In our last post, we talked about Crete. Among the many wonderful things to enjoy on Crete is the incredible and unique cuisine, and since the recipes used by the locals depend on local products, it’s almost impossible to find authentic Cretan food anywhere else in the world. It’s safe to say, the food is one of the things you’ll miss when you go back home.
Thankfully, if you’re lucky enough to visit the island, there are plenty of products you can purchase and bring back home. Olives and olive oil, for example, are obvious but always appreciated souvenirs, and really good EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) makes all the difference when you want to try your hand at making any Greek dish. Oregano is another great flavoring to bring home. At smaller markets and any place that sells spices on Crete, you’ll find bouquets of dry oregano. To bring it home easy, crumble it up (discarding the stems) in a bag or a jar. Jars of local capers and caper leaves are also sold in almost any store in the villages. Tiny bombs of flavor, they make for excellent additions to salads and dips.
Finally, dakos, the Cretans’ famous bread rusk rings. Made with barley and baked twice, they are rock hard, and keep for months. Once softened with the right toppings, they’re also delicious. While you won’t find a perfect recipe for them (the recipes are considered valuable secrets), you’ll find the actual product at bakeries, delis and supermarkets, and they’re a must-buy for any foodie.
Got all the ingredients? Follow our instructions below and prepare a traditional and simple, perfect Cretan meal at home.
1 large round rusk
2 ripe tomatoes
a splash of vinegar, optional
3,5 oz (100 g) Cretan ksinomysithra cheese, or feta cheese
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. capers or a few caper leaves
1 tsp. oregano
a handful of olives
Grate one of your tomatoes, and chop the other one finely. If using, add the vinegar to the grated tomato.
Place the bread rusk in a deep serving dish, cut side up. Sprinkle it with up to a tablespoon of water – this is necessary to make it soften slightly, but don’t overdo it, the tomato and oil will finish the job.
Top the bread rusk with the grated tomato, and then the chopped tomato.
Crumble the feta cheese over the tomato, and top with oregano, capers (or caper leaves), olives and extra virgin olive oil.
Santorini is probably one of the most photographed spots on this earth and at the top of most travelers’ bucket list. But what do you do when the time finally comes to visit this desired destination? Curated Greece has put together some essential recommendations that will let you get a good “taste” of the island:
1.Admire the view from the caldera
Remember all these times when you saw postcards and gorgeous photos of Santorini? Full of white fairy tale like houses and blue windows? Well, it’s time for you to see all this in real life. There is no way that this stunning view won’t leave you amazed!
2.Discover the island’s gastronomy and delicious local produce
Santorini’s volcanic soil and microclimate is the perfect environment for the growth of delicious local produce full of flavor and taste. Fava beans, capers, eggplants, tomatoes, grapes are among the popular products of Santorini. Moreover, the island hosts some of the best restaurants in Greece, with famous chefs creating distinguished dishes based on local products.
Tip: Taste Santorini’s popular cherry tomatoes, you can’t go wrong.
3.Stay in a cave house
You can’t go to Santorini and not live the experience of staying in a traditional cave house, with their characteristic earthy smell. Cave homes used to house the islands habitants as they provided protection from winds and they didn’t need a lot of materials to be constructed. They are built on the 400m high caldera (crater) of the island, they have an extraordinary view to the volcano while most of the rooms in each house are caves dug into the earth.
Tip: Not recommended for claustrophobics
4.Visit the local wineries
Santorini is home to several ancient varieties of grapes that can only be found on the island and the habitants of the island have been cultivating grapes in a unique halo shaped way, adapted to the climate of the island for thousands of years. The tradition still holds strong and nowadays the island has several award-winning wine producing houses. Visit them, learn about the particularities of the Santorinian wines and of course do some wine tasting.
5.Take a dive at the colorful volcanic beaches
Yes, it is not Mykonos but whether you prefer white, black, red or brown sand, Santorini has it all. Make sure to visit the island’s beaches and see the beautiful rock formations and colors of Santorini’s volcanic beaches. You won’t believe when you see how one white beach can co-exist next to a red beach.
6.Time travel to Akrotiri prehistoric village
Archaeologists claim that the first habitants of Akrotiri date back to 5000 BC but what you can see there today is a flourishing village of 30000 inhabitants at its peak, that was buried under the hot lava 3000 years ago. Walking around the paved streets of the village, the squares, the multi-level houses feels like travelling in time.
7.Watch the sunset from Oia
Who hasn’t heard of and seen photos of the Greek sunsets? However, there is one that is the mother of all sunsets and that is Oia’s. Every day hundreds of the islands visitors rush to find the perfect spot to witness the popular Oia sunset and see the sun diving directly into the Aegean sea. It is undeniably beautiful and worth watching.
Tip: Try watching the sunset from Faros, the lighthouse located in one of the island’s southernmost and westernmost parts.
8.Have a romantic dinner on the rim of the caldera
Remember what we mentioned above about the dazzling caldera view, the stunning sunsets and the delicious local cuisine? Combine all these and you get the most memorable romantic dinner. Sit at a table on the rim of the caldera, taste the island’s delicacies and enjoy the scenery.
Tip: If you were thinking when to propose, now it is the time.
9.Ammoudi for fresh fish
Ammoudi is a small fishermen’s port located right under Oia. Enjoy its tranquility and cuteness and make sure you go there during sunset for an unforgettable fresh sea food meal by the sea.
Tip: Walk to the end of the harbor, take the path and discover a hidden rocky beach with a great spot for fun dives
10.Night life in Fira
Santorini is mostly known as a romantic destination. However, visit Fira, the island’s capital, and you will be amazed with its vibrant night life. The town has plenty of bars of all kinds. From chilled lounge bars to dance clubs that stay up until early morning hours. Make sure you try some of the delicious and creative hand crafted cocktails served in some bars.
Tip: When the party is over, make sure you go to the main square of Fira where “breakfast” is served.
11.Take a boat tour to the Volcano
You have all heard the stories how today’s Santorini has been shaped by a volcano. Well, now it is time to meet the creator. Go on a boat tour or even rent a private boat and visit the still active volcano of Santorini where you can smell the sulfur coming out of the earth, feel the warm ground that is still smoking or dive in the bubbling thermal springs.
+1: Visit Thirasia
Practically it is another island, but Thirasia used to be one with Santorini until the volcano broke them apart. Take one of the small boats that go to Thirasia and walk around the small settlements of the island. Compared to its big and cosmopolitan sister, Thirasia has a totally different vibe and it feels like time hasn’t passed there.
If you are considering planning a vacation, you have a lot of work to do. From booking flights and transportation, to finding the perfect resort and planning a travel itinerary, you almost need a second vacation just to recover from planning the first one! While some travelers tend to be more budget wise and save money wherever they can, they often overlook one factor that will save them both time and money. I am talking about using a luxury travel advisor. Now, you may be thinking “How is that going to save you money?” and that is a good question. Read along and find out as I share with you the top reasons you should be using a luxury travel advisor when planning your next vacation.
First, we have luxury hotel upgrades. A luxury travel advisor has a wide range of industry resources and they can often find you the best hotel deals at some of the world’s leading luxury hotels and resorts. You may even find that you can get a better room or a better view for the same price of a lower quality room had you booked it yourself.
Speaking of upgrades, most upgrades are based on availability at the time of check in. A luxury travel advisor can confirm upgrades at the time of booking and can often get you better upgrades that include more benefits. Knowing about these upgrades will save you time searching for them when you arrive at the hotel or resort.
A luxury travel advisor can also find you many hotel or resort perks that you might not know about. From complimentary meals and hotel spa services, to hotel credit, local excursions and more, it is just another reason to use a luxury travel advisor.
Need help with business or first class flights? A luxury travel advisor has more experience than anyone else when it comes to business class and first class flight bookings. Use their experience to ensure you get the flight you need and the level of comfort you want.
Finally, a luxury travel advisor offers assistance when you need it. They are usually available almost 24/7 and can make your vacation a memorable one. Their ability to open doors in some of the world’s most prestigious resorts will make planning your next vacation hassle free and convenient.
Don’t wait any more! Let us curate your own perfect holiday!
There are many reasons why Crete is one of Greece’s most famous islands. Boasting ancient sites, medieval cities, jaw-dropping beaches, world class resorts, mountains, and absolutely incredible authentic cuisine, it’s such a well-rounded destination that, with the right planning, it’s pretty much impossible not to find something to love here. In fact, with its proud people, deeply rooted traditions, and sufficient food production to feed both locals and the 3,5 million visitors drawn here every year, Crete is almost like a country of its own (and could possibly function as one, some argue).
Crete is not just a top destination in the summer, but all year round. In fact, we’d like to put in a word for visiting the island in the fall. Here are five experiences you can have in Crete this season:
Hiking and Trekking without the Scorching Sun
Crete is Greece’s largest island, with mountains so tall you’d think they belonged on the mainland. It takes about 28 days to hike the 500km E4 path from one end of the island to the other, and trekkers travel from near and far to do so. However, you don’t have to be skilled in advanced mountaineering to discover Crete’s landscapes on foot.
Two of the most famous hiking routes on the island are the “Strata of Psiloritis”, a stone-paved path which takes you up to the 2456m summit of its highest mountain, Mount Psiloritis, in just two hours, and the path through the Samaria gorge, a beautiful 16km route which starts at the entrance of the National Park of Samaria and ends at the village of Saint Roumeli, and takes about six hours.
Less famous is the Zakros Gorge, known as Gorge of the Dead, which features a two-hour hike past a series of Minoan burial caves, and the path through the Ha Gorge, which takes four hours. The latter path requires some skill, but whoever takes it on is vastly rewarded in amazing views, including 28 waterfalls.
There are many more possible hikes and treks all around the island, and no matter what your physical abilities and preference of vistas are, there’s one for you.
Taking Day Trips to the Mountain Villages
While the seaside hotels and resorts around Heraklion, Chania and Rethymno still make for beautiful places to stay well into November, the fall is also the perfect time to explore the island’s higher altitudes. Day trips to the mountain villages reveals architecture and landscapes much different from the well-trodden tourist paths of the coast, and provide unique sneak peaks into authentic Greek everyday life. Here, traditions live on, and visitors are always welcome to experience them.
The picturesque and quaint villages of Crete’s highlands are too many to mention here, but here are a few we love:
Near Heraklion: Myrtia
With its whitewashed houses, Myrtia resembles a typical Cycladic village. Come here to meet the locals at the lively cafes in the village square. Notice the quotes written on the walls of the houses – a tribute to author Nikos Kazantzakis, who was born here. The Kazantzakis museum is worth a visit as well.
Near Chania: Vamos
A testament to the Cretans’ love for their homeland, the village of Vamos, which had been on the verge of being completely, was recently rebuilt by a group of young people, who wished to see it return to its former glory – and they succeeded. This is now a lovely place for a stroll and a meal.
Near Rethymno: Anogia
Strongly associated with Cretan musical tradition, the square in Anogia fills with people in the summer and on warm fall evenings. They come all the way here (700 m above the sea, on the slopes of Mount Psiloritis) to drink raki and listen to live music. One of Greek music’s most iconic figures, lyra player Nikos Xylouris, was born here, and his childhood home has been transformed into a museum well-worth a visit.
Indulging in Comfort Food
It’s one of the most famous diets in the world; Cretan food is known as an archetype of Mediterranean cuisine, rustic and super healthy. What you may not know is that its roots are as old as any of the ancient ruins you’ll visit on your trip. While flavor preferences change through the ages, the Cretan cuisine has stayed the same since Minoan times in one important aspect: it is almost exclusively based on the produce of the land, meaning that what doesn’t grow on Crete doesn’t make it into the rich recipe canon, which is passed down through the generations. That’s not to say there’s no import.
Pre-Minoan farmers imported lentils, grains and meat (pork, sheep and goat), which are now Cretan staples, and modern supermarkets do carry peanut butter and frozen spring rolls. But dining out at almost any taverna, the food you’ll taste is made with ingredients sourced from local, family-run farms and the vegetable patches of the taverna owners themselves.
While the lighter dishes made with fresh summer vegetables are delicious, fall and winter is actually when Cretan cuisine really shines. Often prepared with homemade wine and tomato sauce that’s been prepared and saved from the summer’s harvest, meat and pulses are slow-cooked into hearty stews that are the ultimate comfort foods. Try rabbit stew, snails cooked in an array of ways, and lamb cooked with artichokes, in a fricassee with wild ‘stamnagathi’ greens, or the ancient way, ‘antikristo’, on wooden spits over a fire.
Anyone in need of fattening up for winter should also try ‘staka’ and ‘stakovoutiro’. Made by simmering sheep- or goat’s milk with flour until it separates into a thick paste (the staka, served as a dip), and a clarified butter (the stakovoutiro, used for cooking).
Other local specialties to try year-round are gamopilafo (wedding pilaf), kaltsounia (sweet or savory cheese pies), bread rusks, honey, ‘xerotigana’ (a honey-soaked fried pastry dessert), ‘apaki’ (smoked pork), and some of the local cheeses: unpasteurized cheeses made in the ‘mitata’ (stone-built shepherd’s huts) such as ‘tyrozouli’ and ‘kefalotyri’, the local ‘graviera’, ‘xygalo’ cheese from Sitia, and the two versions of ‘mysithra’ – a soft cheese which can be either fresh and sweet or sour.
Visiting Farms and Tasting the Island’s Liquid Gold
Another reason to venture away from the sea, especially if you’re a foodie or traveling with kids, are the island’s farms. Most of them are small and family-run, and besides producing the ingredients that are invaluable to Crete’s famous cuisine, many of them also specialize in agritourism, offering tours, tastings and interactive experiences. In the fall, when the sun no longer burns, you can even try being a farmer for a day. Try your hand at milking goats, picking vegetables, and baking bread.
The most common farming experiences on Crete, however, involve the island’s incredible liquid gold; visiting in the fall, you’re in time to join the olive harvest, which takes place from September to December. After a day of harvesting, the experience is usually followed by a tour of an oil mill, an olive oil tasting, and a delicious traditional meal.
Discovering the Archeological Sites without the Crowds
Last but not least, fall is the perfect time for sightseeing. The lower temperatures make it a joy to stroll around ancient sites, not to mention that without the crowds of tourists, you get a real sense of what they might have been like in their glory days. On Crete, the sights are many, and during shoulder season you might even get some of them all to yourself.
Even the most popular of the island’s archeological sites – Knossos, in Heraklion – takes on a serene atmosphere in the fall. Other sites are even calmer.
Having opened just a few years ago, the archeological park at Eleutherna is less known, but well-organized and worth a visit. For an even more private outing, head to Phaistos (this is where the famous Phaistos disc was discovered), in the western Messaria Plain, where the Minoan remains have many similarities to those at Knossos. Ancient Zakros, at the western side of the island, is another incredible and large site, once an important Minoan port with an impressive palace.
Greece is NOT just for the summer! Sure, you have seen tons of photos and ads and blog posts about gorgeous Greece over the past month and into August it’ll continue. The beautiful beaches, blue skies, picturesque sunsets, cool pool bars. You dream of going to Greece too! Don’t worry, it’s not too late! There is still time for you to enjoy all the pleasures of Greece from September on. Prepare your schedule, pack your bags and get on that flight destined for Greece. Here are few of our favorite reasons to visit Greece in the Fall:
First step off the plane, you are not suffocated by the heat. Fall temps are cooler than July and August but still warm enough to wear your cutest summer outfits without the endless sweating.
And while we’re on the weather, the sea temps are warmer! They’ve had all summer to warm up and you can enjoy a leisurely swim.
Are you wine connoisseur and or foodie? Late fall is the harvest season for grapes and olives. Try your hand at picking or better the tasting of wine and olives. Visit some of the top wineries and vineyards in the country for an unforgettable experience.
Enjoy more activities other than the beach. Beating the heat is key when you want to explore by foot. Discover some of the ancient walking paths all around the country. Hike up to the highest points to view incredible and romantic sunsets.
Beat the crowds. No need to wait in line or wait for a table or have a million photo bombers. Elbows out is not necessary. Visit secluded beaches that you’ll have to yourself. Reservations for hotel, restaurants, etc are less necessary than in the summer.
For the organized beaches, sport your hot new swimwear on the beach and find the perfect, first-row beach bed within minutes of arriving! That’s huge when you want to see and be seen on the hottest beaches of Greece.
Who needs inflated pricing? Fall prices for accommodation and flights tend to drop come September and on. Have a search around and book your trip now.
Upgraded services without the extra price tag. As the summer peak season simmers down, you’ll have the chance to enjoy better services and a few extra freebies in the fall. Now it’s time to book the room with the private pool you were dreaming off!
Winter is coming
Before the freezing season begins, gear up with some sun and relaxation. Get that late season tan that’ll last into the beginning of winter.
No need to hold back on the food and drink consumption. You’ll be in hibernation for the coming months, so go all in now!
Let’s hope that’s reason enough for you to book your last-minute fall trip to Greece. Of course, some things in Greece will never change, the unsurpassable warmth and hospitality of the Greek people along with the chaos and rule bending culture. The food is always good and the beer always cold. Enjoy Greece!
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