Food and dining are an important part of Cretan culture and lifestyle. Dining is not just about the food it is about the social aspect of eating amongst friends and family. Like in most of Greece the meal times are largely structured around escaping the peak heat of the day. Lunches happen at about 2pm followed by a siesta. Dinners don’t begin until 9pm and carry on late into the night. Traditionally in Crete a variety of dishes are ordered and shared amongst the table. Meals start late and are longwinded affairs that involve lots of conversation and often a little bit of wine.
Over the years the Cretan diet has received a lot of attention for its health benefits. The combination of olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, legumes and other fresh local produce have been proven to be a well balanced diet with positive health effects. Local fresh produce are the key to traditional Cretan cuisine. Cretan dishes are not fanciful; they are fresh, tasty, and generous in size.
For those of you that have travelled to other areas of Greece you will notice many similarities in the dishes. However, as Cretans pride themselves on their unique culture and lifestyle, the food is no exception. For example, in many taverns in Crete the all too famous Greek salad is replaced with the Cretan salad, which does not use fetta, instead it uses local cheeses produced in Crete.
Opening hours for restaurants and taverns in Crete vary throughout the year. Most restaurants are open for lunch and dinner throughout the summer months and are generally open late into the night.
The restaurants in Crete are plentiful and varied. Here is a selection of some of the best:
The Ferryman is a consistently popular restaurant. Overlooking the beautiful bay of Elounda, serving solid traditional Cretan dishes with particularly amazing fish dishes. The staff are friendly and helpful and it is no wonder that you have to book ahead to guarantee yourself a table. This is one of those restaurants that you will visit more than once.
Address: Akti, Elounda, Crete 72053 Phone Number: +30 28410 41230
Olondi is an all-round great restaurant. The food is delicious, fresh, beautifully presented and very reasonably priced. The wine list is great, which is not always the case in Greece. The staff at Olondi are friendly and very accommodating. However, the best part of Olondi is its setting. This restaurant is set on the tranquil waterfront of Elounda bay; it is the perfect venue to have a casual lunch or dinner. The restaurant and its surrounding really transform into a romantic venue in the evenings, truly magical to sit at Olondi and watch the sunset over the bay.
Address: Harbour Front, Elounda, Crete Contact: +30 2841041040
The Balcony serves a range of dishes from Greek, Mediterranean and Mexican inspired cuisines. The Balcony serves traditional Cretan cuisine, and some creative and unique interpretations of some traditional Greek dishes. The food served at The Balcony is unique and creative in both presentation and taste, the setting is cosy and chic. Prices are a little higher than the average tavern in Crete, but well worth it.
Address: 19 Fountalidou St, Sitia, Crete: Contact: +30 06973002281
The Olive Tree Restaurant:
One of the most picturesque settings in all of Crete. Literally on the beach, this completely open air restaurant has food to match its first class view. There is nothing more ideal or romantic than sitting at ‘the Olive Tree’ restaurant, eating the delicious Cretan food, made out of fresh local produce and having a glass or two of wine. ‘The Olive tree’ Restaurant has some great wines on their menu, and reasonably priced as well. A well hidden gem; not visible from the street, located directly on Platanias beach behind Hotel Rania. The best sunset can be seen from this restaurant.
Address: Platanias located behind Rania hotel, Crete Contact: +39 28219 68849
Kritamon is an undiscovered gem. This understated restaurant is located at the end of a quaint cobblestone street, behind the square of the charming village Archanes. The setting at Kritamon is picturesque, set in a sandstone house, with both outdoor and indoor seating available. The food can only be described as delicious, fresh, and visually appetising. Consistently great food and great service. You will definitely want to return to Kritamon. Servings are generous and prices are very reasonable. Chef Dimitris prides himself on using the freshest, organic, local produce in combinations that bring out the perfect flavours in every dish.
Address: Main Square, Archanes, Heraklion Contact: +30 2810 753092
Crete has been coined one of Greece’s “Party Islands” and its nightlife has been described as vibrant and diverse. This description may comes as a surprise to many that have visited the island of Crete because those that have come to Crete seeking peace, quiet and relaxation have found it. This contrast is largely because Crete offers both, it offers an abundance of bars, clubs, music venues, restaurants and beach parties, but it also offers its visitors the opportunity to relax and unwind without the feeling of having an undesired party lurking at every corner (like some of the other Greek islands).
The following summary of nightlife in Crete hopefully captures what you are looking for, but the best recommendations are the ones that you get from the locals. When you are in Crete ask the restaurant or hotel staff where the current hotspots are for the type of night that you are looking for and they will definitely head you in the right direction.
Hersonissos and Malia
People head to Crete for many different reasons; some are there to explore, others are there to sightsee, whilst many are simply there to party. If you are heading to Crete because you are after some serious partying then you should head to the east coast of Crete to the resort towns of Hersonissos and Malia. These two areas are renowned for their many clubs and bars and heavy party scene. These areas are designed to cater for the thousands of party goers that visit Crete at any one time. Due to some trouble caused by foreign party goers over the years there has been somewhat of a crackdown on rowdy behavior. Popular clubs in Malia include ‘Candy Club’ and ‘Factory’.If the noise and chaos of these party towns is not for you then don’t despair, Crete caters for all tastes. All of the main cities and towns in Crete offer a variety of clubs, bars, music venues, entertainment venues, restaurants and cafés to accommodate all desires.
The following areas have a wide range of nightlife available to you:
Chania Town/ the Old Harbour
Chania offers an abundance of cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants. Also a very popular nighttime activity in Crete is to go to the open air cinemas. There are two open air cinemas in Chania which are:
Attikon Open Air Cinema – Address: El Venizelou 118, Chania Contact: +30 2821040208
Kypos Open Air Cinema – Address: Dimokratias, Kipos, Chania Contact: +30 2821041429
Platanias and Agia Marina Beach Bars
Both Platanias and Agia Marina are known for their beach bars and beach parties. Two of the more popular beach bars in Crete are ‘Illios and Amos’ and ‘Destijl Beach Club’, both located at Agia Marina. These venues are extremely popular, particularly with locals. Both venues offer a mix of Greek and foreign music and have a great summers vibe. These bars are the perfect combination of sun, sea, drinks, dancing and fun.