Mariou is a mountainside village just 27 kilometers from the city of Rethymnon. Overlooking the bays of Plakias and Damnoni, its residents are blessed with endless sea views. It is a lovely quiet area that lends itself very well to mountain hiking and it is only 15 minutes from the beautiful palm beach and monastery of Preveli. Because of its small size, the region has the coziness that is so characteristic of Greece, while also having a perfect microclimate for wintering.
Plakias, an authentic Greek village, is located in a beautiful bay on the south coast of Crete. Here you will find two beaches and a pleasant boulevard where you can go for a snack and a drink in one of the restaurants, taverns and cafes. In addition, the center has several stores, cafes and restaurants. In the vicinity are beautiful beaches such as Ammoudi, Micro Ammoudi, Souda beach and Schinaria beach. Each one is worth visiting. Plakias beach is 800 meters long and in some places 60 meters wide. Plakias is a great location to discover a large part of the south coast of Crete and to go hiking in the area. For example, in the many gorges in the area. From the top on the mountain on the south side of the bay (204 meters altitude) you have the best view of the bay of Plakias. There are also beautiful boat trips from Plakias. More information on this can be found at www.plakiasboattours.com.
Rethymnon city is located on the north coast of Crete. The old town of Rethymnon consists of a maze of streets and alleys, where cozy restaurants and quaint Greek stores can be found. Rethymnon also possesses a beautiful sandy beach where it is great swimming and sunbathing. Sights of Rethymnon include the Venetian harbor, the Archaeological Museum, the Rimondi Fountain, the Agios Frankiskos Church and the fortress Fortezza. This is a great place to view archaeological remains of historical value. Also, visiting this fortress offers the chance to enjoy the view of the city of Rethymnon.
In the old town you will find the better taverns and restaurants. Because Rethimnon has a large university, the terraces are well filled almost all year round and the prices of food and drinks are relatively low. Terraces are often found in the narrow old alleys, decorated with purple or burgundy bougainvilleas or they are located in a small city garden.
Sfakia (Chora Sfakion). Sfakia is a mountainous area located in southwestern Crete in the department of Chania. Sfakia includes the southern side of the mountains Lefka Ori (the White Mountains). It is a virtually untouched area with high mountains, gorges, plateaus and a rugged coastline. The name Sfakia comes from the ancient Greek word "Sfax," which means mountain gorge.
Chora Sfakion is the traditional village that is the "capital" of the Sfakia region. The people of Sfakia are known for their respect for ancient traditions and unspoiled nature. These people are also known in Greece as the people who do not submit. The route to Chora Sfakion is breathtakingly beautiful, especially the last stretch, with the Libyan sea in the distance and the view of the steep chasms of the mountains, is unforgettable.
Chora Sfakion has seen a number of changes with the advent of tourism. Restaurants, tavernas and souvenir shops have opened, and some hotels have also been built. In Chora Sfakion, which today is home to about 300 permanent residents, there is a small harbor. Here you will see fishing boats and passenger boats. The passenger boats sail from here to such places as picturesque Loutro, the beach of Agia Roumeli (the beginning/end of the Samaria Gorge in the south), Sougia, Paleochora and to the islet of Gavdos.
In the south of Crete you will find the beautiful village of Loutro. Loutro is a romantic village, situated in the shelter of the bay, at the bottom of the foothills of the Lefká Ori. Around the harbor you will find several cozy taverns where you can eat while overlooking the beautiful bay. In Loutro you will also find three small but well-stocked mini markets and a nice souvenir store. Because Loutro is only accessible by boat from Sfakia or on foot from Anopolis, you will not find cars. Wonderfully quiet! The ferries from Sfakia pass by several times a day, often filled with hikers on their way to or from the Samaria Gorge.
Frangokastello is a small village (150 inhabitants) in Crete, not far from Sfakia (15 kilometers) and Chania city (85 kilometers). It is located on the south coast of the island. It is known for the castle located here. The castle was originally called "Agios Nikitas," later local villagers changed the name to "The Castle of the Franks. They started building it in 1371 to protect themselves from sea pirates. During the Turkish occupation, Greek insurgents used the castle to defend themselves against the Turks. Other attractions in the area include the Holy Monastery of Agios Charalambos, the remains of the Old Christian basilica of Agios Astratigos (6th century) and the ruins of the church of Archangel Mikhail (14th century). Near the village of Nomikiana, in a cave opening under a rock is the church of Agia Zoni. Near the village of Kapsodasos is the cave of Agiasmati (Eye of the Holy Woman). Every year the feast of Agios Nikitas is celebrated in Frangokastello on September 15th.
Damnoni beach is located on the southern coast of Crete, about six kilometers east of Plakias. Damnoni is located in a bay and has a very beautiful sandy beach, which has been developed touristically only in recent years. The surroundings and the beach of Damnoni are beautiful. The mountains in the hinterland are rugged and there are impressive gorges. For hikers, this is a fantastic area. There is also a smaller beach among the rocks within a short walking distance for nudists. Various water sports are among the possibilities, including snorkeling.
Ammoudi beach is a little further east compared to Plakias and is a wonderful place to be and especially for people with children, as the sea deepens very slowly. It is clean and has a beautiful view and is not yet overcrowded with tourists.
Mikro Ammoudi of Ammoudaki
This is a small and beautiful beach near Plakias, between the beaches of Damnoni and Ammoudi. The shore is covered with thick white sand, while the water is turquoise and crystal clear. To the west, there is a cave with crystal blue water and a small beach in the background. The beach at Mikro Ammoudi is not organized, but there is a tavern that provides coffee, soft drinks and snacks, while it also rents out sun beds to beach visitors.
Mikro Ammoudi is a favorite destination of nudists, but the use of the beach by others is not prohibited. If you don't like being among nudists, there are several other beautiful beaches next door.
Access to Mikro Ammoudi is easy via the road that starts from the village of Lefkogia. The road ends on a plateau that is also the parking lot. From that point a narrow path leads to the beach.
Skinaria can be found even further east relative to Plakias, a few kilometers south of the village of Lefkogia. From Lefkogia you drive along a rather narrow and therefore somewhat challenging road to the beach. On the way, if you pay attention, you will come across a beautiful cave on the left. Watch out for the many sheep and casts you can/will encounter on the way!
Skinaria is a small beach with soft sand and fine pebbles and clear and deep water. Because of this deep and especially clear water, you can easily see 40 meters from you, water Skinaria is popular with divers and snorkelers and is also often used as a dive spot in organized diving trips. The rocky seabed is rich in marine life such as moray eels squid and many other beautiful species.
Spili (18 kilometers)
Spili is a mountain village in Crete. There are several reasons why exactly Spili is worth visiting. First, the village is remarkably green. This is because of its location at the foot of the Kedros Mountains, which means that more water ends up in Spili than in many other places. Second, here you will find the monastery of Spili. Unlike some other monasteries in Crete, this one is still in full use. If you enter Spili from the western side this complex immediately attracts your attention. The monastery is free to enter. Of course, you cannot see the rooms where the monks live, but a visit to the church is possible. Above all, take a moment to enjoy the beautiful view of the valley and the two small Byzantine chapels that stand at the entrance to the monastery. By the way, there is also a second church in the heart of Spili.
Another attraction in Spili is the Venetian fountain. This Kefalovrissi fountain consists of nineteen lion heads from which potable water flows. This cool spring water offers a pleasant coolness in the summer months.
Spili is on the route from Rethymnon to Agia Galini. For people who are out for the day, following this route, Spili is a popular place to have a quick meal or a drink. In the many tourist-oriented stores you can buy all kinds of Cretan souvenirs such as olive oil and handicrafts.
Preveli (10 kilometers)
Preveli is an attraction on the south coast of Crete. You will find two ancient monasteries (Kato Moni and Piso Moni) and a beautiful sandy beach with river and palm forest (Palm Beach). The palm forest and beach of Preveli are at the end of the Kourtaliotiko gorge.
Kourtaliotikokloof (6 kilometers)
In the south of Rethymnon you will find this impressive gorge. If you drive there by car, the changing landscape on the way alone is a beautiful sight. Remarkably, it is especially more green compared to the area around Heraklion. Halfway up the gorge a viewing platform has been made. Here you can easily park your car as well. There is enough space to make a stop. Just be aware of the strong wind. So keep your hats and sunglasses on. Hiking trails are not marked. Going on this hike with children is not an option because in some places the water can reach the hips. The end point is Preveli beach, where the river of the gorge flows into the sea. A tough hike of over 14 kilometers, but definitely a wonderful experience. You can easily set aside half a day for this.
Gavdos is the southernmost island in Greece. Gavdos is located 35 km from Crete (Sfakia) and 241 km from Africa. The area of Gavdos is about 37 square kilometers. The highest point is 345 meters, which is Mount Vardia. The best way to visit the island is to rent a car and drive to Chora Sfakion (located 43 km from Mariou) and take the boat from there. Gavdos is a very beautiful island with beautiful beaches, super clear sea water and lots of cedar and pine trees. About 50 people live there, there are some rooms for rent and small hotels, tavernas and cafes.
The central Mediterranean location of Gavdos makes the island an ideal stopping place for birds migrating between Africa and Europe. During the year there is little rainfall on Gavdos, but the landscape is still quite green in spring and early summer. The few rivers that are there in winter have no water in summer as normal average temperatures reach 35-40° C.
One of the main attractions of Gavdos is the natural arch known as Tripiti, it can only be reached by boat. On top of the Tripiti rocks is a sculpture of a chair, with the text "southernmost point of Europe" on it.
Matala (68 kilometers)
Matala is a seaside resort on the southern coast of Crete. Matala became world famous for its unique location among the chalk cliffs, with numerous holes giving this place a characteristic face. In the 1960s Matala was the domain of the hippies, when the hippies still came here, they stayed in these caves. However, the hippies were not the first to use these caves, or this beautiful beach. Mythology says that Zeus - in the guise of a bull - brought the princess Europa to Matala beach on his back. In the era of the Minoans - the Bronze Age Civilization of Crete - Matala served as the port of the Palace of Phaistos. Later, in Roman times, it was the port of Gortyn. Historians estimate that the caves were used as tombs in the Roman or Christian period. This area was certainly inhabited, as evidenced by the ruins under the sea. You can see them if you go snorkeling in Messara Bay.
The village can be reached from Mires and from Festos. The closer one gets to Matala, the more the mountains converge to the left and right. The beautiful bay on which Matala is located is narrow and opens to the west, giving visitors and residents of Matala a breathtaking sunset every evening.
Lake Kournas (38 kilometers)
Lake Kournas (Greek: λίμνη κουρνά is the only freshwater lake in Crete. The lake is in a beautiful landscape, located in a valley among the hills in the prefecture of Chania (western Crete) about 4 km southeast of the village of Georgioupoli and west of the town of Rethimnon. Lake Kournas is relatively small, with a maximum length of 1,087 m and a maximum width of 880 m. It has an area of 579,000 sq. m. and is generally shallow, 22.5 m at its deepest point, while it is about 20 m above sea level. Kournas Lake is home to distinct plants and animals. Many turtles, fish and ring snakes live in the water. Around the lake live many birds. The lake is excellent for swimming, snorkeling and pedal boating.
Aradena Gorge (60 kilometers)
One of Crete's most spectacular natural attractions is the Aradena Gorge, located in the southwestern part of the island. The gorge is located a fairly remote area of Chania province and a few kilometers from the village of Loutro. The narrowest parts of this gorge are connected by an imposing bridge to the white mountains, next to the deserted village of Aradena. During your exploration of the gorge you will also encounter Except interesting plant and animal species you will also discover places, such as the fascinating abandoned village of Aradena. The entire walk (a hike with many stones) is 16-18 kilometers long. However, most people make only half the hike, from the bridge over the gorge to the sea, where the small Marmara beach can be found. From Marmara it is possible to return by boat in the direction of Loutro or Sfakia.
Imbros Gorge (49 kilometers)
The Imbros Gorge is located near Frangokastello in southern Crete, in the mountain range the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and runs from the village of Imbros on the Askifou plateau to Komitades which is near the Libyan Sea. There you will find several tavernas where you can go for lunch or a drink. From there you can also be taken to the entrance of the gorge. The Imbros Gorge is a deep gorge created millions of years ago when river water worked its way through the rock and is about seven kilometers long. In the gorge you walk between meters-high rock walls and see unusual rock formations. Various herbs grow there, such as thyme. With a little luck you will also spot the rare Kri-Kri goat. This wild goat is found only on Crete and the few surrounding islands. The complete hike takes about 2 to 3 hours on average.