The history, culture, and landscapes of Greece attract many visitors from all around the world, year-round. There are many scenic, historic, and adventurous road trips to take while on a villa holiday in Crete, one of the world’s most popular resort islands. Here is our list of the top 10 drives you can enjoy when in Crete.
Kaliviani to Balos Beach
Top of the list for scenery, the drive from Kaliviani to Balos Beach is probably the most famous journey in Chania, Crete. Although the driving conditions are not easy, this route takes in 8km of extraordinary sea and mountain views, highlighting the splendor of the Greek land- and seascapes. The jaw-dropping views have made it a favorite among both amateur and professional photographers. Even better, at the end of the drive lies an unforgettable prize: a well-deserved dip in the pristine, lapping waters of Balos Beach.
Anogia to Skinakas Summit
Slap-bang in the middle of the island of Crete, Skinakas Mountain is home to the highest road in Crete, paving 17km from Anogia village to the Skinakas Mountain summit, 1,752 meters above sea level. From the mountain peak, visitors can enjoy an epic 360 degrees view of the whole island, and on a clear day, both the Sea of Crete and the Libyan sea. There is an observatory at the summit where researchers and astronomy students collect data about the cosmos. The weather is always a little chilly and can be quite windy, and the road is often snowed over in winter, so this is a summer adventure.
Hora Sfakion to Anopolis
Not for the faint-hearted, the road from Hora Sfakion (aka Sfakia or Chora Sfakion) to Anopolis on the southern coast of Crete, is exemplary in its acute twists and turns (19 in total over 12km) and stupefying views. The scenic, paved road takes drivers 600m above sea level to the fertile plateau in the White Mountains surrounding the small village of Anopolis. The area is renowned for its massive precipices and deep gullies, secluded beaches, traditional cuisine, and fine wine — an excellent choice for a road trip.
Kapsodasos to Kallikratis
For adrenaline junkies, the 11 km road trip from Kapsodasos to Kallikratis in southwestern Crete (Chania) is a must. It is one of the most perilous paved roads on the island, as ascending to the mountain village of Kallikratis sees the road becoming narrower and more treacherous by the minute. Brave drivers will find themselves at an altitude of 500m plus, with skinny, winding roads, unprotected by crash barriers as they teeter on the edge of bottomless cliffs!
Chania City to Omalos Plateau
Take a drive down this route to experience the legendary Samaria Gorge, the largest canyon in Europe. At the entrance to the gorge, travelers can visit the information center to learn about the White Mountains and the National Park of Samaria. Attractions along the way include olive and orange groves, old-fashioned windmills, chestnut forests, and quaint villages. The last village on the drive to Omalos is Lakki, a rural community consisting mainly of shepherds and home to a few cafés and tavernas that offer refreshments for visitors to enjoy while on their road trip. During spring and summer, the wildflowers of Omalos Plateau are a breathtaking sight.
Plakias to Frangokastelo
For lovers of the wilderness and untouched landscapes, one of Crete’s best road trips is from Plakias to Frangokastelo, in the south of the island. Although fairly long by island standards (27km), this road travels through an area that is fairly unpopulated, allowing for unprecedented peace and natural splendor along the way. The pristine landscape, sandy beaches, and alluring gorges are interrupted by 2 small villages along the way, Kato Rodakino and Pano Rodakino (Lower Peach and Upper Peach), both home to authentic local dwellings, traditions, and cuisine.
Vamos and Surrounds
Vamos in Apokoronas has no set “drive” but an exploration of the area by road will reveal a wealth of hidden treasures. Visitors to the region can soak in the historic relics of the Agios Georgios Monastery and the Chapel of Agios Nikolaos, or perhaps the Folklore Museum of Gavalochori. Take a break from driving at any of the spectacular beaches, such as Ombros Gialos Beach and Almirida Beach, or stop in at Órmos Soúdas Bay for refreshments. The Ano Kato taverna is another popular pitstop. A day cruising around the Vamos area will be a day well spent.
Vrisses to Chora Sfakion
While hiking through gorges is a popular tourist activity, the road through Imbros Gorge in Crete has been established and maintained to allow people to easily drive through. This scenic drive features deep crevices and untouched wilderness, with points of interest including the Gola Di Imbros nature reserve and the Imbros Gorge View Café. The 37km drive from Vrisses to Chora Sfakion takes about an hour and drivers are encouraged to watch out for unpredicted occurrences, such as goats ambling along the road. The descent to Chora Sfakion offers excellent photo opportunities.
Chania to Elafonissi Beach
Another breathtaking Cretan road trip is the drive from Chania to Elafonisi Beach in western Crete. This road takes you through the Topolia Gorge along a super-narrow road right next to the gorge and its lush vegetation. Simply put, you will fall in love with the majestic landscape and incredible scenery you will notice along the way. You can make the entire trip in under one and a half hours, or you can stop over for a coffee in the village of Elos, known for its chestnut trees. Two things are certain. Not only will you enjoy the journey, but the destination is equally rewarding, as Elafonisi Beach is one of the most popular and wild beaches in Crete. Grab this opportunity to relax on your sunbed and swim in crystal-clear waters.
Rethymno to Preveli Beach
On the often-windy drive from Rethymno to Preveli Beach, travelers will be amazed by the dramatic landscapes of the Kourtaliotikos gorge (also known as the Asomatos Gorge) as it runs between the Kouroupa and Xiron mountains. This scenic drive concludes at the beautiful palm beach of Preveli, on the Libyan sea, the perfect spot to kick back and relax. At Preveli the Grand River (Megalos Potamos) flows down from the gorge, forming a small lake (500m long) before emptying into the sea. If you feel like exploring the area further, visit the nearby Moni Preveli monastery for some religious and historical insight.
Best Drives in Crete
Driving around Greece is always fun. The country offers some amazing road trips and beautiful scenery. If you want to enjoy the Greek countryside at its finest, then Crete is the place to go. There are plenty of great places to visit, from ancient ruins to beaches. From visiting archaeological sites to hiking through the mountains or relaxing on the beach, the possibilities are endless. In addition, there are also several interesting cities to explore.
We hope that our above selection will help you make the most out of your holidays in Crete!
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