promotion strategy of the Region of Crete, working in a
supportive and fully harmonised way with its central message: The Island
Inside You,” Marketing Greece CEO Ioanna Dreta said.
“Our goal was to create a list of experiences that highlight all
those aspects of the product that make Crete a flagship of Greek
tourism,” Dreta added.
Check out this amazing video that highlights everything from the old
town of Chania to the mountain Mylopotamos, along with local traditions
and customs to the accompaniment of the Cretan lyre!
It’s a common secret among travellers to Crete
that summertime on the island is at least 2 months longer than most
European destinations. Renowned newspapers, in 2014, praised with
various articles the island’s mild climate.
The Telegraph had an
article about autumn tourist destinations where Crete features as a warm
and welcoming place; the same year the Austrian newspaper Kurier published a long praising article on the island describing it as a place where you can enjoy a laid back summer vacation in autumn and get to know local tradition.
The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail included Crete in the six top European destinations for an autumn holiday,
saying that people who prefer to extend their summer vacation all the
way into October should visit Crete.
One of the island’s biggest assets -
apart from beaches - is the famous Cretan cuisine which you can enjoy all over the place.
The reason for all of the above is quite simple. Crete is located in the southeast part of the European continent and temperature never drops below 20º C from September until November.
The average sunshine totals seven hours. Water temperature
in the south shores washed by the Libyan sea reaches 23º C and the
average air temperature is 26º C.
The atmosphere is limpid most of the
time and the tall mountains are clearly defined against the horizon in
every detail. The summer’s blue sea waters change into new fascinating hues, the autumn winds fill the heretofore clear blue skies with amazing cloud shapes and the fairly limited rainfall is very welcome after the dry season has passed.
remains one of the activities you will definitely enjoy even in late
October. Make a note that at this time of the year you will find that
there are less tourists so you’ll get better holiday deals as prices are down compared to the high season.
While you are on your autumn trip to Crete don’t miss the opportunity to visit the renowned historical sites, monuments and museums.
The season’s mild weather will tempt you to discover inland secrets and the wide variety of flora and fauna, to visit picturesque mountainous villages
as well as those of the lowlands, to follow the hiking trails, go
mountaineering or cross breathtaking ravines such as the well-known Samaria Gorge, Kourtaliotiko Gorge etc.
The end of the summer is the time for agricultural activities such as grape harvesting and sun-drying of the grape berries so as to produce raisins.
Ploughing, sowing, grape pressing, wine and raki making are all activities that take place later in the fall.
This time of year you can follow the traditional agricultural activities: participate in grape harvesting and pressing, go olive picking, watch the procedure of raki making in cauldrons- cauldron feasts,
as it evolves into a traditional celebration, taste local products and
learn about the way they are made in the island’s agritourism farms.
Let’s bear in mind that traditional Cretan cuisine is based on fresh seasonal produce and that makes it all the more tasty not to mention healthier and more nutritious!
Extending the season and tapping into wellness tourism in spring and
fall are key priorities for Crete’s regional authorities who joined German media and tourism professionals on the island that hosted the annual FVW workshop last month.
Germany’s leading trade magazine for tourism and business travel organized its annual meeting on Crete together
with the Region of Crete and with the support of the Greek National
Tourism Organization (GNTO) and the tourism ministry.
Titled “Sustainability. The Path to Longevity – Discovering the Authentic Crete and its Treasures”,
the workshop brought together Germany’s top tour operators, travel
agents and journalists who exchanged views and insight with local sector
Holding the largest share of the tourist market in terms of arrivals
from Germany, and attracting significant investor interest, Crete remains a top choice for German travelers.
Workshop participants explored, among others, the further development
of the Cretan tourist product, which is diverse and capable of
attracting travelers to the island all year round. The workshop’s
program aimed to offer delegates experiential experiences and included
visits to Crete’s traditional sights and cultural spots.
Indicatively, in this direction, Crete’s Commissioner of Tourism, Michalis Vamiedakis referred to a three-pronged strategy – Crete: tourism + culture + products, which includes branding the island’s famed hospitality and lifestyle under the “Live Like a Cretan” motto.
Vamiedakis said the highest number of arrivals to Crete was from the
German market and the tourist season had already been extended by one
Among the options for year-round tourism, workshop delegates
suggested gastronomy and wine tasting tours, interactive activities,
agrotourism, healing and wellness tourism, entertainment, sports and
adventure, conferences, educational and scientific forums, and the
development of city break tourism, mainly in Chania and Rethymno.
In the meantime, according to market analyst Crysostomos Antoniadis representing Trevo Trend, based on booking demands, Greece is ranked third for package holidays behind Spain and Turkey, with the German market marking a 14 percent rise.
He went on to add that in terms of demand: Heraklion was first with 50.91 percent, followed by Rethymno at 20.19 percent, Chania with 16.19 percent, and Lassithi with 12.70 percent.
Based on 64.2 million searches so far, up by 15 percent, interest in
winter holidays is low with June and July, and then May, gathering the
According to German tour operators attending the event, including TUI
Germany, Alltours Flugreisen, FTI Touristik, Ferien Touristik, and LMX
Touristik, it is vital due to the strong demand – 40 percent of their
clients request to visit Crete – to ensure bed capacity and airline
seats. They added that travelers prefer to explore the destination,
opting against all inclusive holiday deals.
Interestingly, according to German travel agents 66 percent of their
customers said they were unaware of alternative Crete options with 22
percent expressing interest in destination sustainability.
By Thanasis Gavos / Published on: 06-11-2018, 17:14 (IBNA)
Greece’s participation with 70 co-exhibitors in this year’s World
Travel Market (WTM) in London is one of the main poles of attraction for
international tourism professionals attending for yet another year.
the Minister for Tourism Elena Kountoura confirmed, the number of
arrivals will have exceeded 32 million by the end of the year, making
2018 another record-breaking year.
though observers have noted that this level of arrivals should have
probably been translated into even more money pouring in, Mrs Kountoura
said that revenue would reach 16.2m euros, in a significant double-digit
year on year increase.
exceeded every expectation. We are rightfully talking about a golden
year for Greek tourism, a year that will be for ever remembered,”
commented the Minister.
The 32m plus
of arrivals include cruise visitors. Cruise and yachting are some of the
sectors where the emphasis of the national tourism strategy will turn
in the coming years, said Mrs Kountoura.
added in the increase in capacity in 4 and 5-star hotels and resorts,
the expansion of internal flight connectivity, the opening up of new
markets such as the Chinese and the Indian ones, the modernisation of
state tourism education and the “digital transformation and innovation”
of Greek tourism.
professionals have at the same time, however, pointed to several
challenges facing the country over the coming years. First is the
recovery of traditionally competitive destinations such as Turkey, Egypt
and Tunisia, with a product which is much cheaper than what Greece
The minister dismissed such
concerns: “What Greece has to offer is so unique that the more
stability, peace, security and balance there is in the region, the more
we will be growing.”
operators at the WTM were lamenting the restricted space they have been
left with as the big international players have all but conquered the
Greek market. “They won’t hold their punches. They demand and they get
the best hotels at the highest of seasons,” one told IBNA.
President of SETE (Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises) Yiannis
Retsos noted that team work has kept Greece in the top-10 destinations
But, he noted,
overtaxation has been hitting tourism professionals hard. “Of course
this applies to all sectors of the Greek economy,” he added. “What I and
SETE are really concerned about right now is the infrastructure. The 32
million of visitors are now testing our public infrastructure every
day: waste disposal management, power and water supplies, sewage
systems, airports, ports. If we want the country to continue being a
protagonist we need to invest and improve.”
This traditional mouthwatering walnut cake is so fluffy and extra
syrupy, scented with cinnamon and clove aromas! Try it out and be amazed
by the unique texture and rich flavor. Serve with vanilla ice cream and
a drizzle of melted chocolate and go over the top!
Serves: 1 medium baking pan Preparation: 25′ Cooks in: 50′ Ready in: 1:15′
For the syrup:
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon juiced
1/4 cup cognac
Preheat oven at 180C. Mix sugar and egg yolks using an electric mixer
and at medium-high speed for at least 5 minutes, until really fluffy,
smooth and creamy. Pour in the cognac whilst continue mixing. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a bowl blend semolina flour with powdered Melba toast,
chopped walnut, baking powder, orange zest and all spices with a spoon.
Combine the two mixtures and blend with a silicone spatula, until smooth.
Whisk egg whites into the bowl of the electric mixer, along with a pinch
of salt until mixture is very thick and glossy and a long trailing peak
forms when the whisk is lifted (meringue). Add gradually meringue into
the mixture using a clean spatula and blend with light circular
movements from the bottom up.
Butter the bottom and the sides of a baking tray and bake in the
preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes, until fluffy, nicely colored on
the outside and baked through.
Meanwhile prepare the syrup. Add all ingredients for the syrup except
lemon juice and cognac into a pot for about 8 minutes until sugar
dissolves. Add lemon juice and boil for another minute. Remove pot from
heat and stir in cognac. Let cool.
Very slowly ladle the hot syrup all over the cold cake, allowing time
for each ladle of syrup to be absorbed. Let cool completely and serve
ideally with some vanilla ice-cream.
'We have been new guests of Plakias Suites .. and the judgment remains the same: the maximum.
The complex is located in the quieter part of the long and beautiful beach of Plakias, which can be accessed simply by crossing the road.
At the beach there are umbrellas and sunbeds reserved for guests of the structure, with plenty of space available.
The suites are always like new: from year to year they are whitewashed and partially renovated, the feeling is to access a newly inaugurated facility.
So do not change the judgment: spacious, clean and well-appointed - with some details that makes your stay perfect: blinds to sleep in the dark, a veranda perfect for relaxing and having more space, a fully equipped kitchen but also the presence, next to a good restaurant to eat or take away.
Housekeeping is done every day, the feeling is really about being in a hotel suite.
Plakias' location allows you to visit a dozen of the most beautiful beaches within walking distance, and Eleni and Giorgos (the owners) are super willing to give directions and advice on places to go: this also makes Plakias Suites a perfect base for visit the south of the island.
Russian tourists are fourth in terms of arrivals in Greece
Despite the fact that the diplomatic row between Athens and Moscow went
up a notch after the retaliatory expulsion of Greek diplomats by Moscow,
the Russian Embassy in Greece “celebrated” the fact that Russian
tourists chose Greece as one of their top destinations.
tourists are fourth in terms of arrivals to Greece for 2017 after the
United Kingdom, Germany, and France, and third in overnight stays after
Germany and the United Kingdom.
It is worth noting that arrivals rose by 13.3% compared to last year, surpassing 5.7 million overnight stays.
The Acropolis Museum was ahead of the Louvre in Paris
Move over, Mona Lisa, The Acropolis Museum in Athens was ranked
sixth in TripAdvisor’s annual Travelers Choice Awards for 2018 for
museums, just ahead of the famed Louvre in Paris.
Designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and inaugurated in 2009
with the intention of getting the British Museum to return the stolen
Parthenon Marbles – which didn’t happen – the building, says the review,
“is as stunning as the treasures it houses,” despite some criticism for
its already-aging and greying cement exterior.
The world’s best museum, according to the site, is another in Paris,
the Musee d’Orsay, followed by New York’s National 9/11 Memorial and
Museum, and last year’s number one, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The British Museum in London was fourth and Madrid’s Prado was just
ahead of the Acropolis Museum, a glass facade that faces the Acropolis
and whose top floor holds space intended for the return of the Parthenon
After the Louvre, coming eighth was the National WWII Museum in New
Orleans, followed by the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City
and in tenth was the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
It also picked up the 1st spot in Best/Favourite Island category
Greece picked up a couple of first prizes in the prestigious
Conde Nast Traveller 21st Annual Reader’s Awards, which was held in
More specifically, Greece was awarded the top spot in the category
“Best/Favourite Island”, while it was also awarded the 1st prize in the
best category of the night “The Word’s Top 100”, where it received the
readers’ overwhelming majority of votes (95.63%).
Greece also received
the 2nd spot in the category Best/Favourite Countries.
Preveli is located on the South coast of Crete roughly at the same
longitude as the city of Rethymnon.
If you come from the North you will
follow the road to Spili and branch off around 20 km from Rethymnon
following a sign to Plakias and Preveli.
Heading South you pass through
the Kourtaliotiko gorge , a short but impressive gorge through which
flows the river Kourtaliotis which is then joined by other streams to
form the Megapotamos (literally the big river) which flows towards the
sea through the palm forest of Preveli. This is one of the few rivers in Crete that flows all year around.
After the village of Asomatos turn left then 1.5km later left
again. You will soon arrive at an impressive Turkish style bridge
crossing the Megapotamos. It was built in 1850 for the monks of Preveli.
After the bridge the road ascends again and skirts around the
ruined monastery of Kato Preveli. Unfortunately it is fenced off and
you cannot visit it but you can have a good view from the road. The road keeps ascending and turns to the West (leaving a
short branch heading South to Preveli beach and the palm forest). It
passes a recent monument commemorating the resistance of the monks of
Preveli to the German invaders in World War II and their help in
evacuating Alllied soldiers to Egypt.
Another bend in the road lets Moni Preveli appear. The
monastery is a famous place for visitors so it may be busy at times. In
the summer it is open daily from 8.00 to 13.30 and 16.00 to 19.00 (bear
in mind that these times could change).
A substantial number of icons is kept in the Monastery of Preveli.
The icons compose interesting themes, covering a period from the first
half of the 17th to the end of 19th century approximately, an era that
the good tradition of Crete has been interrupted by the Turkish
The painters continue the tradition of the late Cretan school of
painting, turning equally into account the austere orthodox tendency as
well as the copper painting of the masters of the first half of 17th
century in Rethymno and Chania, influenced by the western ones, mainly
The choices made in the selection of the various themes of the icons,
indicates a good level of culture of the monks - who purchased these at
the end of 19th century, considering the distance from the urban
centers and the isolation of the area. (source: west-crete)
Plakias Village, on the south coast - directly south of Rethymno about 30 km south of Rethimno small town. It is part of the municipal unit Foinikas.
A big crescent bay holding a fine beach between two immense wind tunnels, the gorges fo Selia and Kourtaliiotiko.
This is quite a busy tourist destination, but has a unique feel,
which appeals to some who normally choose to stay in smaller, quieter
places. Beautiful surrounding countryside, fine walks and gorges.
Plakias is surrounded by mountains to the north and the Libyan Sea to
the south. The name in Greek means "flat" but the approach and
coastline are quite mountainous and dramatic.
Small hotels and many beachfront restaurants & cafes. The large
crescent bay of sandy beach and the harbour provide a varied and yet not
too busy destination.
Frangokastello and Sfakia is a pleasant twisting and scenic short
drive. Above Plakias, Myrthios, affords gorgeous views of the bay,
coastline and sea.
The gorges of Prevelli
(and the monastery), Kourtaliotis and Kotsifos are easily visited.In
addition visit the mountain village of Spili, Preveli Monastery and
Preveli beach and the wonderful villages in the hills on the road to
The name in Greek means "flat", because the town stands on an
alluvial fan of material that has washed down the Kotsifou gorge
directly to the north.
This material has formed along the sea's edge into a long, fine,
gold-hued sand beach, which shelves very gradually out into the bay,
making it quite safe for swimming and hence, for family holidays.
Initially just a fishing jetty and a few houses, Plakias developed
during the last few decades into a tourist resort. The first official
mention of Plakias was in 1961, when it was recorded in a census as the
permanent home of six fishermen.
The recorded history of surrounding mountain villages like Myrthios
and Sellia goes back to the 10th century, when the Byzantine Emperor
Nikephoros II Phokas (961 AD) built roads and bridges in order to link
those villages, and there are some fragments of wall remaining from a
fortified area on a hill top just northeast of the present main town .
The local area is geographically suitable for a settlement, having
plenty of agricultural space, and there may well have been a settlement
there since Minoan times .
How to get there
In summer there are six buses a day from Rethymno (€3.50, one hour). Have a look at Buses timetable. Some of these buses go via Preveli Monastery. The Plakias bus stop is on the seafront taxi rank .
It’s possible to get to Agia Galini from Plakias by catching a
Rethymno bus to the Koxare junction (referred to as Bale on timetables)
and waiting for a bus to Agia Galini. The bus stop has a timetable. Or
we recommend that you should rent a car in order to discover better the area.
Parking along the main town road is difficult in high season, but
visitors should note that there is a large, free parking area just east
of the main town .
There are plenty of places to eat along the sea front with the biggest cluster of tavernas at the west end.
What to see & do
Beaches. Plakias has a 1300 metre long sandy beach
and there are several other beaches within walking distance (Souda,
Damnoni, Ammoudi and Skiinaria). The south-eastern end of the beach,
near the Kakomouri headland, is used by nudists.
Damnoni beach is worth visit out of high season, despite being dominated by the giant Hapimag tourist complex.
To the weast is Souda, a quiet beach with a couple of tavernas and further west is the Polyrizos-Koraka beach.
And of course the well-known palm-studded beach of Preverli whiich
gets very busy in Summer, therefore the remote and peaceful Agia Fotini,
Ligres, Triopetra, and Agios Pavlos are perfect for stress-free escapes
surrounded by photogenic splendour and popular with yoga and meditation
groups. An area where there is no megaresort to distort the idyllic
ambience, just a few lone tavernas with modest rooms. Strong summer winds are common on these beaches.
To the east (8 km) is the historic Monastery of Preveli,
which may have been founded as early as the 10th century CE. Due to its
isolated position, it has played an important role in Cretan revolts
against occupying forces such as the Nazis in World War II.
Hiking. There are plenty of walks locally, and
bolder walkers will enjoy the high green country beyond the coastal
mountain range north of town . Mountain biking and cycle touring are
other local attractions. There are well-worn walking paths to the scenic
village of Selia, Moni Finika, Lefkogia and a lovely walk along the
Kourtaliotiko Gorge to Moni Preveli. An easy 30-minute uphill path to
Myrthios Village begins just before the youth hostel. Diving. Several diving operators run shore and boat dives to nearby rocky bays, caves and canyons, as well as all manner of courses.
Lots of bird species, migratory and other, build their nests and lay
their eggs near the coast. On Nature’s path to the north of Plakias,
both Kotsifos and Kourtaliotis gorges shelter rare and endangered
species like the “Royal Eagle” or “Eleonora’s Falcon”.
Nature lovers. The herbs in the area are worldwide
known for their variety and their healing power. Plants like the Cretan
Tulip, the Cretan Saffron and many more are part of a unique ecosystem
in this area.
Villages. Visit the small postcard-pretty villages
draped across the hillside above Plakias, one of them is Mirthios with a
couple of excellent tavernas, both with bay-view terraces. (source: crete travel)
The gorge of Samaria is situated in the National park of Samaria,
in the White Mountains in West Crete. This majestuous gorge is
considered one of the great attractions of Crete and many tourists want
to visit it. But you must realise that it is a long (5 to 7 hours) walk
on rough terrain so you will need to have a certain degree of fitness
and walking experience in order to enjoy it.
Opening times of the gorge of Samaria
The Samaria National Park has traditionally always
opened to the public at the beginning of May.
It has often been possible to enter the gorge of Samaria at some point
in April from the bottom part but this depends on the weather and the
amount of work needed to restore the path after the winter rains.
So the opening dates of the gorge vary: it could open a little
before the 1st of May, on the 1st of May or later (if the weather is bad
or repair work is late). In 2018 the gorge of Samaria will open on the 1st of May
The gorge of Samaria closes to the public at the end of
October. but may close earlier if autumn rains (not uncommon in October)
damage the path or make some cliffs unstable.
The gorge will also be closed on rainy
days (when there is a danger of rock falls). In winter, high
water makes the gorge of Samaria dangerous and impassable.
The park opens daily at daylight (so the exact
time will vary depending on the time of the year) and closes in the
evening. If you want to enter the park after around 14.00 you will not
be allowed past the first quarter of the walk and will need to return to
your starting point.
You have to pay an entrance fee of Euro 5.00 to enter the park (free
to children under 15, half price to students).
If you need to know for sure if the gorge is open on a specific day phone +30 28210 67179
Dispelling a few myths about Samaria
It seems that most of what has been written about the
gorge of Samaria was plagiarized from the same original source. This
means that the same errors have been repeated almost everywhere.
Let's put a few things
The gorge of Samaria is not 18 km long (the 18 km
refers to the distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village
of Agia Roumeli) but is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1230m
and taking you all the way down to the shores of the Libyan Sea in
The walk through the National Park of Samaria is 13
km but you will have to walk the extra 3 km to Agia Roumeli from
the exit of the National Park making it a total of 16 km.
The very narrow passage near the end of the gorge is
often called the "Iron Gates". None of the former inhabitants
of Samaria know why the place suddenly got this name. They were always
known by the locals as "Portes" which means "doors" or "gates",
but certainly no "Iron" anywhere!
Samaria is said to be the longest gorge in Europe.
Good marketing but not quite the truth: the "gorges
du Verdon" in South France are a little over 20 km in length.
Samaria is not always crowded. There may be
up to 2000 or more people a day walking through the gorge of Samaria
but on many days there are only a few hundreds. Keeping in mind that
these people do not start at the same time and most of them walk in only
in one direction (down) the number of people you will encounter is
much lower and it is quite possible to have the gorge more or less to
yourself if you choose your time well (see below 'When is the best time
to walk through the gorge?' ).
The infrastructure of the National park of Samaria
The park is supervised by the Department of Forestry and is one
of a dozen national parks in Greece. You need to pay an entrance fee of
5 Euro (free to children under 15).
The path is maintained and is
substantially better than "normal" mountain paths in Crete.
There are wardens
along the way (in radio contact with each other) who will help you
in case of trouble or injury.
There is also (in theory) a doctor stationed in
the village of Samaria. This has not been the case in the last few years (2009-2014).
There are well-maintained springs
on the way so that you do not have to carry much water.
toilets in several places and plenty of rubbish bins. You find surprisingly
little litter, considering the amount of people passing through every
You also get a set of rules
aimed at protecting the park and making the experience safe and pleasant
The gorge is open only during the day time and if you want to start
walking in the afternoon you will only be allowed in up to a certain
The guards want to make sure that everybody who walks in also
gets out before nightfall. This is the reason why they ask you to
present your ticket on the way out as it (supposedly) enables them
to know if there is anyone still in the park at night.
If you go to Omalos with your own car in order to walk through the gorge of Samaria you will be forced
to get back to Omalos to retrieve your car and it is not always such a
Alternatively there are public buses (KTEL) going
to Omalos from Chania every morning (only when the gorge is open).
Once you have walked through the gorge and are in Agia Roumeli you take a ferry boat returning to Hora
Sfakion (or Sougia and
Paleochora if you prefer but there may not be a connecting bus to Chania) and take an evening KTEL bus back to Chania.
If you are not alone, why not share a taxi to Omalos?
The cost from Chania to the entrance of the gorge is Euro 75 (2017 prices) for up to 4 persons.
The most common way to "do" the gorge is
to book an organized tour. This can be done from most places on
the north coast (some come from as far as Agios Nikolaos or Ierapetra, which
I wouldn't recommend because it entails an almost 24 hour round
You will be picked up from and returned to your hotel.
The buses are air-conditioned and you have the benefit of a guide. This does not mean
that you need to walk in a group: everyone walks at their own pace
and meets at a prearranged time and place in Agia Roumeli.
tours are not very expensive and can be booked locally, often directly at the hotel where you are staying.
With your own car
If you must, it is also possible to drive to
Omalos with your own car, park it there , walk through the gorge, take
the ferry back to Sougia and then take a taxi back to your car from
Sougia (about 40 minutes drive).
But you must pre-book a taxi as there
are only two taxis that operate from Sougia.
The public bus service KTEL
has also been running buses from Sougia back to Chania via Omalos for
the last couple of years to connect with the ferry arriving from Agia
Roumeli so this could be an option as well. The buses may not run at all
times (especiially early in the seaon) so best to check with the bus
What to take with you on this walk?
A water bottle which you can refill on the way.
Sun cream and a hat, especially for the last part
of the walk which has very little shade.
Good shoes. These don't have to be hiking boots
but you won't be contributing to your enjoyment by wearing tennis
shoes or sandals.
Some food. There is no food available inside the
Something warm to wear for the early morning: it can be cold
A supply of plasters in case of blisters.
What sort of terrain will you encounter?
Stones , stones and more stones! The terrain is
stony most of the time but it varies. At the beginning the path
is paved with uneven stones, then at times it is more like a
forest path with some earth.
Once you reach the river bed you
walk mainly on pebbles (which is tiring on the sole of the feet). You
also have to cross the river at least a dozen times, sometimes
on small wooden bridges but more often by stepping on rocks.
These have been placed at strategic intervals but still require
some sure-footedness. The only easy path is once you leave the
southern end of the National Park: it is flat and there are no
stones, no shade either so that the last 3 km can be really really
hot in summer.
How long does it take and how fit do you need
A walk of 16 km on flat ground should take just over 3 hours if
you walk at a brisk pace. This is theoretically quite
easy in the gorge of Samaria as you are going down most of the
time but the path requires some care and attention and the walk
will take you a minimum of 4 hours of walking time.
Add to this time to
rest, to stop and look at the scenery, take photographs and you
can count about 6 or 7 hours to cover the entire distance.
The walk is long and can be arduous but it is not
a difficult walk. Still, every day people get into trouble or end
up having an experience which is far from pleasant. The most common
people who never do any exercise and suddenly want their
body and legs to walk 16 uneven km without protesting.
bad shoes creating blisters and / or foot-ache.
problems with the heat (in summer).
knee problems that develop during the steep descent
at the beginning of the walk and have no time to get better once
that original strain is over. (source:west-crete)
Chania or Rethymno?
Over time, the question remains without a definitive answer, seeing
that both towns boast a significant history which is evident in their
Old districts that possess a charming mixture of Venetian and Ottoman
The Old Town of Rethymno was built on the cape along the north shoreline and it is –to this day- extremely well-preserved, it could even be called an open air museum.
Among the most interesting monuments are Fortezza, Loggia, Rimondi
Fountain, Porta Guora [Great Gate], the central entrance to the Venetian
fortified walls, the imposing church of St. Francis, the picturesque
Venetian harbour, the mosques of Kara Mousa Pasa & Neratze and many
In Chania, behind the Venetian harbour, there is a
fascinating world that oozes the style and ambiance of past times.
Topana, Splantzia, Kasteli, Santrivani districts and the Jewish quarter
are there for you to visit them and explore their meandering alleys,
discover the monuments that flank them, their history as well as the
essence of Cretan culture.
Wander around, stop by the traditional cafes
(kafeneia) and tavernas and drift into their magic atmosphere!
Birdwatching in Crete will take you at some of its most beautiful,
isolated and unpopulated areas, mountains, gorges, lakes particularly
when you are looking for birds such as eagles, vultures and falcons.
It is true that lovely Crete has still a plentiful and wide variety of
beautiful birds. Crete is located at the crossroads of three continents
(Europe, Asia, Africa) therefore Crete hosts thousands of migratory and
rare birds in its wetlands and other areas every year.
Crete is one of
the main flypast routes for species they wintered in East Africa, but
breed in eastern and northern Europe.
They migrate every spring up the Nile Valley, and then move across the
eastern Mediterranean, often in huge numbers. This happens from
mid-March to mid-May, depending on the species and the weather. The
return migration in autumn is less spectacular because it is less
concentrated in time, but still worth watching out for.
Moreover, more than 412 different bird species have been identified in Crete to date, most migratory, thus birding in Crete is one of the most common activities. There are a few endemics that breed on the island.
The great thing about birdwatching in Crete is that, if you pick your
time right, you can see both resident and migratory species.
The mountains of Crete, Idi, Lefka Ori, Dikti, Asterousia hold some of
the most exciting birds. Smaller birds like the blue rock thrush, cirl
hunting adn alpine chough are common, and there is a good chance of
seeing large and dramatic birds of prey.
One very rare species of
vulture, the Lammergeier (or bearded vulture) is currently on the
dramatically endangered list although it is more common in Crete than
everywhere in Europe, maybe you will be lucky to see one the island's
three remaining birds soaring above the Lasithi or Omalos plateau.
The diversity of habitats and the richness of the environment on Crete for
bird-life, results in an impressive species list and many unexpected
surprises, especially during Spring and Autumn migrations.
It is well
worth coming on holidays in Crete to see and enjoy these beautiful birds.
Bird watching in Crete attracts many fans, guests every year, so during your next trip in Cree don't forget to bring with you all the necessary supplies - travel cases, binoculars, or other items.
Nearby Plakias Village
is the Kourtaliotiko and Kotisfos gorges excellent birding areas with
species as Jackdaw, Rock Dove, Blue Rock Thrush; Raven, Chukar, Alpine
Swift, Griffon Vultures, and Crag Martins.
The area around Plakias
Village is popular with migrants too. Species include: Montagu`s
harrier, Short-toed Larks, Spanish Sparrow and Woodchat Shrike.
rocky places around Plakias
attract Rock Doves and the rare Eleonora's Falcon (Falco Eleonorae). In
Plakias Bay, Garganey can be seen. Other species in the area include:
Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Chukar, Wood Pigeon, Cetti's Warbler.
The mountainous area around the palm beach of Preveli is another excellent birding location in Rethymnon. Especially around the Preveli Monastery
there is a great variety of migrants as Nightingales, Turtle Doves,
Golden Orioles, Flycatchers, Ortolan Buntings and Ruppell`s Warbler.
At Geropotamos you can see Reed Warblers and at Pertres River Little Bittern, Squacco Heron and Griffon Vulture.
Archaeologists discover seeds for the brewing of beer
Ancient Greeks may be known for their love of wine, but it seems they
also had an affinity to beer, according to a study by the Aristotle
University of Thessaloniki.
Two Bronze Age brewers that were recently discovered prove that Greeks would brew beer on a regular basis 4,000 years ago!
Archaeologists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki found
several archaeobotanical remains of a cereal that could have been used
in beer brewing. Similar remains found in the Archontiko area in the
island of Corfu were also discovered in Argissa in Zakynthos.
At Archontiko, archaeologists found about 100 individual cereal seeds
dating back to the early Bronze Age from 2100 to 2000 BC. In Argissa,
they found about 3,500 cereal seeds dating back to the Bronze Age,
approximately from 2100 to 1700 BC.
Furthermore, archaeologists discovered a two-room structure that seems
to have been carefully constructed to maintain low temperatures in the
Archontiko area, suggesting it was used to process the cereals for beer
under the right conditions.
This discovery is the earliest known evidence of beer consumption in Greece, but not in the world.
Greece is among the “Most Excellent” global tourism destinations that
have the highest percentage of TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
recipients, according to travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor.
More specifically, Greece ranks fourth on the list
of TripAdvisor’s “Most Excellent” countries, with Iceland in first
place, Ireland in second, the UK in third and Morocco in the fifth
In its eighth year, the Certificate of
Excellence is given to accommodations, restaurants and experiences that
deliver great service and consistently achieve high traveler reviews on
travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor.
“Most Excellent” Countries Overall
3. United Kingdom 4. Greece
7. The Netherlands
“When travelers see a Certificate of Excellence sticker or
certificate on display, they immediately know that the business has a
track record of offering highly rated guest or dinner experiences.
with our ‘Most Excellent’ lists, we’re excited to reveal the
destinations where travelers are most likely to encounter these
excellent businesses,” said Neela Pal, Vice President of Brand Marketing at TripAdvisor.
Greece also ranked second on the lists of the “Most Excellent” Countries for Restaurants and Experiences; and eighth among the “Most Excellent countries for Accommodations.
“Most Excellent” Countries for Restaurants
1. Iceland 2. Greece
4. United Kingdom
9. The Netherlands
“Most Excellent” Countries for Experiences
1. Iceland 2. Greece 3. Mexico
7. United Kingdom
“Most Excellent” Countries for Accommodations
2. United Arab Emirates
6. United Kingdom
7. Australia 8. Greece
The Certificate of Excellence winners were selected using a proprietary
algorithm that takes into account the quality, quantity, and recency of
user reviews, as well as the business’ tenure on the site.
must maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of
five, have a minimum number of reviews and have been listed on
TripAdvisor for at least twelve months.
A business must be listed for
the full 12-month qualifying period between April 1 to March 31 to be
Greece remains in 6th spot for a second year in a row, the best ranking ever !
The Greek passport remains the 6th most-powerful travel document in the world amid an annual global ranking of the Henley Passport Index.
This index measures the number of countries certain passport holders
can visit without having to apply for a visa. According to the Henley
Passport Index, Greeks can visit 174 countries without a visa.
Greece remains in sixth place, with Japan knocking Germany from the
top spot in the list of the world’s most powerful passports. Japanese
citizens can visit 189 of a possible 218 countries in the world without a
According to the new Passport Index rankings, German passport holders
can travel to 188 countries without a visa, while British citizens can
visit 186 countries without one.
This “soft snow” is brash and boozy! It’s the perfect after-dinner
digestif. Any brand of ouzo will do… If you are not fond of ouzo,
replace it with champagne if you wish! Serves: 4-5 Prep. time: 15′ + 6h waiting Cooks in: 5′ Ready in: 20′
1 cup ouzo
1¾ cup sugar
In a saucepan boil water with sugar. When it comes to a boil cook for
another 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let syrup cool. Stir in
Transfer mix in a cool container with lid and freeze. When it starts to
thicken, remove from freezer, stir with a fork and return to freezer.
Repeat for a couple of times and freeze completely.
Photo: Vangelis Paterakis – Food styling: Elena Jeffrey