1-800-430-0484 Call US 7 days a week from 8AM to Midnight ET Chat with us!

CRETE ISLAND - WHAT TO EAT


Olives and Olive Oil

No other single product is more important to Cretan food, the famous Cretan Diet and Greek cooking generally than the olive. From this small fruit, olive oil is produced. "Elixir of Life", "Liquid gold" and "Gift from the Gods" are all terms that have been applied to olive oil. Ask a Cretan farmer in his 80`s if he agrees with the exalted praise given to the humble oil he produces and he will smile widely, moustache turning up at the sides, eyes twinkling with merriment, pat his bottom lip with his finger and say: "Einai poli kala." (It is very good!)

Crete has about 60 olive trees per inhabitant so olive oil (the only oil traditionally used in cooking) is one of the staple foods. A family of four will easily use a litter a day if not more. A good restaurant must use good oil; the rest of the cooking comes second. Most people have their own supply of oil or buy from each other but of course you can buy oil in the supermarkets. If you are considering buying some really good olive oil to take back with you, it is best to buy from a producer, not because it is cheaper (which it is) but because you can find some really good oil.

Cretan Cheeses

The consumption of cheese in Crete is the highest in the world! An important source of proteins of high biological quality, cheese plays a central role in the Cretan diet. Sheep and goat keeping in Crete dates back to the myths of the antiquity. It is said that the milk products of Crete were the food of the great God, Zeus, who was born in a cave. His company and nurse was a goat called Amalthea. Since then animal farming in Crete has not changed. It is based on small animals (goats, sheep) while cows are few. It is also based on the free grazing. The animals of Crete are free throughout the year on the mountains or pastures and feed almost exclusively on wild plants, the incredible Cretan herbs and bushes.

Types of Cretan cheeses:
Graviera:
the name is a loose rendition of the word gruyere and it is a little similar. This is the standard hard cheese and being of local production, there are many types and tastes. Taste before buying.
Myzitra:
a fresh cheese made of ewe`s milk. It can also be made of goats milk (in which case it is called katsikithia) or mixed milk. This is the standard fresh cheese. A good goat`s one will taste like these expensive French `chèvre frais` that you can buy in good delis, at a fraction of the price.
Anthotiros:
from the words `anthos` and `tiros` meaning `flower` and `cheese` it is a very mild, soft spring cheese made when the sheep pastures are still full of flowers. The closest cheese that I could compare it to is mozzarella although it is quite different.

Honey

Crete has been an important honey producer for a good few thousand years (it was a main export item to Ancient Egypt). A walk in the thyme covered hillsides will often soon reveal a crop of brightly colored bee hives. Its golden honey is mainly produced from flowers, thyme and pine trees. Crete`s golden honey is sold everywhere, and is very popular with visitors to Crete who can choose from a wide selection in the shops in the main tourist resorts. It`s a good idea to try and get the honey that`s not in the fancy jars, though. In fact, try to find a local farmer or honey producer.

Dakos

These dry rusks are a traditional Cretan food full of healthy flavor when moistened with olive oil and mixed with oregano, cheese and tomatoes.

Paximadi

Paximadi is the hard dry bread (it is baked, cut in slices and baked again) that peasants take to the fields and soften with a little water and olive oil. It will keep forever.

Wild Herbs & Greens

One of the things that will hit you as you walk around Crete away from the towns is the smell of herbs in the air. The mountains and hillsides are literally covered in thyme and their purple flowers, as well as decent smatterings of pungent sage and fragrant rosemary. You`ll also find plenty of oregano and marjoram growing wild too. Here too is the home of Cretan Dittany or "diktamos" - this is only found here on this Island of Crete, and is renowned for its special medicinal properties. These amazing herbs of Crete (dittany is one of them) grow in the steep mountains of the island and are collected by experienced collectors, to be dried naturally and then packed in modern packing plants, with no chemical or other processing. Dittany of Crete is becoming more and more popular as an aphrodisiac too! Used as an herbal tea Dittany of Crete tastes fantastic. Buy a supply before you leave the island, they will be fresh and cheap.

Wild Greens (also known as horta) are wild mixed greens of many varieties, picked from the fields and hillsides, and even roadsides, often by the women of the village. This is peasant food par excellence: healthy, tasty and free although if you buy it at a shop some of the more interesting types (wild stamangathi for example) can command substantial prices because of the work involved in its collection and cleaning. Usually simply blanched or steamed in many parts of Greece, in Crete it is also served salad raw, drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. You can also find the mixed greens as a filling for Greens Pies and in omelets.

Fruits & Vegetables

A feature of the fruit and vegetables available in Crete is their locality and freshness. Seasonal fruit and vegetables can be seen in the markets and shops, with only a limited selection of imported food. It means that the choices can be limited but it also means that what you will buy will be cheap and fresh! A good place to see what is on offer is at a local street market in a city. There are markets on several days of the week in Chania (in different streets) but the nicest one is probably on Saturday, just ask any local where the market (called `laïki` in Greek) is located.

Meat

Not something that you would take back with you of course, but the meat here (at least the local production meat) is supposed to be as good as it was in Northern Europe some decades ago, before industrial animal husbandry became the rule. Free range animals can be seen all over the Island. You won`t have to go far to see a flock of chickens scampering freely in an open space near a farm. Particularly noteworthy of course is lamb and goat`s meat. They are not as cheap as one could think but almost all of them are free range and fed on wild herbs.

Fish

Crete is an island and fish is freely available especially in the restaurants on the coast and in fishing villages. Unfortunately, the seas around the Island are over-fished, which makes fresh fish expensive. Fishing boats can be seen at almost all the coastal villages, and you`ll see the fisherman swap his boat for a flat-bed truck to ply his wares in the tiny streets of the villages and towns near his port. You can catch a fish by flagging him down. You`ll know he`s coming because he`ll be announcing it over his truck`s tanoy. Listen out for the word psarie. A great place to buy fish is the indoor market at Chania, although the towns and large villages will have a fresh fish shop. Usually open fronted with huge marble slabs sloping down to the shop front, filled with fishes of all sizes (in the morning).

Subscribe to our mailing list

and receive our latest deal!



* Sample prices displayed include international and domestic airline tickets as per itinerary and ALL airline-related taxes and fuel surcharges and are per person, based on double occupancy, and are dynamic in nature. Prices do not include insurance or delivery charges which are optional and customizable by the traveler. The airfare portion of the itinerary price is based on economy class, midweek departure. Prices do not include fees for carry on or checked baggage which can add additional fees per ticket on a roundtrip flight based on carrier charges. It also does not include any entrance fees or visa fees that may be charged at international airports. Some cities may charge local taxes that can only be collected by hotel at destination.
Prices were accurate at the time we posted them. Sample prices were for a specific travel date and specific departure airport, as indicated. Your prices will vary according to departure cities and travel dates. We do not control prices (airlines and hotel reservation systems do). Prices may change dynamically and at times significantly numerous times during any given day.

X

Important: Many destinations may have COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, including specific restrictions for lodging. Check any national, local, and health advisories before you book any destination.

Read Coronavirus update

Albania Vacations: Tirana, Durres | Andorra Vacations: Andorra la Vella | Austria Vacations: Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck | Belgium Vacations: Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp | Bosnia Herzegovina Vacations: Sarajevo, Mostar, Neum | Bulgaria Vacations: Sofia, Nessebar, Plovdiv | Croatia Vacations: Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb | Cyprus Vacations: Larnaca, Paphos, Ayia Napa | Czech Republic Vacations: Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Karlovy Vary | Denmark Vacations: Copenhagen, Odense, Aarhus | England Vacations: London | Estonia Vacations: Tallinn | Finland Vacations: Helsinki, Turku, Rovaniemi | France Vacations: Paris, Nice (French Riviera) | Germany Vacations: Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt | Gibraltar Vacations: Gibraltar City | Greece Vacations: Athens, Santorini Island, Mykonos Island | Hungary Vacations: Budapest, Pecs | Iceland Vacations: Reykjavik | Ireland Vacations: Dublin, Killarney, Galway | Italy Vacations: Rome, Venice, Florence | Latvia Vacations: Riga | Liechtenstein Vacations: Vaduz | Lithuania Vacations: Vilnius | Luxembourg Vacations: Luxembourg City | Macedonia Vacations: Skopje, Ohrid | Malta Vacations: Malta Island, Gozo Island | Monaco Vacations: Monte Carlo | Montenegro Vacations: Kotor, Montenegro Coast, Podgorica | Morocco Vacations: Casablanca, Marrakech, Fez | Netherlands Vacations: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Maastricht | Norway Vacations: Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger | Poland Vacations: Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw | Portugal Vacations: Lisbon, Porto, Faro | Romania Vacations: Bucharest, Constanta, Brasov | Russia Vacations: Moscow, St Petersburg | San Marino Vacations: San Marino City | Scotland Vacations: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness | Serbia Vacations: Belgrade, Novi Sad, Subotica | Slovakia Vacations: Bratislava | Slovenia Vacations: Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Slovenian Riviera | Spain Vacations: Madrid, Barcelona, Seville | Sweden Vacations: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo | Switzerland Vacations: Zurich, Lucerne, Geneva | Turkey Vacations: Istanbul, Ankara, Bodrum | United Arab Emirates Vacations: Dubai | Wales Vacations: Cardiff, Swansea, Caernarfon
Albania: Albania Tours, Trips to Albania, Albania Holidays, Albania Travel, Visit Albania | Andorra: Andorra Tours, Trips to Andorra, Andorra Holidays, Andorra Travel, Visit Andorra | Austria: Austria Tours, Trips to Austria, Austria Holidays, Austria Travel, Visit Austria | Belgium: Belgium Tours, Trips to Belgium, Belgium Holidays, Belgium Travel, Visit Belgium | Bosnia Herzegovina: Bosnia Herzegovina Tours, Trips to Bosnia Herzegovina, Bosnia Herzegovina Holidays, Bosnia Herzegovina Travel, Visit Bosnia Herzegovina | Bulgaria: Bulgaria Tours, Trips to Bulgaria, Bulgaria Holidays, Bulgaria Travel, Visit Bulgaria | Croatia: Croatia Tours, Trips to Croatia, Croatia Holidays, Croatia Travel, Visit Croatia | Cyprus: Cyprus Tours, Trips to Cyprus, Cyprus Holidays, Cyprus Travel, Visit Cyprus | Czech Republic: Czech Republic Tours, Trips to Czech Republic, Czech Republic Holidays, Czech Republic Travel, Visit Czech Republic | Denmark: Denmark Tours, Trips to Denmark, Denmark Holidays, Denmark Travel, Visit Denmark | England: England Tours, Trips to England, England Holidays, England Travel, Visit England | Estonia: Estonia Tours, Trips to Estonia, Estonia Holidays, Estonia Travel, Visit Estonia | Finland: Finland Tours, Trips to Finland, Finland Holidays, Finland Travel, Visit Finland | France: France Tours, Trips to France, France Holidays, France Travel, Visit France | Germany: Germany Tours, Trips to Germany, Germany Holidays, Germany Travel, Visit Germany | Gibraltar: Gibraltar Tours, Trips to Gibraltar, Gibraltar Holidays, Gibraltar Travel, Visit Gibraltar | Greece: Greece Tours, Trips to Greece, Greece Holidays, Greece Travel, Visit Greece | Hungary: Hungary Tours, Trips to Hungary, Hungary Holidays, Hungary Travel, Visit Hungary | Iceland: Iceland Tours, Trips to Iceland, Iceland Holidays, Iceland Travel, Visit Iceland | Ireland: Ireland Tours, Trips to Ireland, Ireland Holidays, Ireland Travel, Visit Ireland | Italy: Italy Tours, Trips to Italy, Italy Holidays, Italy Travel, Visit Italy | Latvia: Latvia Tours, Trips to Latvia, Latvia Holidays, Latvia Travel, Visit Latvia | Liechtenstein: Liechtenstein Tours, Trips to Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein Holidays, Liechtenstein Travel, Visit Liechtenstein | Lithuania: Lithuania Tours, Trips to Lithuania, Lithuania Holidays, Lithuania Travel, Visit Lithuania | Luxembourg: Luxembourg Tours, Trips to Luxembourg, Luxembourg Holidays, Luxembourg Travel, Visit Luxembourg | Macedonia: Macedonia Tours, Trips to Macedonia, Macedonia Holidays, Macedonia Travel, Visit Macedonia | Malta: Malta Tours, Trips to Malta, Malta Holidays, Malta Travel, Visit Malta | Monaco: Monaco Tours, Trips to Monaco, Monaco Holidays, Monaco Travel, Visit Monaco | Montenegro: Montenegro Tours, Trips to Montenegro, Montenegro Holidays, Montenegro Travel, Visit Montenegro | Morocco: Morocco Tours, Trips to Morocco, Morocco Holidays, Morocco Travel, Visit Morocco | Netherlands: Netherlands Tours, Trips to Netherlands, Netherlands Holidays, Netherlands Travel, Visit Netherlands | Norway: Norway Tours, Trips to Norway, Norway Holidays, Norway Travel, Visit Norway | Poland: Poland Tours, Trips to Poland, Poland Holidays, Poland Travel, Visit Poland | Portugal: Portugal Tours, Trips to Portugal, Portugal Holidays, Portugal Travel, Visit Portugal | Romania: Romania Tours, Trips to Romania, Romania Holidays, Romania Travel, Visit Romania | Russia: Russia Tours, Trips to Russia, Russia Holidays, Russia Travel, Visit Russia | San Marino: San Marino Tours, Trips to San Marino, San Marino Holidays, San Marino Travel, Visit San Marino | Scotland: Scotland Tours, Trips to Scotland, Scotland Holidays, Scotland Travel, Visit Scotland | Serbia: Serbia Tours, Trips to Serbia, Serbia Holidays, Serbia Travel, Visit Serbia | Slovakia: Slovakia Tours, Trips to Slovakia, Slovakia Holidays, Slovakia Travel, Visit Slovakia | Slovenia: Slovenia Tours, Trips to Slovenia, Slovenia Holidays, Slovenia Travel, Visit Slovenia | Spain: Spain Tours, Trips to Spain, Spain Holidays, Spain Travel, Visit Spain | Sweden: Sweden Tours, Trips to Sweden, Sweden Holidays, Sweden Travel, Visit Sweden | Switzerland: Switzerland Tours, Trips to Switzerland, Switzerland Holidays, Switzerland Travel, Visit Switzerland | Turkey: Turkey Tours, Trips to Turkey, Turkey Holidays, Turkey Travel, Visit Turkey | United Arab Emirates: United Arab Emirates Tours, Trips to United Arab Emirates, United Arab Emirates Holidays, United Arab Emirates Travel, Visit United Arab Emirates | Wales: Wales Tours, Trips to Wales, Wales Holidays, Wales Travel, Visit Wales