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 on CreteCeramics 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:

Ceramics

Ceramics for Sale in Margarites on CreteMore 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.

Icons

Traditional Icon Workshop in Elounda on CreteTraditional 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.

See our page on The Icon Museum in Irakleio

Jewellery

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.

Leather Goods

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.

Weaving

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.

Wood Carving

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 CreteBottles 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 Bottles from CreteOlive 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

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  • 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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  •  Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

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  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Central Crete including hotels in Matala, Ayia Galini, and Zaros.

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

    Chania, in Western Crete

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

    How to Make Petimezi

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  • 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.

    Irakleio

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  • 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.

    Malia and its Minoan Palace on Crete

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    Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

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

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  • 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.

    Art Courses on Crete

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    Where to Eat in Western Crete

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    The Herb Man of Kouses

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

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  • This tour around central Crete lists some of the area’s highlights such as the traditional village of Arolithos, Minoan remains at Tilisos, and Agioi Deka.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

    Margarites

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

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

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  • 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.

    Phaistos Minoan Palace on Crete

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

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

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