Crete and Greece

Restaurants, bistros and hotels

When planning a holiday in Greece, there are several choices available to you, depending on your tastes and budget: A flight + hotel break? A tour organised by an agency or prepared by yourself? Hire a car on arrival at the airport and set off to discover the country with a minimum programme? In any case, Crete and Greece offer a wide range of destinations, types of holiday, quality tourist services, hotels, airbnb, activities, discoveries, culture, nightlife, etc.

At the restaurant

As the English, Scandinavians and Germans are the majority of Western tourists in Greece (the French only come in 3rd or 4th place, depending on the year), in some places the Greek restaurant menus are so adapted to the dominant clientele, that the language of Molière is not enough to get to know the cretan diet. For a local population of 600,000, Crete welcomed in 2016 more than 4.5 million visitors who spent 3 billion €, which amounts to an income of 5,000€/inhabitant! On the one hand, it's a windfall, but fortunately they don't all come at the same time...

In general, avoid places that are too touristy and visit the kitchens when you are invited to do so to choose "de visu". Here we order all the dishes at the same time, starters, greek salad, the main menu. Among the meats, choose the lamb that is raised in Crete; fresh fish is rare and sometimes expensive, since it has to be fished further and further away and there is no shortage of fish lovers in summer. The " greek owner's wine The "national" dish is rice pilaf (rice cooked in the juice of old poularde or lamb from the garrigues, and served with this meat). The "national" dish is the rice pilaf (rice cooked in the juice of an old poularde or lamb of the garrigues, and served with this meat) that can be tasted on feast days at the Cretans provided that you are invited!
In the restaurant or in the tavern (don't try to find a difference except for the luxury restaurants, but you don't go to Crete for that...) you can have a complete meal from 12 €. Here, you don't reserve a table, you have lunch between 1 and 3 pm but the restoration is possible at any time of the day. Do not forget the tip...

At the bistro

Every village has at least one bistro, place to meet, relax and talk, but only frequented by men...

A café (kafeneion in Greek)

Every village has at least one bistro, a place to meet, relax and talk, but only frequented by men... Often, even in small villages, there are two, frequented by men according to their affinities or, until recently, according to their political philosophy. You will meet mostly men, playing cards, "Tavli" (Backgammon) or teasing the "komboloi" (a kind of rosary, which, for the Cretans, and Greeks in general, is not an object of piety, but by sliding between the fingers the grains of amber threaded in a necklace, one occupies the hands and sometimes accompanies more or less deep thoughts ...).

During the hottest part of the day, between 2 and 5 pm, many stores close and many Cretans take a nap. The afternoon visits start after 5 pm and go on until late in the evening. Even today, the village bistro is at the same time a grocery store, a center for the distribution of information from various organizations and a mail dispenser. Apart from the Greek coffee, you can drink a good iced Nescafé or taste the local schnapps, the Tsikoudia or Raki. Be careful, don't raise your elbow too much if you are not used to it.

At the hotel

Apart from certain sites that become very popular with tourists in summer, especially between 15 July and 15 August, the average occupancy rate of rooms is never at its highest. In other words, you won't be sleeping under the stars unless you want to, which can be a great idea. As well as traditional hotels, you'll find airbnbs, which are very common in Greece, at all price levels. Before the recent arrival of airbnb, Greece was known as a "domatia", or "rooms to rent". This type of 'home-stay' accommodation was very popular with some, because of the friendly atmosphere and Cretan hospitality it generated, given the physical presence of the hosts. It was often spartan, but clean and cheap. In low season, you could even discuss the price without offending the owner. Today, all this has been replaced by airbnb, which, given the recent epidemic, offers the advantage of avoiding daily physical contact with another tribe.

In general, all airbnb accommodation, from the moment it is on the platform, is authorised and declared. They are inspected by the tourist authorities and prices are public and displayed. It's also worth pointing out that most small hotels and airbnb properties are not heated. You might say that this is normal in a country with a temperate climate like Crete. But the problem can arise at the start of the season, particularly in April, when the nights can be chilly! So pack a jumper and bring your body closer together... There are around fifteen campsites and three youth hostels in Crete, in Heraklion, Rethymnon and Plakias.

(Editor: Nikos Papadogeorgakis / Degeorges Nicolas)