If you haven’t heard of Southern Crete and its best attractions, keep reading to find out more.
Greece is one country that offers some of the world’s best tourist sights and destinations. One of their islands, in particular, is not only the fifth largest in the Mediterranean but is also home to beautiful beaches, mountains, and snippets of ancient Greek history. Southern Crete, known as Kreta by the locals, is a haven for sun lovers and people who want to visit towns bearing semblances of both past and present.
If you haven’t heard of Southern Crete and its best attractions, keep reading to find out more:
1. The beaches
As mentioned, Southern Crete has several gorgeous beaches many tourists flock to annually. Once you’ve booked your stay in accommodations like Xenia Hotel, your next challenge is choosing which one to see first. Each beach on the island is different, with some having pebbles and others having soft sand. All of them boast beauty, clear turquoise waters, and warm sun, especially if you visit between spring and fall.
If you’re coming from Chania, you’re closest to Elafonisi beach and Balos lagoon, both known for their white and pink sand. They can get crowded during the peak months of July and August, but if you walk further in, you may find a quiet spot. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures here, too, because both beaches offer stunning views.
Heading further south of Crete will lead you to more beaches: Preveli and Matala. The former is at the end of a gorge and framed by massive cliffs. Meanwhile, the latter is a long stretch of beach where you can find some caves on one end. Hence, these two beaches should be on your itinerary if you like dramatic natural scenery.
2. Chrysoskalitissa Monastery
Just five kilometers north of Elafonisi beach sits the Chrysoskalitissa Monastery on a massive rock. Despite Greece being the home of the famous Greek pantheon, this tourist spot is dedicated to Mother Mary and the Holy Trinity. It was built during Venetian rule and named after the final golden step of the original 98 steps that led to the structure.
If you’re a Catholic or someone who enjoys learning more about religious history, you mustn’t forget to visit this place.
3. Samaria Gorge
Crete is home to many gorges, but Samaria Gorge is arguably the most gorgeous. It’s one of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves in the Samaria National Park. Hikers will love trekking along its 16-kilometer trail and passing through the gorge, where they’ll pass along many ancient and tall pine and cypress trees along the way. It’s pretty trendy among active tourists that the gorge is included in G Adventure’s 550 epic adventures.
The whole hike may last up to seven hours, depending on your fitness level. It goes mostly downhill, but in the end, you’ll arrive at the Libyan Sea and find a beautiful black-sand beach in Agia Roumelli. Once there, tourists can hire a boat to take them to Chora Sfakion, a nearby southern town.
Backpackers, hikers, and day-trippers will love visiting Sougia on their Southern Crete adventures. Travelers coming from Samaria Gorge by boat often make a stop here, get refreshments, and wait for their bus to return them to their pickup points. If you’re an experienced hiker, you might enjoy taking the European Path E4 to Paleochora, another coastal village.
This quaint little port town on the south coast is also perfect for those who crave simplicity and quiet time on their travels. The nearby beach is often devoid of crowds, and their beach-side tavernas are cozy enough for small travel groups. There are also local cafes on the beach’s promenade for people looking for a bite to eat or something to drink. Moreover, further exploring will bring you to a 6th-century-old church with a marvelous floor mosaic.
If you take the European Path E4 from Sougia, you’ll end up in Paleochora. Driving from Tavronitis from the north coast would take you there in around 70 minutes. Paleochora is a small village blessed with fertile land, so you’ll find many local farmers here. There’s not much to do here regarding tourism, but if you prefer some downtime on your Cretian travels, this place is for you.
There’s a harbor promenade near the pebble beach where you can walk along and encounter several restaurants and cafes for refreshments. Unlike other towns and cities, there are more family-run hotels than sky-high complexes in Paleochora, focusing more on the views and ambiance.
With the social media boom, more tourists flock to Paleochora than usual, but it remains a small, quaint, and peaceful town. Make sure to include this location in your itinerary when planning your Greek islands vacation.
While many people might opt to visit Crete’s northern attractions, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in its southern counterpart. There’s something for everyone here, from turquoise beaches to hiking trails and little towns to explore. You won't get bored in Southern Crete if you have the eye and heart for adventure.
Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.
She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.