The White Houses

Makrigialos, Crete, Greece Book from Book from £81 per night

Three stylish cottages and two apartments (sleeping 2-9) converted from fishermen’s houses, right on the harbour of this sleepy town in eastern Crete

Stepping inside these ex-fishermen’s cottages is like entering a Tardis. Behind their compact whitewashed façades lie interiors of astonishing space and style, where slick Scandinavian fittings sit alongside traditional Cretan furnishings: marble floors, beamed ceilings, gorgeous rugs, vibrant artwork, wooden sofas with hand-embroidered cushions. One has a private chapel converted into a sitting room, another an open-plan shower in the bedroom behind a curvy tiled wall. Excellent kitchens combine modern appliances with pretty antiques chosen by the Norwegian owner.

The family cottages are the stars, each arranged over 2 floors with sunny terraces overlooking the bobbing boats and yellow nets of Makriyialos’ fishing harbour. Two smaller apartments, one on each floor of a newer building, make excellent options for a couple. There are sandy beaches, boat trips to uninhabited islands, and rewarding hikes in the rugged limestone mountains behind.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.


  • A choice of sizes, ranging from a couple to a large family (if you want more space, the owner also has a stunning villa for up to 9)
  • Gorgeous interiors, which marry simple Greek aesthetics with Scandinavian comforts
  • Fish restaurants and waterfront tavernas on your doorstep
  • Eastern Crete invites exploration: deep gorges, remote coves, Orthodox monasteries, Minoan palaces


  • Some of the coast nearby is swathed in polytunnels
  • The apartments lack character, compared to the cottages
  • There’s a preferred minimum stay of a week (but plenty to fill it with)

Best time to go

The best periods are April-May (spring flowers, snowy peaks, cool seas) and September-October (slanting sunshine, warm seas). July and August can be extremely hot (and they are more expensive), but you have the benefit of additional boat trips and water sports. In August, most of Greece is on holiday so expect crowded beaches and bustling tavernas. Don't rule out the winter (Nov-March): this is the mildest spot in the whole of Greece, with temperatures around 15-20C, though you can expect occasional rain and wind.

Our top tips

Take a caique (fishing boat) to the uninhabited island of Koufonisi (daily trips in summer, 45 mins each way), where the ancients farmed murex shellfish for their intense purple dye; today there are scanty ruins of a theatre and temple, and a simple café on the sandy beach.

Great for...

  • Boutique Apartments & Cottages
  • 5 bedrooms
  • Self-catering (+ restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Maid service 3 time a week


These 3 cottages and 2 apartments vary in size and layout, but one thing they all have in common is style: splashes of bright colour against whitewashed walls, pretty wooden or wrought iron furniture, and a few antiques(fading kilims, brass candlesticks, a historic diver’s bell). Some have wooden floorboards and beamed ceilings, others marble floors and bright downlighters set into the plaster overhead. And a few have retained the corner hearth from their days as fishermen’s homes. All properties have a well-equipped kitchen, gratifyingly efficient bathrooms (some ensuite, others adjoining; some with tub, others with shower).

Pride of place goes to the White House (sleeps up to 7), with its two gorgeous double bedrooms, one with a wrought-iron four-poster, and a pair of generous sitting rooms with massive wooden sofas. The Double House is the largest, with 2 lovely bedrooms (one has stairs to a roof terrace) and 3 cosy rooms which can be used as single bedrooms or sitting rooms; it boasts a small private chapel with bucket-style terracotta chairs (based on a Minoan design). The Winter House is smaller, newer and cheaper than the other 2 - perfect for families of 3-4 - with the same blue-on-white minimalist design, including a blue-tiled shower cylinder planted inside the master bedroom.

The apartments would suit a couple, each occupying one floor of a newer building. They are clean, white and refreshingly minimal, but lack the exotic touches and decorative flair of the cottages. The Balcony Apt has (you guessed it) a balcony overlooking the harbour; the Harbour Apt has no outside areas but, unlike the others, there are no stairs to negotiate.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • CD player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Internet access
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Satellite TV
  • Washing machine


All properties have a well-equipped kitchen (fridge-freezer, kettle, coffee machine, toaster), with a dining area for the appropriate number of guests. They too are decorated with rustic chic - old bread trays and meshed larders on the wall, or huge amphorae and clay vases on the floor - and stocked with breakfast provisions and cooking staples, including organic oil from their own olive groves. All the cottages have some form of outside dining area; guests in the ‘Harbour Apt’ can take a table out onto the quayside and have a Greek-style café breakfast.

If you prefer to eat out, Makriyialos harbour has a string of old-fashioned tavernas serving fresh-grilled fish, home-baked veg dishes and the juiciest of Greek salads, all accompanied by tangy retsina and goats’ cheese. Alternatively, Olympio café serves good snacks and pizzas, or there’s an Italian restaurant in neighbouring Analipsi.

Features include:

  • Children's meals
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • In house cook
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby


  • Makriyialos is the prettiest town on this stretch of coast, with a picturesque fishing harbour, traces of Minoan and Roman settlements, a wide choice of waterfront tavernas and a bustling Friday market
  • Nearby is a gently sloping, sandy beach with watersports in summer (water skiing, wind surfing, 'banana rides', para sailing and sailboat hire)
  • Hikers can explore marked, pine-shaded tracks through the Pefki valley, a few miles east of Makriyialos; climb the rocky 1500-metre summit of Afendis Estravromenos; or trek through the breathtaking Thripti gorge that gashes through its flanks (start from Orino, 30 mins drive away)
  • Hire a car and explore the stark and stunning far east of Crete (old maps may not show the new road): start at the sleepy town of Sitia, continue past Toplou monastery (forbidding exterior, welcoming monks), to the tropical palm beaches at Vai (crowded in summer) or Palekastro (less crowded, but less palmy); and don’t miss the breathtaking ‘Valley of the Dead’ and Minoan ruins at Zakros
  • The buzzing north-coast town of Ayios Nikolaos, the swanky resorts of Elounda, the leper island of Spinalonga and the mountain plateau of Lasithi are all feasible as day-trips from here
  • Crete is a wonderfully diverse island, with lots more to see and do. For more of our favourites, check out our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing


Children are welcome and the houses are perfect for families or groups. Extra beds cost the same whether for children or adults.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Whatever the size of your family, there's something at The White Houses to suite you. Apartments can sleep 2 adults and a child, and the cottages can fit up to 9! Do note that none of the bathrooms have a tub.


English-speaking babysitting is available by arrangement, see Rates.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chair
  • Baby bedding
  • Potty
  • Night light

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The well-equipped kitchens have blenders and microwaves so little ones will be looked after as well as older kids.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Children's DVDs
  • Books and some toys

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beach
  • Fishing villages
  • Boat trips to quiet islands

Families Should Know:

There are some steep steps. There is a shop very close by for nappies, food and beach toys.


  • Airport: 2 hours
  • Hospital: 20 minutes
  • Doctor: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:


The White Houses face the harbour of Makriyialos (also written Makris Gialos), in the far east of Crete, on its southern coast.

By Air:
The airstrip at Sitia (35km) accepts some international flights in the summer, but you will more likely fly to Heraklion (130km), the capital of Crete. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving this airport.

By Boat:
Heraklion can also be reached by daily overnight ferry from Athens.

From the Airport/ Port
If you choose not to hire a car you can catch a taxi from Heraklion; note it's best to agree a price before accepting the ride.

By Car
Hiring a car will allow you to explore the area better - see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions to the houses will follow when you confirm a booking through our site.

More on getting to Greece and getting around.


  • Heraklion, Nikos Kazantzakis 130.0 km HER


  • Beach 0.2 km
  • Shops 0.2 km
  • Restaurant 0.2 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 6 independent reviews from i-escape guests


Comfortable apartment in a lovely location , beside a small harbour. Fridge full of breakfast goodies. Helpful manager.


This was a very short but a very pleasant stay. I stayed in an apartment with a balcony and a view to the sea. No complaints whatsoever. The design is simple but tasteful and catering well thought through. I loved the fact there was fruit, yoghurt, coffee, biscuits, water and wine at my disposal when I arrived later in the evening; small detail but makes one feel welcome. Town itself is too touristy for my taste but the proximity of the apartment to the sea and restaurants make everything better. A nice and calm beach without tourists (while I was there) only 5-7 minutes walk, away from town center. I certainly recommend staying there!


Very nice house - after a delay in responding on another property we were upgraded to this big house at half the price. It would be a great stay for 6 people, with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The balcony upstairs is a great place to relax and watch the world go by or just look at the view of the bay.
The town itself is a bit over-commericalised for our taste. It's basically a set of beach front tavernas, with beach chairs. It's a shame it's not possible to walk all the way along the beach front, but instead you have to take the road behind for much of the way, as too many tavernas or bars have occupied the beach. However it could be a good base for an holiday exploring the wider area, with many shops, petrol etc available.


We only stayed at The White Houses for three days but wish we could've stayed longer! The villa was gorgeous, really nice style and very comfortable. We were seconds away from all the local tavernas and the beach was fantastic, very calm and perfect for young children. We had a great stay and would love to go back.


The location is fantastic. When we arrived there was a very good welcome food pack, the apartment was extremely well thought through and the information file full of really interesting and useful material.
We would recommend these two places: the restaurant and beach at Green Beach in MakriGialos and the drive to and beach at Xerokampos. Also the taverna in the square at Stavrochori was lovely if perhaps too generous with the food!


Gorgeous house, lovingly put together with a combination traditional and modern materials, furniture & art, thoroughly equipped with everything you could possibly need. Immaculately clean to start with AND cleaned throughout the stay so more of a hotel service than standard B&B.
Makriyialos was a bit busier and tourist-y than expected, on the plus side this means lost of places to eat; best food at Olive Tree, and Gusto which has pizza and vegan dishes for when you can't eat another Greek salad or courgette fritter, and we also had a bonus yoga class from Lana - pop in and ask if interested. Recommended around-about and do-able on foot are the Pefki Gorge walk, including a stop at Piperia taverna for fresh lemonade, and Diaskari green beach. This also has a taverna but otherwise is untouched, both the gorge and the beach are beautiful and wild and a completely different experience from village life. Overall, an excellent choice for an easy, no-car lazy break by the sea.


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