Crete through our eyes

by Cristiana Sadidigianis

Through Our Eyes is Oracle's ongoing series of travel guides to our favorite Greek destinations, with favorite spots and delicious destinations discovered by founder Cristiana in her travels. 

Oracle's Guide to western Crete

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting western Crete, Greece's largest island, to participate in the olive oil harvest for a limited edition Agoureleo batch we will be releasing soon.

Accompanied by the immensely talented photographers Gentl & Hyers, we immersed ourselves in the island's untamed beauty. Our adventures took us through Crete's rugged mountains, along scenic roads, and into deep gorges. We trekked invigorating hikes, visited beekeepers, dined in quaint local tavernas, lounged on serene beaches, and soaked in the sophisticated ambiance of Chania's harbor.

Here are some highlights from our trip, to bookmark for your next adventure:

① Metohi Kindelis Hotel

    Nestled just outside Chania is Metohi Kindelis Hotel, the meticulously restored 16th-century Venetian estate of Metohi Kindelis. Owned by my friend Danai and her uncle, artist and farmer Manolis, this boutique hotel and organic farm has been in her family for over 100 years. The estate offers three exquisite holiday homes, set amidst orchards that yield fruit all year round, offering a blend of historical charm and tranquil luxury.

    ② Ammos Hotel

    Owned by the discerning Nikos Tsepetis, Ammos Hotel is a stylish beachfront hotel in Chania is a magnet for the artistic and design-savvy, as well as families. Nikos's knack for uncovering Crete's hidden gems, from secluded tavernas to picturesque hikes and beaches, has earned him the playful moniker 'the mayor' among those who know him. The hotel’s cuisine is equally impressive.

    ③ Red Jane Bakery

      Nikos's latest project is the gorgeous Red Jane Bakery, housed in a 1930s foundry. The bakery's "koulouria" (sesame-topped Greek bagels) and coffee are out of this world.

      ④ Salis Restaurant

        My personal favorite restaurant in western Crete, Salis Restaurant, is located in Chania's old harbor, and exudes a dreamy Venetian aura. They pride themselves on their organic, seasonal produce and offer local dishes with a contemporary twist.

        ⑤ Kross Coffee

          For the best coffee in Chania, head to  Kross CoffeeThey have several locations and offer a variety of non-dairy milk options.

          ⑥ Oasis

            Hole-in-the-wall Oasis is a legendary spot in Chania, serving the best gyro pita for 50 years. It’s a true gem that’s stood the test of time.

            ⑦ Dounias Farm

              Nestled in the mountain village of Drakona and accessible via the breathtaking Therisso Gorge, Dounias Farm is Crete's most authentic taverna. Stelios Trilirakis uses only local ingredients, including produce from his own garden, to cook traditional dishes on fire stoves. He also offers cooking classes and visits to local beekeeper producing To Keramiano HoneyThe pine honey, which is one of the rarer varieties, was my favorite.

              ⑧ Milia Mountain Retreat

                Milia Mountain Retreat, an eco-adventure hotel in Kissamos, is ideal for hiking and foraging enthusiasts, and those interested in beekeeping. Housed in a 15th-century stone structure, the rooms preserve the architecture and aesthetic style of the mountainous area, with features like exposed rock walls. Their on-site restaurant is also terrific.

                ⑨ Maza Taverna

                  In  Apokoronas, Maza Taverna, aka "Taverna O Drys", is run by husband and wife Costas and Voula (and their in-laws and their kids!). To get there you drive up a winding road to the tiny village of Maza. Adjacent to the small stone Byzantine Church of St. Nicholas Mazianos, with its 14th-century frescoes by Ioannis Pagomenos, the taverna offers no menu but serves up simple, outstanding dishes. The zucchini fritters and stewed rabbit were our favorite dishes.

                  ⑩ Manousakis Winery

                    From the same owners of Salis restaurant comes Manousakis Winery, an outdoor taverna where they offer lovely tastings of their local, organic wines, as well as Cretan delicacies.

                    ⑪ Maiami Brasserie

                      Alexandra Manousakis is the local ceramicist and artist is behind  Maiami Brasserie, a hip bistro which also houses her art studio. 

                      ⑫ Seitan Limania Beach

                        Seitan Limania Beach's rocky seabed make it an ideal snorkeling spot. Although it requires a hike to access, the crystal-clear waters are a worthy reward for your labors.