Lonely Planet Crete

Greece Book Reviews

Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

We recently reviewed Lonely Planet Greek Islands and highly recommend it as an overall guide to all the Greek islands (and Athens). That guidebook has 56 pages on Crete but if it's just Crete you're interested in you need to take a look at Lonely Planet Crete. This has almost 300 pages dedicated to this very special Greek island.

The book begins with a brief overview of what to expect from Crete, then goes on to list its Top 15 Attractions and Experiences. We don't want to repeat their list in full, but the first few are:

  • The Old Town of Chania
  • The Beach at Elafonisi
  • Knossos
  • Heraklion Archaeological Museum
  • Touring Southern Crete by Boat (a great suggestion!)
  • The Samaria Gorge

We've no arguments there, nor with the rest of the list which includes the wine country in the Iraklion region and, another excellent choice: Village Tavernas. Eating at one of these places is definitely a highlight of any visit. They single out one place which we were lucky enough to eat at on our last visit, To Skolio in Anidri near Paleohora, and while we wouldn't say it was a typical village taverna, it did serve amazingly inventive and inexpensive food, all prepared fresh every morning.

The Menu at To Skolio

Plan Your Trip

There are then several suggested itineraries for different ways of getting the most out of your visit to Crete. The first is a 2-week Essential Crete trip, starting in Iraklio and then heading south, then west, taking in many of the island's main attractions such as Knossos, Chania, Rethymnon, the Samaria Gorge, Phaistos and the Arkadi Monastery.

A suggested 1-week tour limits itself to places reachable from Iraklio, and the Eastern Crete itinerary restricts itself to one week, as there are fewer sights to see in the eastern half of the island. Our advice, though, would be to take two weeks anyway and take it slow.

The Cretan Diet

The next section provides sections on different themes, such as Outdoor Activities (of which there are plenty), Travel with Children and Eat and Drink Like a Local. We were delighted to see that this runs to eight pages, as there's a lot to say about Crete's distinctive and outstanding food and drink. There are sub-sections on important topics like olive oil, wine and raki. We'll drink to that.

Where Is Gavdos?

The guide rightly says that the island of Gavdos, off the southern coast of Crete, is the most southerly point of Europe. But what it also says is that Gavdos is closer to Africa than to Greece. Er, excuse us? Gavdos is part of Greece. We think what they meant to say is that Gavdos is closer to Africa than to Athens!

Top Crete Guide

We only spotted that one small mistake as we read quite thoroughly through the sections on places in Crete that we know ourselves. It was the only mistake that we found, and even then it was more of a slip of the brain than a genuine factual error.

On the places that we checked we found Lonely Planet Crete to be thorough, accurate and well-organised. It's also very good on the nitty-gritty practical details, including local transport. How many buses a day are there from Rethymnon to the Arkadi Monastery, what does it cost and how long does it take? (The answers are - or were when this book was researched - three, €2.80 and 40 minutes.)

Buying Lonely Planet Crete

Find out more about Crete...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

  • The Herb Man of Kouses

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.

  • Art Courses on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets visits Visual Arts Crete who offer accommodation and run art courses at their home and studio in the village of Kastellos near Rethymnon.

  • Making Rakomelo on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.

  • 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.

  • Crete

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

  • 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.

  • Best Things to Do on Crete

    The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.

  • Best Crete Hotels

    The best Crete hotels include 5-star luxury hotels, historic and romantic Venetian palaces, and several hotels in Hania and Iraklion.

  • Best Beaches on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets chooses ten of the best beaches on Crete including the beautiful beaches at Vai and Elafonisi.

  • Battle of Crete

    The Battle of Crete during World War 2 inspired several books and took place with an airborne invasion over Maleme on the north coast of the island.

  • Arkadi Monastery

    Visiting the Arkadi Monastery near Rethymnon is one of the best things to do on Crete.

  • Airbnb near Chania

    This Airbnb in the quiet village of Malaxa, a 30-minute drive into the hills above Chania, is a peaceful retreat with a delightful and thoughtful artist owner, with wonderful views and amenities.

  • Agios Nikolaos

    Agios Nikolaos is a pretty and popular town on the north coast of Crete and this page on Greece Travel Secrets covers its history, museums and beaches.

  • Margarites

    Margarites is known on Crete for its pottery, with ceramics shops and workshops lining the streets of this charming small town not far from Rethymnon.

  • 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.

  • Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.

  • The Icon Painter

    Icon painting is a centuries-old tradition in Crete and the rest of Greece, and Greece Travel Secrets meets a modern-day icon painter in Elounda on Crete.

  • The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • The Snails House on Crete

    The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.

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