Starting from Kasteli in Kissamos, you may take a wonderful route by car, connecting some of the most beautiful beaches of western Crete and revealing picturesque villages and unique ecosystems. From Kasteli, you pass through the imposing Topolia gorge, reach Chrisoskalitissa village with its wonderful Monastery and end to the exotic Elafonisi beach. On your way back, you may take the road leading to Sfinari village and enjoy one of the most beautiful car routes.
Starting your route from Kasteli, the westernmost town of the island, you follow the path that leads to Topolia village. Just south of the village and further down the road, lies the gorge of Topolia, which you can visit. The landscape of the gorge is wild and its bottom full of lush vegetation. In case you want to make a stop and cross the gorge, it will take you almost an hour. Keep driving south and after a few kilometers, you begin to enter the big valley in the region of Innachori, with the small, picturesque villages. Following the road leading into the valley, you reach the village of Elos located in a green landscape with chestnut trees and olive groves. It is worth a stop for coffee in one of the cafes in the village center, under the shade of the plane trees.
Leaving Elos behind, the road continues uphill to the slope. As soon as you begin to descend, you will face the great view to the plain of Chrisoskalitissa. You continue to descend into the valley, in a landscape full of olive trees to reach the village “Kefali”. In a while, you will get to the Monastery of Chrisoskalitissa, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Trinity. It is built on a rocky area, offering panoramic views. The church was rebuilt in 1894 and the icon of Virgin Mary in the church is believed to be of the 10th century.
Northwest of Chrissoskalitissa, at about 500 meters, there is a beautiful natural lake, surrounded by beautiful rocks and well protected from strong winds. “Voulolimni” shapes a natural port, which is mainly used for the mooring of small boats, as there is a very narrow opening where the boats go by. The lake has emerald and blue colors, making it one of the well hidden paradises of the area.
You get in the car again and continue your trip until you face Elafonisi beach, the southern and westernmost point of Crete. You will agree that it is one of the most impressive landscapes you have ever seen! Elafonisi is a small islet opposite the main beach with only a few meters of shallow water between them. As the depth of the water is not over 1 meter, you are able to get on the island walking in the sea.
The white sand dunes and the pink shades of the sand on some areas on the beach, created by the broken shells, have made this beach one of the most popular beaches in Crete, Greece and Europe. During high season in Crete, most times Elafonisi is overcrowded but you still can find an isolated area if you walk further from the main beach. Today, Elafonisi islet and the opposite beach are considered as a protected area of unique natural beauty.
After you have enjoyed the sparkling emerald waters of Elafonisi, you are probably hungry. On your way back, we would recommend you to follow a different route in order to see even more images of the Cretan nature. You drive again through the valley of Chrissoskalitissa, reach the village “Kefali” and take the road leading to the villages “Papadiana”, “Amygdalokefali” and “Keramoti”. The route continues northwards and, after the gorge of Kampos, you will reach the littoral Sfinari village. This part of the route, from Chrisoskalitissa to Sfinari is a part of the European E4 path, passing through one of the most beautiful wooded areas of Crete, with stunning sea views.
The small fishing village Sfinari has a sandy beach with pebbles in some places, one of the few beautiful beaches on the west coast of Crete. It is particularly preferred by those seeking relaxation away from the crowds. Sfinari is really popular for its fresh fish. At the end of your road trip, do not miss the chance to visit one of its traditional taverns and taste sea food and other traditional dishes made with the best local ingredients.
If you want to explore this beautiful side of Crete for more than one day, you can book your private Pool Villa in West Crete and experience Crete like a local. Cretico, a group of local travel experts, offer a big variety of luxury and traditional villas with private pool in all regions of Crete. You can also follow Cretico on Facebook or Twitter.