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 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.
Several great beaches are dotted around the peninsula:
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.
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.
A very small sandy beach with extremely shallow water.
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.
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).
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.
There are plenty of places where you can stay in Stavros as well as in Kalathas. Limited options near Marathi.
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.