Looking to beat the crowds of July and August, or just yearning for a bit of seclusion? Venture into the great outdoors to lose yourself in the magic of nature with these three off-the-beaten-path excursions in Chania.
Chania – not only its showstopping old town but the whole prefecture – is one of the Mediterranean’s top bucket-list destinations with a wealth of natural and man-made attractions: from stunning beaches to awe-inspiring gorges and ravines and from iconic historical landmarks to sleepy mountain villages where time seems to stand still. Factor in the mouthwatering local cuisine and the gorgeous sunkissed weather, and it’s easy to see why Crete’s former capital is swarming with tourists. But you can still find a pocket of paradise to call your own, even in the busy season. Here are our handpicked suggestions for three off-the-beaten-path excursions in Chania, that’ll leave you with fascinating stories to tell.
3 Off-the-beaten-path excursions in Chania
Go Cycling – or walking – in Apokoronas
It’s easy to lose yourself in Apokoronas amid air – thick with scents and the sound of goat bells. Rich in olive groves, vineyards, orange, lemon and avocado trees, and even forests with cypresses and oaks, this luscious region extends for some 200 square kilometres, from the foothills of the White Mountains to the beaches on Chania’s north. Take in the scenic views over Souda Bay and the glistening waters of the northern coast and get a glimpse of authentic local life in away-from-it-all hamlets by bicycle or on foot.
If you’re interested in both history and nature – and are relatively active – you can cycle from the Malaxa plateau towards Aptera – a remarkable archaeological site with ruins from Minoan through to Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times; continue through charming country roads strewn with ancient monuments and antique monasteries to reach the village of Stylos and its natural water-springs; and then ride towards the north coast of Chania and Kalives village for a much-needed cooling dip in the azzure sea.
If walking is more your style, the old paths of Roupakias that connect Kefalas with Xirosterni and Souri villages have been recently cleaned and signposted thanks to the initiatives of the locals. The route is really lovely, through oak and cypress forests and old cisterns with stone troughs.
Get hiking at the Sirakari Gorge
The mighty Samaria – aka “Europe’s Grand Canyon’ – is no wonder the star among Crete’s numerous gorges. There are actually more than 400 of them – and though they are not as famous as the aforementioned, they are awe-inspiring in their own right. Sirikari or Polyrinia Gorge in Kissamos is not only lovely but also doable – even for families with kids. The 6km long hike takes about 2-3 hours to complete – and it’s an easy, scenic walk amid olives, chestnut trees and plane trees. You’ll spot goats roaming around freely too – and maybe even catch a glimpse of the majestic griffon vultures who nest in the high cliffs.
Get a glimpse into times gone by at Milia Village
Surrounded by plane and hazelnut trees and the mountain peaks of western Crete, Milia is a remote village that looks like it would have looked back in the 17th century. As scenic as they come, the hamlet’s abandoned buildings were painstakingly renovated by the owners of the homonymous eco-retreat. With a “back to the essentials” mentality they serve traditional country dishes packed with flavour and goodness. They also deliver cooking lessons, allowing you to get a piece of Crete back home.
Is your appetite whetted for some off-the-beaten-path excursions in Chania? Stay tuned to the Oscar Suites & Village blog for more tips and ideas for excursions in and around Chania, as well as for more local insights and suggestions on what to see and do on the amazing island of Crete!