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Rethymno adventures: Spili

Spili Village – A Cretan Retreat

A Cretan Retreat

Midway between Rethymno and Agia Galini, the pretty village of Spili is a relaxing, rejuvenating place. Authentic and largely untouched by major tourist developments (apart from the coaches that bring day-trippers on their way to and from the south coast), Spili quietly combines its low-key tourism with being a market town and administrative hub for the local agricultural industry.

Scenic Beauty and Refreshing Springs

Set below the towering Vorizis mountain, Spili is most famous for the cooling spring waters that cascade from sculpted lion-head fountains at the village’s main plateia – Kefalovrissi. The village boasts a stretch of pleasant cafes shaded by plane trees, offering fountain-side refreshments from morning to evening.

Spili’s location makes it an ideal stopping point for travelers heading to the south, particularly the Plakias and Preveli areas. Located just 11km from the entrance to the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, one of Crete’s most magnificent ravines, and east of the Amari valley (the historic village of Gerakari is easily accessed from here), Spili is at the crossroads of central western Crete.

Explore Spili’s Rich History

For a glimpse into how rural life was lived in Crete centuries ago, a visit to the town’s eccentric Folk Museum is recommended. Located at the northern end of town up a cobbled alleyway, the museum is a treasure trove of vintage artifacts, some dating back more than 200 years, all lovingly cared for by the museum’s creator and enthusiastic guide, Manolis. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Local Folk Handicrafts

Folk handicrafts are a specialty of the village, and excellent traditional fabric shops can be found on the main street.

Best Bites

Discover the authentic flavors of Spili at these local establishments:

  • Kafeneio Raftis: Join the elders of Spili’s community for a Greek coffee or mezzedes with raki at this classic traditional no-frills kafenio on the main street. Cretan hospitality doesn’t get more authentic.
  • Mylos Cafe: Easy going, friendly, and contemporary, Mylos makes a perfect snack stop opposite the gushing lions’ heads. Enjoy good coffee and breakfasts. Tel. 2832 022481
  • Taverna Maria & Kostas: Maria & Kostas’ taverna, with its red checkered tables set on their leafy road-side terrace, serves traditional Cretan favorites at rock-bottom prices. It’s family-run, simple, and friendly. Tel. 2832 022436
  • Taverna Yiannis: The Maravelakis family are the perfect hosts at this popular taverna that has a loyal following of devotees. Value for money Cretan favorites are found at this restaurant in the center of town. Tel. 2832 022707
  • To Sideradiko: This is traditional Cretan cuisine at its best, lovingly prepared by owner and chef Nikos who beckons guests to his open kitchen to view the amazing range of delights on offer. Located on the left as you head out of town towards Agia Galini. Tel. 697 369 7116

COVID-19 Considerations

As Greece continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and with precautionary measures possibly in force, people wishing to visit museums and similar locations are advised to contact the organization directly to confirm accessibility.

Photo: Tango7174/Wikimedia

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