Holidays in Crete are synonymous to long hours under the warm sun, relaxing at exotic sandy beaches and enjoying the refreshing Mediterranean sea. A visit to the mountains to explore traditional villages is probably not on the list of many holidaymakers. However, some of these villages are so close to the beach, it would be a shame to miss them! Dedicate an afternoon to explore the village of Krasi or the village of Avdou, both a 20 minute drive from Malia, and perhaps you will decide to come again!
The village of Krasi
Situated at the foot of Mount Selena in an altitude of 600 m, Krasi is located about 12km from Malia. Park your car at the main square, rest under the shade of the plane trees and fill your bottles with fresh mountain water at the monumental fountain. Take a souvenir picture under the majestic plane tree, a monument of Nature protected by the state. Krasi is also known as a “literary” village, as famous Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis spent several summers with his friends here, writing and resting. Many other writers and intellectuals followed his example, leading to the creation of “The House of Literature” in 2009, a residence that accommodates new writers and intellectuals who continue to come here to work. The residence building dates back to 1882 and is an example of traditional architecture. Take a stroll at the village lanes to see more traditional houses and enchanting gardens. At the main square you will find cafes and traditional taverns, serving Cretan dishes cooked in a wood oven. Finally, you should know that the village of Krasi belongs to a protected natural area (NATURA 2000) and is surrounded by a beautiful forest of evergreen oaks and kermes oaks with several walking trails to explore.
The village of Avdou
The beautiful village of Avdou can be described as a labyrinth of traditional Cretan architecture, with countless narrow lanes to walk and beautiful corners to discover. It is located in a semi-mountainous area, at the foot of Mt. Selena, in an altitude of 230m. Today Avdou has about 300 residents that are mainly occupied in the agro-pastoral sector. The area is actually famous for its high quality olive oil, vegetables and wine production. Avdou is a historical village with roots to the Minoan period, as indicated by archaeological findings. Here you can see valuable monuments of Byzantine art at the temples of the area, such as the Church of Agios Konstantinos, built in 1445, and the Church of Ag. Georgios with 14th – 15th century frescoes. It is also worth visiting the temple of Agia Anna, partly built in a cave, and the beautiful Panagia Kera Monastery. Avdou is situated in the lovely Lagada valley, a perfect place to try activities such as trekking, biking and horse-riding. If you get hungry, there are several traditional taverns and cafes in the village, serving a variety of Cretan dishes. Finally, you should know that Avdou has a rich cultural life and an active association that organizes many events and Cretan music concerts in the summer, but the most famous is definitely the 15th of August Cretan feast, an experience you will never forget!