Greece’s largest island is in many ways like a country unto itself. Inland, in the picturesque villages its fertile plains and rugged mountains, Crete’s true personality emerges; find a winding road and get out your camera for an authentic snapshot of Crete. If you’re looking for even more remote beauty, you’ll also enjoy discovering a seaside village that rewards a sense of adventure. Read on to discover the 6 Instagram-Worthy villages of Crete.
6 Instagram-Worthy Villages of Crete Which You Must Visit
Is this Crete’s most famous village? Probably- Anogia’s reputation for valor is well-earned, having withstood brutal onslaughts by both the Ottomans and then the Germans during the WWII occupation. No trace of this violence remains in the leafy “plateia” (town square) around the church, where conversation flows like the babbling of a brook. In this proud town, you’ll see men in traditional Cretan dress, a handsome sight. Anogia is over 700 m above sea level, on the slopes of Mt. Psiloreitis (also called Mt. Ida), offering plenty more photo opportunities- including the Ideon Cave, where Zeus was reportedly kept in safety as a child. Another reason for Anogia’s fame: Crete’s stirring Lyre playing and singing is nowhere more beautiful than Anogia, home of Psarantonis and also of the late legendary Xylouris.
A wonderful thing in Greece is how some locations exert their own magical pull- throughout the ages, they attract one civilization after the other. Argyroupoli is such a place. Originally this was ancient Lappa, an important city founded, according to Mythology, by Agamemnon. Then the Romans were here, then the Venetians. Happily, the romantic Venetian touch is still felt in Argyroupoli- including elegant Venetian mansions still inhabited today.
30 km from Rethymnon, in this charming traditional village, vernacular architecture blends with Byzantine and Venetian elements to create a varied and authentic townscape. Highlights include the church of Agios Ioannis Theologos with its 14th century frescoes, and of course the pottery studios- Margarites is famous for its colorful folkloric pottery. Near Margarites is another photo-worthy destination- the ornately beautiful Renaissance style Arkadi Monastery.
The very name sounds like water- and in fact it’s named for the ruins of baths found in the area. And truly, the waters of the Lybian Sea are nowhere more pure and beguiling. What makes Loutro special is how to get there- it can be reached only by boat. This means there are no cars or mopeds. The only sounds you’ll hear are the gentle lapping of waves, the clinking of glasses, the flow of conversation, and the chimes of goat bells in the distance. The village itself is built to the very edge of the crystalline bay. Above the village is the barren, uncompromising beauty of Crete’s rocky south coast, golden rock against a turquoise sea. Snap a photo of the whole glorious panorama as the boat draws near the shore.
It’s beautiful in any season, but it’s best to arrive in Spili in the heat, preferably in the height of the afternoon, thirsty, and dusty. At Spili’s central fountain- “Kefalovrisi”- icy mountain water- the sweetest you can imagine- gushes with force from the mouths of 25 stone lions. The sound alone will quench you. Drink your fill and splash your limbs, and snap the requisite photo- the fountain beautiful! Plane trees flourish and offer deep and dappled shade. Other charms of this mountain village are the traditional embroidered textiles, and excellent traditional Cretan cooking.
One of Crete’s most beautiful drives is located just outside of Chania- a narrow road running through the deep and magnificent gorge of Therissos leads to a village of the same name, 580 m up in the foothills of the White Mountains. This small village has a heroic history; it was the site of the Revolution of 1905, an uprising to unite the people of Crete after domination from the Ottomans and then the Great Powers, led by the national hero Eleftherios Venizelos. A small museum devoted to the hero is here, and there is also the Museum of National Resistance 1941 – 1945. Visit both, and hike through the gorgeous surrounding countryside. In short, do anything you have to do to work up an appetite: this village is justifiably famous for the excellence of its grilled meats. By evening, tavernas fill with locals who are in the know- join them for an unforgettable meal in the mountains.
These six Instagram worthy villages are but a taste of the beauty and variety of experience the villages of Crete have to offer you. They’re great for Instagram, and better still, like all of the beauty of Crete, it’s beauty with true depth.