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Kastelli, West Crete


Kastelli is the capital of the region of Kissamos, a large, wide bay on the west coast of Crete. The following places belong to the Kastelli-Kissamos district: Gramvousa, Kalathenon, Kallergianon, Koukounaras, Lousakion, Sigikariou, Kaliviani and last but not least Polirinia. Polirinia is about 7km inland from Kastelli-Kissamos on a hill. The Dorians erected this town and Kastelli was the seaport. A visit to this village is worth it not only because of the archeological excavations but also because of the view of the Bay of Kissamos.

The beach is mostly shingle and deserted. Around Kastelli there are also some sandy sections. The interior is notable for green scenery olive trees as far as the eye can see. The White Mountains dominate in the background. The Rodoupou Peninsular to the North and the wild Gramvoussa to the South give the bay a formidable setting. Both peninsulars are barely inhabited. There are fantastic bathing coves with crystal clear water on the Gramvousa Peninsular. Turquoise blue lagoons promise unforgettable bathing fun. This Peninsular was very popular with pirates so it is called Pirates Bay for the tourists. However the Greeks call it Frying Pan because there is no shade and it is very hot in summer. The Venetians constructed a fort at the tip of the peninsula. From the high season in June there are boat tours offered from the harbour (about 2 km west from Kastelli-Kissamos) by the Gramvousa Express to the difficult-to-reach lagoons and the Venetian Fort. A note of warning: if you choose to take the small boat tour it is better to have your sea legs as it is not a smooth ride. This tour is a hit for the children but they should be over five years old. The Pirates Bay tour is a must whilst in western Crete. I have taken my family often in the past and no doubt will do so in the future too!

If you do not fancy going by sea you can go on foot. You drive by car from Kaliviani along a narrow dirt track until it peters out, then walk for about an hour into the bay. Please note the walk is not suitable for small children. The nearest hotel to Gramvoussa is the Hotel Balos which is in our programme from 2006. The hotel has well equiped holiday flats and apartments with a wonderful view over the whole bay. The nearest beach is shingle so you need beach shoes but the lagoons are near and easily reachable via a dirt track using a mountain bike or a four wheel drive. Hotel Balos is near Kaliviani where there are some tavernas. One especially good taverna is the Gramvousa with a viewing terrace and barbecue grill. Hotel Balos is very handy for those guests who want to be near to the town of Kastelli-Kissamos and the dream beach of Falassarna (Phalassarna). In Kastelli and the surrounding area tourism is still fairly new with hotels and apartments established only recently. Many Greeks visit in the summer because of the good connection to Peloponnes and the streets, cafes and tavernas fill up with young people. If you have access to a car and are searching for a holiday experience close to the Greek people, then this is the place for you.

West Crete

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