When you wander into Cook’s Club, it’s like walking in to a different world. You step through the quirky shipping container entrance and suddenly find yourself surrounded by leafy plants, colourful rustic rugs (yes, outside!) and striped hammocks. And although the hotel’s an escape in itself, it’s definitely worth exploring the local area to soak up some of Crete’s stunning sights. It’s an island full of history, culture and incredible food, so make sure you choose one of my top picks below for things to do in Crete; from cheeses to caves, there’s something incredible for you to experience.
#1/ Traditional villages
No trip to one of the Greek Islands is complete without a visit somewhere completely authentic. I headed up the mountain to the village of Kastamonista to experience this for myself. I think the thing I love most about Crete is the fact that so many of these villages seem to be near enough self-sufficient. Wild herbs growing by the roadside, bunches of grapes hanging from vines over walls, zesty limes ready and waiting to be picked. Stop by the tiny church, eat at a traditional taverna and befriend the locals.
#2/ Goat Valley
Goats. Dozens of them. When I paid them a visit, they descended on me from the mountain top, hooves clattering and bells ringing. Luckily I was armed with some kernels of corn, which were hastily nabbed when I held out my hand; they’re really friendly and it’s lovely to see animals trotting around in their natural habitat. Soon after, I was taken to a cheese farm higher in the mountains where I found the tastiest, freshest cheese I’ve ever had. I’d definitely recommend buying some for the onward journey like I did!
#3/ Zeus’ cave
You can’t take a trip to Crete without delving into Ancient Greek mythology. I took a trip up to Psychro Cave, which is supposedly the birthplace of Zeus; it’s an ancient Minoan landmark in the Lasithi plateau. First, there was a short (but fairly steep) climb to the top, so make sure you wear some decent trainers! Then we descended into the cave. It’s near enough in darkness aside from the small spotlights that lit up thousands of stalactites dangling above me. I suppose we’ll never know for sure if Zeus really was born here, but it really was an amazing experience.
#4/ Nearby nightlife
Now, we’ve covered what you can get up to in the day, but at night, the vibe in Crete is totally different. Cook’s Club is a great place to get the party started and enjoy a good drink around the pool with chilled vibes, but there are also lots of cool bars right on your doorstep to keep the fun going long into the night. Palm and New York Beach Club in Hersonissos are my absolute favourites and the perfect place to unwind after a long day packed with culture. And don’t forget to stop for some gyros on the way home: your future hungover self will thank you.
5/ Elafonissi Beach
Okay, I must admit, it’s a bit of a trek… but trust me, it’s so worth it. If you’re interested in doing something a bit further away, hire a car and take the four-hour journey to the west coast of Crete to discover Elafonissi Beach. Here you’ll find rippling turquoise waves, pink-hued sands and shores peppered with lush, green vegetation. It sounds almost too good to be true, but trust me, it exists. When the tide’s out, sometimes you can reach the island without even getting your toes wet. Your Instagram will be the talk of the town.
So, have I convinced you to do any of these things in Crete? Do you have any recommendations of your own to add to my top 5 list? Let me know in the comments below.