Mountain villages of Crete, in photos

Crete is distinctive among Greek islands for its snow-capped mountains, so we couldn’t let our time end without seeing the beauty of the interior (especially after we learned about the friendly people of mountain villages from a resident of Rethymno City). Luckily, the Rethymno prefecture’s tourist office provided us with a handful of printed brochures for driving and hiking itineraries – Europe’s famous E4 long-distance hiking trail, which starts in Spain and ends in Greece, winds through Crete – so our dilemma became “Which one?”

 

Rethymno Crete mountains blossoms white village

Beautiful vistas and white villages in the interior region of Rethymno, Crete. Photo credit: Tourism Promotion Committee of Rethymno Prefecture

 

Leaving from Rethymno City, we chose a half-day drive through the highlands of Roustika, Agios Konstantinos, and Argiroupoli before making our way to the next stopover, Chania. Follow along while we show you what we saw:

 

Roustika Rethymno Crete

Medieval architecture in Roustika

 

How could I resist a village with a name like Roustika? Rustic it was (though the name might derive from the Arabic “roustak,” or village); this is the kind of place where you won’t see a sign above a market or taverna, because it’s assumed that everybody already knows where they are. It’s also home to Venetian architecture and a famous two-aisled, frescoed church from the 14th century church, Panaghia and Sotiras Christos.

 

Roustika taverna Crete

Yes, the taverna, obviously. Who needs a sign?

 

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Olive groves and churches dot our path to Agios Konstantinos

 

Agios Konstantinos was a summer retreat for Venetian nobility, and you can still feel the gentle breezes that created their cool haven.

 

Agios konstantinos rethymno crete door

Multicolored doors in Agios Konstantinos

 

red kilim crete

Kilims drying in the springtime sun

 

Argiroupoli, famous for its waterfalls, sits near the ruins of the ancient city of Lappa. It’s also famous for fresh trout, which might be what this creature was searching for:

 

Argirouspoli waterfalls Rethymno Crete

A cat makes its way among the waterfalls of Argiroupoli

 

church in rock Aghios Ioannis Argiroupoli Rethymno Crete

Churches are ubiquitous in Crete; Argiroupolis’ Aghios Ioannis is carved into a cliff face.

 

The mountain-fresh breezes and snow-capped views of this region made our drive one of the highlights of the trip. A bit further south and we would have made it to steep canyons, Ideon Andron cave (purported early home of the god Zeus), and on to the Libyan Sea. We’ll just have to save those for our next trip … if we can tear ourselves away from the highlands.

 

*Special thanks to the Crete Tourism Board and Rethymno Tourist Office for invaluable assistance with planning this trip. To read about our commitment to candid and balanced reviews, see our disclosures page.

Comments

  1. What wonderful travels you have had! Good going on spelling all those Crete names, too!

  2. Kristen says:

    What an inspiring tour, I felt like I was tagging along. Such a simple and peaceful life that has remained almost the same for many years, what’s not to appreciate?

    Your comment and the photo of the “no name” taverna is priceless. Yes, Crete definitely warrants a second visit.

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