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Zaros south of Heraklion in Crete

Zaros (2,100 inhabitants) is my favourite village in Heraklion regional unit, and not only that, it's also one of my favourites in the whole of Crete. Not that the village is particularly beautiful, there are more beautiful villages in Crete, but for the reason that Zaros is a perfect base for exploring other parts of Crete.


Restaurants and tavernas at the main street in Zaros. Crete.

The main street in Zaros.



There are, of course, other reasons, such as that the food at the tavernas is delicious, the locals are extremely friendly, there are many good accommodation options and there is much to see and do in the immediate area. If you like hiking, do not miss Rouvas Gorge close by Zaros.

I wrote that the village itself is not particularly beautiful, but you should not take it literally. Zaros is a living Greek village with all that comes with it, and it can also be beautiful, in another way. Here, the Greek everyday life is going on around the clock, just as it has always done, and that is precisely what is Zaros' greatness.


Water from Zaros in Crete.

View of Zaros.

The village is divided into two parts separated by an invisible line. The lower part is more rural and has no facilities, in the upper part there is more hustle and bustle, and it is here that all shops, cafes, ouzerias and tavernas are located. Most revolves around the main street that runs through the village. A nice ouzeria that attracts both villagers and tourists lies at the beginning of the main street. Opposite is an extremely nice fountain where you can refill water if you are passing through. If you are staying in Zaros, you refill water from the tap.

Further up the street lies Taverna Vegera. It is a small restaurant with a big culinary heart. Here I have eaten some of the best meals in Greece. I could imagine going here just to eat at Vegera. Believe it or not, there is actually a restaurant that is even better than Vegera, and that is Eleonas, which I think is one of Crete's best restaurants.


Votamos lake in Zaros where you can eat trout. Crete.

Votamos lake in Zaros where you can eat trout.



A few kilometres north of Zaros is a lush park and lake called Votamos, here you have the opportunity to eat trout, or maybe just have a cup of coffee while you enjoy the beautiful surroundings.


There are two hotels in Zaros that stand out from the crowd, and that is Eleonas and Keramos. Both are worth the whole trip to Zaros.

Book Keramos here »

Book Eleonas here »

Book other hotels in Zaros here »


Eleonas Hotel & Restaurant in Zaros. Crete.

Eleonas Hotel & Restaurant in Zaros.


About 17 kilometres east of Zaros lies the village of Agia Varvara. Agia Varvara is located approximately in the centre of Crete, and is commonly referred to as the omphalos (navel) of Crete. Seventeen kilometres is not far, so you understand that Zaros is also near the centre of Crete, and is therefore an excellent base. It is 47 kilometres to Heraklion.

If you like to hike, don't miss the gorge of Rouvas nearby Zaros. If you are interested in birding, you will find an interesting bird spot at Faneromenis lake south of Zaros. You will find the nearest beaches in Kalamaki and Matala.


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