Crete Road trip (part 1)

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From its vibrant cities to its quaint villages and from its striking beaches to its rugged mountains, its incredible landmarks and its luscious countryside, Crete offers myriad routes and sightseeing options. Base yourselves in Chania, a region brimming with beauty, history and culture, and embark on a Crete road trip that will leave you with some fascinating tales to tell.

Between the jaw-droppingly beautiful, sun-splashed nature and the healthy Mediterranean cuisine, Crete is a feast for the senses. There is plenty to see and do on Greece’s largest island, and the best way to take it all in is with a Crete road trip. Rent a vehicle that suits your party size and style, and wander into the wild blue outdoors -with so many fascinating options you’ll be spoiled for choice. So to help you make itinerary planning just a little bit easier, we’ve brought together our favourite routes within the Chania region.

Half of the fun though is being flexible: Take time to explore those off the beaten path villages high up in the mountains and get to know the stories behind them. Mingle with the black-clad locals at a kafeneio or a country fair (panygiri), and don’t forget to sample hand-made jam at a stop on a forgotten highway. Breath in the fresh, salt-scented air as you drive on pleasant asphalt roads along the coast. Discover archaeological monuments and Byzantine sites, famous gorges and secret beaches, or let the hustle and bustle of modern life wash away as you lose yourself in the age-old alleyways of picturesque towns. Your choices are endless—and so are the adventures to follow.

Crete Road trip in the Chania region

Crete’s every nook and cranny comes with amazing sights, spectacular scenery and delicious, locally sourced, homemade food. If the clock is not ticking, it’d be best to explore all of them. But if you have to limit your escapades within specific timeframes, then you might as well start from the historic, remarkably beautiful and highly diversified region of Chania. Located in Agia Marina-Platanias, a cosmopolitan, seaside resort just 9 km west of the iconic Chania town, the Oscar Suites & Village is your ideal, family-friendly and most welcoming base from which to kick off several Crete road trips. Here are our handpicked suggestions for a wonderful on the road experience in Europe’s southern corner:

Discover Crete’s most iconic beaches (and dazzle your Instagram fans while you’re at it!)

Not all beaches are created equal. And it’s a whole new experience witnessing first-hand those postcard-pretty coasts you see in glossy travellers’ magazines.

Systematically voted among the best beaches in the world, Falassarna, 30 km away from the Oscar Suites & Village, is a paradise of fine, pale pink sands and blue-green waters and a favourite of windsurfers and party animals, alike. Drive a bit further along the northern coastal road past Kissamos, to reach Balos and Gramvousa, at the tip of the westernmost peninsula. Between the white soft sands, the majestic rock formations and the incredibly clear, light blue waters you’ll feel like you’re transported to the Caribbean, in under an hour from Chania’s bustling town.

Explore the quaint villages of Apokoronas

Drive 50 km east from your base in Platanias towards Apokoronas, to discover the unspoilt hamlets of the area. The semi-mountainous, stone-built Vamos is one of the most iconic Cretan villages, with antique monasteries and chapels, a restored, vintage olive oil press and a wealth of traditional cafes and tavernas. Continue your Crete road trip to Kefalas, Kokkino Chorio (Red Village) and Gavalochori: Fusing layers of the past, they will charm you with their quaint architecture and relaxed easy-going vibes. Meet the locals in the main squares and listen to them reciting mantinades -the trademark Cretan improvised poems, whose origins are lost into the depths of time. Sample homemade sweets with honey, “skaltsounia”, country wine and some potent raki; breathe in the fresh air, take in the majestic views of the surrounding White Mountains. The route is asphalt paved and quite easy and the vistas, a sight for sore eyes.

Tip: As the birthplace of artistic lace-making, Gavalochori boasts an interesting folklore museum exhibiting the renowned “kοpaneli” in all kinds of fabrics and styles.

Witness history in Maleme

located in the Platanias municipality, the historic village of Maleme is at a stone’s throw away. You’ll enjoy the crystal clear waters and the spectacular views over Thodorou island and Kolymbari at the beach, and you’ll get your taste buds invariably pampered -there is everything, from fresh seafood to wood-oven pizza and traditional gyros. Yet the history buff in you will be delighted by other spectacles too. Maleme boasts a Bronze Age Late Minoan tholos tomb and a traditional ceramics workshop where you can learn all about the history of pottery in Crete and see how the ceramics are made. What’s more, Maleme -and its people- are best known for the role they played in the Battle of Crete during World War II. Nowadays the German cemetery climbed atop a hill, serves as a reminder of Cretans’ patriotism and resistance.

Learn about the ancient art of olive oil making

Nestled on the mountains of the Rodopou Peninsula, in Kolymbari, at about half an hour’s drive from the Oscar Suites & Village, the Astrikas Estate Biolea is an organic olive farm specializing in the artisan production of olive oil using millstones and presses -one of the few in the country that use a stone mill rather than the high-tech systems for processing olives. Join an organized tour led by one of the family members and hear the story that dates back to the 1800s. You’ll also bask in the stunning scenery with shimmering groves surrounded by cliffs and the sea in the distance.

Taste Cretan Beer

From stunning scenery and sights to delights of the palate, a Crete road trip is all about the feasting of your senses. And because where you eat and drink matters almost as much as what you eat, how about enjoying fresh Cretan beer varieties paired with traditional meze on a terrace with panoramic views over a luscious river valley? Located in the Platanias municipality, in the village of ZournakiCretan Brewery is the first microbrewery in Chania, with highly sophisticated industrial facilities amid olive, orange and avocados groves. Learn all about Crete’s artisanal beer and head to the restaurant for a unique experience that addresses eyes and palates alike.

Did you like our suggestions? Stay tuned to the Oscar Suites & Village blog for more local tips and insights.

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