Akrotiri peninsula - Monasteries and beaches

 

The monastery of Agia Triada

 

The peninsula of Akrotiri is located only a short drive from Chania and offers some of the best sandy beaches in the region as well as several interesting monasteries.

You could easily spend a whole day visiting the main monasteries and a couple of beaches.

The monasteries

The impressive Agia Triada was founded in the beginning of the 17th century and was a prominent religious school until about 60 years ago. It is well worth a visit but can get busy with tour groups. The monastery also houses a small museum.
You will need to pay a small entrance fee. Bear in mind that Agia Triada might be closed in the noon hours.

Following a winding road for 4 km to the north of Agia Triada you arrive at the 16th century Moni Gouverneto (Our Lady of the Angels). The building itself is quite plain but the church inside has a nice sculpted Venetian facade. Numerous signs telling you what is forbidden (just about everything!) do not make the place feel particularly inviting.

From Moni Gouverneto a good path heads down towards the north and the ruins of Moni Katholiko. On the way, after about 10 minutes walk you will pass the Bear Cave. It is a large chamber with a massive stalagmite in the middle resembling the shape of a bear. In antique times this cave was dedicated to the goddess Artemis.

After walking down for another 15 minutes you arrive at the monastery of Katholiko. Its origins are a little mysterious (possibly 11th century) but it was abandoned in the 16th century. The monastery building spans a small gorge with a massive stone bridge. It is a quiet and cool place to rest.

From Katholiko, you can descend into a small gorge and walk to the sea where it is possible to have a swim from the rocks.

 

  • Agia Triada which was built in the course of the 17th cenrury is the most recent monastery of Akrotiri.
  • Agia Triada which was built in the course of the 17th cenrury is the most recent monastery of Akrotiri.
  • The main entrance of the monastery of Agia Triada
  • The monastery of Gouverneto  is located on a ridge to the North of the peninsula of Akrotiri, about 4 km from the monastery of Agia Triada. This is the end of the road and from there you can walk down to the abandoned monastery of Katholiko in around 20 minutes.
  • The cave in which St John the Hermit is said to have lived. It is called the Cave of the bear or Arkoudospilios because of the large stalagmite that looks like a crouching bear if you view it from a certain angle. The cave is located close to the path that leads from the monastery of Gouverneto to Katholiko.
  • The monastery of Katholiko was built in the 11th century and abandoned in the 16th century because of continuous attacks by pirates. You have to walk a short while on a good path to get there. It includes a massive bridge spanning a small gorge that leads to the sea.
  • The monastery of Katholiko was abandoned in the 16th century because of continuous attacks by pirates. You have to walk a short while on a good path to get there.
  • The monastery of Katholiko . Note the huge olive tree growing out of the ruined building. It has not been pruned for over a 100 years.
  • Looking through a window at the monastery of Katholiko
  • The monastery of Katholiko . Note the huge olive tree growing out of the ruined building. It has not been pruned for over a 100 years.

The beaches

Several great beaches are dotted around the peninsula:

Marathi

Much loved by the inhabitants of Chania it gets very crowded at weekends. The sandy beach is nice, the water warm and very shallow. Brilliant beach for children as it is also very safe in all weathers.

Stavros

Very beautiful sandy cove where the beach scenes of Alexis Zorbas were filmed. It can get fairly crowded at weekends. Very safe for children. There is also a nice long sandy beach a little to the West. Much quieter but getting into the water is a little tricky in places because of rocks.

Tersanas

A very small sandy beach with extremely shallow water.

Kalathas

Lovely, good size sandy beach which can get a little busy in summer and at weekends. Shallow water so ideal for children though there can be waves when the winds from the North and West are strong.

Seitan Limania

A relative newcomer, almost nobody knew about this tiny cove until around 2015 when it quickly became a "must do" destination on the internet. Very beautiful but the descent on foot to the beach (which takes only a few minutes from the end of the road) can be a little tricky if you wear the wrong shoes. The beach is tiny so will feel crowded as soon as you have more than a dozen people on it. Worth a look because it's really special but not so great for a day at the beach unless you go out of season (and then it is likely to be in the shade of the cliffs that surround it).

  • View of the White Mountains after a heavy snow fall from the beach of Marathi
  • View of the White Mountains after a heavy snow fall from the beach of Marathi. In the foreground, above the bay ofSouda you can see the Turkish fortress of Aptera.
  • Marathi is located in the bay of Souda and has a really well protected little harbour which is used all year around by fishermen.
  • The cove of Seitan Limania, a true gem on Akrotiri. Unfortunately now on the 'must do' lists so it gets very crowded
  • The cove of Seitan Limania, a true gem on Akrotiri. Unfortunately now on the 'must do' lists so it gets very crowded
  • The cove of Seitan Limania, a true gem on Akrotiri. Unfortunately now on the 'must do' lists so it gets very crowded
  • The village of Stavros seen from the path leading to the cave. You can clearly see the bay of Stavros where the beach scenes of the film Alexis Zorba were filmed.
  • The village of Stavros seen from inside the cave that is located on the side of the "Stavros mountain". You can see the peninsula of Rodopou on the horizon.
  • The bay of Stavros has a small harbour consisting of no more than a jetty and a few fishing boats. It is not too well protected from winter storms where large waves can roll into the bay so boats do not stay there permanently.
  • The mountain of Stavros with an ancient quarry in the foreground. This was probably used to provide stone for building the monasteries of Akrotiri.
  • An ancient quarry by the sea in Stavros
  • The mountain of Stavros at sunset with an ancient quarry in the foreground. This was probably used to provide stone for building the monasteries of Akrotiri.
  • The Sunset Canteen on the beach of Stavros (with its owner carrying a tray and wondering who is taking a photo). Located on the long beach of Stavros it is a nice location for watching the sunset and has excellent and varied food.
  • The mountain of Stavros seen from the end of the long beach. Note the steep path to the cave visible as a thin reddish-brown line up the side of the hill.
  • The mountain of Stavros seen from the end of the long beach at sunset time
  • Kalathas beach, deserted on a sunny winter day
  • Kalathas beach on a summer Sunday
  • Early summer in Kalathas. A few umbrellas and beach chairs are there but it is comparatively quiet.
  • Three people on Kalathas beach on a sunny day in early spring.

 

How to get there

It is best to use a car if you want to see several locations on Akrotiri. A taxi could also be an option as the distances are not that great.
Public buses will go to Stavros several times per day (and will stop in Kalathas if you want to get off). There might be the odd bus to Seitan Limania and Marathi in the summer.

Accommodation on Akrotiri

There are plenty of places where you can stay in Stavros as well as in Kalathas. Limited options near Marathi.

Find accommodation in Stavros, Kalathas and Marathi

Where to eat

You will find several good tavernas right by the beach in Marathi.
Seitan Limania now has a cantina operating (by the chapel before you start to drive down to the beach).
Stavros has several cafés, restaurants as well as a great beach canteen on the long beach.
One good restaurant and a beach canteen in Tersanas.
Kalathas also has a large beach canteen as well as a taverna across the road.

There are also a number of other places where you could eat on Akrotiri in the villages of Kounoupidiana and Horafakia.

Map of the peninsula of Akrotiri

 

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Crete photo of the day
Crete Photo of the Day