Eco, agro, remote, rustic, idyllic, romantic, timeless, peaceful – there are so many ways to describe Milia, a little hide-away in the forested mountains of western Crete. It is a 16th century settlement that was restored and turned into an environmentally sustainable retreat by members of two local families, well before eco-tourism became hip. From its inception, solar energy has been used to generate electricity, shower water has been reused for irrigation, food has been grown organically and waste has been recycled. Hospitality is combined with biological farming, reforestation, and environmental protection. Cosy little stone cottages offer sufficient comfort and heaps of charm. With bare stone walls, floors made of wood and smoothed concrete, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, locally handcrafted furniture, and little touches such as starched linen curtains, cream-white duvets, and a candle by the bedside table, they are stylish in a modest way. Outside you find lovely terraces and greenery all around. It is a perfect setting to unwind. Go for walks, relax with a book in the shade, ride a mountain bike, discover what food tastes like when all the ingredients are fresh and organic and – why not – sign up for a painting or drawing lesson, take part in a cooking course or learn how to make bread.
Milia is a fabulous little getaway, not only for nature lovers, but for anyone looking for seclusion, absolute quiet and a bit of style as well. I fell in love with the secluded location, the nature, the simple beauty of the cottages, the food, the philosophy. This is the perfect place to unwind and relax.
En-suite bathroom (shower)
Restaurant / sitting room with fireplace
WiFi (in the restaurant area only)
Bread making classes
Milia has been a pioneer in the field of ‘slow food’. Everything served in its restaurant (with the exception of butter and coffee I was told!) is local and organically produced. I still remember my first meals at Milia, back in 2000. I was so impressed, and – I’m a little embarrassed to confess – even surprised it actually all tasted so good. Coffee with milk from free-roaming goats, home-baked bread, local cheese, fresh eggs, blackberry juice and yoghurt and fruits for breakfast, a zucchini and chestnut casserole for lunch, and cheese pie, salad, oven-baked pork with orange and mountain tea for dinner. It was all absolutely delicious!
If your children need at least a swimming pool and a television to be happy, then this is not the right place for them. But if they are kids who can have fun playing in nature or walking for walks in the mountains, and who will enjoy participating in some of the farming activities (feeding the animals or milking the goats), they will have a fantastic time. And if from time to time you take them to Elafonissos, one of Greece’s most spectacular beaches, they will be in heaven.
Coming with a baby to Milia may not be so easy (impossible to handle a pushchair over the paths) but if you do, cots are available.
You probably aren’t planning to come to Milia for beach holidays, and yet, a drive of about 45 minutes takes you to one of Greece’s most beautiful (and famous) beaches, Elafonissi. White – in places pinkish – sand, the clearest turquoise waters, a small lagoon and an island you can walk to – it is simply amazing. The only low is that busloads (literally) of tourists come on day excursions, but be there early morning or late afternoon, and you may have the beach practically to yourself. Otherwise, move on to the beaches of Kedrodasos and Agios Ioannis (a few km further), which are beautiful too and a lot quieter (clothing here is optional).
Walking and hiking
Walk straight out from your cottage and follow marked trails around Milia – you will find a map in your room. There are propositions for longer hikes too: three hours from Milia to traverse the Topolianno Gorge, and about five hours to get to and hike through the gorge of Polyrinia.
Go mountain biking! There are a few bikes guests are free to use and it is an exhilarating way to explore dirt roads and mountain trails.
Cretan cooking workshops
Take a class in traditional bread making (available every other day). Or sign up for a four-day Cretan gastronomy retreat, with cooking workshops (using produce you will harvest yourself!), a visit to a winery (tour and wine tasting included), a swim and picnic on the beach of Kedrodasos, a visit to a local honeybee garden with a bee handling presentation and honey-tasting, and a Cretan-style barbeque.
Let the surroundings of Milia inspire you and take part in drawing and aquarelle painting classes, organised twice a week. No need to bring your drawing and painting materials; everything is there. Private art lessons are available on request.
The Old Town of Chania
Take a trip to the old town of Chania. Shop for souvenirs, fashion, jewelry and handmade crafts in the narrow pedestrian streets. Check if there is an art exhibition or a crafts fair in the Hassan Pascha Mosque in the Venetian harbour. Visit the archaeological and the maritime museums and chill with a drink on one of the seaside terraces.
Milia lies hidden in the forested mountains of western Crete. Here you are surrounded by nature, and nature only. The nearest shop is at 12 km. One of Greece’s most beautiful and spectacular beaches, Elafonissos, is about 30 km away.
To get to Crete, it is best to book a flight or ferry to Chania; otherwise, you can also fly to Heraklion, but that adds 130 km to the drive. To get to Mila from Chania, you take the national road towards Kissamos. A few kilometres before you reach Kissamos, you take the turn-off for “Elafonissos – Chania Old Road”. Follow this road in the direction of Elafonissos (the villages you pass through are Kaloudiana, Voulgaro and Topolia). Some kilometres after you pass through the Topoliano Gorge, you turn right towards Vlatos, from where you follow signs for Milia. The last 2 km are on a dirt road, cut into the steep mountainside – you are not to do this drive if you’re not 100% sober!