As Digital Nomads, there is one thing we crave – that perfect location to while the working days away. You don’t have to change your job to change your location. With more people becoming remote, now more than ever is it the perfect time to chase that dream life.
As a digital freelancer, I’ve spent years searching for the perfect base. Basking on beaches, dipping my toes into warm turquoise waters, discovering local gastronomy, and looking for that all-important experience. This time I checked on the Covid–safe island of Crete. The remote experts at Work from Crete had all the information I needed. So, when I had the opportunity to take a three-month sabbatical from the office, I jumped at the chance to settle in the capital of Crete, just a 3hrs flight from London! Felt like a digital queen, around and about the Minoan Palace.
Crete for Digital Nomads
The charming island that floats in the middle of the Mediterranean barely needs an introduction. The history in Crete is fascinating, the food is out of this world, and the weather is perfect all year round. But, not everyone knows just how ideal Crete is as a home for a Digital Nomad, and I’m here to share the scoop.
Certain aspects of a city are important for a life as a Digital Nomad and Crete has all these things and more.
- The cost of living – excellently affordable day & night life
- Working / Co-working spaces – in city hotels, business areas are usual. In case though, you wish to transform your room into a working friendly environment all you have to do is ‘ask’. Nothing is trouble for Greek hotels’ hosts.
- Activities and lifestyle – Gorging, Mountain hiking, Sea sports, oil & raki making
- Transportation costs and accessibility – car hire is super affordable
- Great connection – to the WiFi AND the people!
It’s safe to say that the hospitality and passion for life here in Crete sends it to the top of the list.
A home away from home
Crete has fabulous facilities, from large villas to independent boutique hotels and apartments by the seaside; long-term residence is easy to find. I took a cozy room at the fabulous port side Lato Annex Boutique Rooms. Which meant I was calm – as there were only 25 rooms on the property – and excellent catering service from the Herbs Garden Restaurant and 626 All Day Lounge.
Location was ideal, a minute away from the historical part of the city and the port.
Since I was staying a while, I signed up for the hotel’s K-club app., which gave me access to local perks and made navigating to the excursion options so much easier! All info was there! How to get to the nearby islands, the available activities and best restaurants.
Greece is a living museum. Wonder why not all cities have a museum! That was the case for Crete too. After all Minoan civilization was among the first of Ancient Greece’s (3.000BC). Heraklion is full of historical archaeological sites such as Palace of Knossos, Festos, Gortys.
I’ve been around the Palace of Knossos with not another person in sight – it felt like a piece of history was placed
Living here out of the holiday season means I can beat the crowds and soak up that ever covetable local experience and work remotely at the same time. Exploring every corner of the city and its culture became a passion project and funny how it boosted my energy, productivity, and imagination.
Once I had discovered the highlights, I was ready to see the real Crete. there just for me.
Embracing the laptop lifestyle in Crete
If there’s one thing you need to rely on as a Digital Nomad, it’s a strong internet connection. Many of us work from our laptops so the perfect base is key. It’s so refreshing to bury your feet in the cool sand whilst you sip on an iced coffee, but if you keep hitting that refresh bar and Google refuses to load, you’re lost. I had the perfect base to work from in my comfy home away from home at the Lato Annex Boutique, but when I felt like a change of scenery, I popped over to one of the many co-working spaces. All just a short walking distance from my hotel.
As hearty Mediterranean cuisine goes, traditional Cretan cuisine is one of the healthiest, though flavour lies at the heart of every dish. I can fill every week of an evening with glorious gastronomy at the local contemporary ‘international cuisine’ restaurants or the tavernas. I would often find myself wandering the street-lit avenues. Admiring the historical architecture around Lions Square or the Venetian walls with a fresh sarikopitakia (fried cheese pastry) in one hand and a local dairy ice cream in the other. Of course, I took the opportunity for pita wrapped souvlaki whenever & wherever possible. One of my favourite things about Heraklion is that dining out never fails to be delectable. Having such a rich and varied topography, Crete produces so much of its local cuisine. Whether it’s freshly caught seafood, cultivated cheeses from the mountains, or fresh sun-ripened vegetables and herbs from the fertile plains. Every dish feels like a home-cooked meal full of passion. The thing about Crete is that there’s always something new and wonderful to discover. I thought I had found my favourite restaurant, until I stayed at the wonderful Thalori Tavern in Kapetaniana. I enjoyed the best meal of my life under a clear blue sky filled with a cornucopia of glittering stars. Sometimes, it’s the experience that makes all the difference.
Feeding my travel passions in Crete
Nothing quite feeds my soul like feeling the gentle breeze on my skin and breathing the fresh ocean air whilst I work. My productivity goes through the roof when I’m sitting on the balcony under a shady parasol with a glass of wine in hand and a view of the ocean beyond. On days off, I crave that green space, so the perfect location has to have lots of nature and places to explore. The spring was perfect for my long-haul stay in Crete. The fewer crowds and mild weather made everyday ideal. Crete has a pleasant climate all year round, so I can go from climbing mountains in the morning on Youchtas mountain & Rouvas forest, to relaxing in the surf in the afternoon on some of the fabulous beaches, like Karteros. Few places have that perfect blend of crystalline coasts and majestic mountains that make you feel like you can do anything you please, at any time. I found I could fuel my passion for the outdoors by scrambling through one of 400 of Crete’s unique canyons and gorges and get in the unique small villages hidden in between the peaks & coasts! Nothing gives you a thrill like hiking to the peaks of the Psiloritis, and still making it back in time for a fresh seafood dinner in Heraklion city…or just stay overnight in one of those villages for some raki & antikristo by the fireplace of a local taverna. No schedule just life!
Another day I could spend an afternoon writing on the banks of Zaros Lake equipped with a picnic and a parasol, and then spend the evening editing in my quiet boutique room. You know you’ve found a good work-life balance when every workday feels like a holiday. Spending three months of my life here was bliss. Experienced local culture, warm feelings and nature…lots of nature!
Local activities and beautiful nature
After a long week working from my balcony, I love nothing more than to rent a car and get out into the mountains to explore. The lands are so dynamic in Crete, and you can find many endangered species just outside of the city in the mountain regions. I was amazed to be lucky enough to spot the rare and beautiful golden eagle on a recent trip to the Asterousia Mountains. The flora and fauna in Crete were in abundance. To give you a hint on the rich biodiversity of the island, it includes natural lakes, artificial lakes, river salt pans, wetlands, hosting large populations of seabirds. So if you’ve never seen Gull-billed tern, Black-tailed godwit, Black-winged stilt, Ergetta Garzetta, Phoenix, Cormorants, Swans, Aegean gulls you know were to find them.
As the weather warmed, the lands burst into life with colourful blooms and fruitful groves that are a joy to the senses. Google those: Tulipa bakeri, Ebenus cretica, Prunus prostrata, Crocus sieberi, Orchis italica, Tulipa doerfleri, Ηorstrissea dolinicola! Tempted?
There are also traditional activities to get stuck into. Thriving industries mean that you can attend tours and enjoy the process of oil making, winemaking, raki making, and pottery classes. I definitely recommend the oil making & tasting! I’ll admit I bought a second suitcase at the market to make room for delicious Cretan cheeses.
As a confessed wine aficionado, my tours of the wineries were a highlight. On a golden afternoon in early summer, I took a concierge tour out to the Lyrarakis Winery to attend a wine tasting tour of the winery with my fellow Nomad and wine guru, Natasha. We marvelled at the scene as we drove past rows of vine upon vine abundant with delicious grapes ready to become bottles of liquid gold. Then spent the afternoon tasting impeccable flavours and making merriment with the wonderful owners. Their expert knowledge was completely invaluable. I now know my shiraz from my assyrtiko and can pair a meal with the perfect wine!
Crete’s excellent connections for travel
Crete has much to offer in the form of exploration. Glorious islands are just a sail away, and the perks of being a Digital Nomad and the freedom of time means you can beat the crowds. Visit Athens for a weekend, or hop over to the islands for a mini vacation. I hopped on a ferry for a 2hr sail to Santorini for a few days off early in the week. (If you get a little seasick you can always fly from Heraklion airport to Santorini..this will be a 30min flight). Departing early in the morning, I arrived fresh and eager to witness the ethereal glow of white-washed buildings for the first time. Then take a relaxed wander through art galleries and find the perfect cafe. By evening I was basking on a black sand beach watching the famed golden sunset blaze gloriously over the calm ocean. As a popular destination, it’s difficult to enjoy the many joys of Santorini without hordes of people at your back. But I felt almost in another world in this glorious spring week soaking up the delights of the island before the busy season. There are so many islands to explore, and I made sure to add Paros, Naxos, and Kithira to my bucket list of holiday isles during my stay.
How to plan your stay in Crete as a Digital Nomad
- Work out your ideal lifestyle
- Pick your perfect boutique hotel or villa. Find a host at Worldpackers, join the WiFi tribe in Greece, or liaise with the experts at Digital Nomads Greece
- Research Visa options
- Check your passport
- Check Covid-19 updates
- Get travel insurance
- Book your flights
- Set a budget for food
- Set a budget for transportation
- Set a budget for city tours and sightseeing
- Set a budget for extra expenses
- Set a budget for emergencies
- Check if you’ll need an international travel/credit card
You’re all set, all that’s left to do is pack your bags, embrace the life of a Digital Nomad, and have a wonderful working holiday in Crete..which means home!
featured photo source: Municipality of Heraklion