What makes Platanias so special
A century-old characteristic of the Greek people is their hospitality , a unique feature coming from thousands of years ago, travelling through the centuries in their genes .
Hospitality in Crete – and, of course Platanias- has nothing to do with accommodation or finding a nice place to stay . You will be impressed by the warm welcome the people offer visitors, their friendliness, their kindness, their smile and their generosity. It explains the treat offered in the local restaurants , taverns etc at the end of your meal. They bring you a small bottle of “tsikoudia” (or “raki” as it is also called) -a local alcoholic drink – along with other “goodies”, free of charge , to show their pleasure at having you with them. After all, Zeus himself , the ancient god – father of all gods and humans –had declared that visitors were sacred and should be treated accordingly !
Platanias is well known for its long stretches of sandy beaches which extend all along the northern coast , from Platanias Village itself westwards right along the neighbouring villages of Gerani, Maleme, Tavronitis and Kamissiana up to Kolymbari .The cleanliness of these beaches and the crystal clear waters of the sea have righteously earned them “blue flags” and attract visitors from all over the world – visitors who come back to Platanias year after year for their holidays. Let’s have a closer look :
- Platanias Beach : Golden sands and crystal clear waters extending for kilometers along the northern coast with restaurants and taverns serving delicious food as well as cafeterias where you can relax and enjoy ice cream, refreshments or coffee.
- Gerani Village Beach : 1.5 kms of fine sand and, in some spots, pebbles. There are deck chairs and umbrellas available as well as taverns and cafeterias.
- Maleme Beach : 1000 metres of clean sands, pebbles and waters ,with a blue flag award for enjoyable swimming and relaxation.
- Tavronitis village Beach : a well- organized beach with small or bigger pebbles , deck chairs and umbrellas as well as cafeterias, taverns etc. , ideal for quiet , relaxing holidays.
- Rapaniana village Beach : combining sand and pebbles, this beach is far away from the noise of most crowded beaches along the northern coast of the island and, if you don’t mind the seasonal winds (called meltemia ) , then it’s ideal for quiet family holidays.
- Kolymbari village Beach : Apart from other sights and monuments such as the “Gonia” Monastery and the Orthodox Academy of Crete , the Kolymbari village shore is lined with picturesque traditional taverns where you can enjoy delicious sea food and local cuisine dishes cooked with top quality ingredients produced locally. There are also numerous cafeterias serving coffee , refreshments, ice cream or snacks.
- 7.Afrata village Beach : a secluded sandy beach only 3 kms away from Kolymbari, ideal for swimming and relaxation .
- 8.Menies or Diktynna Beach : pebble beach with clear waters on the spot where,centuries ago, there existed a temple dedicated to the goddess Diana.
- 9.Ravdouha village Beach :a quiet beach of pebbles, open to seasonal winds but with a rocky sea bottom , ideal for snorkeling.
The Platanias Municipality extends from the beaches on the northern coast of the island of Crete to the snow covered peaks of the Lefka Ori ( White Mountains) in the central- southern part of the island. Therefore, there is great diversity of landscape: the plains with the orange groves all around the Keritis River, the hills with the olive trees which produce extra virgin olive oil –famous worldwide for its miraculous qualities, the gorges and ravines , the amazing Omalos Plateau surrounded by the mountain range of the White Mountains.
The most important gorges and caves worth visiting are :
- The Samaria Gorge
The longest gorge in Europe with a total length of 18 kilometres . Its entrance lies in the Omalos Plateau and it is home to many unique specimens of the local fauna and flora as well as endangered species such as the local wild goat known as “kri-kri”.
- The Messavlia- Deliana Gorge
Its entrance lies just outside the Messavlia village to the west of Platanias village (approximately 20 kms away). It’s easy to walk through and admire the plane trees and chestnut trees as well as the local flora which is at its prime in spring. The exit of the gorge is at the Deliana village only 5 kms downhill from its entrance.
- The Cave of St. John the Hermit in Marathokefala Village near Kolymbari, approx. 20 kms west of Platanias village. It is a church built in the cave on the spot where the saint is believed to have lived for 3 years. In the cave there is a spring producing holy water believed to be miraculous and healing. A religious ceremony is held in this church on Christmas Eve every year , representing and honouring the birth of Christ.
- The Roka Village Gorge : a 2 km- long ravine starting from the village of Roka and ending, after a route among plane trees and many vertical cliffs, to the village of Deliana.
- The Vavouledo Ravine : a 6km-long ravine running alongside a little river, full of plane trees and rich in local flora , ending up in the village of Palia Roumata where traditional “tavernas” await the visitor offering special delicacies and samples of the famous Cretan cuisine .
- The Tzanis Gulch in Omalos : a vertical cavern extending to a length of 2500 metres and with a vertical drop of at least 280m. There are many legends connected with this cave.
Recent research carried out in seven countries all over the world shows that the Cretan diet is one of the best -or maybe the best –in the world helping the Cretans remain healthy and live longer than most other peoples. It is based on products grown locally such as olive oil, fruit and vegetables, dairy products, honey, nuts, herbs, wine. The star of the Cretan diet , however, is the extra virgin olive oil, produced on the island for centuries, which protects from serious diseases such as heart attacks and cancer.
There are many restaurants and taverns in and around Platanias whose delicious food is cooked exclusively with pure local ingredients. If you don’t try it , then you are missing out on the tastiest experience in the world . Here is some more specific information on our local products :
- Extra virgin Olive Oil :it is correctly believed, according to scientific research worldwide that the olive oil produced in Crete since ancient times is the secret of longevity , health and fitness. It not only protects against heart diseases by minimizing cholesterol levels , it is also one of the best anti-oxidants and ideal for people suffering from diabetes.
- Cereals : the Cretans have been known to consume large quantities of cereals in the form of bakery products (most of them wholemeal ) , bread , bread rolls and crisps. Who hasn’t heard of the “dakos” (rusk covered in olive oil, crushed tomato and topped with soft white cheese or feta cheese sprinkled with oregano) ? It is believed to be of the highest nutritional value.
- Fruit and vegetables : It goes without saying that the Cretans consume very big quantities of fruit and vegetables since there is such a huge diversity grown on the island. From tropical fruit like bananas and avocado to figs , dates, grapes, melons and water melons , not to mention the citrus fruit – these are but a few of the foods that supply them with all the necessary vitamins. Then, there are vegetables ,the consumption of which is triple that of the other peoples of Europe, all of the above ensuring that the Cretans get all the fibre, vitamins and minerals they need.
- Herbs : Crete has a great number of herbs , more than any other part of Europe. Local cuisine uses them in order to add flavour, aroma and important elements to the food they prepare. The most often used herbs are oregano, thyme, laurel, mint and fennel. Cretans enjoy a special kind of tea called “malotira” brewed with “mantzourana” or maybe some “diktamos” leaves- the most aromatic and healthiest herbs you have ever tasted .
- Honey :Thyme and many other varieties of honey have been produced on the island of Crete ever since the beginning of time so the Cretans are well acquainted with this superb product which, when consumed, helps kill microbes and viruses and enhances the circulatory system, the heart and the immune system .
- Dairy Products : The consumption of dairy products in Crete is greater than anywhere else in the world. The Cretans consume the delicious “graviera” cheese , the soft white cheese called “mizithra” , yoghurt –all of an exceptional taste and quality not to be found anywhere else.
- Wine : Ever since the Minoan era, wine has been produced in Crete – enough top quality wine to cover the needs of the locals but also to export to Western and Northern Europe.
Numerous shops in the heart of Platanias village give the visitor the opportunity to buy a great variety of top quality local products or even brand- name products at very reasonable prices. Do your shopping in Platanias and enjoy the best service and the best products at the best possible prices !
Apart from the pleasure of swimming in the crystal clear sea and lying in the sun on the sandy beaches, there are numerous other activities to enjoy while in Platanias: diving, walking, trekking , sightseeing and climbing are only some of them.
Culture- Religious Tourism
All year round there are numerous cultural activities in the villages of the Platanias Municipality where you can get a taste of the customs and traditions of our land. Religious events and ceremonies are worth attending as they give you the sense of the deep religious character of our people who have great faith without being fanatics in any way. This explains the many churches and chapels all over the villages of the Municipality. Celebrations on the occasion of the saints’ name days is usually connected with feasting , folk dancing and music.
Apart from the churches , many of them Byzantine and centuries old, there are many archaeological sites worth visiting as well as historical monuments –witnesses of the battles fought by the proud and brave Cretan people in defense of their land and freedom.
Visitors staying in Platanias can enjoy a very active night life in excellent night clubs. And, most important of all is the fact that they can feel safe in their entertainment since there are no extreme or unpleasant situations as is the case in other tourist resorts. Enjoy yourselves and leave all your worries behind!
The Platanias Football team is the pride of the locals, giving them the opportunity to enjoy football matches between the best teams from every part of Greece. If you are a football fan, then, during your stay, you will have the chance to enjoy them in action.
Monuments – Archaeological Sites
The island of Crete has a thousand- year-old history during which thousands of years, many enemies tried to conquer it but failed. Therefore, there are countless monuments- witnesses to all the events having taken place on the island and, of course many in the Platanias area. Some of the most significant ones are :
- Ancient Diktynna : an ancient temple dedicated to a Cretan goddess “Vritomartis” the counterpart of the Roman goddess Diana or the Greek Artemis. All that can be seen on the spot today are the remains of the temple as well as another Christian temple of St George- both were destroyed during attacks by pirates. However, there still exists a relatively secluded beach ideal for swimming and relaxing.
- A Tomb of the late Minoan Era : situated in Maleme village, this tomb proves how old the Cretan civilization is. All findings were taken and are kept for safety in the Archaeological Museum of Hania.
- The German Military Cemetery in Maleme : a monument of the more recent history of the land, on the top of a hill overlooking the Cretan Sea, is the burial ground of the German paratroopers and soldiers killed during the invasion and occupation of the island by the Nazis in May 1941 and all during World War II.
- The Fisheries Museum : located in Kolymbari village the Museum hosts collections of sea life specimens in an attempt to keep the fishing tradition of the village alive and to highlight the riches of the local sea bed . It also hosts exhibitions of contemporary Art in summer.
- “Olive and Olive Oil Factory” : a folklore museum located in Vatolakkos village which developed from a private collection and an old olive press, belonging to the Dermitzakis Family , into a folklore museum hosting collections of equipment, clothes and tools demonstrating the local rural life style of the Cretan countryside many years ago.
- “Olive Press “ : an old and deteriorating oil factory located in Dromonero village has been turned into a museum frequently hosting exhibitions of contemporary Art , attracting hundreds of local and foreign visitors.
- The Olive Museum in Vouves village : Privileged to have been set up right next to the “Monumental Olive Tree” aged at least 3500 years, both the tree and the museum attract thousands of visitors every year from all over the world. Small branches have been cut from this ancient olive tree on the occasion of the 2004 , 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games for the crowning of the athletes who won in each game, as it was customary to do in the Olympics in ancient Greece.
- The museum now hosts a collection of tools and equipment used in the past for the cultivation of the fields , the picking of the olive crop, the pressing of the olives for the production of oil, as well as the storage of this valuable product . It clearly shows the evolution in the history of olive growing and olive oil producing on the island of Crete from the very distant past till now.
- The Cretan Herbs Museum : the Orthodox Academy of Crete in Kolymbari hosts a unique collection of 9000 specimens of Cretan herbs . The museum is located right next to the Academy and the collection was donated to the museum by a French scientist who spent all his life studying the Cretan flora and collecting these specimens .
- Information Center of the National Park of the Lefka Ori in Omalos : situated at the entrance of the Samaria Gorge , it is actually a museum of Natural History , providing its visitors with information on the fauna and flora of the Gorge and the surrounding area.
- Museum of the Nazi Occupation ; situated under the church of Agios Demetrios in Upper Platanias village, it’s a memorial worth visiting in order to get the feeling of all the hardships the locals went through at the time. It was first built as a shelter and was recently reconstructed in order to be turned into a museum of the Nazi atrocities during the war and the Occupation.