CATEGORY:Chania | Crete | Ideas | Tips | Travel

Hikes & Tastes around Chania – Part 2

July 5, 2023

Photo by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

 

Crete comes with scores of great hikes. Gorges are aplenty – and luscious flora and fauna aside, they offer captivating glimpses of life through the centuries, with antique chapels, time-forgotten stone houses and mills and caves haunted by ghosts of medieval hermits. There is also unforgettable food in Crete, with an array of wholesome but toothsome traditional delicacies that form the basis of the world-renowned Mediterranean diet.

 

Combine a nature walk of cultural and historical interest with culinary pleasures with our handpicked ideas for a fascinating day-out in Chania. Packed with experiences that turn into charming stories, these excursions are designed and delivered by our partner, Trekking Hellas.

 

Hikes and tastes around Chania: Day 4 Sirikari and Ancient Polyrrinia

Enjoy an easy walk among luscious nature before reaching one of antiquity’s most prominent cities-states of Western Crete. Venture beyond the beaten path, past the tourist traps at Sirikari Gorge in Kissamos. The hike is one of the easiest on this part of the island, takes about 2-3 hours to complete and is suitable for young and old alike.

 

Sirakari is a protected habitat swarming with olive, plane and chestnut trees and aromatic herbs that fill the air with arousing scents. There are also goats roaming freely about, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch sight of the majestic griffon vultures who live and nest on the high cliffs.

 

The scenic hike ends at the village of Polyrrinia, whose history begins in Minoan times and continues to the present day. Soak up the atmosphere as you explore the old stone houses and the ruins dating from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods – including a Roman aqueduct and Venetian archways opposite the beautifully restored community building.

 

Founded circa 1100 BC by Achaean and Laconian colonists, ancient Polyrrinia was amphitheatrically built on a hilltop about 420 metres high. Archaeological findings suggest that it was the most important Classical city of western Crete after Kydonia (today’s Chania) and traditionally an enemy of both Knossos and Kydonia as well as the neighbouring harbour of Falasarna. Walking up to the old acropolis is an uphill trek but the views are jaw-dropping – from the majestic surrounding mountains all the way to the gleaming blue sea. All this exercise will surely get your appetite whetted – the trip concludes with a sumptuous traditional meal in a local taverna. Feel free to tuck into the home-cooked delicacies before heading back to your Adeste Chania Luxury Villa.

 

Hikes and tastes around Chania: Day 5 Palaia Roumata

Get a glimpse into Chania’s rich and tumultuous history while revelling in the splendour of its nature. Tucked away in the hinterland of Chania, the diminutive gorge of Vavouledo is a relatively easy route that takes no more than two hours to complete. The hike starts at the settlement of Hamalevri where the church of Agios Georgios is located. Tradition says that under the Ottoman yoke, this was where a famous secret school operated, with pupils coming all the way even from Platanias and Sklavopoula. The story’s ending is not happy though – eventually, a traitor gave out the school’s existence, so 70 children and their teacher-monk were slaughtered by the Turks. Inside the canyon, things are considerably more serene. The trail is covered by shady chestnut and plane trees throughout its length, and it’s hardly likely you’ll encounter other people. At the end of the route in Palea Roumata, you’ll reach the neighbourhood of Arhontika (Mansions) which takes its name after a still surviving 16th-century Venetian mansion. This belonged to the Renier family, a descendant of which is Nikolaos Renieris – one of the most important Cretan politicians.

 

In the centre of the village, you’ll find a Public Library founded in 1944, with 6.000 titles – it is no wonder that Palaia Roumata boasts a longstanding cultural tradition. The village square is also adorned by the church of Agios Spyridon dating from 1900. This is the site of a local panigiri which preserves its original character intact. Near the square, there is also a 3,000-year-old olive tree – a unique sculpture of nature. Other attractions include a cluster of quaint Byzantine churches including the scenic chapel of Agios Vasilios in Vavouledo.

 

Renowned for their fighting spirit, the inhabitants of Palaia Roumata have time and again displayed remarkable solidarity – and the inauguration of the Women’s Cooperative “Archontissa” in 2007 is one such example. With a view to preserving and promoting Crete’s heritage, the women of Archontissa sell a variety of hand-made local delicacies and artefacts you’re welcome to sample and buy. Made with premium quality, extra virgin olive oil, their “Xerotigana” are famous with good reason – and all the more tastier after your recent bout of exercise!

 

Hikes and tastes around Chania: Day 6 Apokoronas villages (Leivadouria trail)

Extending from the foothills of the White Mountains to the coast on the north, Apokoronas is an especially verdant, fertile region of approximately 200 square kilometres, with olive groves, vineyards and orange groves, lemon and avocado trees, and even forests with cypresses and oaks.

 

From the sweeping views of the ‘Lefka Ori’ (White Mountains), Souda Bay, the Akrotiri Peninsula and Drapanos Mountain to the sound of sheep and goats roaming around, Apokoronas’ varied topography is best discovered on foot. Options abound, from steep mountain treks to leisurely walks amidst splendid nature, catering to all levels of physical condition and aptitude.

 

One of the most scenic – as well as manageable – hikes is on the Livadouria path, which extends over 9 km and crosses the scenic villages of Tsivaras, Agios Pavlos, Douliana and Gavalochori. Strewn with olive groves, cypresses, holm oaks and myrtles, it’s a nature lover’s dream come true, complete with hidden churches and post-card pretty villages along the way.

 

Did you like this post? Stay tuned to our blog for more insights, tips and advice on what to see, shop, pack and do in Chania and the island of Crete!

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