Paleochora is an ideal choice of holiday resort for immersing yourself fully in the traditional Crete atmosphere. Located in the south west of Crete, 77 kilometres south of Chania, Paleochora is popular with families and couples alike. With just 2,000 residents in the village, Paleochora has a small-village feel with a welcoming ambience, a selection of attractions and excellent amenities. The village has a supermarket and a number of small shops, as well as an outdoor cinema which attracts large crowds in the evening.
Paleochora has two main beaches which are ideal for sunbathing and numerous water sports including snorkelling, scuba diving and windsurfing. The beautiful natural surroundings are great for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy hiking, climbing and bird-watching. You’ll also be within easy reach of a number of other resorts including Agia Irini, Loutro, Samaria and the more remote Elafonissi island for a varied, eclectic Greek holiday experience.
Situated on the peninsula between two bays on the spectacular south-western coast of Crete, Paleochora offers the best in authentic Cretan charm with glimmering blue waters, a variety of beautiful beaches and striking mountainous scenery. There are a number of cafés and restaurants overlooking the seafront, as well as in the main village centre. For those looking to immerse themselves in the culture and heritage of the area, there’s a set of Venetian ruins close by. For a wider variety of attractions and places of interest Paleochora can be used as a base to visit the nearby Samaria Gorge and smaller, but just as impressive, Agia Irini. If you’re searching for a secluded spot for some tranquil relaxation, take a boat trip to the close by island of Gavdos. Here you’ll find a similar mountainous backdrop, glittering waters and beautiful beaches with a more unspoilt, authentic feel and more limited amenities, giving a sense of having the place to yourself.
Wine and Dine
Cretan food is healthy and wholesome, shirking complicated flavours in favour of vibrant natural tastes that are seasoned only with olive oil and a few simple herbs. Cretan cuisine is ideal for the health-conscious as it’s largely centred around grains, pulses, beans and vegetables with a large amount of fruits and olive oil, which helps to keep you lean and healthy. When visiting a local Greek taverna you’ll notice that main dishes are largely based on vegetables, pulses and grains while the meat or poultry is kept to a small serving. Popular appetisers include dakos (salad), kalitsounia (small herb or cheese pies) and omelettes. Main dishes include apaki (pork meat), lamb, fish, cheese (particularly white cheeses like graviera, anthotyros and mizithra) and dolmades (grape leaves served with ground meat, rice and herbs). If you or someone in your holiday party is not a fan of traditional Cretan cuisine, there are also several large international chain restaurants here, and a number of local restaurants serving classic international dishes, too.
Many families love Paleochora for a holiday thanks to the village’s traditional Cretan ambience and relative seclusion. Paleochora’s location on the south-western peninsula of Crete sees it cut off from the main island by mountains lined with olive groves, protecting it from the bustling crowds of tourists that descend on many other resorts in Crete. With no huge chain hotels and raucous party crowds, Paleochora is ideal for families looking to enjoy plenty of quality time together.
The beaches are clean and well-maintained, with gently descending pebbles or sand and shallow, clear waters. One of the best local attractions for families is Pirate Beach, where children can play dress-up as pirates and will be kept entertained for hours by a tree house, swinging hammocks and pirate flags. The entertainment in Paleochora is very family-friendly and cultured, with many performing artists encouraging visitor participation and offering child-friendly activities including painting, face painting and balloon modelling. Another great family-centric feature of Paleochora is that each evening, the seafront road and main street is closed to cars, making it a safe pedestrian area for both you and your children.
Action and Adventure
Adrenaline-pumping sports and activities will be the last thing that will come to mind when you first arrive in the traditional, peaceful streets of Paleochora. As a traditional fishing village that is home to around 2,000 inhabitants that still make their living through more traditional Greek trades including fishing and agriculture, the village itself offers little in the way of action and adventure, but is excellent used as a base from which to explore the surrounding area and enjoy some active pursuits.
Along the 18-kilometre coastline of Paleochora you’ll find a number of beaches that are ideal for active days out, including those at Elafonisos, Karavopetra and Gianiskari. Pachia Ammos beach has EU Blue Flag Status and offers the well-maintained beach and excellent amenities you’ll be looking for in an active family day out swimming or running on the beach. There are several gorges in the nearby area that are ideal for hikes and climbing activities, including Samaria Gorge, Agria Irini Gorge and Anidri Gorge. For a day out that combines culture and active fun, try caving at one of the local selection of caves including Zoures in Azogires and Nerospilie, or Thafto in Koustogerako.
Life's a Beach
The stunning south-west coast of Crete has a number of vibrant spots along the coastline with three things in common: striking mountain backdrops, shimmering waters and beautiful beaches. When it comes to Paleochora, the main beach offers almost a kilometre stretch of soft golden sands and pleasant swimming conditions. Pachia Ammos beach – the name means ‘thick sand’ – is the proud recipient of a European Union Blue Flag Award, so you can rest assured that the water is clean and the beach is well maintained.
The second beach in Paleochora itself is known as Halikia or Votsala Beach, and is positioned to the front of the main street. This beach is ideal for those who dislike sand blowing in their faces or sticking to them, and has a gently shelving beach that’s ideal for young children, more mature holidaymakers and those with limited mobility. In the surrounding area, you’ll find a number of hidden gems at Gyaliskari and Gianiskari around four kilometres to the east. The coastline here is dramatically littered with huge rocks, and leads to a cluster of beaches known as Anidri Beach, at the entrance of the gorge at Anidri Village. This is a lovely place for a day trip to the beach that offers you more variety, as one of the beaches is sandy and the other two are pebbled, while all the beaches have good amenities including parasols and beach tavernas.
Paleochora is proud to have one of the best nightlife scenes along the southern coast of Crete, with a wide variety of activities to take your pick from. If you’re considering Paleochora for a holiday in 2017 and nightlife is important to you, it’s worth noting that as a traditional Cretan village, the nightlife in Paleochora is limited to more traditional offerings. The evening entertainment and nightlife in Paleochora is focussed on the authentic Cretan ambience of cafés – or kafenia – and a number of bars, which often put tables out in the streets.
During the summer months Paleochora hosts a range of outdoor entertainment including traditional dancing, live music and parties in honour of the full moon that take place on the beach. You’ll also find a number of theatrical performances, while some restaurants and bars in Paleochora organise special events with local musicians and other performance artists including street artists, jugglers and magicians.
When it comes to live music, the most popular venues in Paleochora are the Atoli Bar and the Pearl Cavo beach bar. Pearl Cavo is renowned for its live shows on Monday evenings, attracting bands from wider Crete as well as local acts. Atoli Bar is situated directly on the sandy beach and welcomes live acts between July and August, ranging from peaceful ambient music to classic rock. The stunning sunset views at the Atoli Bar make it ideal for enjoying cocktails as the sun goes down and enjoying a dance on the sand.
Paleochora’s naturally stunning landscape and secluded spot on the south-western coast of Crete makes it ideal for enjoying a peaceful, romantic getaway with your significant other. While many other Crete resorts have a decidedly tourist-centric feel that can detract from the romance of the situation, Paleochora has retained its small fishing village charm and character. Paleochora has titled itself the ‘Bride of the Libyan Sea’ and offers both a tranquil holiday resort in itself and place to use as a base for exploring the surrounding area.
In Paleochora itself, the intimate authentic tavernas and peaceful beaches make the ideal setting for romantic couple’s meals, with a number of tavernas lining the beach for the ultimate in sunset views as you eat. For an unforgettable couples experience, join a mini-cruise to the Libyan Sea for the chance to spot whales and dolphins. The relaxed nightlife and traditional lifestyle of Paleochora bring an intimate feel to the nightlife and entertainment that is ideal for couples looking to totally relax and unwind. As you eat your evening meal, the live entertainment, including romantic traditional Greek dances, music and singing, is sure to put you both in the mood for love.
Paleochora and the surrounding area is something of a treasure trove for those that enjoy heritage and culture. There are a number of historic churches in the area including the centuries-old St Mary’s Cathedral, St George, St John the Baptist, St Antonios and the Ascension of Christ Church. Thanks to its long and rich historical significance, there are plenty of historic ruins and remains within driving distance from Paleochora including those at Lissos, Eliros, Kadros, Suia, Pelkis, Biena and Pikilassos. Paleochora is also home to the Akrites Museum, which charts the history of Byzantine watchmen that protected Arab invasions into Byzantine territory between the 7th and 11th centuries.