Villa Koukouvayia | Places you should visit
In Kissamos & Chania you will find many attractions. Lovely beaches, picturesque villages and sights of wild beauty are some of the attractions of the area you may want to visit. Below you will find the most popular ones.
Towns & villages
You can stop for a coffee and admire the view from the top of the gorge, or you can arrive early and spend the day hiking the length of the gorge. It is a 13 km hike plus another 3 km to reach the village of Agia Roumeli where you meet the ferry either east to Xora Sfakion (earlier) or west to Sougia (later). (Check guide books for the best way to get to the trailhead or find someone to drop you off and meet you at the other end). The first 2 km or so requires strong knees as you descend into the gorge, but after that it’s a long walk in a dry riverbed. The journey is between 4 and 7 hours, depending on each person’s degree of fitness, but however long it takes, it is an experience that no hiking lover will want to miss. Open May to October only. And if you want a REAL challenge, talk to us about starting above Omalos at the Kallergi Katafigio (shelter)!
Ready for some serious mountains? Take the first exit before Chania and follow the signs to the mountain village of Omalos. It takes about 1.5 hours from VK and takes you through beautiful mountain villages. Stop at the Neos Omalos Hotel for a coffee and a rest before proceeding to the head of Samaria Gorge.
The village of Chora Sfakion is situated on the southern shore about 60 km from Chania. The village has about 400-500 inhabitants now, but it used to be much larger (about 3000 inhabitants that traded with Africa). It was a place of resistance in Venetian and Turkish times, and during the German occupation. You can follow the road west of the village for 16 km to the village of Frangokastello.
Originally the Castle was named after the nearby Agios Nikitas Chapel but the local Cretans re-christened the name to Frangokastello (meaning “foreign castle”). On May 28, 1828 a big battle took place at the castle during an uprising against the Turks. The Greeks took over the castle causing the Turks to send in reinforcements. 385 of the 700 Greek “rebels” in the castle were massacred. Next to the castle is a statue of the Greek leader, Hatzimichalis Dalianis, as well as one of a local hero from the uprising (Nik Deligianakis from the Sfakia area). The tale goes that at dawn of each anniversary of the battle, shadows of figures on foot and on horseback can be seen in the mist, marching from the Church of Agios Charalambos to the fort.
Follow the map for a 2 hour drive up and over the spine of Western Crete to the seaside village of Sougia. The road ends at the sea, take a right and follow it all the way to the little harbor. This is a great spot for jumping off or putting in the kayak. Return to the village for a meal in one of the local tavernas. It’s all good!
Another lovely drive to the southern coast of Crete will take you to the busy village of Paleochora. Nice cobble beach, cold water and Caravelle is the best fish/seafood taverna!
An authentic 17th century mountain settlement updated into an eco-friendly tourism site. It has a wonderful mountain taverna where all dishes are made from organically grown local produce. A lovely place to go when the sea is too hot, and you want a cool breeze. Have a cup of mountain tea and play a game of backgammon while you sip. Go for a walk amongst the cottages and chestnut trees. Follow map and signs to the parking area, then walk a short distance down into the village.
The best cobble beach, and great place for body surfing if you catch it with the west wind blowing. Try the Sunset Taverna at the very end of the beach. Also a nice place for beach camping (it’s free!). Follow the route to Phalassarna, but instead of turning right, continue up through the village of Platanos and beyond. Watch for signs for Sfinari and then signs for the paralia (beach). And keep your eyes on the road at all times! It’s a L O N G way down!
A lovely village in the inland of Crete, Topolia is located 48 km south east of Chania Town, about 20 min drive from Kissamos. Located on the hillslopes, Topolia offers a gorgeous view to the surrounding region.
The most impressive spot near this village is Topolia Gorge, 1,500m in length. This gorge has steep slopes with many caves along these slopes.
A village with traditional colour, Topolia has stone houses, narrow streets and most inhabitants deal with agriculture and cattle-breeding. The village has affluent water, olive trees, chestnut trees and many poplars.
Agia Sofia Cave
Driving along the provincial road leading to Elafonissi and Paleohora, which is located just above the beautiful gorge of Topolia just after the village of Topolia and after passing a small old stone tunnel, you will see the opening of a cave on the right side of the cave. You get upstairs several steps, then you follow a small path. Which leads to the arched, imposing entrance of the cave of Saint Sophia. According to the official data, the cave of Agia Sophia is at an altitude of 285m. And includes a dome 20 m high. And 70 m in diameter. With varying stalactites and stalagmites.
There are two ways to reach this beautiful site:
By Car & Foot: Starting from the village of Kaliviani, follow the dirt road out the Gramvoussa Peninsula. It will end at a parking area with a single cafeteria where you can buy cold drinks and a slice of watermelon or a bowl of yogurt and honey – that’s about it. Park here, be sure to close all windows as the goats are curious and have no fear! From here you can follow the walking path out and down to the lagoon. There is no shade so bring your own in the form of a hat or umbrella. Also make sure you have enough water and wear good shoes.
By Excursion Boat: At the main port of Kissamos (Kavonisi) you can catch one of the daily cruises out to Balos. This includes a one-hour trip out, a stop along the way for hike up to an old Venetian fort, a couple of hours swimming/lounging in the lagoon, and then a one hour trip back to port. The boat has food and drink for purchase on board and will rent you an umbrella if you desire. It’s an all-day affair and worth doing at least once.
Kissamos Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Kissamos, which is administratively housed in the Ephorate of Chania Antiquities and housed in the building of the old Venetian administration, inside the castle of Kasteli Kissamos.
The Museum’s exhibition is located on the ground floor and 1st floor of the building and offers a timeless view of the history of the wider Kissamos area from prehistoric times to late antiquity. Particular emphasis is given to the Roman city of Kissamos, on which the floor is dedicated.
The findings are presented in chronological order in the excavations and thematic units. The exhibition is supported by surveillance material, and an online presentation with research and documentation on the most devastating earthquake of antiquity in 365 AD, which hit Crete and leveled Kissamos
Chania Archaeological Museum
The Museum has been housed in the church of the Venetian Monastery of St Francis since 1963.
The exhibits illustrate the cultural history and character of the area through the ages, from the Neolithic period to the Roman era. The exhibition hall is divided widthwise into two major sections. The east wing contains finds of the Late Neolithic period and the Bronze Age (Minoan era), while the west wing presents antiquities dated to the Iron Age (Historic era). The finds are presented in excavation groups and thematic units. The collections comprise Minoan finds from the city of Chania, prehistoric finds from caves, Minoan finds from various parts of the Prefecture, finds from tombs of the Geometric period, finds of the Historic era from Chania and various other towns and cities in the Prefecture, coins, prehistoric and historic jewellery, sculptures, inscriptions, stelai and mosaics.
Chania Old Town
The magnificent Chania old town is the most photographed spot of the city. The heart of Chania is beating here during all summer, it is busy, full of cafes, restaurants and taverns with Cretan food specialties, bars, pastry shops, art shops and preserved historical monuments from different time periods. The Old Venetian Port will definitely attract you to stroll leisurely back in time and enjoy the mix of Cretan, Venetian and Ottoman elements, beautiful narrow streets leading to the old city, and its wonderful architecture.
Nearly 20 hectares of land are waiting to welcome you, full of fruit trees from all over the world, herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants in a park different from others, where the land’s formation and the region’s microclimate make it a paradise for hundreds of plants and animals!
In the midst of this colorful and vivid landscape stands a burnt centennial olive tree, a memorial and a reference to the dismal fires of 2003, the park’s history and origin.
When visiting our beehive garden at Polemarhi village, you will be taking part in a beehive tour.
After wearing the beekeeper’s hat and veil, we will open the hives and see the honey, brood, worker bees, drones – maybe even the queen bee hersel. Later, we will gather pollen from a pollen collector.
Then you are welcome as guests to our house, where you can look at photos of our personal collection of worker bee visits to the region’s flowers across all four seasons.
The delicacies you will be tasting are honey, pollen, pasteli and rakomelo from our own production. In addition nuts, graviera cheese, rusk and Cretan mountain herb tea will all be served with honey.
If you wish, honey and pollen are available for sale.
Tours are arranged after a set appointment on a daily basis, except Tuesdays and Thursdays and they last 2 hours.
Rethymno combines the aroma of a past era with the modern aspect of a city that has so many things to offer to its guests! If you go for a walk on the streets of the Old Renaissance Town of Rethymno, you will feel a special blend that creates a unique atmosphere. The nightlife in Rethymno ranges from big clubs and bars on the coastal road of the Old Town, to traditional taverns with live music and delicious traditional delicacies.
The centre of Minoan civilisation and capital of Minoan Crete lay 5km south of Heraklion.
Knossos flourished for approximately two thousand years. It had large palace buildings, extensive workshop installations and luxurious rock-cut cave and tholos tombs. As a major centre of trade and the economy, Knossos maintained ties with the majority of cities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Wealth accumulation and the advancement of an urban lifestyle were the hallmarks of this zenith, which began circa 2000 BC and was typified by magnificent monumental buildings and a complex social structure.
The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th c. AD. The palace was built on the Kephala hill and had easy access to the sea and the Cretan interior. According to tradition, it was the seat of the wise king Minos. The Palace of Knossos is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth, with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros.