What to see and do in Crete

The harbour at Makrigialos
The harbour at Makrigialos

Crete - Kríti - is the largest and most southerly of the Greek islands and therefore forms the boundary between the Ægean and Libyan seas that separate Europe from Africa.

On Crete you will find that the ancient landscape changes at every turn. Huge mountains in the centre of the island are split by deep gorges and fertile valleys stretching down to the coast where you will find rocky inlets, pebble coves and vast expanses of sandy beaches edged by a warm, azure sea.

The climate is one of the mildest and healthiest in the whole of Europe. Summer days awash in brilliant sunlight, swimming in clear calm water and nights redolent of jasmine and honeysuckle. The beautiful island of Crete offers restful and exciting times for all who visit, and when you have been once, we are sure that you will want to come again and again.


When translated into English 'Makrigialos' (seen also as 'Makrygialos' or 'Makri Yialos') means 'Long Beach'. Whilst our village was once just a small cluster of fishermens houses it is now considered to be one of the loveliest seaside resorts in south-eastern Crete. The gently sloping and sandy beach offers shallow and safe bathing to make it perfect for families with younger children. During the summer season you will find all kinds of beach activities such as water skiing, wind surfing, 'banana rides', para sailing and boat hire.

Market day at Makrigialos
Market day at Makrigialos

The village has numerous tavernas, bars and cafes for breakfast, lunch and dinner or a snack at anytime. However, one thing you will not find in Makrigialos are discos and nightclubs. Therefore, if you are looking for a noisy and hectic night-life then Makrigialos is probably not for you.

We have a variety of shops along the main road and everything for most of your daily needs can be found here. You will find a dentist, doctor, photo shop, butcher, hairdresser, wine shop, petrol station, fruit market, bank (National Bank of Greece), and souvenir shops. There is also a lively street market on Friday mornings.

The first evidence of a settlement at Makrigialos can be found at the Minoan Villa dating from the Late Minoan period (1550-1450 BC). Near the church, on the hill behind our houses, Roman remains have also been found. This domestic establishment dates from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD.

Today Makrigialos makes its income from olive oil and glass houses producing cucumbers, tomatoes and green peppers for export during winter. There is also tourism and a little fishing. In the autumn 'raki' is made, but this, unfortunately, is only for local consumption.


Nikos, our resident manager, can organise car rentals (Hertz) as well as excursions to other parts of the island for you. Nikos can also give advice and the times of local bus services.

The towns of Ierapetra (25 minutes by car) and Sitia (45 minutes by car) have everything you might need that you have not been able to find in Makrigialos. Taxis can also be booked for the airports at Heraklion (120 km) or Sitia (55 km) for pick-up and returns.

History and mythology of Crete

The history and mythology of Crete stretch back to ancient times. Zeus was born in the cave of Dikteo Andro and it was here that he brought Europa when he carried her off from the coast of Asia.

The Minoan civilisation flourished here between 3000 and 1050 BC. The Minoans built the palaces of Phaistos, Malia, Zakros and of course, Knossos, home of Theseus, the Labyrinth and the Minotaur. For more information see our articles on the Minoan civilisation and King Minos.

Iraklion, the Cretan capital, was the birthplace of the sixteenth century painter, El Greco (Domenicos Theotocopoulos). Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of 'Zorba the Greek', the poet Kornaros and the writer Prevelakis were also born on the Island.

Further reading

For further information, the AA World Travel Guide, 'Explorer Crete' is highly recommended. Written by Christopher Somerville, it has an in-depth guide to all the best places in Crete plus lively writing about the people, history and traditions. There are also star ratings for top sights, suggested walks and drives, town plans and maps, essential travel facts, a large sheet map and a great many colour photographs.