Kissamos or Kastelli Kissamou

Kissamos or Kastelli

Kissamos or Kastelli Kissamou is a small town in West Crete, at the northwest end of the island. Kissamos, often still referred to by its earlier name of Kastelli Kissamou, lies halfway along Kissamos Bay, 43 kilometres from Chania.

Kissamos or Kastelli on the map of Crete

On first sight, Kissamos does not look like a town full of fascinating things to do, but the truth is quite otherwise. Don’t forget that the west coast of Crete includes some of the island’s most famous sights, such as Elafonissi, Falassarna and Balos on Cape Gramvoussa.

kissamos town in crete

Kastelli or Kissamos?

Kissamos is a town with two names, Kissamos and Kastelli. When it is called Kastelli, the word “Kissamou” (“of Kissamos”) is usually added, to differentiate this Kastelli, west of Chania, from Kastelli Pediados, south of Heraklion.

The town was called Kastelli because it is built on the site of an old Venetian castle, no longer visible today. The name Kissamos, on the other hand, is much more ancient; it is thought to be pre-Hellenic, but its derivation is uncertain.

Kissamos on the map

map of western crete and kissamos town

First impressions of Kissamos or Kastelli

Kastelli or Kissamos is a small town of about 2,000 inhabitants, with an attractive little harbour, lots of shops, cafeteria and tavernas mostly along the seafront, a long history and a lively atmosphere. It is a busy place, offering everything tourists may need, although it does not seem very impressive at first.

On first arriving at Kissamos, you see the large beach of grey sand stretching out in front of the town and the rocky coast to the west.

beach road in kissamos or kastelli

In the west part of Kissamos is the main road, Heroon Polytechniou Street, full of shops and supermarkets. But in the summer (and all year round when the weather’s good), the heart of town beats on the coast road, near Tzanakaki Square or Kastelli Square, which is mostly pedestrianised, letting visitors and residents alike enjoy a stroll by the sea.

The Kissamos area is particularly fertile, rich in grapes, sultanas, wine and raki (tsikoudia). The town played an important part from early historical times onwards, as the provincial capital and economic centre of Kissamos Province in Chania Prefecture.

The harbour of Kissamos is outside the town, linking Crete to the Peloponnese, Chania Prefecture to Kythera, Gythio and Kalamata. There are also daily boat trips to Gramvoussa and Balos Beach.

How to get to Kissamos

From Chania to Kissamos. If you’re in Chania, you can take the National Road west to Kissamos, 43 kilometres distant. The road is very good and you’ll be there in about 30 minutes.

From Chania Airport to Kissamos. Take the road to Suda and then the Chania -Kissamos National Road, heading west. This also applies if you want to get to Kissamos from Suda Port.

From Chania to Kissamos by bus. You can also get to Kissamos by intercity bus from Chania. There are buses every hour in the summer and fairly frequently at other times of year.

From Heraklion to Kissamos. Take the National Road to Rethymno and Chania. Do not enter Chania but continue straight on to Kissamos. It is about 170 kilometres and at least 2.5 hours’ drive away.

traditional village in western Crete

Kissamos is an ideal base for exploring Western Crete

Kissamos or Kastelli is ideal for people who want to explore West Crete while staying in a comfortable, organised place, with cheaper accommodation and food than other, more touristy parts of Chania Prefecture.

Kastelli is ideal for family holidays, or for people who want peace and quiet without privations.

Holidays in Kissamos are ideal for nature-lovers who want to be close to gorges, ecological nature walks, and the beautiful beaches of Elafonissi, Falassarna and Balos (Gramvoussa).

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