Books, Guides & Maps


Guides and Maps (linked to Amazon)

The Rough Guide to Crete (Rough Guide Travel Guides)

Crete Top 10 (Eyewitness Top Ten Travel Guides) by Robin Gauldie

Crete (Lonely Planet Regional Guides) by Victoria Kyriakopoulos

Living in Crete: A Guide to Living, Working, Retiring and Buying Property in Crete by Carol Palioudakis

Crete West: Rother Walking Guide by Gert Hirner, Jakob Murbock, and Gill Round

Western Crete (Landscapes) by Jonnie Godfrey and Elizabeth Karslake

AA Twinpack Crete (AA TwinPack Guides) (AA TwinPack Guides) by AA Publishing

Map of Western Crete (Maps of Greek Islands)




Recommended Plant Handbooks

This list is provided by Clive Daws and Stephen Waters Pure Crete’s guides on the “Crete in Bloom” tour. 

Some of the specialist titles can be ordered from: (Suppliers for the Botanical Society of the British Isles) or

Prices (where indicated) are approximate).

Blamey, Marjorie and Grey-Wilson, Christopher (1993 onward)  Mediterranean Wild Flowers / Wild Flowers of the Mediterranean
Harper Collins / A&C Black / Domino Books. Several hard- and soft-cover versions (contents apparently identical) published at £16 – £25. ISBN 0002199017 / 0713670150. Some are of interest to book collectors, which can inflate prices drastically for particular copies!
Colour paintings of over 1500 species from all around the Mediterranean, plus many line drawings of details used in identification. An excellent book, particularly if you expect also to visit other Mediterranean locations.

Fielding, John and Turland, Nicholas (2005) Flowers of Crete. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
£55. ISBN 184246079X. Magnificently-produced book, full of valuable information on Crete, its plants and their ecology. Splendid photographs, which include most species of the island’s flora. Only drawback: large and heavy to carry, weighing 3.04 kg  (6 lb 11 oz).

Papiomitoglou, Vangelis (2006)  Wild Flowers of Crete. Mediterraneo Editions, Rethymno, Crete, Greece. £16.50. ISBN 9608227771.
Good photos and descriptions of over 500 species you are likely to meet on the island. Just about pocket size, probably the best of the compact Cretan flower books.

Orchids (Remember that nearly all orchid species are spring-flowering.)

Kretzschmar, Horst,  Kretzschmar, Gisela and Eccarius, Wolfgang (2004)  
Orchids  Crete & Dodecanese
. Mediterraneo Editions, Rethymno, Crete, Greece. £22.50. ISBN 9608227429
Excellent photographs, identification details and distribution maps.

Other books, including older and more specialised works

Many of these, inevitably, are out of print but are worth considering if you can spot them secondhand at a favourable price.

Alibertis, Antonis (1998)  The Orchids of Crete and Karpathos. Heraklion, Crete, Greece.
A fully-illustrated guide, including hybrids and special forms, for the orchid specialist.

Alibertis, Chryssoula and Antonis (1989)  The Wild Orchids of Crete. Heraklion, Crete, Greece. 
Earlier edition. Species cover similar to the 1998 version but many of the illustrations differ.

Clauser, Marina and Innocenti, Andrea (1999)  The Flora of Crete. Bonechi, Firenze, Italy.
Excellent photographs of many of the most characteristic species of Crete.

Fletcher, Neil (2007) Mediterranean Wild Flowers. Dorling Kindersly. Pocket guide, covering about 300 species, organised by flower

Huxley, Anthony and Taylor, William (1989)  Flowers of Greece and the Aegean. Hogarth Press, London.  Has helpful additional information, e.g. on herbal uses of plants, and their local Greek names.

Jahn, Ralf and Scheinfelder, Peter (1995)  Exkursionsflora fur Kreta. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Keys and short descriptions for all the Cretan flora. The only compact and reasonably accessible book aiming for this level of cover. Illustrations are confined to photos of about 100 species, mostly endemics. Available only in German. Good, but not for the faint-hearted!

Polunin, Oleg (1980)  Flowers of Greece and the Balkans. Oxford University Press.
A thorough work, more authoritative than most of the ‘popular’ books.

Sch�nfelder, Ingrid and Peter (1990)  Wild Flowers of the Mediterranean. Collins, London.
Good for general use, with top-quality photographs, but less cover of the Cretan endemic species.

Sfikas, George (1987)  Wild Flowers of Crete. Efstathiadis, Athens, Greece.
Pocket-size, and deals specifically with Crete.

Sterry, Paul (2000)  Collins Complete Mediterranean Wildlife Photoguide. Harper Collins, London. A wide range of illustrations – but don’t be misled by the word ‘complete’ – there’s no way of getting photos of everything into one fieldguide.

Mediterranean Ecology

Grove, A.T. and Rackham, Oliver (2003)  The Nature of Mediterranean Europe  An Ecological History. Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Rackham, O. and Moody, J.A. (1996)  The Making of the Cretan Landscape. Manchester University Press.

Checklists and Distribution Atlases

Barclay, Colville (1986)  Crete, Checklist of the Vascular Plants. Englera, 6. Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum, Berlin – Dahlem.

Turland, N.J., Chilton, L. and Press, J. (1993)  Flora of the Cretan Area. Annotated Checklist and Atlas. HMSO (Natural History Museum), London.

Chilton, L. and Turland, N.J. (1997)  Flora of Crete A Supplement. Marengo Publications, Retford, Nottinghamshire. Additions and updates to the 1993 book




Small-scale maps covering the whole of Crete can be bought at bookshops, and are normally provided with hired cars. More detailed maps can be ordered through various suppliers including:


Main maps available are:

Harms-ic-Verlag  1:100,000

Road Editions  1:100,000

Anavasi  1:100,000

Anavasi  1:50,000  Ringbound Road & Touring Atlas

Anavasi  1:25,000  White Mountains and Mount Ida areas.


For motoring, the Harms-ic-Verlag and Road Editions 1:100,000 maps have good readability with about the right level of detail for navigation. They do not have any indexes to help in finding rural villages but do include street plans of the big towns (Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos). Road Editions street plans are good, even indicating one-way streets, and their maps also show fuel stations in town and country. Both publishers’ maps have double-sided printing which gives economical coverage, with the whole island on two sheets – indeed the Harms-ic-Verlag ‘West’ map extends all the way to Heraklion and Knossos. A cautionary note with both brands: handle with care, because the paper has a tendency to wear out at the folds.


For general walking and cycling, the Anavasi 1:100,000 maps are very good, with a high level of detail, and are durable, being printed on tough paper which is also water-resistant. There are no street plans, but there are indexes to help locate the villages. Printing is single-sided, so three sheets are needed to cover the island. Fuel stations are indicated. Bear in mind when motoring with Anavasi maps that the ‘yellow’ roads are generally unsurfaced and not suitable for hired cars.


The ring-bound 1:50,000 Anavasi Road & Touring Atlas has about the same level of detail as the 1:100,000 maps but the larger scale makes it easier to read quickly – useful for motoring navigation. It is a good strong product but rather large and heavy for walking or cycling, because it has 160 pages, nearly A4 size.


If you plan any mountain walking, get the relevant 1:25,000 Anavasi maps. They are very detailed and include notes about various suggested routes. For use with a GPS unit or similar device, the Anavasi sheet maps are recommended; they specifically claim to be GPS-compatible. Their latitude and longitude markings are clearer than those on Harms and Road Editions maps, and correspond better with GPS readings.


The Anavasi Road &Touring Atlas does not show latitude and longitude but does show (albeit less clearly than one might wish) lines of the Greek National Grid (EGSA 87). At least some GPS units are capable of showing positions as references on this grid, though they may need manual provision of the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) settings. The values normally quoted are:
Longitude Origin 24 degrees east
Scale Factor 0.9996
False Easting +500 km
False Northing 0 km

These give conversions which are OK for rural road navigation. Details of the conversions may depend on the map and the GPS being used. With Anavasi maps and a Garmin GPS, higher apparent accuracy (within about 20 metres) was obtained using:
False Easting +499.86 km
False Northing -0.29 km


Stephen Waters 




Battle of Crete – Military History 

The Cretan Runner: His Story of the German Occupation by George Psychoundakis and Patrick Leigh Fermor

The Fall of Crete (Cassell Military Paperbacks) by Alan Clark

Crete: The Battle and the Resistance by Antony Beevor

The Golden Step: A Walk Through the Heart of Crete (Armchair Traveller) by Christopher Somerville




Falling for Icarus: A Journey Among the Cretans by Rory MacLean 




Lawrence Durrell 

‘To the Greeks Crete seems the most authentically Greek of all the islands because of the lengh of its history and relative remoteness from the ancient centres of war and diplomacy. Crete,for example, played no part in the Persian or the Peloponnesian wars.

‘The big island’ Crete is always called in the colloquial tongue, and big it is, spacious and full of the brooding presence of its four groups of mountains.

The Cretans have seen everything – the collapse of the Minoan Empire, the rise of Venice, the slave markets of Turkey, Nazi parachutists and American hippies, nothing has been spared them.’ Extract from Lawrence Durrell’s The Greek Islands.


   Irini sunriseWebbSmall