Set on the hillside in the midst of greenery, only one km from the coast of Makrigialos in southern Crete, the “White River Cottages” is a beautiful settlement of impeccably restored 19th century stone cottages. Inside they are done in a charming minimalist style with stone-paved floors, whitewashed walls, wood-beamed ceilings and stone-built beds. Some are partly built into the rocks and have large chunks of natural rock dramatically protruding from the walls. Each cottage has its own private terrace and there is a beautiful swimming pool that sits at the bottom of a sandstone wall amidst stone terraces – just what you need if you want to spend a few quiet and lazy days. The White River Cottages are the perfect choice if you simply want to relax by the pool, cook a few meals and swim in the sea – beautiful sandy beaches are close – but they are also an obvious pick for hikers and nature lovers: endless walking trails will take you through fantastic scenery. And – not hard to guess – this is also an ideal place to come to with children. I stayed with mine for a week when they were little. They absolutely loved it. And so did I.
Charm so close to the sea and yet so far from it all, the pool, the friendliness, the calm, the singing of the birds, the views over the hills, bliss!
The cottages are self-catering so you have to prepare your own breakfast. (The nearest bakery and grocery store are a bit over a kilometre away, you it is best to get what you need the night before.) Room cleaning and change of linen are done twice a week.
En-suite bathroom (shower)
Garden with terraces
Outdoor swimming pool
Washing machine (a small fee applies)
The White River Cottages are self-catering and there is no restaurant, but each cottage has a correctly equipped little kitchen. There is a wide choice of restaurants in Makrigialos where you will find traditional Greek restaurants and fish tavernas as well as souvlaki and pizza places.
Unless your children need television screens and water fun parks to be entertained, this is the perfect place to bring them along. The cottages are well laid out for families and cots are available on request. (You can also ask for a highchair.) The only thing to keep in mind is that the single beds are in the living room. There is lots of space to play outside and the swimming pool is great. Also, the nearby beaches are excellent for children, with ‘castle-quality’ sand gently sloping down to the sea.
Walking and Hiking
Walking and hiking are hugely popular in this part of Crete. Walk down the Pefki gorge (start from Pefki village and end right back at the White River Cottages) or follow trails through hills, valleys and mountains. In the wider area, there are several more beautiful gorges. Ask Iris for information regarding time, difficulty and transport.
You will find good sandy beaches (some organised with sunbeds and umbrellas) at walking distance, and there are several more a short drive away. Cross over from Makrigialos to the uninhabited little island of Koufonissi for the day and swim from glorious sandy beaches. A day-trip to the island of Chrissi (more amazing beaches!) is also highly recommended. Boats leave from Ierapetra.
There are several scuba diving centres in Ierapetra, catering both to beginners and certified divers. White River Cottages can make bookings for you.
If you are with a group there are possibilities to rent a fisher boat and go fishing for the day.
The White River Cottages are in Aspros Potamos, a little hamlet of miniature stone cottages, set among olive and carob trees on the hill of a peaceful valley, at the beginning (or end) of the beautiful Pefki gorge (a 1,5 hour’ walk to the village of Pefki). It is about 1 km from the coastal village Makrigialos, so if you don’t have a car, and you feel active enough, you can actually go to the beach, do your shopping and go to restaurants on foot.
There are several ways you can get to Crete, but if you stay at White River Cottages, the airport of Heraklion or the ports of Heraklion or Agios Nicolas (closer) are the best choice. It’s actually a nice drive from the airport (or port) of Heraklion; it takes about two hours. First you follow the signs for Agios Nikolaos and Sitia, and about 20 km after Agios Nikolaos you follow the signs for Ierapetra. From Ierapetra you take the road in the direction of Sitia. After you pass through Makrigialos (about 20 km from Ierapetra) and enter Analipsi, you should look for a small sign on your left for White River Cottages. After 1 km you will find a parking area and the reception of White River Cottages. If you arrive at the airport of Sitia, which was renovated in 2016 to accommodate the growing demand for charter flights, the drive is shorter (around 50 min.). Leave the airport heading north-east toward the ring-road of Sitia airport (E75/E090). Take the provincial road Ierapetras – Sitias with the direction to Makrigialos. When you enter Analipsi you will find the sign for White River Cottages to your left. Follow the sign for a km and you will arrive at White River Cottages.
We had a wonderful stay at White River Cottages and we do totally agree to your description in your book. We were very lucky to discover your book and I’m sure that this won’t be our last destination to travel to. Please let us know when your new book will come out!
We were extremely pleased with our two centre holiday at White River Cottages, followed by a week at Elia. The accommodation in both cases was excellent and more than expected, and service/staff were wonderful and well informed. Both places were in unspoiled areas with much to discover. Thank you for the wonderful experience.
From the moment we arrived at White River Cottages we fell in love with the place. Built in traditional Cretan style, they are set into the hills amongst the olive groves and yet just a 15 minute moon/star lit walk away from the sea. The cottage themselves have everything you need in terms of mod cons and privacy but at the same time retain their authentic charm. If you can, get one of the larger cottages with a balcony looking out to sea, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. Also, if you can drag yourself away from the swimming pool, ask Iris, the wonderful manager, for suggestions of other things to do. She’ll tell you about the best local restaurants, street markets, beautiful drives through the mountains, remote beaches and even a very highly recommended Shiatsu massage courtesy of her husband Amnon (apologies if I have misspelled his name). If we had any complaint, it was the wind which blew for a fair amount of our stay (mid July), but for us it was a welcome relief from the heat. One more thing, don’t try and recreate the Greek salads when you get home, they’re not the same.
Toby and Nicky B.