“Akrotiri” (the Cape) is the large peninsula, that lies 10km to the north-east of the city of Chania, standing out almost like an island to itself! Known amongst locals as the “Acropolis” of Chania , it is characterized by its rolling plateau with the exception of a mountain chain along the north coast named “Skloka”, with the highest summit at 528m. The views from most parts of Akrotiri are unique; the White Mountains, Souda Bay with the area of Apokoronas beyond, the sea, the town of Chania, the north coast, and the distant peninsulas of Rodopos and Gramvoussa can all be seen from Akrotiri. In addition there are views to the countryside known for its fertile land and large areas of olive groves and vineyards. The northwest area of the Peninsula enjoys stunning views towards Hania and the Aegean Sea and the surroundings are perfect for biking, walking and site seeing. There are two medieval monasteries, the famous Venizelos Graves, small fishing villages and many sandy beaches. Seafood and fish is excellent in this area, which is famous for seafood tavernas to local people as well as visitors of the region.
Akrotiri is not yet greatly developed as a touristic resort, so although it does have all facilities, amenities and natural beauty, it is still a quiet and unspoilt area. Perfect for couples or families with children of all ages, as all beaches have easy proximity, golden soft sand and are sheltered and shallow, thus safe for everyone. Its dry climate combined with the sea breeze forms an ideal environment not only for residents but also for the fruit and vegetables produced which are renowned for their high quality and taste. During the spring and summer months, look for the small stalls on the side of the road where the local producers sell fresh vegetables and fruit! While parts of the Akrotiri coast are cliffs, there are many beautiful sandy beaches, most of them well protected by bays and not affected by the “meltemi” (northern summer winds). Some of these are Stavros (the beach where the movie Zorba was filmed), Kalathas, Tersanas, Marathi and Loutraki. All are well kept and clean, and are awarded the European Blue Flag annually.
Akrotiri is also an area for nature experiences and exciting hikes, walks and bike rides. Lovely ravines in the mountains lead into beautiful small coves. There are several caves with stalagmites and stalactites in fascinating shapes. Archaeological discoveries indicate that in antiquity, these caves were places of sacred worship and refuge from pirates. Akrotiri is also known as the Holy Mountain of Crete due to its many churches and monasteries. Some of the most famous are the monasteries of Aghia Triada (Holy Trinity) built in the 17th century, and the Monastery of Gouverneto of the 16th century. When visiting Aghia Triada, do not miss to visit the lovely museum and the small shop and buy some of their excellent wine, produced here! The Monastery of St. John the Hermit, dating back to the 6th or 7th century, is found within a steep ravine where one may arrive by stepping down 385 steps. The Catholicon of this Monastery which is built into the rocks of the mountain side is considered the first monastery built on the Crete. The walk from Gouverneto to Catholikon is one of the most scenic walks in the area. Remains of the ancient city of Minoa can be seen upon arrival to the beautiful beach of Marathi. Minoa was one of the two harbours of the powerful city-state of Aptera during Greek times. It dominated the entrance to the protected bay of Souda. Excavations have revealed part of its harbour and some buildings dating from the second century A.D. There are also three small islets very close to the coast. The most important is the islet of Souda located on the south part of Akrotiri, with a Venetian fortress and a light house which is expected to be opened again to the public in 2008 after many years of restriction.
Kounoupidiana, being the larger town in Akrotiri, serves as the “center” of the area and offers a good selection of shops, restaurants, banks, pharmacies and other services. In addition it is home to The Polytechnic University of Crete. The road network is good and with frequent bus service to Chania.
Akrotiri, Seaside Villages
Tersanas is a small seaside village with a lovely, sheltered sandy beach. There are a few tavernas and small supermarket but within 1km village Chorafakia offers an additional variety of tavernas, shops and supermarkets. Stavros, has an excellent sheltered sandy beach, perfect for children. The famous cave of Leras, is the place where “Zorbas” in the famous film (Anthony Quinn) visited his friend (Kazantzakis) and the stone house at the side of the beach, was the home of “madame Ortance”.
Marathi, a wonderful sandy beach and seaside small village, where seafood is unbeatable!
Kalathas, a beautiful sandy beach, perfect for sunsets, as it is facing west. The small island in the cove of Kalathas adds to the sunsets scenery and offers a good spot for snorkeling.
Loutraki, a small sandy beach with emerald color wave less sea, is also popular for the Loutraki Beach bar, offering sunbeds and parasols on a long grass area just above the sea, on the side of the beach.