This route begins in Kolimbari and ends up at Paleochora, one of the most beautiful coastal towns of Crete. Paleochora is an ideal base for your excursions to southwestern Crete or a place to simply relax and enjoy the holidays. The picturesque coastal settlement of Kolimbari is located at the western end of the bay of Chania; at a short distance south of it, there is the Monastery of Panagia Hodegetria Gonia. It is one of the largest and best-preserved monasteries of Crete with a fortress-like structure that treasures numerous icons and manuscripts.
After the village of Tavronitis, which is situated a little further to the east from Kolimbari, we follow the road in a southerly direction, parallel to the river. We pass through a green agricultural landscape and after the village of Voukolies, we go uphill until we reach the little settlement of Kakopetro.
From this point forward, the incline becomes steeper and the road climbs up the verdant mountainside, directly above the small yet impressive gorge of Mesavlia. From here on we enter the area of Kandanos, and after a few kilometres we reach the historical Kandanos village. Built on a plateau with age-old olive trees, Kandanos flourished during the Byzantine years, a fact indicated by the numerous Byzantine churches which are to be found in the area. The village, however, was destroyed during World War II by the Germans, in retaliation for the armed resistance activity of the residents.
Next, we continue heading south, along the valley which leads to Paleochora, one of the most beautiful coastal towns of the island. Ancient Kalamydi was probably situated where the Venetian castle can be seen today; its ruins dominate the scenery of the rocky hill south of the town.
Paleochora is an ideal base to explore the surrounding area, from Elafonisi to the Samaria gorge, where numerous historical and natural monuments are to be seen. It can serve as a starting point for excursions by car or by motorcycle, as well as for hiking on the E4 European long-distance trail, and for boat trips that link Paleochora with Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro, Chora Sfakion, Elafonisi and the island of Gavdos.
Nevertheless, there are also several places of outstanding natural and ecological interest in Paleochora. You can explore unique ecosystems such as the coastal area of Koundoura which is known for its cedars and the fantastic colours of its water. Equally beautiful is the fine pebble beach of Krios which is located west of Paleochora; its waters are crystal-clear, and it is partially organized.
Following the road that passes by a campsite, east of the town, you will reach two other secluded beaches. Anidrous beach, which has coarse sand and turquoise waters, and Gialiskari beach right next to it, where a thin spit of land reaching into the sea creates two beautiful beaches. You can also go to Gialiskari (also known as Gianiskari or Dialiskari) through the gorge of Anidri. The walk down the gorge is quite pleasant and takes less than one hour to complete; it crosses through gentle mountain slopes, olive groves and orchards.
Route Length: 56 km.
Region: Platanias, Kantanos-Selino (Chania)