Koutouloufari is a village in Crete with the ideal balance of authentic Cretan lifestyle and convenient access to the most popular towns in Crete. Koutouloufari is found between Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos and is the ideal place to explore both cities. The area has many activities and sights and gives you access to the mountains in Crete too.
Where is Koutouloufari?
Koutouloufari is 45 minutes from Knossos and the Minoan Palace on the north coast of the island of Crete. More specifically, Koutouloufari is 20 minutes from the well-known CretAquarium, as well as many of Crete’s best beaches. Closeby are a variety of archaeological sites and traditional villages with great Cretan cuisine.
The closest village to Koutouloufari is Piskopiano. The two villages are like one long village, since they have grown together. Many tourists stop in Piskopiano on the way to Koutoulofari for a meal at an authentic Cretan taverna.
Getting to Koutouloufari
Koutouloufari is also easy to access from the Heraklion International Airport. If you rent a car, you will be able to explore the surrounding region and visit beaches easily. You can rent a car at the airport. If you are traveling in the high season, it’s a good idea to book online in advance. Check out our complete guide to renting a car in Greece here.
What to Do and See in Koutouloufari
Museums and Churches in Koutouloufari
One of the best sights to see in Koutouloufari is the Church of Saint Vasilios. It was built in 1840 and many murals there are over a century old. A great next stop is the Lychnostatis Traditional Museum, which shows visitors the history of the Cretan way of life.
Golfing Near Koutouloufari
On the island of Crete in Hersonissos, the Crete Golf Club is different from all the other courses in Greece because it is a desert course. Surrounding the golf course are rolling Cretan mountains. The Crete Golf Club has challenges for players of all skill levels and a wealth of luxury hotels in the area where you can stay if you visit. For more of the top golf courses in Crete, click here.
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
Just 30 minutes away from Koutouloufari village, the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is a great place to visit to see artifacts from the Neolithic and the Roman period, but also Minoan pieces, like the “blue ladies”. It is worth also visiting the palace of Knossos during your visit, and also to stop for a lunch in an authentic Cretan taverna at the nearby village of Archanes.
Palace of Knossos
The Palace of Knossos is the symbol of the Minoan Civilization. It is one of the most visited sights in Crete. Because of its use of luxury materials (at the time), unique architecture, and impressive size, it used to be the home of the great King Minos and supposedly it is where the Minotaur lived.
Beaches Near Koutoloufari
The beach of Malia is a wide beach with fine sand and calm waters. It is one of the more crowded beaches in Crete, so there are a lot of sunbeds. You will of course find food service, massages, watersports, beach bars, and hotels right by the beach at Malia.
The Sarandaris Coves are slightly quieter than Malia, and are found 27 kilometers to the east of Heraklion. The waters are calm because they are protected from the northern winds. These coves are ideal for families and for couples looking for a typical Cretan beach.
The peaceful resort area of Anissaras is found 21 kilometers east of Heraklion, just west of Cape Sarandaris. So, it is slightly farther from Koutouloufari, but it is worth the extra driving to reach Anissaras. The area is popular for large hotels, which are often right next to the beach. All the beaches in this area are organized and have umbrellas and sunbeds, some of which are free for those staying at the hotels.
Hersonissos is also one of the most popular resort towns in northern Crete. It is busy and takes up a couple kilometers of coastline, reachable in about 30 minutes from the Heraklion International airport. The name “Hersonissos” means “Peninsula” in Greek. There is a small village with the same name inland with the name “Old Hersonissos.”
What to do in Hersonissos
Hersonissos has plenty of beaches, a modern town with many shops for tourists, clothing stores and restaurants offering both local and international food, as well as many bars and nightclubs. Be aware that Hersonissos will be busy in the summertime, especially at the beach. Large luxury hotels can be found in the area, as well as Crete’s most popular golf course.
Other Activities near Hersonissos
If you are traveling with children, Hersonissos is a great area because of the two Water Parks, as well as the Hersonissos Aquarium the giant CretAquarium in Gournes. For the adults, there are plenty of bars and Irish pubs in the town center, some which stay open until the early hours of the morning.
Where to Stay in Koutouloufari: Villa Ippocampi
Villa Ippocampi is a small hotel on the edge of Koutouloufari, with friendly owners, a lovely cafe, a swimming pool, and spacious rooms. In the early 1980’s, Nikos Psaltakis built his hotel “Villa Ippocampi” about one kilometer from the beach, so people had their doubts at first. However, now that the water is so crowded with resorts and noisy bars, this became the ideal escape with access to the water if needed.
Villa Ippocampi Style
The hosts Nikos and his Dutch wife Lydia are a charming pair, offering Greek hospitality and welcome drinks. The garden is filled with flowers and rooms are a peaceful escape for visitors to Crete’s northern coast. Wooden furniture and kitchenettes make the rooms stylish and romantic, especially when coupled with the olive branches and bougainvilleas that are placed outside.
The Villa has a select number of rooms available and is adults-only. It focuses on eco-friendly technologies for its pool and hot water heating, and the greywater from the rooms is used again to water the olive groves.