Amari, rethymno, crete, greece

Lying between the Aegean and Libyan Sea, Crete is the largest island in Greece and the 5th in the Mediterranean. Famous for its bright sun, clear blue seas, healthy diet and Minoan civilization sites it has been very popular among tourists for decades.

But the real jewel lies inland. Away from the main tourist track, little villages hidden amidst beautiful valleys or perched on the mountainous landscape, enjoy an ideal climate and preserve the authentic Cretan lifestyle.

High mountains, like Idi and the Lefka Ori, have created valleys, green plateaus, impressive gorges and unique coastlines.
• Amari Valley (see description of Amari, below).
• Samaria Gorge, a World Biosphere Reserve, is 16km long (5-6hr average walking), extending from Omalos Plateau to the Libyan sea.
• Lasithi Plateau, on Dikti Mt, overlooks Eastern Crete.
• Vai is the largest Palm Forest in Europe, lying beside a golden beach at the far eastern point of the island.
• The magnificent Southern Coastline is a major attraction where the mountains descend steeply into the transparent waters.


The Minoans graced Europe with its first civilization, 4000 years ago.
• Knossos and Faistos Palaces are the main sites of the Minoan Era.
• The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion houses most of the finds, including the Knossos Frescoes and the Faistos Disc.
The Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman periods left also significant monuments and hundreds of churches and monasteries.
• Rethymnon and Chania Venetian Towns and Fortresses.
• Heraklion Venetian Port and Walls.
• Rethymnon’s 4 mosques.
• The Loggia and St. Titus in Heraklion
• Arkadi, Toplou and Agia Triada Monasteries.


The island is divided into two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African. It is considered one of the healthiest climates in Europe, with temperatures around the high 20s (deg. Celsius) in spring and autumn and, sometimes, up to the high 30s (deg. Celsius) in the summer. Rain (and rarely snow) falls mostly during winter months, while in the summer, usually, there is no rain at all.


Rethymnon (city population 30.000) is located in the centre of Crete, offering easy access to the whole island. It combines endless sandy beaches and crystal clear waters along with amazing landscapes in the mountains.
Among a wide range of historical monuments, the most renowned is Rethymnon’s Old town. Being the best preserved Venetian town in Greece, it is a charming blend of Renaissance and Ottoman architecture with narrow streets, mosques, piazzas and fountains.
The scenic Amari valley, in the heart of Crete, lies between 2 mountains: Psiloritis (Idi) and Kedros, both belonging to the Natura 2000 protected areas. The clean environment and the healthy climate are ideal for relaxing, walking, climbing, cycling, or exploring by car. Numerous paths, starting from Amari and the nearby villages will guide you to magnificent natural sites (plateaus, caves, mountaintops, gorges, etc).
The coast is also accessible, due to the location of the village, in the middle of the island. 
Amari village itself (altitude 450m) is one of the most picturesque and unspoiled in Crete, with interesting architecture and unsurpassed tranquillity. In the main square there is a “kafeneion” (coffee shop) beside the old school and the giant pine trees. 


The area is rich in history, with several sites of the Minoan and Byzantine era. 
• The Minoan town of Syvritos (meaning “sweet water”) near the village of Thronos (7km).
• The Minoan palace, discovered in the nearby village of Monastiraki (2km). 
• The “Veni” monastery (10km) is located beside a unique plateau, featuring a temple in a cave with stalactites.
• Some of the major archaeological sites of Crete are within an hour's drive from Amari: Arkadi monastery (20min), Festos Minoan Palace and Agia Triada Royal Villa (55min), the Roman capital of Gortys (50min), Eleftherna’s Minoan city of the dead (30min), Preveli monastery (55min), Rethymnon's old Venetian town, fortress and Paleontological museum (45min).


The layout of Amari lanscape is exceptional. It is a charming mixture of high mountains, hillsides, small rivers and green fields. The most common trees found are olives, oaks and cypresses and the whole scene is decorated in springtime with countless wild flowers. 
Among the points of interest are:
• “Agios Antonios” ravine (20min drive) which begins beside an ancient temple’s ruins and crosses a dense forest, featuring waterfalls, bird watching points and pic-nic facilities.
• “Potamoi” lake (20min drive) is a refuge and immigration station for birds, suitable for walking or cycling.
• “Psiloritis” Mt. dominates the area, being the highest point in Crete and crossed by the international E4 path. Deeply immersed in myths and legends, it is the home of the last surviving bearded vultures and golden eagles. The “Timios Stavros” summit (2456m) is a challenge (3-5hr ascending), but you will need a special local guide for that. On a clear day, the view is unlimited, extending all over Crete to the Aegean and Libyan Sea.
• “Kedros” Mt. (1777m), also crossed by the E4, is wild and rocky near the top, traced by canyons and is a nest for falcons and eagles. But in its lower area it is peaceful, forming little valleys with springs and fruit trees. 
• “Kourtaliotiko gorge” (30min drive) takes its name from “kourtala” a hand clap sound created by the wind passing through numerous caves. Go deep down (500 steps) to find the 5 sources of the river and the waterfall.


• The Agios (Saint) Titos celebration on 25th of August, features an open air traditional music and dance gathering, held in the main square with lots of food and wine. Similar feasts take place in all nearby villages during the summer.
• During the Easter period, a series of traditional events leads eventually to the impressive “Judas burning”.
• The Renaissance festival, held in Rethymnon’s old town (July-September) offers a lot of music and theatre performances.


• The village is considered quite safe for kids due to its limited traffic. There is a playground and a basic basketball court.
• Also, the schoolyard is available for playing (and visible from the villas). 


• In Agia Fotini village ( 4km drive ) one can find the town hall, medical services, pharmacy, gas station, 2 super markets, butcher's, local products etc.
• Police station in Amari village.


• Fresh bread is delivered every day to the “kafeneion” and merchants with groceries, fruits and fresh fish pass through the village square several times a week.
• With the help of the housekeeper, you can buy directly from local farmers dairy products, eggs, herbs, nuts, wine, etc. 


• Amari has an unexplored character and we will be happy to provide information to make your stay more exciting. Ask us about car hire and destinations, sights and nature, activities and events, taverns and products, local guides, etc.
• If you are planning to rent a car (which is recommended) it would be an asset to choose a 4x4 vehicle, in order to explore the roads less travelled in the mountains.


• Feel the up tempo rhythm of Heraklion, a non-stop melting-pot of old and modern styles.
• Experience an evening wander through the old town of Rethymnon's narrow streets, with its countless bars and taverns.
• Join the throngs of evening strollers in Chania’s Venetian port.


• Cretaquarium is a modern facility preserving all kinds of Mediterranean Sea life.
• The Observatory of the University of Crete, on Skinakas summit (1750m, on Idi mountain), opens to the public 5 Sundays each summer, giving the opportunity to get a glimpse of space, through the large telescope. 


• You can reach Rethymnon's sandy beaches in 25-45 min or 
• Explore the magnificent southern coastline (Plakias, Preveli Palm Forest, Triopetra, Ligres, Damnoni) in 60 min.


• In the surrounding area (2-5km) you can find a number of small tavernas with genuine Cretan food.
• In almost every village there is a typical "kafeneion" serving coffee, refreshments, home made "raki", wine and little local dishes. 
• In Amari village’s square (50m), there is a "kafeneion" and a new little tavern is expected to be in operation next year.