Where to Eat in
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Western Crete with tavernas and restaurants in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.
The Amphora Taverna on the Harbour in Chania
Walk round towards the western end of the harbour in Chania and the Amphora Taverna, owned by the excellent Amphora Hotel behind it, immediately distinguished itself for us by not having a waiter outside trying to coax you in. It otherwise looks nothing special but the food is first class.
Fresh fish naturally features but meze are a speciality here, and the mixed Greek plate can certainly be recommended. In fact, so can everything else on the menu. Last time we visited they had a table full of guidebooks out front, all recommending the place – including one of ours!
Typical Stylish Dish at the Avli in Rethymnon
The place to be in this classy Rethymnon restaurant is the lovely interior garden courtyard with large palm trees like a tropical paradise and an open roof, though there are also tables in the street outside and in another indoor area, very tastefully done out. The Avli menu boasts ‘Gastronomic experiments with Cretan produce and an open mind’, and to find out if they succeed try a house speciality such as wild kid goat cooked with honey and thyme.
The Fanari in Rethymnon
Walk west of Rethymnon’s inner harbour, where the waiters almost drag you physically inside, to this quieter stretch where locals tend to go. The Fanari has a much more laid-back atmosphere, with the restaurant on one side of the road and the outdoor seating area, with bright yellow and white tablecloths, on the other overlooking the sea. Check the meze for some interesting options, maybe followed by grilled meat and some of the tasty house wine. This quickly became a regular haunt of our when we spent some time in Rethymnon.
Galaxy Fish Restaurant
The excellent Galaxy Fish Restaurant in Paleochora has some roadside seating directly opposite the pebble beach, then an upper open patio beneath a red-tiled roof, and finally a further raised indoor seating area. On the back wall a large fisherman’s net is stretched, hung with crab shells, lobsters, starfish and other sea creatures. Although there are meat options on the menu, and old Greek favourites, the speciality is quite simple, as the menu states: ‘fresh fish from Paleochora. Enjoy the wine from the barrel too, and they also have good-quality rooms to rent.
Tables lining both sides of a narrow alley, tucked away behind the Rimondi fountain in Rethymnon, indicate Kyria Maria’s original little restaurant, where twittering birds in cages hang all along the street. There are woven table-cloths of dark red and black striped patterns in traditional designs, and so successful has Maria’s home-cooking become (her lamb kleftiko is a deliciously tender speciality) that the restaurant has been called one of the best on Crete. No website.
The Semiramis Restaurant in Chania
The Semiramis is a large taverna with outdoor seating running alongside one whole block of a narrow street in Chania, plus a charming garden seating area at the end. The place is rightly very popular expect to wait for a table. Cretan musicians play here nightly in season, and in the main taverna building over the street. The food is nothing out of the ordinary, with the usual Greek menu of grills, fish and meat dishes, but the garden is delightful, with a fountain in one corner, a chatty atmosphere and the whole operation run briskly and in a friendly fashion.
A Few of the Tamam's Tasty Dishes
The Tamam serves some of the best food in Chania, hence the nightly queues for a table, by both locals and visitors alike. Once a Turkish bath-house, most people prefer to sit outside in the narrow street to enjoy the imaginative dishes combining the best of the Mediterranean from Italian risotto via Greek baked red peppers to Middle Eastern lamb with rice and yoghourt. Good range for vegetarians too, and well worth the wait.
The Well of the Turk
Sample Dishes at The Well of the Turk in Chania
Allow plenty of time to find this back-alley place, near Platía 1821 in Chania. The search will be rewarded, though, as the first class Well of the Turk combines the best of Cretan and North African cuisine, from simple shish kebabs and cous-cous, to specialities including calamari (squid) stuffed with seafood, herbs and rice and served with turmeric rice. There’s also a bar inside, and don’t forget to ask to see the actual Well of the Turk!
Where to Stay on Crete
Other Crete pages
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.
Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.
The best Crete hotels include 5-star luxury hotels, historic and romantic Venetian palaces, and several hotels in Hania and Iraklion.
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.
Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.
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.
Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos 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.
Visiting the Arkadi Monastery near Rethymnon is one of the best things to do on 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.
The Samaria Gorge is one the longest gorges in Europe and doing the hike is one of the best and most popular things to do on Crete.
Maleme near Chania is where the people who died during the battle of Crete are buried, in the German War Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Cemetery nearby.
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.
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.
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.
Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.
Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,
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.
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 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.
Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.
How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.
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.
Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.
Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.
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