Fodele, Crete: Complete Guide by a Local

Panagia Church, Fodele Crete

Fodele is a beautiful Cretan village in the region of Heraklion. The place, better known as the birthplace of Greek painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, El Greco, is nestled in a lush orange grove a few minutes from the island’s northern coast.

It is a must-visit place for those staying in Heraklion but can also be a fantastic destination for a quiet holiday on the island. This article brings you every detail you need to discover Fodele Crete.

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Everything About Fodele Crete

fodele crete

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Essential Things to Know about Fodele

If you plan to visit Fodele during your holidays in Crete, this guide is for you. Let’s start with some basic things to know about the village.

Where is Fodele

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Fodele is in the northern part of Crete, approximately 32 kilometers west of Heraklion and about 50 km east of Rethymnon.

The tiny village is nestled in a picturesque fertile valley fed by the Pantomantris River. It has plenty of orange and olive groves and is surrounded by mountains.

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The center of Fodele is about 1 km from the National Road, which connects all major cities on the northern coast of Crete.

How to Get There

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The most convenient way to get from the center of Heraklion to Fodele is by car. You can take the National Road heading west (towards Rethymno) (approximately 40 minutes from Heraklion), and there are signs along the way that will guide you to the village.

You can also get to Fodele by bus. Hourly bus services operate between Heraklion and Fodele, departing from Heraklion Bus Station, with the first at 5.30 a.m. and the last at 9.30 p.m.

The bus journey takes approximately 45 minutes. Always check the bus schedule in advance, as the frequency may vary depending on the season.

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You can also reach Fodele from Heraklion by taxi, the taxi journey typically takes around 30 minutes.

There are no direct buses from Chania or Rethymnon to Fodele. However, you can take the bus to Heraklion and transfer to a local bus.

Getting there by car is the most convenient and flexible solution. Fodele is about 115 km from Chania (a bit more than 90 minutes) and 52 km from Rethymnon (about an hour).

Best Attractions to See and Things to Do in Fodele, Crete

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Panagia Church, Fodele.

You can experience key attractions in Fodele and soak in the village’s tranquil ambiance, historical significance, and natural beauty.

Church of Panagia

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Church of the Panagia, Fodele.

One of the main reasons attracting visitors to Fodele is the ancient Byzantine Church of Panagia, the main church in Fodele.

Already visible from the road leading to the village from the beach, this gorgeous church is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary.

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Church of the Panagia, Fodele.

The Church of the Panagia is the settlement’s main church, the most important religious center in the area, and holds great historical significance. It is built on the northern side of the village over the ruins of a former Paleochristian Basilica from the sixth century.

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Church of the Panagia, Fodele.

The church follows the traditional architecture of most Orthodox churches in Crete. It’s a four-pillar church with a dome and a simple design.

It has impressive stone walls (Cretan limestone) and a red-tiled roof. It features ancient frescoes painted between the eleventh and the thirteenth centuries.

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Checking out the church from outside.

Throughout its history, the church has undergone renovations and restorations to preserve its cultural and religious heritage.

Fodele Beach

Fodele beach, Heraklion
Fodele Beach.

Enjoy the beautiful sandy beach that stretches along the northern coast, about 3 km from the center of the village. The sandy beach features coarse sand and some pebbles, and it’s a perfect place to relax, swim, or soak up the sun.

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Fodele Beach.

Fodele Beach features two different areas: an organized part with umbrellas and sunbeds, while the area closer to the eastern end of the beach is not organized and is often less crowded.

Several beach bars and tavernas line the front, so you won’t need to pack a huge beach bag or portable fridge to spend the day here.

El Greco Museum

El Greco Museum, Heraklion, Crete.
El Greco Museum, Heraklion, Crete.

One of the unmissable things to do in Fodele is to visit the El Greco Museum. Fodele claims to be the birthplace of Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1641-1614), El Greco, a famous painter, architect, and sculptor, who left Crete to get an education in Venice and then settled in Toledo, Spain.

Theotokopoulos was born when Heraklion was known as the Kingdom of Candia and was ruled by the Republic of Venice.

Over there, El Greco became one of the most representative artists of the Spanish Renaissance and lived in Toledo until his death.

The museum is housed in an old building, probably from the same period of the island’s Venetian rule, and it houses reproductions of his works and interesting objects related to the early years of his life on Crete, where he gave his first steps as a visual artist.

Fodele River

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Don’t miss enjoying a long, leisurely walk along the river that runs through the village, the Pantomantris River (sometimes also known as Fodele River).

After descending the approximately 60 meters that separate the village from the sea level, the river ends by the sea. 

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Taverna in Fodele next to the river.

Over here, you can enjoy the serene atmosphere, lush vegetation, and the sound of flowing water, or pick one of the several taverns by the stream for a restoring lunch under the shadows of the tall trees that grow on both sides of the river.

Fodele Traditional Village

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Traditional embroidery shops in Fodele.

The village is small, but it is an interesting place that has maintained many local traditions.

During your visit, you can explore the charming streets of the village itself, which are lined with small Cretan houses, some with whitewashed facades resembling a Cycladic settlement and others with an architectural style closer to the Cretan tradition.

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The roads are adorned with colorful flowers, and small shops sell local products, including handicrafts, embroidery, and traditional ceramics.

The village receives plenty of visitors from the whole Heraklion region during various cultural events and festivals.

The most notable celebration is the Festival of Saint Panteleimon, the village’s patron saint, held on July 27. It features music, dancing, and religious processions.

Fruit and Olive Groves

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Orange trees in Fodele.

The fertile valley surrounding Fodele is known for its fruit and olive groves. The village is famous for its production of citrus fruits, particularly oranges. However, during our visit, we also found many pomegranate trees.

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Pomegranate trees in Fodele.

During your time in Fodele, spend some minutes checking out the vibrant orchards and enjoying the peaceful, rural atmosphere.

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Fodele, Heraklion.

Don’t miss the chance to taste the delicious local produce in the village.

Fodele Gorge & Waterfalls

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Courtesy of Fodele Beachfront Apartments.

Embark on a hiking adventure through Santorinios Gorge, also known as Fodele Gorge. This area offers stunning natural scenery with cliffs, lush vegetation, and a small river.

The ravine is located south of the village, and the area is a truly hidden gem you must discover! The gorge takes its name from the typical rocks similar to those found on the island of Santorini.

Although the canyon is not big, it features a wild landscape whose main focal point is the river flowing through the gorge. It is fed by many small tributaries from hidden lakes in the mountains looming over the gorge. At the head of the gorge are the ruins of an ancient watermill.

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Fodele gorge.

The hike will take you through ponds, small lakes, waterfalls, and mossy landscapes. However, rocks can be slippery, and hiking might include some swimming, so the trail is not suggested for families or people with little experience hiking Crete’s gorges.

Several beautiful waterfalls to check out during the hike feed the local river. The Podares Waterfall is a 4-meter natural slide covered in moss. It’s near the gorge’s main trail and the Gras Pidima Waterfall.

This is the highest waterfall in the area. It features three different cascades, which are only visible after intense rains.

Agios Panteleimon Monastery

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(Photo via Pampuco – Commons Wikimedia).

About 4 km inland from the center of Fodele, you can also explore the old monastery of Agios Panteleimon, dating back from the last years of Crete’s Venetian rule (between the 16th and 17th centuries).

The complex (and several other Cretan monasteries) reflect a Venetian fortress plan. It has a two-nave church, one dedicated to Saint Anthony and the other to Saint Pantaleon.

The beautiful building is a beloved religious center that functioned as a revolutionary center during the fights against the Turks in the years of the  Ottoman occupation.

Beaches and Nature near Fodele

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Mades Beach.

A short drive from Fodele takes you to several beaches, from the well-known Agia Pelagia, with its several bays (see below), to other important Heraklion beaches, including Ligaria and Mades.

You can explore these beaches and many more better by bookmarking this guide to Heraklion’s best beaches for further reference.

Fodele and its surrounding area offer outdoor activities and exploration opportunities. Besides enjoying the beach, visitors can engage in water sports such as windsurfing and snorkeling.

Hiking enthusiasts can explore the nearby hills and trails, including a few portions of the E4 European long-distance path.

Day Trips and Excursions from Fodele, Crete

These are some of the places you can visit around the area of Fodele:


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A visit to the capital city of Crete is a must if you’re spending time in Fodele. After a short car ride, you will be able to discover Crete’s biggest city (which is also the fourth most populated in the country).

In addition to exploring the Venetian Fortress or Koules, the old port, and the main square with its famous Liontaria Fountain, you can take a side trip to explore the ancient ruins of Knossos Palace, about 15 minutes from the center.

In Heraklion, you can also visit the Archaeological Museum to see artifacts from the Minoan civilization, wander through the vibrant streets of the city center, and discover the local public markets.

>> Head to this blog post for more things to do in Heraklion town.


Bali Crete
Bali Beach.

One of the nicest coastal villages on the northern coast of the nearby region of Rethymnon, Bali is just 25 km from Fodele and offers great opportunities for beach enthusiasts, including water sports and hiking opportunities.

You can check out all there’s to do in Bali in this. post.


Spili Crete

Travel south from Fodele to Spili, one of the most charming mountain villages on the island. Spili is about 78 km from Fodele, and the journey takes about an hour.

Also located in the region of Rethymnon, Spili is better known for the dozens of mountain springs and the main square, where there’s one of the cutest landmarks on the island: a long fountain featuring more than 20 Venetian lion heads and a constant flow of water.

Arkadi Monastery

greece - crete - rethymnon - arkadi - arkadi monastery museum

Located 52 kilometers west of Fodele, Arkadi Monastery is a significant historical and cultural site in Rethymnon.

You can explore the monastery’s fascinating architecture during the visit and learn about its role in the Cretan resistance against the Ottomans. In minutes, you can also reach the small pottery village of Margarites.

In Margarites, have a delicious lunch in the main square and then take a walk to discover the many ceramic workshops that populate the settlement.

>> You can learn more about Arkadi in this article.

Agia Pelagia

Agia Pelagia, One of the best beaches in North Heraklion, Crete.

If you love going to the beach, you’re in for a treat. Near Fodele, there are several incredible bays to explore.

One of the most famous is Agia Pelagia. This coastal village is located about 11 kilometers east of Fodele. It features wonderful beaches and hidden bays that you can explore by car (although some can only be reached with a boat trip, easy to hire on Agia Pelagia’s main beach).

During a day in the area, you can take advantage of the crystal-clear waters or engage in various water sports activities.

There’s also a fine selection of tavernas and cafes along the waterfront serving fresh fish and traditional Cretan dishes.


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Located about 50 km east of Fodele, Hersonissos is a great place in Crete to enjoy entertainment, with dozens of beach bars and discos.

The village, a popular seaside resort on the island, is also close to other traditional settlements, such as Piskopiano and the hillside settlement of Koutouloufari.

Hersonoissos also features great shores and some nearby nudist-friendly coves (such as Sarandari) for those interested in sunbathing without clothes!

Where to Eat in Fodele, Crete

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El Greco, Fodele.

The small village, just like every traditional settlement in Crete, surprises visitors with a few excellent tavernas, often run by families. Here, you can try homemade dishes made from fresh produce sourced from the area. These are the ones we recommend:

  • El Greco: Right in the heart of Fodele, opposite the El Greco statue and river, this is a traditional spot with tables under one of the massive trees of Fodele’s square, and serving staples of the Cretan cuisine, including pies and kalitsounia, dakos, and stuffed vegetables. Click here to read the reviews.
  • Το Giasemi: Perfect if you love grilled meats and also serving a good selection of vegetarian dishes, the restaurant is located right next to the river, making it a charming spot for lunch or dinner. Click here to read the reviews.
  • Plaitis: Located by the sea, this is a popular taverna, especially busy during the weekends, where it’s possible to have a quick snack or a delicious lunch right on Fodele Beach. Click here to read the reviews.
  • Taverna Cafe Dolphin: Another beachfront tavern and snack bar in Fodele, good for breakfast and lunch, this place specializes in Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, also serves brunch and cocktails, vegan cuisine, and it’s an amazing spot to enjoy the sunset. Click here to read the reviews.

Where to Stay in Fodele

Resorts with water parks in Crete
Courtesy of Fodele Beach Water Park Resort.

Fodele is a fairly quiet village, however. Thanks to its long beach, a resort area has developed around it and features plenty of accommodations, including hotels and resorts for all budgets and preferences.

Staying in the resort area close to the bay provides easy access to the beach, amenities, and various recreational activities. It is also easy to access Heraklion, where you can enjoy fantastic night venues for entertainment.

However, for a more authentic experience, you can also stay in the village, although the choice of places to stay (mostly rental homes) is slightly more limited. These are the places I recommend in Fodele:

Remember that Fodele is a small village. Accommodation may be limited compared to larger towns in Crete. You can stay in nearby cities such as Heraklion or Rethymnon or a coastal town like Agia Pelagia and visit Fodele on a day trip.

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More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking out my ultimate guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets for an unforgettable experience.

Use this comprehensive Crete packing list to ensure you have everything you need. Explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches, and check out the best times to experience its beauty.

If you are exploring specific areas like Heraklion or Rethymnon, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Heraklion

No time to read all my accommodation guides? Check out these hotels in the city:

More useful travel resources

  • Check out all the digital travel guides I’ve specifically written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.
  • Discover Cars is the engine I use to find a rental car on the island.
  • To book adventures, tours, and cultural experiences, I recommend Get Your Guide.

Pin this Guide to Explore the Village of Fodele in Crete!

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About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the island. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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