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West Crete Day Trips

Travel in West Crete and enjoy the best of it with a hire car from Eurocar

Our travel suggestions in West Crete use Chania as a starting point, but you can start from any other town in Crete. If you are staying in East Crete, you will first have to drive an extra 135 kilometres (2 hours) from Heraklion to Chania. Check the road distances in Crete (external link).

Falassarna – Chrissoskalitissa Monastery - Elafonissi (2 - 2,5 hours' drive)

falassarna beachFalassarna, on the west coast of Crete, offers one of the best sandy beaches on the island and stunning sunsets. Falassarna was an ancient harbour of Crete which suddenly found itself on dry land after a strong earthquake which raised the entire west side of Crete.

About 20 kilometres south of Falassarna is Chrissoskalitissa Monastery (Moni Chrissoskalitissas or Chryssoskalitissas). The monastery stands on a huge rock looking out over the Sea of Crete. It is a female monastery and its name means “Golden Step”. Legend has it that one of the 90 steps leading up to the monastery is made of gold, but it is visible only to the true in faith who are pure of sin.

Continuing along the road from Chrissoskalitissa, you come to Elafonissi (Deer Island), one of the most-advertised and popular beaches in Crete. Elafonissi’s fame is based on the aquamarine waters of the lagoon between the shore and the nearby islet. The water is shallow and you can walk across to the island, where you will find white and pink sand (fragments of seashell) and lots of little beaches.

There are canteens on the first beach (not on the island itself) and a few tavernas before the beach. There are also rooms for rent if you decide to stay and enjoy Elafonissi once the hundreds of day-trippers have left.

Paleochora and Sougia (2,5 hours drive)

PaleochoraFrom Chania, drive in the direction of Kissamos and at Tavronitis take the exit towards Kandanos and Paleochora. Paleochora is a pretty little town set on a small peninsula. There are beautiful beaches on both sides of the town and many more a few kilometres away. One of the best is Grammeno beach with its small holm oak wood.

From Paleochora you can go on to Sougia. There are lots of bends but the lovely route through the chestnut woods more than makes up for them. Sougia is famous for its large beach and is a favourite destination for campers.

It’s about an hour’s drive back to Chania. Alternatively, from Sougia you can go up to the Omalos Plateau and the entrance to the Samaria Gorge. You can then return to Chania from Omalos along a particularly beautiful mountain route.

Georgioupolis – Lake of Kournas – Springs of Argiroupolis (1,5 hours drive)

GeorgioupolisGeorgioupolis is set in an estuary and its sandy beach stretches many kilometres to the east. The village lies between Chania and Rethymno, 39 km from the former and 21 km from the latter.

Very close to Georgioupolis is the Lake of Kournas, the only natural lake in Crete. On its banks are tavernas and cafes, while you can rent a pedalo on the lake.

Continue towards the village of Kournas and enjoy the view of the lake from above. In Kournas is Agapinakis’ taverna with its excellent roasts, sausages and “apaki” smoked pork from his own animals. Don’t forget to try his “galaktoboureko” semolina desert, too.

If you’re not hungry yet, you can go on to the Springs of Argiroupolis or Kato Poros. There are many tavernas serving Cretan delicacies, set in a green landscape of running water, little waterfalls and artificial ponds. The village of Argiroupolis stands on the hill, on the site of the ancient Roman city of Lappa. It is said that the city was founded by King Agamemnon. It became powerful under the Romans, controlling the whole area from north to south. You can still see Roman mosaics and ruins in Argiroupolis today. Argiroupolis is about 27 km from Rethymnon and 50 km from Chania.

Preveli Monastery- Preveli palm-grove lake - Agia Galini (2 - 2,5 hours drive)

Agia GaliniPreveli Monastery is on the south coast of Rethymno Prefecture, between Plakias and Agia Galini. The monastery has a long history. It played a key part in the struggles against the Turks, for which many monks paid with their lives. During the Second World War, the monks also helped New Zealand soldiers hide from the German forces of occupation after the Battle of Crete and escape to Egypt. The monastery houses a museum of icons and religious vessels, while the wonderful monastery church contains a miracle-working cross.

Near the monastery is a car park, where you can leave your car to walk down the path with its (many) steps to Preveli beach. Here is the famous palm grove in the estuary of the Kourtaliotis River. Stroll through the grove and bathe in the cold water of the river. On the beach is a canteen serving coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches.
Climb back up the tiring path, drive towards Spili and carry on to Agia Galini, a small village built on the hillside running down to the harbour. In Agia Galini you will find lots of tavernas, cafes and tourist shops. East of the harbour is the beach and the estuary of the river Platis.

Askyfou Plateau - Chora Sfakion - Frangocastello - Plakias (2 hours drive)

From Chania, head towards Rethymno but leave the national road at Vrysses, turning off towards Chora Sfakion. The road climbs through many bends but the mountain scenery makes up for it.

FrangocastelloAskyfou plateau is a fertile plateau in which the village of the same name nestles. It’s worth stopping here for “Sfakianes pites” - round, flat, soft cheese and honey pies. After Askyfou, the road runs downhill through many hairpin bends parallel to Imbros Gorge. The view of the Libyan Sea helps you forget the sheer cliffs below.

Chora Sfakion is the capital of the Sfakia area. This is the harbour where the people who have trekked down the Samaria gorge end up before returning to their hotels. Sfakia is considered a land of great fighters who never bowed down to the Turks. It is a mountainous region and one of the most inaccessible in Crete.

A short distance to the east is Frangocastello with its Venetian fortress, its famous shallow beach and its legends of the Drosoulites, ghostly warriors who appear in May with the morning dew.

Continuing past Frangocastello, you come to Rodakino with its pretty beaches and Plakias, a resort popular with many tourists. In Plakias you’ll find tavernas, cafes and many small hotels. Plakias also boasts one of the biggest beaches in Crete. It’s about half an hour’s drive from Rethymno and one hour from Chania. The road back leads through the Kourtaliotiko Gorge, a particularly impressive route.


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