The historical Fragokastelo is located approximately 29 km west of Plakias. The village’s landmark is the castle of Droussolites. It is actually a defense tower built by Venetians between 1371-1374 A.C.. Its purpose was to protect them from the attacks of the local rebels from Sfakia. Some local legends say that every year, on the day of the Battle of Fragokastelo (18th of May, 1828), entire hordes of warriors appear in the form of shadows parading in front of the castle. The shadows are only visible in the dewiness of the early morning hours (= drossoula in Greek). Perhaps this is what the castle was named after.
Preveli is located about 35 km south of Rethymno and 10 km east of Plakias, where Kourtaliotis Gorge ends. It is famous all over Crete - but also outside the island -, not just because of the history of Preveli Abbey, which led all of Crete’s revolutionary battles over the centuries, but also for the beauty of its natural environment. Megas Potamos (Great River) debouches into the southern sea shaping beautiful lakes (this is why Preveli is also called Preveli Lake). On the riverbank there is a native colony of Theofrastos Palm Trees, which creates an exotic scenery. Unfortunately, a huge fire burned part of the colony on the 22nd of August, 2010. However, in just a few months the palm trees showed signs of life again, without any realistic explanation.
Chora Sfakion Village is located about 42 km west of Plakias and 15 km from Fragokastelo. If the distance is troubling you, we would like to assure you that the route as well as the village itself will definitely make it up to you. Sfakia is probably the most famous village in Crete! And this is a fame well deserved, since it is one of the very few places in Greece that were never captured, during both the Turkish and the Venetian Domination. Sfakia is considered a symbol of Cretan bravery. Even today, its people hold on to their beliefs, their lands and their tradition like no other village. Here, you will taste the notorious Sfakiani pita, a pie with homemade pastry and traditional cheese.
The village is especially scenic. In recent years it has seen significant touristic growth, mainly because of its strategic location; it is one of the main “hubs” in southwestern Crete, with sea connections to Gavdos, Loutro, Agia Roumeli etc.
Loutro and surrounding beaches
Loutro is a small fishing village, located about 65 km west of Plakias, at the end of cape Mouri. It is a natural port that was mainly used by the residents of Sfakia. What makes Loutro really special is the fact that it has remained untouched by the effects of mass tourism. You will not see large hotels with swimming pools here. No busy roads, no fancy restaurants or famous beaches. Not even cars, since Loutro is accessible only by boat (you can reach it on foot but you should know that the route from Chora Sfakion or Anopoli is really long and difficult). There are daily boat routes to Loutro and from Chora sfakion, Sougia, Gavdos, Palaiochora and Agia Roumeli.
If you enjoy doing nothing, Loutro is the place for you. Here, you can truly rest and breath. Loutro is also the ideal “base” for a daytrip to Glyka Nera, Marmara, Lykos and Foinikas beaches. You can go there by taxi-boat, canoe or on foot.
Agia Galini is one the most beautiful and popular (especially during the summer) villages in South Crete. It is located about 48 km east of Plakias. It is built amphitheatrically, on the base of Asiderotos, Kedros and Psiloritis mountains. Its numerous paved alleys are perfect for summer walks, while the small traditional stores and taverns will put you well in the spirit of Cretan hospitality and gastronomy.
In the summer months, Agia Galini’s port is full of yachts and sailboats. Sea lovers gather here to have some fresh fish and refuel, but also because of the village’s symbolism (galini means peacefulness).
Spili is the largest village and central hub of Rethymno’s inland. It is located 22 km north of Plakias. In the previous years, it was the capital of Agios Vassilios region – where Plakias belongs nowadays. Spili is famous for its waters, a privilege and heritage from Psiloritis Mountain. The village’s main square features huge age-old Plane-tree and a fountain with 25 lion-head founts, which stream spring water all year long.
The village’s name comes from the numerous cavities (Spili = cave) located in the mountain of Vorizi. Traces of ancient paths have been found there. Before you leave, you can visit the village’s old churches, decorated with beautiful wall paintings. There are several mansions as well. Thanassis Skordalos, one of the greatest masters of Cretan music, was born in one of them.
The most friendly and inviting city in Crete. In Rethymno every day feels like a holiday.
Visit Fortezza Fortress and hear its old war stories. Walk in the alleys of the Old Town and see how Turkish and Renaissance architectural elements blend to create a mythical atmosphere. Taste the authentic Cretan food, talk to the locals, live like a Rethymnian, just for a while.
Rethymno is located 36 km north of Plakias. Just follow the country road from Plakias to Rethymno. It is a beautiful route through several gorges and beautiful scenery.
Take a walk in the Old Port of Chania or in the market and you will not be able to forget this experience. Chania is Crete’s crown jewel!
Chania could be imaginably split in three parts; the modern city, the Old Town and the port. The Old Town is a museum in itself, with a lot of Venetian buildings but also strong elements from the Saracens culture. Chania’s landmark is the Old Lighthouse predominating the Old Port.
You should definitely visit one of the traditional taverns and restaurants located in the Old Port. Some of them are built of stone and decorated with pediments. In the street, you will see many craftsmen exhibiting their work.
It takes about 1 hour to drive from Rethymno to Chania. We suggest comfortable shoes and clothes.
Heraklion - Knossos
Heraklion is the capital of Crete, the biggest harbour and the economic and scientific center of the island. Its strategic position, among three continents and many different civilizations, makes it one of the largest hubs in southeastern Mediterranean.
It was exactly this position that brought many consecutive raids from various civilizations that wanted to capture the city near the end of the first millennium. Heraklion was built by Saracen pirates in 824 A.D. under conqueror Abu Hafez. The city’s initial name was Handax and it was surrounded by a large fortress and a deep trench. The Byzantine Empire never accepted this fact and, after several attempts, it recaptured the city under the Emperor Nikiforos II Fokas.
About 5 km southeast of Heraklion lies the legendary Palace of Knossos; home to the glorious Minoan Civilization, which flourished earlier than the Civilization of Athens, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1700 B.C.. Many legends, such as Labyrinth’s, Minotaur’s and Icarus’, were born here.
Nowadays, the city of Heraklion offers many options to visitors. Apart from its huge marketplace and the numerous beautiful small shops, cafés and stores, one can enjoy various cultural events, such as theaters, concerts etc.
It’s worth spending a whole day in Heraklion. Do not leave without visiting the Archaelogical Museum, with exhibits from the Minoan and the following eras.
Arkadi Abbey is a bright chapter and an integral part of Cretan history. The Turkish Domination found the Abbey in days of great prosperity. Ever since, the struggles against conquerors but most importantly the sacrifices of the people who lived and died there have inspired the entire world.
Arkadi Abbey is located in Rethymno inland, almost 25 km south of Rethymno City. It stands idyllic and proud at a height of 500 m above sea level on the foot of Psiloritis.
It is a large still inhabited monastery, which accepts approximately 100 visitors per day. There is also a small museum and a gift shop in the building. Right across the entrance there is a statue in honor the heroes who died in the fight.
The monastery remains open all year round, Monday to Sunday, from 09:00 to 19:00.
Dive in the Mediterranean Sea!
Cretaquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the Mediterranean and belongs to the Hellenic Center of Marine Research. More than 25.000 kinds of fish and invertebrates (among which about 200 Mediterranean species) live there today, promising to offer you a fascinating experience.
Come face to face with thousands of organisms. Observe their behavior and let them captivate you with their shapes and colours.
Cretaquarium is located at Gournes of Heraklion, which is connected directly to the North Road Axis of Crete. It is open from May to September, from 09:00 to 21:00, and from October to April, from 9:30 to 17:00.
Dominikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) Museum
Dominikos Theotokopoulos or El Greco as he is widely known is considered one of the greatest painters of Spanish Renaissance. He was born in the village of Adele in Crete and began studying Post-Byzantine Art early in his life. At the age of 26 he traveled to Italy (Venice and Rome) where his art was enriched with elements of Manierism as well as Venetian Renaissance. In 1577, he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he stayed for the rest of his life and created his most popular work. EL Greco shined for his dramatic expressionistic style, evident all over his work, which still touches and inspires many people and artists worldwide.
The Museum of Dominikos Theotokopoulos is one of the most popular museums in Crete and is located in Fodele, a small village in Malevisi Province a few km west of Heraklion. You can reach it easily by turning left at the 53rd km of the National Road from Rethymno to Heraklion (you will see signs). Close to Fodele there are also some beautiful beaches (Bali, Agia Pelagia).
The museum is open from the 1st of April to the end of October, daily, from 09:00 to 19:00.
Faistos or the Minoan Palace of Faistos is located in the valley of Messara, 55 km south of Heraklion City and very close to Agia Triada, Gortyna and Matala, all of which are locations with special archaeological interest.
Faistos constitutes a great monument of Cretan Civilization and history, a city that - situated in the fertile Messara Valley - achieved substantial growth from 6.000 BC to 100 BC, according to archaeological findings.
The Palace attracts thousands of visitors every year. You can reach it either through Heraklion City or through the country road “Melampes – Agia Galini”.
It is open on Mondays, from 13.00 to 19.30, and Wednesdays and Fridays, from 08.00 to 19.30.
The Oriseum Museum is not what most people expect from a museum. It is actually the personal collection of an everyday man who loved Crete and its culture, Papa-Michalis Georgoulakis.
Since he was 15 years old, Papa-Michalis started collecting various objects from a really intuitive point of view, knowing that present becomes past very fast. The result is an astonishing collection featuring life in Crete in the 20th century. Such a collection cannot be found anywhere in the world.
Papa-Michalis died in 2008 in the age of 87. Today, the Museum is operated by his son George and his wife, Romi. On site there is an idyllic coffee shop as well as a gift shop with souvenirs. Oriseum Museum is also used for art events. Undoubtedly, the Oriseum Museum constitutes one of the most beautiful and authentic museums in Crete.
It is open from Monday to Friday, from 10:00to 22:00 and from Saturday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 17:00. Ticket: 3.50€/person.