Crete is a very special island, very far from that image of white houses and blue domes that reach the sea so typical of many other Greek islands. Crete has magnificent cities that preserve the imprint of Venetians and Ottomans. It has wonderful beaches and an important archaeological heritage. But its attractions do not end there. In this post I am going to show you the most rural side of the island and I am going to tell you about the most beautiful towns in Crete . They may not be white, but I assure you that they all have something special.

The most beautiful towns in Crete

I already told you that in Crete you have to forget about the whitewashed houses. In the most beautiful towns in Crete you will find small Orthodox churches, stone houses, ruined monasteries and streets in which oleanders and bougainvilleas are the protagonists.

Before organizing our trip by G Adventures I had not heard of any of the towns I am going to mention. G Adventures local guides recommended  to visit them, and I can’t do anything other than make them known so that they are not forgotten. The good thing about any of these towns is that you can get there by car in a short distance from other essential places on the island and from those beaches in Crete that attract so many travelers.

Arhanes, a getaway near Heraklion

This town built on the ruins of an ancient Minoan palace is quite close to the famous Palace of Knossos and the Cretan capital. It is undoubtedly one of the places to see in Heraklion if you have a little time to discover the surroundings of the city.

Many of the houses in this town have been rebuilt. Some of them are now antique stores. Others have been occupied by taverns. Just wander through the oldest part of the town, somewhat labyrinthine, to find narrow streets, museums, churches and charming corners flooded with flowers.

Although several of its taverns are located in the modern Arhanes Square, I encourage you to go to Tsikritzi Street. There are also several taverns there, some frequented by locals (men only). You will find months in the shade of the vines.

Argyroupolis, another of the most beautiful towns in Crete

Not far from Rethymno you can visit one of the most beautiful towns in Crete : Argyroupolis. Its location, surrounded by mountains, is truly spectacular. You have to dare to walk uphill to reach the viewpoint next to the church and the clock tower that dominate the town.

the most beautiful towns in Crete

The streets to get to the top are a real labyrinth. Here and there they branch off and one is never clear where to continue. But it does not matter. No matter which path you choose, a picturesque house, a colored door or a facade covered in flowers will always appear.

the most beautiful towns in Crete

To finish the visit to this town, it is worth traveling to the Argyroupolis waterfalls. They are not spectacular, but the place is very pleasant, wooded and cool. There are many taverns and in all of them you can choose which fish to eat in one of their fish tanks or enjoy grilled meat made on original grills in view of customers.

Margarites, the town of potters

Another of the most beautiful towns in Crete to see around Rethymno is Margarites. A town famous for its artisans and a stop worth making if you also intend to visit the Arkadi Monastery, one of the most interesting on the island.

Margarites revolves around its 14th century church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist (Agios Ioannis Theologos). Streets that go up and down, taverns and facades in which the twenty artisans of the town exhibit their works. There are simple and more traditional objects, from suns to birds. You can also see and of course purchase other more elaborate and exclusive works.

Some potters work in the shop itself, which allows you to see the techniques used. Even if someone is encouraged to practice, courses are offered in some of the workshops. To complete the visit, you cannot miss a stop at a tavern to have a fresh beer and some of the typical dishes of Greek gastronomy. 

Spili, the most beautiful village near Rethymno

Only 27 kilometers separate Spili, one of the most beautiful towns in Crete , from Rethymno. The route leaves the coast behind to enter the mountains. It is in them where Spili is located, surrounded by a landscape that can be seen from various points in the town.

On its main street, the taverns and flowers attract attention. It is clear that there is no beautiful Greek town that is not dyed pink thanks to bougainvillea . Also on that street is the Spili Monastery. Admission is free and its church is usually open. It is worth walking around the grounds to enjoy a good panoramic view of the surroundings.

Come on, one of the most beautiful towns in Crete

Vamos is located between Chania and Rethymno. A picturesque town in which several old buildings have been preserved and restored. One of them is precisely the one occupied by the Tourist Office. The perfect place to go in this town to gather information and request a map.

Vamos was occupied by the Turks, after having been a land of pirates centuries before. The local people did not accept the Ottoman presence and fought to regain their freedom, something they achieved in 1896. Their heritage, with public buildings that have neoclassical elements and elegant houses, allows the visitor to walk through old cobbled streets in which, of course, , oleanders and bougainvilleas grow.

the most beautiful towns in Crete

In the old town you can easily differentiate those that were houses of the rich ( conakia ), large and elegant, from those that belonged to neighbors with fewer resources ( kamarospita , one-room house).

Three kilometers from Vamos, you should not miss visiting the Monastery of San Jorge. It is a quiet, well-kept place, with a small church and some attractive ruins in the part that was the oil mill of the monastery. Entry to the building costs €2 and there is a free parking area next to the monastery. If you want a planned  trip then I would recommend you G Adventure. They will make your trip easy and enjoyable in affordable tour package.