Photo by daniel faro on Unsplash
Who says only Chania Old Town is beautiful and alluring? Crete is full of really eye-catching and fascinating villages and the region of Apokoronas is famous for its small, yet of exceptional beauty settlements and villages.
They are located near the coastline or near the impressive White Mountains overlooking the Aegean Sea, medieval, historical, with narrow streets adorned with bougainvillea. The best summary of the Cretan essence is located in Apokoronas.
The major villages of Apokoronas are Vamos, Armenoi and Vryses, with police, municipal and utility offices as well as taverns and large churches; Kalyves, Almyrida and Georgioupoli are the largest beach resorts in this part of Crete.
The district capital Vamos, home to only 600 permanent residents, serves tourists exploring Crete’s northwestern coastline. Tourism and agriculture are the major local industries, with much construction and quarrying to satisfy the demands of many foreigners eager to buy or rent properties in what used to be beautiful and traditional villages.
At the present time, Gavalohori is among the more popular villages for foreign buyers, with a large amount of often low-quality building taking place. Many residents or workers in Chania also have homes in the area.
From cobblestone paths, to 19th century churches, and from Venetians remains to luscious green fields – these authentic Cretan villages in Apokoronas will surely charm you away.
Georgioupoli is a sea-side resort is a seaside resort with a spectacular sandy beach some 12 km long – breathtaking scenery and world-renowned sights. It is situated on a beautiful bay by the longest sandy beach on the island (10 Km long), in a river plain lined with Eucalyptus trees, merging further inland into a magnificent mountain landscape ideal for walking, mountain biking and a plethora of outdoor activities.
The charming city of Chania is located about 35 km west and Rethimno 22 km Georgioupoli village is next to the island’s main highway, meaning that it is well connected to the ports and airports of the island of Crete.
Georgioupoli is also very famous for its magnificent landscape with many olive groves and feeding grounds. Visitors can explore this untouched area much like the locals have for hundreds of years, accessing old oak forests and gorges via stone mule paths, Ottoman-Venetian era bridges, and discovering villages that remain mostly unchanged from their trading-post heyday.
The surrounding landscapes, including the village of Kavros and Kournas Lake, provide an ideal setting for ecotourism and outdoor activities.
Georgioupoli was established at the end of the 19th century under the name Almiropolis. However, in 1899-the last years of Ottoman occupation- in honor of the visit of the Commissioner of Crete Prince George of Greece in the area, the village was renamed Georgioupoli. In 1902 Georgioupoli was declared co-capital of the Sfakia Prefecture, having as its first Mayor its founder, Miltiades Papadogiannakis.
Despite the arrival of modern shops and tourism facilities, Georgioupoli has lost none of its charm. The village’s surrounding is a great place to walk around and explore. There are marked tracks to several directions. On one side you have the curve of a small, yet wonderful bay, while on the other lie the magnificent White Mountains.
In between, you will find three small rivers that flow through the village before reach the Cretan Sea. Almiros, which is only about 1 km in length, forms a small bay perfectly for fishing and pedal boat trips.
Driving from the old main road, you will pass through a remarkable street of fragrant eucalyptus trees. These were planted at the beginning of the 20th century, in order to drain the moor landscape. Surprisingly, the wetland refused to disappear entirely and nowadays is a nesting site for various species of birds and animals.
Situated in the heart of Georgioupoli, the village’s square boasts a variety of restaurants and cafés. Georgioupoli’s main square, shaded by enormous plane trees and filled to the brim with chattering diners, is equally atmospheric. The Chapel of Agios Nikolaos is also amazing.
This popular tourist attraction was constructed during the last century right on the sea by a sailor. The chapel can only be reached by a stone causeway but it’s worth visiting, as it offers an exceptional view over the beach and town.
There are various activities available including boat trips, horse-riding and bike tours. Additionally, there is a small tourist train named Talos Express than transports visitors from the beach to places of interest including Kournas Lake and Argyroupoli’s springs.
In Petres, a small village on the eastern side of Georgioupoli, there is diving center where beginners and experienced divers alike have the opportunity to discover the exciting, mysterious world beneath the waves, where treasure lies forgotten.
Georgioupoli also serves as a perfect starting point for unhurried walks and hikes and climbing tours. Pull on your hiking boots and trek along one of the picturesque. There’s a walk for every pace and fitness level, whether you just want a short easy stroll to an outstanding viewpoint, want to climb down to a swimming hole for a dip or take on an adventurous hike across the spectacular terrain of the White Mountains.
Against the impressive and extremely varied backdrop of the White Mountains visitors can also enjoy the exhilaration of horse riding with herds of plains game or the excitement of visiting the many historic and cultural highlights en-route. You don’t need a great deal of horse riding experience though but you must be confident in the saddle.
Argiroupolis and the Roman City of Lappa, are another must see, just a few kilometer inland from the village of Georgioupoli. Amongst other things to discover there is a beautiful Roman mosaic from the 1st Century BC, a 2000 year old Plane tree and an ancient Necropolis. In the lower wooded village of Argiroupolis there are beautiful waterfalls and traditional tavernas serving exceptional Cretan dishes.
The beaches of Apokoronas are so plenty and so beautiful, you really will not be disappointed no matter where you end up. Georgioupoli’s almost endless beach consists mostly of fine sand and is considered the longest sandy beach on Crete.
It’s over 10 km long and ranges almost as far as Rethimno with crystal clear water. Quite relaxation is guaranteed. It is rated by the EU as one of the best beaches in Greece and has been awarded a Blue Flag.
The beach also, offers umbrellas and sunbeds, lifeguard, and the amenities for water sports, diving and boat rentals. With a numerous beachfront tavernas offering fresh traditional food, and beach bars it is one of the best places to stay in the Apokoronas region.
The region of Apokoronas extends from the foothills of the White Mountains north to the coast, in a wide plain with rolling hills. To the east, Cape Drapanon rises above the plain and extends out into the Sea of Crete.
The area is very green and fertile. The Kiliaris river, known in antiquity as ‘Pyknos’, runs through the region. Robert Pashley suggested that the name ‘Apokoronas’ came from the ancient city of Ippokoronas or Ippokoronion, also cited by Strabo.
Specifically, he stated that the city may have been located near modern Nipos, or on the site of the Venetian fortress, Castel Apicorono, on an outcrop between Kalyves and Almyrida.
There is a unique culture in the area of Apokoronas that sets it apart from anywhere else in Crete. From the cuisine to how they spend their time with family and enjoy the present and cherish every moment of life.
There are many ways to discover this way of life, but exploring the lesser-travelled but equally stunning locations on these spectacular villages is one of the best!
Why not explore some of the magnificent Apokoronas villages?
Armeni | Kalives | Stilos | Kokinno Chorio | Nipos
Fres | Plaka | Vamos | Gavalochori
Kournas Lake | Ombrosgialos | Vrisses | Almirida
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