AKROTIRI GUIDE, peninsula located northwest of Chania

Akrotiri is a peninsula northeast of Chania and north of Souda Bay. Known locally as Chania’s Acropolis, most of Akrotiri is an undulating plateau with the exception of a mountain range along the north coast, with Skloka as the highest point at 528 m.

Akrotiri is an area for outdoor adventures with interesting walks literally everywhere. Great ravines in the mountains flow into the sea forming beautiful little coves. Several mountains have caves with rocks, stalagmites, and stalactites in fascinating shapes. Archaeological and historical evidence suggest that the caves were used as sacred places of worship and refuge from pirates.

While parts of the coast are cliffs, there are several beautiful beaches in sheltered bays. The most famous beaches are Marathi, Tersanas, Kalathas and Stavros. Stavros is also known for the beach scenes in the movie Zorba the Greek.  All the beaches are well kept and clean, and awarded the EU’s Blue Flag every year.

The views from most areas of Akrotiri are unique: The “White Mountains”, Souda Bay with Drapanos on the opposite side, the open sea, Chania center and the north coast of the distant peninsulas of Rodopou and Gramvoussa are some of the views from Akrotiri.

This beautiful peninsula is lush and green, and known for its fertile soil. Olive groves and vineyards characterize the peaceful and picturesque landscape.

Akrotiri has approx. 10,000 inhabitants. Some of them live in charming, traditional villages such as Stavros, Chorafakia, Argoylides, Aroni, Kathiana, Kampani, and Sternes. Others live in attractive newer suburban areas closer to the centre of Chania as Profitis Ilias, Kounoupidiana, Korakies and Kalathas. Kounoupidiana serves as the centre of Akrotiri and offers a wide range of shops, restaurants and other services. The road network is good and well maintained, and there are good bus services from many areas to Chania city centre.

THE BEACHES OF AKROTIRI

The long sandy beach of Stavros:

For both locals and tourists alike, this beach is still relatively unknown. Coral reefs and stones make it a little difficult to access the crystal clear sea, and during the months of July and August the northerly wind “Meltemi” often brings big waves. But this beach “off the beaten track”, is among my favorite on Akrotiri. With only a few sun beds and umbrellas, it is always a quiet and calm place to relax. Eccentric Malika, owner of the small beach-cafe “Sunset” (ηλιοβασιλεμα in Greek) makes delicious food inspired by French, Moroccan and Greek cuisine. My favorite dishes include humus, marinated vegetables, mussels and the French casseroles. Tables made out of recycled cable reels, old plastic chairs in the sand, umbrellas of palm leafs, and great music (everything from reggae to classical and ethnic) reminds you of an atmosphere more associated with tropical areas.  The beach may be difficult to find, but look for her small for handmade signs along the main road from the lagoon towards the old radar station. NB! Large waves when strong northerly winds.  MAP

Stavros (the lagoon), has a lovely sandy beach with crystal clear water, sun beds and umbrellas, and a few restaurants which are also open in the evening. This is where the beach scenes in the movie Zorba the Greek were filmed. Sheltered and secure even on days with strong winds, thanks to the large lagoon.  MAP

Thanassis Beach is a small bay with a cozy taverna, west of the long beach of Stavros.  Sun beds and umbrellas. Sheltered and secure even on days with strong wind. MAP

Kalathas is a long and shallow beach with sun beds and umbrellas and a nice taverna on the beach which also open in the evening. Exposed to waves when wind from the west. MAP

Maherida, a bay with crystal clear waters and a tiny beach. No sun beds or umbrellas. Nudism allowed.  Sheltered and secure even on days with strong wind. MAP

Tersanas is a small bay with shallow waters, and beach with sun beds and umbrellas. Small beach-café for light lunches, and a fish restaurant which is also open in the evenings. Sheltered and secure even on days with strong wind. MAP  

Loutraki is a shallow idyllic beach with crystal clear waters. Some sun beds and umbrellas.  A popular beach-bar frequented by the local young adults is located on one side of the beach.  Beach café for light lunches, and 2 tavernas open for lunch and dinner. Sheltered and secure even on days with strong wind.  MAP

Marathi is one of the best beaches on Akrotiri. Crystal clear waters, sun beds and umbrellas. Sheltered and secure even on days with strong wind.  

Marathi has 2 cafes, 3 restaurants, and a couple of beach-bars. Suzanna’s fish-restaurant Patrelantonis at Marathi is considered to be one of Chania’s best, and has been filmed in the Food series of Discovery Channel. MAP On the opposite side of the beach you will find Giannis’ tiny beach-restaurant ROKOS, serving fresh fish caught by his brother and father.  Both of these restaurants are also open in the evening.  MAP

On the opposite side of the beach you will find Giannis’ tiny beach-restaurant ROKOS, serving fresh fish caught by his brother and father.  Both of these restaurants are also open in the evening.  MAP

Up until 10 years ago, Seintan Limani was unknown to most locals, except fishermen and divers. Today, this small, wild and beautiful bay has become one of the most photographed sites of Crete and has lots (perhaps too many) of tourists eager to see the turquoise sea, the beautiful white beach, and the crystal clear waters. From where the asphalt road stops, the last few hundred meters is by foot down the mountain side. NB! Despite the idyll, there are often strong underwater currents, and it is not recommended to swim far out, especially when it is windy! Remember water and any food, it is far to the nearest kiosk.  MAP

There are three monasteries fairly close together on the Akrotiri.  Agia Triada is 17thcentury, Venetian built and restored. It has a grand arched entrance and a campanile, a beautiful altarpiece in the church and a small museum. It is a working monastery and visits are possible. MAP From Agia Triada, the 4 km gravel road up the mountain leads to the Gourverneto Monastery which is 16th century, has a fortified appearance and is known for its domed roof and icons as well as ancient frescoes in the church. Gouverneto has a tiny museum, and the Saint’s Day is October 6/7 when local residents come to celebrate this religious festival. Below Gouverneto, a path leads to the Katholiko Monastery which is now deserted and in ruins as the monks were continually besieged by pirates and eventually moved up to Gourverneto Monastery. The valley is dotted with caves and amongst others is St John the Hermit’s. If you cross the bridged ravine and scramble to the bottom, you will find a tiny natural harbor, the remains of a port, an ancient boathouse or slipway hewn from rock, and you can swim from here. It takes about 1 hour to return uphill. MAP

Restaurants on Akrotiri

Sunset taverna by Hotel Tersanas Village Apartments has lovely homemade Cretan food made by the owner, Kyria (Mrs.) Maria. MAP.

Mitsos, lots of good ”on the grill” dishes, reasonably priced, and quickly served.  MAP.

Nykterida, (the bat in Greek) is one of the oldest and best restaurants in Chania.  It is only open for dinner (after 8 pm) in the summer). A lá carte each evening, but often reserved for venues during the weekends in high season.  The menu contains traditional dishes with a modern twist. This restaurant has a rich history of famous guests, which can be read about in the introduction of the menu. All the tables have lovely views towards Souda Bay. MAP

Bourakis, wonderful Cretan, traditional dishes, many of which are hard to come by in other restaurantsMAP

Taverna Irini (named after its owner) has been serving good homemade food for the past 30 years. MAP

Have a drink while enjoying the spectacular sunset with views to Chania town at KOUKOUVAGIA (ΚΟΥΚΟΥΒΑΓΙΑ in Greek). They also serve delicious cakes and coffees, and a wide variety of snacks. Open from noon to late evening. Located by the Venizelos Graves (another lovely place to visit). Look for the sign with the owl. MAP

At MEGAPLACE you’ll find a large playground, bowling, trampolines, a cinema, and cafes with beautiful views to Souda Bay.  MAP

Other useful information:

Generally, shops are open Monday to Saturday from 9 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the shops are also open from 5 in the afternoon to 8 in the evening, and Sundays, closed. Supermarkets are open all day, many also on Sundays. There is a good selection of minimarkets open every day until late night.

The suburb of Kounoupidiana has the best choice of bakeries, supermarkets, fishmongers, butchers, and fruit and vegetable shops. MAP

Pharmacies are located in several areas on Akrotiri, and easily noticed by their green and white cross signs. They follow the same opening hours as other shops, but there is always one on duty which is open between 2 and 5 in the afternoon, and evenings / weekends.

Dentist: Andreas Tsagarakis, Kounoupidiana. Tel. + 30 2821066944, mob. +30 6977329999. Speaks English, and is warmly recommended. MAP

Doctor: Paraskevi Belfiori Alevizaki, Kounoupidiana. Tel. +30 2821020795. Speaks English. MAP

Hospital: The general hospital is located in Mournies (2nd exit on the motorway from Souda to Chania, also marked Mournies). Email: info@chaniahospital.gr, Tel. Exchange: +30 2821022000   Emergency Department: +30 2821022256 MAP

Pediatrician: Giannis Apostolakis, Tzanakaki Street nr. 58 (Chania town), Tel. +30 2821045622.  Speaks English. MAP

Private clinic/hospital:  Iasis, www.iasishospital.gr , tel. +30 2821070800. MAP

Taxi: I work with the taxis of Antonis Tsourounakis. He has fixed rates from my villas on Akrotiri from/to Chania airport and Chania centre. Order on +30 6972225933.