Chania area • Kalives • Almirida • Kastelli
Transfer time 20-30 mins (Chania), 45 mins (Kalives), 1 hour (Almirida and Kastelli)
Chania is the main town in the west and has a strong Venetian flavour, particularly around its immense harbour, lined with restaurants. Behind, a maze of narrow lanes and crumbling Venetian facades conceal more restaurants, small shops and atmospheric cafés.
A half-hour drive east of Chania, neighbouring Kalives and Almirida are at the entrance to Souda Bay (the largest natural harbour in the Aegean), the White Mountains behind forming a majestic backdrop. Both enjoy fine sandy beaches and beautiful rolling countryside.
Walking in this beautiful region, called Apokoronas, is a major attraction and your Sunvil representative is happy to give advice and hand out walking maps.
Kalives has retained its relaxed village atmosphere and boasts two long sandy beaches, one to either side. Centred around a tree-shaded square, housing a couple of cafés and the handsome church, Kalives has a good choice of authentic local tavernas and small shops which cater for most needs.
Life in the thriving small resort of Almirida revolves around the beach and there are more than a dozen tavernas now here. The area has developed in recent years and the village now has several café-bars, a bakery and a pair of well stocked mini-markets. Almirida now has just the right balance between lazy days on the long curve of sandy beach - there are plenty of sunbeds and beach cafés as well as non-motorised water sports (windsurf, kayak, paddleboard, pedalo) - and a vibrant but not OTT evening atmosphere. For a change of scene why not walk up the hill to the traditional village of Plaka (20 mins.) and enjoy dinner in the square in one of the several fine local tavernas here?
From both Almirida and Kalives small motorboats can be rented (tuition given, no licence required - the best way to explore Souda Bay), bicycles can be hired, excursions operate (from early May), there is a bus to Chania and taxis are available.
The small town of Kastelli (also called Kissamos) is the gateway to Crete's wild west. Some 40 kms west of Chania, linked by a fast highway, Kastelli's atmosphere remains primarily that of a working Greek market town where the priorities remain agriculture (good wine from this area) and fishing rather than tourism. Hotels there are but tourism is generally low key, attracting those looking for a peaceful break with miles of unspoiled countryside and uncrowded beaches (mainly pebble) close to hand. The area is therefore the perfect base for our painting and walking holidays that operate from the seaside hamlet of Nopigia 6 kms to the east of Kastelli, and linked by a good bus service.
Lying at the centre of a wide bay formed by the rocky arms of two wild peninsulas called Gramvousa and Rodopou (boat trips run regularly to the former), Kastelli has good facilities and a small archaeological museum.
One of Crete's most beautiful beaches, Falasarna, lies just a half hour drive away. Being on the west coast and looking out over open sea, the sunsets here can be spectacular. Further south is equally lovely Elafonisi, with its coral sands and islet you can wade to via a sandbank. With a car, a wonderfully scenic circuit - out via the coast road and back through the mountains via villages and a gorge - makes a great day out, although the twisting narrow roads are not for nervous drivers or those with a fear of heights!