The pretty town of Kato Daratso overlooks a beautiful bay just 3 miles west of Chania in Crete. It’s particularly popular with families and couples, thanks to its quiet charm and great facilities. It has a fantastic sandy beach (which has been awarded a Blue Flag for the clarity of the water and excellent amenities), plus a couple of wonderful nearby coves to explore. Behind it stretch rugged hills and olive groves, and there is a handful of shops, bars and inviting tavernas for eating out. The gorgeous city of Chania, with a magnificent harbour and narrow streets full of historic sights, is right on the doorstep.
At a glance
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The main attractions of Kato Daratso are the sleepy, old-fashioned village atmosphere and the wonderful beaches. The main beach is a long swathe of sand, with plenty of sunbeds, parasols and a sprinkling of cafés and restaurants nearby. There are also two more glorious coves, including the aptly named Golden Beach, to spread your towel. While there are plenty of shops and tavernas in the town, you’ll find plenty more in Chania, just 3 miles east. This stunning city, with its narrow streets and beautiful harbour, is packed with historic sights and museums. It also boasts a huge range of water sports, and a host of attractions including a waterpark and boat trips.
Wine and Dine
Cretan cuisine is based on the freshest local produce, of which the island has an abundance. While you’ll find plenty of places serving the classic Greek snacks of gyros and souvlaki, there is also a wide choice of restaurants in the area serving the tasty local dishes. Meals often start with dakos, an appetiser of rusks topped with fresh tomatoes and the delicious local cheese. You could then tuck into some fantastically fresh local seafood, or go for psitos, tender, slow-cooked pork with potatoes, or gamopilafo (which means ‘wedding rice’), a soup rice dish with lamb and lemon butter. If you’re game, you could also try another local delicacy – fried snails! Have some of the island’s amazing wild greens to accompany it.
Kids will enjoy messing about on the beach in Kato Daratos, where you’ll find pedaloes and kayaks for rent if they feel like bobbing about in a boat. Boat excursions, including a pirate ship tour, leave from Chania, which are always a hit with young kids. There’s also a small water park, which has plenty of slides and a lazy river, on the outskirts of Chania. The beautiful city itself is a delight to explore on foot, and even the most museum-resistant kids will enjoy running around the narrow streets and having ice-creams on the stunning harbourfront. You’ll have no problem finding child-friendly restaurants – Cretans adore children and treat them like royalty!
Action and Adventure
There are lots of water sports available along this stretch of coast, particularly wind-surfing and kite-surfing. You can also rent kayaks to explore the smaller coves, go snorkelling, or even take a diving trip. There are several places which rent equipment, run courses, and arrange tours to some of the best local diving spots. If you really want to get the adrenaline pumping, you could also try paragliding: one of the main paragliding centres on the island is located right on the edge of Chania. Inland, you’ll find numerous fantastic hikes and climbs, particularly around the Therisso Gorge, which is about 10 miles from Kato Daratos.
Life's a Beach
The main beach at Kato Daratso is broad and sandy, shelving gently into the sea, and has been awarded a Blue Flag for its transparent waters and extensive services. You’ll find plenty of amenities, from sunbed and parasol rental to lifeguard posts and facilities for water sports. Although it’s very popular with families, note that the wind can pick up and make the sea choppy – ideal for wind-surfing, which is one of the most popular water sports along this stretch of coast. There are two more smaller beaches close at hand: Golden Beach (which also has a Blue Flag) is the prettiest, named for the colour of the sand, and is also well equipped with sunbeds and other useful amenities. All of the beaches have delightful beach bars, where you can tuck into some lunch or just relax with a drink.
The sleepy charm of Kato Daratos means that nightlife in the town is limited to a handful of beach bars and taverns. You can sit with a drink in hand, toes in the sand, as the sun goes down, and soak up the heavenly Greek light and perfect peace. If you prefer a little more action, a quick taxi ride will bring you to Chania, the second-largest city on Crete, which is packed with fantastic bars and clubs. The city also hosts all kinds of concerts and special events, particularly during the summer months, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to evening entertainment.
If your idea of a romantic holiday is somewhere peaceful by the beach, then Kato Daratos is a perfect destination. You can spend the day lazing in the sunshine on one of the beaches – perhaps on lovely Golden Beach, which is a perfect arc of pale sand – and then enjoy a cocktail as the sun goes down. There are plenty of good tavernas serving delicious local food, and many of them host live traditional music in the summer. Chania, only 3 miles away, is a truly enchanting city, replete with historic monuments and stunningly set around a Venetian harbour – the ideal backdrop for romance!
Most of the main historic and cultural sites in this region of Crete are clustered in Chania, formerly the island capital under the Venetians. Many of its charming buildings, including many of those arranged around the magnificent harbour, date from this period, while some, including the mosque, were erected under the Ottomans. You can visit the ancient Minoan site at Aptera, set in the hills above Souda Bay, follow the remnants of a 12th-century Byzantine walls, and explore one of the city’s many fascinating museums. These include the fantastic maritime museum, which is located in the commanding 17th-century fortress that overlooks the harbour. The beautiful 16th-century lighthouse, rebuilt in the early 19th century by the Egyptians, is the city’s most iconic landmark.