So you've booked your holiday in Crete and you want to do something a little different? Or maybe you visit the island of Crete year after year and want to explore something new? Do you want to immerse yourself into the culture of Crete? Well our guide to alternative trips, activities and days out on the island of Crete, Greece might help to find something to do that's alternative to the well know tourist hot spots.
Crete is Greece's largest island and has a heritage, culture and atmosphere all of it's own. Cretans are some of the most warm, friendly and welcoming people you'll ever have the fortune to spend time with, and their home at 160 miles or 260 kms in length offers a wide range of activities, history and things to do. There's something for everyone to get excited about on the island of Crete and most who visit this Mediterranean paradise will take a trip to the famous Palace of Knossos or maybe a walk round the pretty Venetian harbour of Chania, but beyond the beaten track there's so much more to explore and do. So here's our guide to taking in something a little different whilst on the island of Crete. We hope it inspires you to explore a little deeper into the island's culture, people and breath taking landscape.
Visit to a Cretan Winery: Lyrarakis Wines
For thousands of years wine has been produced on the island of Crete and for almost all who visit the island the local wine is a wonderful discovery. There is a thriving wine producing industry in Crete where the grapes grow in a unique manner that has made their taste sought after the world over. At Lyrarakis Wines for more that 30 years a local family have used the Cretan indigenous species of grapes along with those centuries of local wine making culture to encapsulate the very best in Cretan wine production.
The Lyrarakis Winery is set in stunning countryside close to the traditional village of Alagni and was founded with the passion for local produce and Cretan wine making heritage at it's heart. A 30 minute drive south from Crete's capital Heraklion the stunning Dikti mountains to the vineyards East making for a breath taking backdrop to an idyllic & authentic Cretan setting.
The Lyrarakis family's winery is credited for reviving 3 Cretan species of grapes indigenous to the island (Plyto, Dafni and Melissaki) and has harnessed this local produce to make wines that are sold both in Crete and throughout the world.
And in this stunning setting the Lyrarakis family have thrown open the doors of their beautiful winery to afford us all the chance to visit, immerse ourselves in the thriving local wine producing landscape and culture whilst tasting some of the best wines produced in Crete.
A visit to Lyrarakis wines can form 2 types of visit:
Wine Tasting: With a tour of their beautiful vineyard, a wine cellar tour and a walk around the vine museum a wine tasting visit can then be tailored to experience the wines you'd rather explore along with you preference of accompanying foods. Date and time slots can be booked from April until October and throughout the rest of the year by appointment. A tasting visit is approximately 2 hours long and children are welcome (obviously not wine tasting!). Group visits can be organised by contacting the winery directly.
Vineyard Picnic Experience: If you want to take your visit to another level then why not experience one of their delicious vineyard picnics? The whole family are welcome and you can pick the foods of your choice and the wines you'd prefer to enjoy then make use of the numerous stunning spots around the vineyard that provide a comfortable and stunning setting to take in the Cretan countryside in this beautiful setting whilst you enjoy some of the best wines the island has to offer.
Lyrarakis Wines have encapsulated the history, culture and heritage of Cretan wine making and their visit packages offer the chance to enjoy a slice of the very best of Cretan country life. If you love wine and the island of Crete a visit to the Lyrarakis winery should be high on your list of things to do whilst on the island, and with the whole family welcome the children will enjoy exploring the vineyard and tasting some superb local cuisine.
Trips to Lyrarakis Wines are booked up fast in high season so we advise making your booking via their web site HERE well in advance of your trip to Crete. With stunning Cretan countryside, beautiful local wine and food and that famous Cretan welcome this is a trip you shouldn't miss.
You can find out more about the beautiful and historic Lyrarakis Winery by visiting their web Site HERE.
Ano Asites: A Traditional Cretan Village Infused with Art
So you fancy a trip into the Cretan countryside to take in the atmosphere and culture of a Cretan Village? Well there are so many to choose from and experiences to explore. So why at photos of crete .com do we pick Ano Asites as the village you should take a trip to whilst in Crete to visit? Well the answer lies in the passion and cultural spirit injected by Spiros and Mathew. A local Cretan and an Australian artist (who is resident in the village) have teamed up to inject splashes or art and vibrancy into this stunning Cretan hamlet set in the picturesque foothills of mount Ida.
Ano Asites has all you could wish for from in terms of a rural settlement with pretty narrow streets, open doors and that famous Cretan welcome that means even if your Greek language skills are not the best you'll still end being welcomed like a long lost friend. There's a beautiful gorge to explore and Roman ruins are dotted in the countryside around the settlement, and whilst all of this makes for an authentic Cretan country life experience what Ano Asites injects is... art.
The pretty streets of this rural hamlet just 15 miles or 24kms from Heraklion are bristling with art and colour injected into the village by the vision of Spiros allied with artist Mathew who have worked passionately and with care to make a stimulating artistic splash of colour and inspiration in this beautiful Cretan countryside setting.
There's a folklore museum & an old bell factory to explore too and at the village square a kefeneio (also with it's own artistic murals) to sit at a table and have a drink or some local food while you soak in the fusion of traditional Crete and culture.
If you're planning on a trip to a Cretan village you won't be disappointed if you choose Ano Asites as your destination of choice, and if you've been to Crete before and visited the more common rural tourist hot spots we highly recommend taking the pretty drive here to immerse is something a little different from the norm.
You can check out more about the stunning village of Ano Asites in our full guide to the village HERE. There's videos, a photo gallery and lots more info on this stunning Cretan hamlet.
Crete Island Jeep Safari with Yanniz
So you're on the island of Crete and you want want to see more of this beautiful place? You want to experience local culture and experience the stunning scenery and less explored off the beaten track places?
Well a day out with Yanniz on his jeep safari will really hit the spot. A local Cretan and expert on the island he has taken care to hand pick his route and timetable so you, your family or group can enjoy a day that will leave you feeling like you have immersed in the true spirit of the island of Crete.
This stunning day out into the Cretan wilds and beyond is in off road vehicles suitable for 4 persons each. The vehicles are self drive so one of your group or family will need to 'follow the leader' as you go off road and wind through incredible scenery and explore the history and true culture of Crete.
There are four stops on your day out with Yanniz and without spoiling the experience you'll get a chance to explore a Cretan village, enjoy a true Cretan BBQ out in the wilds along with an opportunity to take a swim in the Libyan sea off of Crete's more quiet southern coastline.
You'll take in Greek & Roman history too as you adventure into Crete's more rugged side and drivers will need to be over 21 and bring along their driving license.
We won't say anymore for fear of spoiling what is a superb day out in Crete except to say that Yanniz and his team do a cracking job of guiding you though an authentic Cretan experience that will leave you feeling that you have truly touched and felt an authentic experience of Crete by the time you arrive back in the seaside town of Hersonissos where the safari starts and ends.
Yanniz will even collect and drop you back to your lodgings if you are staying along the northern coast of Crete anywhere from Agia Pelagia to the west and Elounda to the East so that's Malia, Gouves, Kokkini Chani, Stalis, Analipsi, Sissi, Agios Nikolaos and more all covered.
There are many tourist excursions you can book through travel agents in the big tourist resorts in Crete however here you are booking directly with Yanniz and English, Dutch, German & French are all spoken so you'll get a full tour experience.
You won't regret spending a day in the Cretan countryside with Yanniz and his team. This is one not to miss for all the family.
You can see more about Yanniz's authentic Cretan Jeep Safari along with book or ask any questions by visiting his web site HERE.
Notos Cretan Microbrewery: Local brewed Cretan Beers
If there's one thing that the Photos of Crete .com team have learned over our time interacting with lovers of the island it's that local beer is a big passion of many. Be it Mythos, Fix or Alpha visitors adore a cold local beer, and whilst these Greek beers can hit the spot if your a true beer lover then the Notos Microbrewery takes you local beer experience to a whole new level.
Born and raised in Crete Antonis Tampakakis, George Neroladakis, Costas Verigos and Lambros Petsalakis have created the first independent microbrewery in Heraklion and with the traditional values of true Cretan life within their hearts the brewery painstakingly designed it's own unique brewing system that has the ethics and values of Cretan life deep within it's roots.
The product of all of this Cretan love and care are a range of spectacular local Cretan craft beers that are brewed in house in a traditional, ecological and unfiltered manner and then chilled to be at the optimum temperature for your enjoyment.
So with the guy's dreams a reality and their beers a roaring local revelation you too can experience these authentic local brewed Cretan beers by paying them a visit.
There's a tap house to enjoy their beers at the brewery and the selection ranges from lagers to ales to stout with a pilsner along the way should it take you fancy.
Tours of the brewery are on offer if you'd like to see the unique Notos set up, and the entire experience affords the chance to experience authentic local Cretan enterprise and a genuine slice of real Heraklion life.
A visit to Notos Brewery can range from a taste of their beers and a look around the brewery to an evening in the tap house enjoying the fruits of the guy's labour. Positioned in the Western suburbs of the city of Heraklion the brewery is no more that an hour's drive away from Rethymno to the west and Agios Nikolaos to the east meaning the resorts of Hersonissos, Gouves, Stalis, Agia Pelagia, Analipsi and Kokkini Chani are all within easy reach.
Just be aware this is beer so please be responsible when driving! And please don't drive under the influence of alcohol.
You can find out more about the Notos Brewery and contact the guys from more information by visiting their web site HERE.
Lakkos: Art, History & The Kafeneio
Lakkos is a district to the southern central inside the walls inner city of Heraklion.
Many years ago this area of town was synonymous with the more 'unofficial' professions 'of the night', but when the dealers and prostitutes moved on closer to the town centre this region became impoverished and run down, and until recent times had remained an almost forgotten area of town despite it's proximity to the very heart of Heraklion.
Well that all changed when The Lakkos Project rolled into town. A fusion of regeneration and art the project has injected culture, vibrancy and new life into the city centre region, and today the narrow streets of Lakkos are filled with murals and art and the area's square is an atmospheric and pretty place to sit at the 'Kafeneio O'Lakkos' that grows with popularity with locals by the day for both evening drinks and quality food.
A visit to the Lakkos region of Heraklion doesn't really come with a guide map or a schedule. From the start of the daily bazaar on 1866 street opposite the Lions Square take the boutique lined street to it's right named '1821'. Walk to the end cross the main road and keep going straight and 150m or so along the narrow streets you'll be in Lakkos.
You'll know you are there when the murals and art begin to appear on the district's walls, and if you walk far enough you'll end up in the square and the Kafeneio is right there. You won't miss it because there's a mural depicting residents from a time gone by to the wall, and a small area dedicated to explaining the colourful former history of this part of town.
Lakkos is not for everyone. If you appreciated modern art then you'll find it fascinating and because of the lack of regeneration in the area to date the buildings are largely original and untouched making for an authentic architectural experience no longer found in the rest of the city centre.
If the art and the buildings along with the history don't stimulate the senses but you still want to take in some of the best local food or a drink in an authentic atmosphere then the 'Kafeneio O'Lakkos' is a superb choice, and the square affords the opportunity to sit out in a hugely atmospheric setting. Sometimes there's live music too and you'll be hard pushed to find a more pretty, stimulating and 'genuine' restaurant, bar and spot within the city of Heraklion.
If you do decide to visit once you hit the district then it's time to wander and explore. Don't set any rules just take a walk about and see what you discover. Another potential starting point for a wander around Lakkos is by taking Romanou street to the right of the new cultural centre. There's a car park there too so if you are driving this could be a good starting point.
Lakkos is a place that stimulates culturally but in fact more in that it educates in terms of a region that documents a culture, a time and a place in not just Cretan but also Greek history that is often overlooked in favour of the grand ancient past.
You feel like your in a genuine Cretan town suburb with all of the noises and life.... but then with those added splashes of inspiration.
If you'd like to learn more about Lakkos, it's art, history and a trip to the area then take a look at our full guide to the district HERE that comes with a gallery, videos and much more information.
You can also see more about the superb Kafeneio O'Lakkos and it's stunning setting, food and drinks by going HERE.
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to some 'alternative' trips and days out whilst on the island of Crete.
At photos of Crete .com we are firm believers that it's the people, culture and true unqiue 'feeling' of Crete that makes it such a special place, and we very much hope that just maybe one of the adventures above will help you to experience that for yourself.
Photos of Crete bring you our unbiased and honest guides to the island of Crete, Greece. We've had a connection to the island for over 30 years and we as called on our own personal experiences to bring you what we think is important and our opinions on how to get the best from your stay as we write guides about each and every aspect of visiting the largest of the Greek islands... Crete. We have a SHOP and we also offer PROPERTY CONSULTANCY & MANAGEMENT within Crete so don't forget to take a look and have a wander about the entire PHOTOS OF CRETE SITE. Thanks for reading.
© Simon Mcilvenna 2021