Sightseeing and Activities in Paleochora

What to do in Paleochora

One could spend days simply sitting at different café locations to soak up Paleochora’s sensuous scenery, but you’ll miss out if you don’t get off your fanny to experience the fun and idyllic moments Paleochora has to offer. Paleochora offers so much to enjoy in an exquisite setting devoid of clutter, cacophony and concrete skyscrapers that stain the modern world.

So, it’s not just the setting, the people and the food that create the winning formula. Paleochora exudes an extraordinary vitality, intensified by a host of activities going on under her hypnotic sun and the starlit night sky. It’s almost too good to be true. But it is! Complete your perfect Paleochora picture by indulging in the multi-coloured palette of surprises in store for you. This bride of the Libyan Sea is overflowing with an unbridled embarrassment of riches. Her spirit is free and contagious; what to do in Paleochora is up to you

Take your pick from this to-do list:

Walk around Paleochora

Head for Paleochora’s beaches. Start with Sandy Beach and stay there to eat along one of the many wonderful cafés and restaurants – most sporting authentic Cretan décor (minus the rifles). Whatever you do, avoid putting yourself in a perpetually prone position; there is more to explore here than the levels of a lounge chair.

sunset to paleochora

Walk to Sandy Beach’s south end to get a view of Krios beach and the oncoming sunset. Of course, staring mindlessly into the sky is perfectly acceptable anytime, especially in anticipation of Paleochora’s celestial epiphany when the sun slowly slips beyond your grasp, enchanting you with its elusive beauty.
Position your digital for that perfect Paleochora sunset picture. As night curtains the sky in radiant darkness, and the shimmering moonlight casts glimmering pearls of silver ripples onto the sea, find a fellow or femme fatale to kiss. If you can’t find anyone (impossible!) just throw a kiss out to Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon.

Stroll round the narrow streets and discover every pretty corner of Paleochora. If you get tired, stop at a traditional kafeneion and enjoy a coffee or soft drink. If a local strikes up a conversation with you, take advantage of the fact to discover the secrets of the area, which only the inhabitants know.

shopping souvenirs at paleochora

Shop your way into paradise pleasure on Kontekaki Street – all the way up to the end until you bump into Sandy Beach. But don’t leave without eyeing the sweet handmade jewellery. Many pieces comprise the pretty spiral of life seashell pattern that is seen in flat, cream-coloured shells washed up on Paleochora’s beaches.

Explore the history of Paleochora, starting at the fortress of Selino on the Fortezza Hill at the south end of town. The whole family can have fun wandering around the ruins of the small but fascinating fort. .

Visit the Akrites Muesum to learn about the history of Paleochora. It puts Paleochora into its ancestral context going all the way back to antiquity.

Restaurants and Tavernas – Food in Paleochora

For food treats, forge ahead into the bakeries – my favourite being Bakakis near the boat dock area behind the supermarket. Look for the orange façade of charming Anemos Bar and you’ll see Bakakis. Cretan specialties, especially the pastries are addictive, but it’s a vice that must be indulged in voraciously. Pick up a spanakopita or tiropita (spinach and cheese pies) on sale in bakeries and restaurants under appetizers. You’ll see what I mean. Also not to be overlooked is the natural yogurt and honey sold in one of Paleochora’s three supermarkets. Delicious!

taverna in paleochora

To work off calories, take some of the walks and hikes around Paleochora. Or simply don’t worry about it, as all the food is made with fresh natural ingredients. Ok, there is the occasional spoonful of sugar in some of the desserts, but I like to believe all sweetness comes from the local honey. Paleochora has it in spades! 

Stroll down the pretty beach road on the east side of town. Closed to traffic at night as most of Paleochora’s streets are, this area is a treat any time of day. At night, it skips to a new beat as hungry folk flock to its opposing side of at least 18 restaurants – all lined up in a row facing the sea. You can experience a different eatery for at least two weeks.

Most offer the catch of the day, such as xifias (sword fish) and fagri (sea bream), but there are at least 17 fish varieties offered in Paleochora. Look inside the kitchens of these restaurants to watch the whole family hard at work preparing their very best home-cooked dishes for you. Horiatiki, the famous Greek salad – with a variety of versions – usually includes tomatoes, green pepper, onions and feta cheese flavoured in oregano and some garlic. It’s a popular starter. Then again, you can always ask your waiter what he/she recommends. Don’t be shy to ask for details about any dish. That’s part of the fun.

Don’t miss the Chania specialities of boureki, kreatotourta (meat pies) and Sfakianes pittes (sweet cheese pies), as well as the local wine. At the end of the meal, the owner’s sure to stand you a chilled raki with fruit and dessert.

Splurge a bit. Spend a romantic evening dining on fish at a fancy restaurant. The change your dining palate the next night: there are plenty of reasonably priced eateries that won’t dig a hole in your wallet, and by far, they outnumber the one or two extravagant restaurants located in Paleochora.

Activities and Sightseeing in Paleochora

nightlife in paleochora

Go to the Diving and Fishing Harbour to rent a boat. There is a diving and fishing store in Paleochora. Rods can be purchased there, but if you hire a guide, he’ll get you one to use for an extra fee.

Take ferries from Paleochora’s harbour to Sougia, Loutro, Agia Roumeli, Chora Sfakion, or the serene Gavdos Island, the island of Calypso. More sea adventure and happy village exploring are completely accessible from Paleochora.

You can kayak to some of these destinations too. You’ll find several for rent at the harbour, but if you are a novice, make sure you go with an expert who preferably did not spend the night before at Paleochora Club.

You can also take to boat to the beach at Elafonissi with its pink sand and famous lagoon.

Local travel bureaux organise dolphin-watching boat trips. Paleochora is also the headquarters of the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute. The sea is extremely deep southeast of Paleochora and it boasts the largest concentration of sperm whales in the Mediterranean, as well as many species of dolphin.

ferry from paleochora harbour to sougia, gavdos and elafonissi

Rent a car, bicycle or motorbike and explore all the beaches beyond – if walking to them is not your thing. But think of the sweat you’ll work up to enjoy their cool waves all the more.

Trek up to the 130 churches (locals claim there are 1,300) on the mountain overlooking Paleochora; and pray you have enough water to get you back into Paleochora to enjoy far more exciting drinks, like retsina or ouzo.

Trek up to the 130 churches (locals claim there are 1,300) on the mountain overlooking Paleochora; and pray you have enough water to get you back into Paleochora to enjoy far more exciting drinks, like retsina or ouzo.

road from paleochora to anidri beach
the road to the beach Anidri

Head for the hills to explore so many centuries-old villages – each with its own frescoed Byzantine churches dotting the route eastwards all the way to Sougia, the small seaside village with the long, sandy beach.

Stop at Anidri and Azogires churches. In Azogires, try the outstanding omelettes made by Sofia at Alfa Kafeneion. In Anidri, dig into the homemade dolmades (rice stuffed in scrumptious basil-flavoured vineleaves) made right in the restaurant, and enjoy the panoramic view of mountain and sea below. There’s only one restaurant, and it used to be a school. After eating, visit Anidri’s Agios Georgios Church behind the restaurant. The frescoes are painted by Ioannis Pagomenos – world famous!

Go caving in these easy-to-access villages: Azogires, Rodovani, Koustogerako, Temenia, and Kabanos. Their underground cavernous shapes transform you in a magical way. Many claim holy men’s spirits and mythical creatures live deep inside the bowels of these sometimes spooky places that require some speleological skill. Not for the claustrophobic at heart.

war museum in azogires
the War Museum in Azogires

Hiking in Paleochora

From Paleochora you can walk the E4 Hiking Path to Elafonissi, a 7-8 hour round trip. If you prefer something shorter, you can walk to Elafonissi (3.5 – 4 hours) and return by boat in the afternoon.

From Paleochora to Anidri beach is a 2-hour walk along a dirt track running east. You can also cycle there.

Take a taxi from Paleochora to Anidri village and hike down the gorge to Anidri beach, from where you can easily get back to Paleochora. The whole thing takes about 4 hours.

Take the 06:15 bus from Paleochora to the Omalos Plateau, where the Samaria Gorge begins. Samaria is the longest gorge in Europe and it will take you 6-8 hours to walk down to Agia Roumeli on the coast, where you can catch the afternoon boat back to Sougia and Paleochora.

Try the 6-hour walk from Paleochora to the ancient city of Lissos and Sougia. The path runs past Anidri beach and continues east. You can take the afternoon boat back to Paleochora from Sougia. If you feel tired at Lissos, you can take the boat to Sougia and avoid 1.5 hours’ walk, although it’s a pretty route.

So whether you just stroll around town, eat, shop or gaze into the azure blue, Paleochora’s surprises are irresistible. What to do in Paleochora is best answered by your own inclinations, but for those without much time or imagination, you can always visit the tourist organization for information.

Paleochora offers a plethora of fun in so many ways, so what to do in Paleochora is the least of your problems. But there is one big problem you will have to face: leaving Paleochora, bride of the Libyan Sea.

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