05 Chrisoskalitissa – Agios Ioannis

05 Chrisoskalitissa – Agios Ioannis

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E4 Path - Chrisoskalitissa - Agios Ioannis

The monastery of Chryssoskalitissa on the west coast of Crete island takes its name from the Greek “chrysso” and “skali” meaning “golden step”. The church, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, has 98 steps and according to the story, one was gold. However, only true believers can see it.

From Chania, the monastery is accessible by car (72 km) and is situated on a high rock with stunning vistas of the sea and landscape below. Nowadays, the monastery operates as a nunnery. You can also walk to the monastery crossing the E4 trail that starts at Kefali.

The E4 route from Chrysoskalitissa Monastery to Agios Ioannis

From Chryssoskalitissa (1), we continue south on a paved road, through small olive groves and shrub-covered landscapes, as well as bare areas, initially without having visual contact with the sea. After 4,5 km, we reach the beach of Elafonissi (2).

From Elafonissi we follow the coastal path, which is difficult to discern. About 300 m after the makeshift jetty (3), where the small boat from Palaiochora docks, we continue for another 700 m, until we reach one of the rare areas of Crete forested with cedars (4). Walking through the cedars on the beach, or wherever the morphology of the coast permits us, we arrive at a small clearing and come across a well with undrinkable water. In case you wish to camp, remember that this water is only suitable for washing. Also, be very careful not to harm the young trees as the area around Elafonissi is a protected natural reserve.

After the cedar-forested area, we begin to walk slightly uphill, to avoid the rocky coast. After crossing a small stream, the path becomes easier to distinguish. We descend again towards the beach and then (5) climb up again. Throughout this section of the route, after Elafonissi, we keep constant visual contact with the chapel of Agios Ioannis. This proves to be very helpful, given the poor route marking, as well as the frequently unclear path, which would otherwise make our orientation troublesome.

About 4,5 km from Elafonissi, we arrive at Agios Ioannis (6).


Path Length 9 km
Hiking Duration 2 hour
When to hike Spring, Autumn, Summer
Path Region Chania