Balos & Gramvoussa

Crete travel guide

Balos beach and Cape Gramvoussa Pictures

  • Balos Lagoon Cape Gramvoussa
    Balos beach is at the northwesternmost point of Crete, on Cape Gramvoussa, near the town of Kissamos or Kastelli in Chania Prefecture. You can get to Balos beach either by boat from Kissamos or by car, but the only road is a rough dirt track.
  • The dirt track leading to Balos
    The dirt road which runs along Cape Gramvoussa and leads to Balos. If you decide to walk to Balos along the dirt road starting from the village of Kalyviani, it will take you about 2 to 3 hours at a leisurely pace with lots of stops. The route is pleasant if you avoid the very hot months.
  • The chapel of Agia Irini
    The little church of Agia Irini, halfway along the route to Balos beach. This is the only place you’ll find some shade, so stop here to rest and refresh yourself.
  • Beautiful view of Kissamos bay
    The lovely view over Kissamos Bay.
  • Beautiful view to Kissamos bay
    All along the way to Balos you are moving parallel to the sea, your gaze lost in the peace and beauty of the Sea of Crete.
  • The astonishing view to Balos lagoon
    The enchanting picture of the Balos lagoon from above. The small peninsula is called Tigani (“saucepan”) due to its shape. In the background on the right you can see part of the island Imeri Gramvoussa, which is crowned with the ruins of a major Venetian fortress.
  • Descending to Balos
    The stone steps leading down to Balos beach. There used to be just a footpath but now the descent is much easier.
  • White sand and turqoise water
    Balos, the Caribbean of the Mediterranean: blue-green waters and pure white sand.
  • Walking in the lagoon
    The causeway to the opposite shore of the Tigani peninsula is usually shallow enough to cross with ease through the water. This may change after a big storm.
  • The water is very shallow
    The water in the lagoon is warm and shallow. Balos lagoon is much smaller than that of Elafonissi.
  • Balos Lagoon
    Another shot of the Balos lagoon. It looks empty, but bear in mind that this picture was taken in 2000, long before Balos became as popular as it is today. If you don’t like crowded beaches, avoid coming here in July and August.
  • Balos Lagoon white sand
    A couple enjoying the sun on the dazzling white sand.
  • Balos Lagoon sand
    If you look closely at the sand, you will see tiny seashells and minute pebbles of every possible colour.
  • Balos Lagoon picture
    The church on Tigani and the view towards Balos beach. The boat in the photo makes daily trips from Kissamos to Balos. It is said that Prince Charles and Diana once visited Balos in their private yacht many years ago.
  • Venetian fortress of Gramvoussa
    The island Imeri Gramvoussa with the Venetian fortress at the top. If you come to Balos by boat from Kissamos, you will stop here and have time for a visit. The fortress of Gramvoussa played a decisive part in fighting piracy in the Mediterranean, and control of it was often hotly contested. In 1825 it was captured by the Cretans and yet another rising against the Turks started at Gramvoussa and spread across the whole island.
  • Balos Lagoon
    Along the rocks on the shore you can see a dark line, which geologists say marks the former sea level before western Crete was raised up by a great earthquake in antiquity. You can’t tell the height from this picture, but in some places it reaches 7 metres. The old sea level is visible in many parts of western Crete, such as the little harbour at Sougia, but not so high up.
  • Balos Lagoon coastline
    The coast of Cape Gramvoussa is wild and rugged. Imagine the winter waves crowning the huge rocks with white foam, and dashing fiercely against this natural breakwater of Crete.
  • fishing boat at cape gramvoussa
    A small fishing-boat sailing through the calm waters around Gramvoussa. But strong winds often blow here, which is why one legend says that this was the home of Aeolus, god of the winds.
  • Balos Lagoon Cape Gramvoussa
    The northwestern most point of Crete, Cape Gramvoussa.
  • boat at kissamos
    The return trip from Balos beach and Cape Gramvoussa to Kissamos. Keen walkers can walk to Balos along the dirt road starting from the village of Kalyviani, and take the boat back to Kissamos in the afternoon. The only drawback is that you will miss the Venetian fortress on the islet of Gramvoussa, but you’ll enjoy the stunning view of Balos from above.
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How to get to Balos Beach

You can get to Balos Beach by car or by boat, which makes a stop at Gramvoussa Island as well. Boats leave from the port of Kissamos between 10 and 12 o`clock and ticket price is 25€ (in 2017).

By Bus & Boat

Take the morning bus (08:30 AM) to the Port of Kissamos from the KTEL station in Chania. If You stay in Rethimno or Heraklion, it is quite difficult to get there in time by bus, because you will need to take at least 2 buses: first to Chania and then to Kissamos Port.

By Car & Boat

Take the highway to the port of Kissamos, which is a couple of kilometres past the town.

By Car

Drive past Kissamos to the village of Kalyviani and then take the dirt road to the parking area at the tip of Cape Gramvoussa. Leave your car here and and walk the stairs down to Balos beach. The view is amazing!

Day Tour to Balos and Gramvoussa Island

From the area of Heraklion and Rethymnon, a shared bus tour is the most convenient and cheap way to visit Gramvousa and Balos beach. The bus will pick you up very early in the morning from your hotel and bring you back late in the evening. You can sleep all the way to Kissamos. In Kissamos you will take the boat and will enjoy a day cruise to Gramvousa and Balos.


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