As you leave the bustling coastline, the inland of Crete reveals the most authentic aspects of the genuine Cretan temperament with its people and traditions, the villages and the landscape.
Crete is not just the beaches. The "real" Crete, as the Cretans say, starts showing itself when you visit the mountains and the villages.
- Sfakia is situated on the remote southwest coast. Its independent and indomitable people boast about surviving invasions by aggressive civilizations, opposing the German occupation during World War II and thriving on this rough terrain with deep gorges, high plateaus and awe-inspiring mountains. Aradaina, nearby, gives us an idea of the traditional Cretan architecture which has remained intact since the village was gradually abandoned before the 1950s.
- Vamos, Apokoronas – A perfect example of agro- tourism: Vamos is a village in the foothills of Lefka Ori, 26kms away from Chania. It preserves a neoclassical color, with an unexpected number of mansions, with countless flowery courtyards, with dozens of guest houses that could accommodate two or three times the local population itself. This last one is of course due to the exemplary dedication of its inhabitants to the subject of "agritourism", something that started about a decade ago and has made Vamos known far beyond the borders of Crete. If you drink a raki in the traditional cafe at the village square and walk in the narrow streets with the snowy mountains as a background, you have made a good start to getting to know the 'Vamos phenomenon'.
- Anogeia – The melody of Psiloritis: Xylouris’ and Skoulas’ families of musicians have made Anogeia known in every corner of Greece. Openness and tradition are identical concepts, whether they are in music, in folk art, in textiles, in cuisine, or simply in the pure hospitality that, here, on Psiloritis are honored as sacred. In the traditional cafes of the central square you will drink and enjoy raki, you will hear mandinades from Anogeia lyra players and, in general, you will see that tourism, which has arrived in Anogeia for good, fortunately has not altered its character. If you're lucky enough to take part in this party, then who cares!
- Kapetaniana. The privileged position of the village at the foot of the sacred peak of Kofinas and the unobstructed view it offers to South Cretan Sea puts it on most lists of preferences. It is divided into two separate villages, Pano and Kato and with the dreamy - hostel (Thaloris) encapsulates the essence of Asterousia: isolation, bare, wild landscape, religiosity and deep blue sea. In addition to the quietness and authenticity that you will experience, you can plan a thousand walking or off-road routes: to the coastal settlement of Ai-Yiannis, to the Koudoumas Monastery, to the Holy Cross of Kofinas, to Tripiti, to the Three Churches, etc. a. Maybe this is how the real Crete seems to all of us...
- Archanes is one of the most fascinating and historic villages. In the center of Archanes, there are the remains of a group of buildings thought to have been a Minoan Palace. Also, a Minoan villa was excavated in nearby Vathipetro. Here, there is evidence of pottery production and making of olive oil and wine. Today’s Archanes is famous for the excellence of its neoclassical architecture since there over 200 listed protected buildings whose restoration has been extensive and been supported by The European Union.
- Kritsa, Agios Nikolaos – only 15 minutes away from Agios Nikolaos, Kritsa is a traditional village with narrow streets and old houses. The women of Kritsa were famous of weaving, lace making and embroidery and it is still possible to buy hand made items. If you find yourself there on Good Friday, make sure you join the procession with flower covered biers. Visit Panagia Kera, the byzantine church with the wonderful frescoes and the Dorian city of Lato, a perfect example of the classical -Hellenistic period of Crete, hidden in a hill 3 km way from Kritsa.
- Margarites, Rethymnon It will be introduced as the village of potters, since Margarites village has a long tradition in pottery. Walking around the alleys you see the large clay pots outside the doors and the tourists entering the pottery factories. Flowers flood the yards, the evening breeze is cool, the raki ice and cold and life is simple and nice.Perched at an altitude of 300 meters, at the northern foothills of Psiloritis, Margarites village is 27 kilometers away from Rethymnon. Ancient monasteries, towers, paths, chapels hidden in caves and gorges and a fertile valley that stretches in front of the village make up the scenery of this picturesque village.
- Myrtos,Ierapetra A visit to Myrtos is like traveling through time. Entering the seaside village you will be captivated by images that are taken from postcards. The residents explain that the temperature in winter does not fall below 12 C, which is why it is one of the few places in the Mediterranean where swallows hibernate. Myrtos is a special place. In very few places in Crete will you see so many colors: the blue on the doors and windows, the white on the walls of the houses, the bright red from the tomatoes hanging to be preserved. The green from the mulberries and all kinds of plants and flowers in the yards gives a fantastic picture to the visitors. It's a quiet place, where you'll have a good time if you're not looking for intense nightlife and also you will find perfect fish taverns next to the sea. Also, if you seek for adventure, you can visit Sarakina gorge which is 10km from Myrtos next to Mythoi village. Waterfalls and small ponds with cold fresh water from the mountains will cool you down on a
hot summer day!
- Aspros Potamos was the oldest settlement in the Pefka area. It is located in southeastern Crete, a thousand meters north of the sea and Makri Gialos. A few years ago, the owners of the complex restored the abandoned 300-year-old settlement consisting of houses built of stones and earth while trying to preserve its original character unchanged. In order to respect nature and the environment, the operation of the hostel is based exclusively on alternative forms of energy. Stone-built beds, windows, rocks built into the walls, beamed ceilings, reeds and soil for insulation and thick middle beams complete the scene. The area where the settlement is located is spectacular. Their mountains, valleys and slopes are green with trees. To the south, the valley reaches Analipsi and is crossed by the Aspro
Potamos stream, to which the settlement owes its name.
- Zaros,Heraklion Built at the foot of Psiloritis, in a green valley and at an altitude of 450m, Zaros is a picturesque and historical village famous for its rich waters, its gorge, but also the monuments that exist around the village. The most popular sight to visit is the artificial lake of Zaros where you can take walks around the lake and sit down to eat in the taverns. You can follow the path that leads to the gorge of Agios Nikolaos, where the monastery is located, but also visit the forest Rouvas, one of the most beautiful forests of Crete. The historical monasteries of Vrontisi Monastery, Varsamonerou Monastery as well as the archaeological sites of Gortyna and Phaistos can be visited as they all are very near.