Written by Julia Silk,
7th September 2023

A traditional stone house can make a charming home full of character. If you want to be in the heart of a Greek village, among the locals, old houses are usually in the best locations. They are often within walking distance of the heart of the village, close to a café and shop.

I always think it is so sad to see an empty old house. Even if the owners are interested in selling, they often don’t put it on one of the bigger property portals or even display a for sale sign. When you find a village that feels like home, you may need to ask around to find out which houses are for sale.

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The guy with a house for sale

Chances are, everyone in the bar will suddenly have a house they want to sell you. Which often turns out to be a total ruin, miles from anywhere. Alarm bells should also ring if they mention a bargain price for cash. Be aware, that the friendliest people are generally those who want to sell you something.

I recall being taken up a mountain to a creepily quiet village. We had a drink in a dark old bar, where out of the shadows, a few elderly residents appeared. They showed us a stone ruin, full of trees, along a donkey track. A day wasted, but a lesson learnt. Better to use a recommended estate agent.

This traditional stone house in Tourleti, Crete is for sale through a recommended agent on Your Overseas Home for just €60,000. 

Stone house in Crete, click on the image to see more.

Traditional stone house on a hillside

If you go inland of the busy seaside resorts you will find peaceful villages, with property for sale at lower prices than in the coastal towns. One such example is the village of Tourloti on Crete, which is inland from the seaside resort of Mochlos. You will find it on the road from Agios Nikolaos to Sitia.

Tourloti village

Tourloti is a small, traditional village, on a hillside. It has changed very little over the years and remains largely untouched by tourism. There are a small number of holiday rentals in the village, one of which I saw asking £66 per night in September. In the winter there are only about 300-350 residents but, in the summer it can grow to 900. However, these are mainly visiting family or people taking a break from the city.

The white washed houses, flower filled alleyways, and lovely views, make it a relaxing place to stay. Despite the small population, Tourloti has all the village essentials, such as a taverna, cafes, small shops, a bakery, a pharmacy, a clinic, church, police, bus stop, and school. The Greek community work locally and hold religious festivals over the summer and at Easter.

Local village estate agents

If during your viewing trip, you come across a village that appeals to you, but you can’t see anything for sale online in that location, speak to a recommended estate agent. They might have contacts in the area that know of people considering selling. The same advice applies if the property you saw online has now been sold. Give the estate agent clear information about what you are looking for and they will keep their eyes open and make enquiries.

Looking at properties online can be useful to get an idea what you might find in your price range. But don’t set your heart on one, as it may have been sold before you arrive, or it simply might not feel right when you get there. Better to set up a meeting with an agent that covers the area you are interested in, and see what’s available when you get there.

We found one estate agent sitting in a café, just waiting for someone to come and ask. In his office he had no printed information, photos or website showing properties for sale, just a handful of large old keys that opened empty houses nearby.

Employ a lawyer

It’s always safer to buy a property through a trusted estate agent, who can guide you through the process. However, whichever way you find a property, it is still very important to employ a lawyer to thoroughly check out the ownership and other paperwork.

Is renovating worth the hassle?

The cheapest properties are going to need some serious updating. The question is, can you see past the flaky paint and old furniture, and picture the potential? Imagine the room empty, and concentrate on the structure, the roof, the electrics and the plumbing.

Check out the availability and cost of materials before you buy the property. If you will need to employ local tradespeople, ask around for recommendations and get some quotes.  Only when you have an idea of renovation costs and time scale, can you decide whether its worth putting in an offer on an old house.

Traditional stone houses to renovate

The character features that you might discover in an old stone house include stone arches, wooden roof beams, a wine cellar and walled courtyard. Once renovated, they could look really beautiful.

Kefalas village

The village of Kefalas in the Apokoronas region, 30km east of Chania, Crete is a good place to search for stone houses. The сеntral streets οf thе town are quite nаrrоw with a small squаre and a cаfé. Sοme of the old houses have already bеen tаstefullу rеnovated and others are abandoned аnd partially in ruin. However, most of the the village is well spaced out, with some newer properties.

Although, the resident population is under 200, therе are some shоps, tavеrnas, churches and kafenions (cafes). There are also a handful of holiday rentals in the village which charge from £60 per night for a one bedroom house in September.

Renovated Stone house in Pano Elounda, Crete 300,000.

Beautiful renovated stone house that has already been renovated.

Renovated traditional stone house on Crete

The house for sale in Pano Elounda is the perfect example of a traditional stone house that has been beautifully renovated. It has been made into a comfortable modern home, while keeping the traditional Cretan style. Quality stone and wood was used throughout, including wood ceilings and floors upstairs.

Pano Elounda village

Pano Elounda is a traditional settlement where life revolves around the traditional Greek café (Kafenion). Although it only has a population of around 190 people, if you walk 20 minutes, or drive 5 minutes, you will reach the popular seaside resort of Elounda, with its many shops, bars, restaurants, and a wonderful sandy beach.

Will I be welcome in a Greek village?

Elderly neighbours are generally keen to tell you about local traditions, and past inhabitants of your house. In my experience, they are happy to welcome anyone who wants to give an abandoned house some love and attention. It is especially important in a village, that old houses are lived in, so that the inhabitants can contribute not only to the life of a village, but also the local economy.

Helping the local economy

Locals will appreciate you hiring local tradespeople and spending money in the area. Even if you can’t be there year-round, you should go to local taverna’s and cafes as much as possible. They are sure to remember you and welcome you as a regular. If the property is going to be left empty for many months, you may also consider renting it to tourists.

Traditional Stone Tower houses

A traditional tower house in Mani.

If you want a property that stands out, take a look at the stone towers in the Mani area, of the Peloponnese. There are about 800 towers scattered all over Mani, often in defensive positions to protect the village. You can spot them on mountains and by the sea, and they are sure to have great panoramic views.

Mani tower houses

The oldest ones were built without lime plaster, so were less likely to stand the test of time. But in the 18th century they were strengthened. The towers could be four or five stories high, and reach 20 metres in height. Like the tower houses in Italy, they were not just for defence, the height of the tower also indicated the importance of the family that lived there. The most powerful family, always had the tallest tower.

Can I buy a tower?

If you find an old Mani tower house in its original state, you can expect to pay in the region of €225,000. It will depend on location and how much house is connected to it. A sea view will always add to the price. You should also be aware that some are located over two hours drive from Kalamata airport.

Today, you can find newly built stone houses for under €250,000, that copy the tower house style, but are designed more for modern living. However, a newly built stone tower with large adjoining house and sea views, finished to a high standard, can sell for several hundred thousand.

Modern Stone houses

If you like the idea of a stone house, but not an old building that needs a lot of work, you are in luck. There are still skilled craftsmen in Greece, that build modern houses with stone. Therefore, you can have the character of stone walls, and wooden beams, along with modern appliances, air conditioning, double glazing, and a terrace overlooking a garden. They just might not be as close to shops and restaurants.

Built to last

The Greeks were building sustainable homes before it became the buzz word it is today. Ancient Greeks used materials they could source locally, such as stone, sundried mud bricks, and wood. There are buildings still standing on Evia, in central Greece, that could have been built by the Ancient Greeks.

These stone structures have been named “Drakospita” or Dragon houses. They were built using heavy flat slabs of limestone rock, chipped to fit snuggly together. Without any binding materials, such as mud or cement, it was only the weight of the stone that kept them standing solid. Some of the best-preserved ones are located in Styra.

Even in the last few hundred years many Greek houses have been built with stone. The thick stone walls help to keep the heat out in summer and their design never goes out of fashion. They will still be standing strong when generations of families have gone. We can certainly “Look to Greece for sustainability, and eco-friendly homes”. 

More examples of stone built homes for sale:

This property is a great example of a modern, luxury home that incorporates stone into its design:

Six-bedroom, Mochlos, €2,800,000.


This stone build village home comes with stunning views of the countryside: 

Built in 1995, three-bedroom, Agios Nikolaos, Crete, €125,000.


Less an old house — but an old stone windmill for sale. Will need a lot of work to be transformed:

Old stone windmill with garden for renovation, Agios Nikolaos, €57,000.


A luxury seafront villa built with stone:

Six-bedroom, Agios Nikolaos, €1,100,000.


If you love any of these properties but they come up as unavailable, you can head to our property portal for more great options. 

Suggested reading:

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