Is there anything better than booking a last minute vacation in the sun? A relaxing, beach holiday was defintely on the cards for me this summer. However, as my boyfriend and I only moved house a few weeks ago, we weren’t sure if we’d have time for a holiday. Of course we changed that mindset pretty quickly and booked 7 nights in sunny Crete! We stayed in the Northeast of Crete, in a town called Malia (in the Heraklion region).
I’ve been to Greece quite a few times when I was younger, but I’ve not returned since I’ve been gluten free. I was a little apprehensive, as Greece isn’t well known for its knowledge on GF food. However, armed with my Greek translation card and suitcase full of snacks, I had a lovely, illness-free holiday!
If you’re thinking of travelling gluten free in Crete, I’ve explained a little bit more about what I ate during my stay, what GF food I brought in my suitcase and my favourite restaurants. Enjoy!
By far my favourite meal of the day at home – breakfast abroad can be a little repetitive. The hotel we stayed at had breakfast included in the package, however there wasn’t a whole lot of choice available for me. A standard continental breakfast usually consists of bread, a selection of ham and cheese, pastries, cereal and sweet treats. As none of the above was suitable for me to eat, I stuck to Greek yoghurt, honey and fresh fruit most days.
What I would 100% recommend bringing in your suitcase is a tupperware box of gluten free granola. I simply popped a handful of my own granola in a sandwich bag each morning and took it down to breakfast in my handbag. I could then have my yoghurt/fruit combination with my delicious granola!
What I took in my suitcase
- Squeezy peanut butter (Pip & Nut is my favourite)
- GF chai latte granola
- Perkier porridge pots
- GF bread (and toastie bags)
- Natural yoghurt, honey, GF granola, fresh fruit
- Peanut butter on toast
- GF porridge and peanut butter
I have a very similar lunch each day when I go abroad/on a self catering holiday. It isn’t always the most interesting, but unfortunately being coeliac does limit the food options you have!
Local supermarkets sometimes have a GF isle (although not always ready to eat items) which can be handy for extra snacks. However, I usually stick to only buying fresh fruit/veg at the supermarket to make yummy salads and sandwiches.
Heading out for the day and can’t prepare your own food? Take a couple of slices of bread in your bag and order a plain grilled chicken breast or grilled chicken salad, and make your own yummy sandwich! There’s been a few times on previous holidays where I ended up only eating crisps and snacks on days out, so this was a great idea – if I do say so myself!
What I took in my suitcase
- Mackerel/tuna tins for salads
- GF crackers
- GF bread & pita bread (perfect for tzatziki)
- GF crackers, cream cheese, mackerel
- Chicken sandwich (order plain grilled chicken and bring own bread)
- Mackerel/tuna salad
Navigating restaurants abroad can be tricky and at times frustrating. We’ve all been there – the waiter doesn’t understand what gluten free is/can’t hear you and you have to repeat everything again. However, if there’s one thing you do on your next holiday; make sure you bring a restaurant translation card! It explains what coeliac disease is and what you can/can’t eat, helpfully translated to whichever language you want depending on the country you’re visiting.
In the whole resort where we stayed, there was only one restaurant which had gluten free advertised on the menu. This meant each time we went out for dinner, I was prepared to have to explain multiple times what my condition was, and what I could/couldn’t eat. Luckily for me, as soon as I showed them the translation card it was like a lightbulb switch and we were on the same page!
I mainly had grilled chicken/chicken souvlaki for dinner as this was a safe option for me. As much as I love experimenting with flavours at home and trying new dishes, it’s always better to play it safe when you’re abroad. I’d rather have a slightly less exciting meal and be able to enjoy the rest of my night. Plus the cocktails are always gluten free…
What I took in my suitcase
Some of my dinner options
- Grilled chicken, rice and salad
- Chicken souvlaki
- Seafood risotto
- Grilled salmon and vegetables
- Taverna Eva – One of the top restaurants recommended for gluten free in Crete. Taverna Eva was the only restaurant in the area that had gluten free on the menu and they defintely knew what they were talking about! I didn’t have to show my restaurant card (always a good sign) as the owner was very clued up on coeliac disease. He even changed the chips to some delicious traditional roast potatoes as there was a slight chance some contaminated oil could get into the fryer. They also used GF spaghetti pasta as straws – how genius is that! We went here twice and I would highly recommend a visit.
- The Brasserie – Although no mention of GF on the menu, the waitress who served us understood about the gluten free diet and what I could/couldn’t eat. Again, we visited this restaurant twice. The first time I had a simple dish of grilled chicken, salad and rice and of course lots of tzatziki. The second visit I had a delicious seafood risotto. They’re trying to convince the owner to include allergen information on the menu, so fingers crossed this happens soon and there will be more education of gluten free in Crete!
For our next trip we’re planning to travel around Italy (Rome, Venice & Florence) or take a trip to New York! If you have any recommendations for cities/countries which are amazing for gluten free, please let me know!