I donít know if Crete
is the most beautiful Greek island but definitely it is the
most largest and the least limited of all. Here are some of
my favorite excursions in and from my home town of Chania:
At first spend a good whole
day in the old city. Walk around the small roads, visit the Naval
Museum and the Archeological Museum which
though not as important of course as the one in Iraklio definitely
one of the cutest little ones you have ever seen. See the Cathedral
on Chalidon road, the Catholic church right across,
the Mosque of Kioutsouk Hasan (at Syntrivani Square)
and the Jewish Synagogue (renovated and directed by
the intriguing Nikos Stavroulakis).
Go to the leather street (Skridlof), at the knives street (Sifaka),
walk on the Kanevaro street, the old Muslin quarter
on Zambeliou. Visit the Byzantine
Museum on Theotokopoulou Street. For modern art go to the municipal museum in Chalidon and at Tzamia
Kristala, a very interesting gallery with an impressive collection of modern
Greek art, at Skalidi Street. Go to the closed market, a beautiful
building from the early 20th century, to buy herbs and cheeses.
Cretan graviera and mizithra are two you really
have to try. From the back door walk down the Daskalogianni street
and stop at Agios Nikolaos Square with its platanos tree
which is over 200 years old. Stop there to have a coffee
or lunch. Then walk Andreas Papandreou street in the
new city, and go to the small but really nice public gardens
with the clock tower and the amazing out-door cinema called
Kipos with mostly old and art movies. At the public
garden stop in the Cafť for an ice cream and for watching the Greek
families who go there with their children.
Out of Chania
Excursion 1. I
love the Therissos, Zourva (see the
and Fournes and then back to Chania itinerary
which is not far away at all.
Excursion 2. I
like the Venizelos graves at Akrotiri (4km) with the
imposing views of Chania city and then you can go towards
the airport to find the 2 Venetian monasteries of Agia Triada
and Gouverneto. Chania is a heaven for people interested
in churches and Monasteries. At Gouverneto take the
small path that leads to the caves and then continue, if you have
the courage, to get to the sea (must be a couple of hours,
I did it years ago). After that you can either go to Stavros
Beach where Zorba the Greek was filmed, or
even better to Marathi, a small and very clean beach
frequented by the locals. Avoid Sundays.
Excursion 3. Near
Akrotiri and with the same imposing views of
Souda Bay one can see the ancient Aptera,
the Itzedin Castle, and then my favorite villages
Armeni, Nio Chorio, Stilos (visit
the church Mother of God,12th cen.), Agii Pantes,
Paidochori, Fres, Tzitzifes ( see the restaurant
page). Then you can
continue towards Sfakia, one of the most famous places
in Greece mostly for its savage inhabitants. Before Sfakia
(1 hour drive) you will find the beautiful Imbros Gorge.
The landscape after Imbros and towards Chora Sfakion
is breathtaking!!!. Once you arrive in Sfakia, avoid
staying in the touristy and occasionally unfriendly Chora Sfakion
and go either to Illingas (west, 5 minutes drive)
for swimming or on the other direction (east) towards Fragkokastelo
a 20 minutes drive, to a very well maintained Venetian castle, with
my favorite beach afterwards, called Orthi Ammos (you
find it easier if you look for a hotel called Fata Morgana, and
the beach is right below). Now If you like mountains and you are
not afraid to drive on rough cliffs you should definitely visit,
before leaving Sfakia, the Anopoli village and the Vardinogiannis
bridge (30 minutes from chora Sfakion) with an UNBELIEVABLE
view of Aradenaís Gorge.
Excursion 4. West
of Chania city and after the city of Kissamos (aka
Kasteli) one can find the Falasarna Beach (40 minutes
drive). From Falasarna take the road towards south, go past Sfinari
and after a beautiful 40 minutes drive (with amazing views of the
sea) you arrive at the famous Elafonissi Beach (just
before Elafonissi stop to visit the Chryssoskalitissa Monastery).
Donít stay at the main beach, walk through the lagoon sea and get
on the little island just in front with a number of beautiful and
uncrowded coves. Next to Elafonissi but with some difficulty to
find is the Kedrodassos Beach, one of the most beautiful
and tropical beaches I have ever seen. On your way back do
not take the same road but come through the mountains and after
Elos village do a 20 minutes deviation to visit the
stone built village of Milia up in the mountains. You
must have lunch here!.
Other excursions that I really
like include the world known Samaria Gorge, one
of the longest gorges of Europe. Donít do it if you have knees problems.
The Balos and Gramvousa peninsula,
you can drive or even better do the cruise from Kissamos.
There are 3 boats leaving every day. Take the last one at 12:00.
The whole trip is approximately 8 hours and you have many good
hours of swimming and sight seeing apart the boat ride. The Paleochora
village (go to Anidri Beach), the Sougia village and
the Gorge of Agia Irini (Crete is a unique geological
phenomenon due to itís innumerous gorges), the amazing, amazing,
amazing Menies and the ancient city of Diktyna
(you need a jeep to go there and be careful that you donít kill
any wild goats on your way :-) and all the small villages still
living the old Cretan authentic way of life found
in the inland.
If you stay at Ammos
walk from the coast, go past the row
of small beautiful coves. I especially like the cove of Chrissi
Akti which is not crowded at all. Find the port of Nea
Chora with very good and decent priced fish restaurants.(see
page) and finally
arrive at the Venetian harbor and the old city (4km walk).
If You want to walk towards
the mountains then go to the small but well preserved village of
Galatas (30 minutes walk from Ammos
). Finally donít miss the sunset from the sea stones mosaic
surrounded swimming pool!
That's all for the moment. I hope this is helpful
to your readers.
You can click on the top photos to see them full size