A collection of seven villages and one desolate atoll, Elounda rests on an exclusive patch of coastline dotted with towering palm trees and fragrant citrus groves. Spend the sun-drenched days exploring archaeological sites, ancient Minoan ruins and traditional hillside village, or stake a patch of paradise at a secluded beach and watch the waves lap against the shore.
Elounda commands some of the most picturesque views on Crete with the low hills that slope into the sea. The Venetians developed Elounda as a port town, and the saltpans they created remain. Stone walls were constructed with large squares, the seawater would evaporate inside the squares leaving salt—a coveted commodity at the time—to be harvested. Today, it is a favorite spot for spying pipits, buntings and other birds and a mellow sunset.
50 miles from Blue Palace
Until this settlement of Minoan ruins was unearthed by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans in the early 1900s, it was unclear if the Minoan civilization was a myth or not. Now regarded as Europe’s oldest city, this maze of Bronze Age workrooms, living spaces, a palace complex and a central square is no mere fantasy.
Perched on the arid hills just outside Kritsa, the sand-hued adobe Byzantine church rests beneath towering cypress trees. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, her mother Saint Anna, and Saint Anthony, the interior of this radiant sanctuary is covered with frescoes depicting scenes from their lives. Golden halos surround the heads of these delicately painted saints that cover the curved arches and peeling walls of this extraordinary church—one the best preserved in Crete.
Just beyond the northern tip of the Kolokytha Peninsula a circular fortress rises impressively from a rocky hillside overlooking vast open seas. In the 16th century the Venetians built a fortress on the ruins of an acropolis, which fell to the Ottomans in 1715 before becoming one of the last leper colonies in Europe. Uninhabited since 1957, the small island just across the bay from Elounda is covered in enticing ruins, churches, and colorful reconstructed storefronts. Refresh with a frappé coffee and a snack at the quaint cafe.
Tucked in on a hillside is Crete’s oldest village, a traditional enclave that embraces a slower pace of life. Stroll the maze of inviting lanes and side streets lined with tidy white houses snaking up the hillside. The women of Krista are renowned for their weaving, lacework and embroidery skills, and their handmade pieces can be found in the intimate storefronts in town. Explore the outskirts of town and venture to the Krista Gorge to continue along rugged paths to the archeological site of Lato, or up to the village of Tapes for a bird’s eye view of the hillside towns below.
The city of Rethymno is taken over for three weeks with parades, masquerade parties, children’s events, live performances and a massive treasure hunt.Learn More
Candlelit processions, singing, troupes dancing in traditional costume, and specialty feasts are all part of the highest Greek Orthodox holy holiday.
Ceremonies, exhibitions, and performances mark the German airborne invasion of Crete on May 20, 1941.
This cultural festival featuring film, spoken word performances, dance, theater, and live music takes place every year in the village of Anogia.Learn More
The village of Houdetsi celebrates global folk music throughout this four-day celebration of performance, food, and art.Learn More
"Crete is a magical tapestry of Minoan ruins, some of Mediterranean’s most celebrated beaches, dreamy villages, countless tiny churches and dramatic gorges, where locals share their traditions, wonderful cuisine and a uniquely generous spirit. This is the place where people can cultivate a connection to what they eat, drink and experience."
Learn to prepare Cretan delicacies with an award-winning chef followed by an exquisite dinner for two paired with local wine.Learn More
Take a boat cruise to a picnic with a side of exploration. Wander Medieval, Venetian and Ottoman ruins on an uninhabited island.Learn More
There's no shortage of aquatic adventures, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, underwater photography and dives at the Water Sports and Dive Center.Learn More