Eco-Tourism Accommodation on Crete

The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.

On our recent tour around Crete our guide Isi from www.GoCrete.net found us some great eco-tourism accommodation. We spent our second night at the Dalabelos Estate in the hills between Rethymnon and Heraklion, where Vasilis was not only a great host he also gave us some good Cretan music too!

While we were checking in Vasilis told us a little about the Dalabelos Estate.

'We have our own farm so most of the food is fresh from the farm and from our gardens. We also bake our own bread. There are plenty of good bakeries in the area but our bread tastes better!'

Vasilis walked us down to our apartment. Dalabelos has ten stone-built 1-bedroom apartments, with an 11th one fitted out for people with physical disabilities. They're arranged around a hillside so that they all have sea views. 

All the apartments are individually decorated, and ours had a butterfly theme. We fell in love with it at once, as butterflies were everywhere, the apartment filled with creative artworks. That wasn't surprising as Dalabelos is only a 10-minute drive from the village of Margarites, famed for its ceramics, galleries and artists. Vasilis persuaded us to visit it the next day on our way out, and we loved it. Read our Margarites page to find out why.

Dalabelos Activities

Unfortunately we weren't at Dalabelos long enough to sample the activities they have on offer, but we'd love to go back for a longer stay. If you're there at the right time of year you can help with the olive picking and the grape harvest. Every Friday morning you can help get the wood oven ready and participate in the bread-making.

Each Tuesday morning at Dalabelos there's a cookery lesson, which includes an hour spent in the gardens gathering vegetables and herbs. They also have their own ceramic workshop where there are regular pottery sessions. There are mountain bikes to hire, and sessions of traditional music too.

Dalabelos Dining

We were relaxing on the terrace next to the restaurant with a drink before dinner and amazing smells started to come from the kitchen, and from the plates being taken out to the tables. We could tell this was going to be Greek cooking at its best, using fresh ingredients, and plenty of freshly-picked herbs. You needn't worry about Food Miles at a place like Dalabelos, as it's more a case of Food Metres: from the garden to the plate.

Vasilis was keen to show off his kitchen's skills and offered to serve us a kind of meal-long meze, with tasters of different dishes. We started with stuffed vine leaves with zucchini flowers. Dolmades can sometimes be a bit oily if you have them in a regular taverna, but these were fresh and light. Starter plates of fava and feta followed. The sign of a good kitchen is where they do the ordinary things well, and the feta was drizzled with their own olive oil and sprinkled with those fresh herbs, a tasty treat.

Then came the serious stuff. Lamb in tomato sauce, snail stew, eggplant imam, zucchini pie. It was hard to keep up as the tasting samples came thick and fast. How does rabbit with rosemary and wine sound? It smelled and tasted divine. Marinated anchovies came with a dish of livers fried with thyme and balsamic vinegar. Neither of us has ever been a big fan of liver but we could be converted when it's as tender and as succulent as this.

We thought we were full but then Vasilis brought out a dish we just had to find room for.

'This is sfougato,' he said. We admitted it was a dish we'd never had before. 'You'll love it,' he said. 'This is my grandmother's recipe. It's zucchini with potatoes and eggs and tomato sauce, all cooked together in the pot.'

It tasted like... well, as only a grandmother's recipe can taste. It was a kind of baked omelette, with thyme and oregano in there, and we wanted to eat every last little mouthful.

Cretan Music at Dalabelos

That may have been the end of the food but it wasn't the end of the evening. There are regular music nights at Dalabelos, and even when outside musicians aren't brought in, Vasilis himself might entertain guests later on. He sings and plays several Cretan musical instruments, which he introduces one by one, explaining what they are and how they fit into Cretan music.

We video'd the performance, even though the light wasn't great, and put it on our YouTube channel:

As we're both big music lovers, and love Crete, of course, we found it fascinating. It was a delightful surprise and a terrific ending to the evening... the first of several music surprises we had on our trip around Crete. Music, like good food, is in the very heart and soul of the people, which is why we never tire of visiting the island.

Check Room Rates at the Diabelos Estate

More Information
To find out more about staying at Dalabelos, and their many activities, visit the very helpful and informative website:

http://www.dalabelos.gr

To arrange a personalised tour in Crete, for a few hours or a few days, see the website of Go Crete.


Other Crete pages

  • Chania, in Western Crete

    Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.

  • Knossos

    Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.

  • Rouvas Gorge Walk

    This Rouvas Gorge walk starts and ends in Zaros in southern Crete and should take three to four hours with a distance of eight kilometres or five miles.

  • Irakleio

    Crete's capital and largest city is Irakleio, also called Iraklion or Heraklion, a large and busy place with good restaurants, museums and historical buildings.

  • Keramos Studios in Zaros

    Keramos Studios in Zaros on Crete is an inexpensive two-star hotel/guesthouse with one of the best breakfasts on the island using food from the family’s farm.

  • Dining at Vegera

    Greece Travel Secrets eats at Vegera in Zaros and finds a cheap but wonderful feast of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes cooked daily with fresh local food.

  • Lasithi Plateau Drive

    This Lasithi Plateau drive on Crete starts in Neapoli and ends in Malia, covering a distance of 80 km (50 miles) and taking two to three hours.

  • Crete

    Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.

  • Olive Grove Walk

    This olive grove walk from Limnes to Vrises on Crete also takes you through orchards and gives close-up views of some of the island’s windmills.

  • Zacharioudakis Winery

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.

  • Amari Valley Drive

    This Amari Valley drive in southern Crete starts and ends in Ayia Galini, takes four to five hours and cover 100 kilometres or 62 miles.

  • Malia and its Minoan Palace on Crete

    Malia on the north coast of Crete is renowned for its nightlife and beaches but also has the Minoan Palace of Malia, one of Crete's many archaeological sites.

  • Paleohora and the South-West Coast

    The area east from Paleohora along the south-west coast of Crete includes resorts like Agia Galini, gorges like the Imbros Gorge and quieter towns like Sfakia.

  • How to Make Petimezi

    How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge

    Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Hiking in Southwest Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.

  • Ancient Gournia Minoan Site in Eastern Crete

    Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.

  • Goules Taverna Crete

    The Goules Taverna in Goulediana, south of Rethymnon, has been called one of the best tavernas on Crete and Greece Travel Secrets recently visited them.

  • Gortina ancient archaeological site in southern Crete

    Ancient Gortina is an archaeological site in southern Crete famous for the church of Ayios Titos and for the Law Code inscribed here, the first in Europe.

  • Elounda and Spinalonga, setting for The Island by Victoria Hislop

    Elounda on Crete's north coast is a popular holiday town with a pretty harbour, from where you can take day trips by boat to see the island of Spinalonga.

  • Diktean Cave, the Birthplace of Zeus near Psychro on Crete

    The Diktean or Diktaean Cave, also known as the Psychro Cave, near the village of Psychro in eastern Crete, is said to be the birthplace of Zeus.

  • Crete Olive Oil Tour

    For a Crete olive oil tour Greece Travel Secrets visits Biolea, one of the few olive oil factories on Crete that you can visit.

  • Crete Festivals and Events

    Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.

  • Cretan Writers and Artists

    The most famous Cretan writers and artists include the painter El Greco and the author of Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis.

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