Shopping Tips for Crete
These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.
Ceramics for Sale in Margarites
Crete is not a destination that people go to specifically for its shopping, but nevertheless while you’re there you’ll have no trouble finding a good choice of souvenirs for friends and family, as well as gifts for yourself.
This applies whether your taste is for the cheap and cheerful or for more expensive and tasteful arts and crafts. A lot of the cheap ‘local’ souvenirs are actually made overseas and imported!
Crete has a wide range of traditional crafts that are kept alive thanks to its popularity as a holiday destination. These include:
More Ceramics from Margarites
Available everywhere are the bright blues and yellows of cheerful plates and bowls. You will also find top-quality hand-made ceramics, with the village of Margarítes being a centre for this tradition.
Traditional Icon Workshop in Elounda
Holy icons are still made in the traditional way on Crete (see our page on The Icon Painter) but check for the certificate on the back authenticating this. Icons can be found throughout the island in souvenir shops, but the best quality icons are to be found at churches and monasteries.
All over the island there are jewellery shops, selling fine quality silver and gold. These are sold by weight and are often good value. Look for the shops where you can see the jeweller at work in the back, then you know you are buying original hand-crafted work.
Life in the Cretan mountains is tough, and sturdy leatherwear that lasts for years has always been made for practical purposes. Today the workshops also produce handbags, purses, wallets and other items for the tourist trade, but you can still buy local things such as the long-legged Cretan boots. The market in Chania has a very wide range.
This old island tradition still flourishes, in particular in mountain towns such as Kritsa, Psikhro, and Anoyia. Shop fronts are festooned with carpets and kilims, far too many to have been produced by the one old lady who runs the shop. The better-quality handmade items will invariably be a lot more expensive, but worth it. Chania is also a good place to buy weaving.
Many tourist towns will have their olive wood workshop, or souvenir shops selling these attractive carvings of bowls, spoons, salt and pepper sets, and many other items.
Food and Drink
Bottles of Petimezi from Crete
Food and drink is also worth investigating. If you’ve developed a taste for the local firewater, raki, you might want to take some home. Both raki and ouzo can be bought in elegant bottles that could be used afterwards as vases or beautiful shelf decorations. Look for two distinct Cretan drinks: rakomelo and petimezi.
Almost all towns now have shops specialising in Cretan herbs and spices, which the chef of the family will want to investigate. Read our page on The Herb Man of Kouses, who has one of the best shops on the entire island.
Olive Oil is a Good Souvenir from Crete
Cretan honey is popular, being extremely pure and tasty, but is often far more expensive than at home. The real bargain is olive oil, as Crete produces some of the finest quality oil in Greece. You can buy really good quality olive oil direct from the factory. Tours are fascinating but you can also just call in at the shop, where you’ll be able to taste and try before you buy.
Where to Stay on Crete
Other Crete pages
Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.
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.
This drive along the west coast of Crete and inland from there will take a whole day and starts and ends in Kastélli Kissámou, west of Chania.
Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.
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.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Central Crete including hotels in Matala, Ayia Galini, and Zaros.
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.
Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.
The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.
For a Crete olive oil tour Greece Travel Secrets visits Biolea, one of the few olive oil factories on Crete that you can visit.
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 largest of the Greek islands, Crete has four ENUESCO sites, which are Sitia, Psiloritis, Asterousia, and the Gorge of Samaria.
The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Western Crete with tavernas and restaurants in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.
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.
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.
Greece Travel Secrets’ potted guide to Eastern Crete and why you should consider it for a holiday, including seeing Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Vai Beach and Zakros.
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.
Greece Travel Secrets discovers Sitia, the main town in eastern Crete, with its relaxing waterfront, inexpensive hotels, good food, and nearby ancient sites.
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