Crete is famous for so many wonderful things. Those ancient Minoans, the cuisine, legendary hospitality, and stunning beaches – and even death defying roads! For the hiker and cyclist, motorist or walking adventurer, there’s a famous zig-zagging road from Kallikratis in the mountains down to the Sea that will bring you close to God.
With its asphalt barely solidified under the blistering Cretan sun of a dozen years, the road in between Kapsodasos and Kalikratis villages in southwestern Crete is nothing less than worldwide notorious. Paved only since 2006, this stretch of road boasts of no less than 30 hairpin turns along its one-and-a-half lanes downward tilt toward the Libyan Sea. Known to cyclists as Kallikratis Hell, the 11 km stretch of road takes the unsuspecting Sfakia visitor to the region from 800 meters in the mountains to sea level in about 24 minutes (if you are brave). Cyclists can make the downward trip a lot faster of course, but those sudden stops can be murder. Thinking of this road when it was dirt, imagining one of my cool Cretan cowboys driving it in the rain, my faith in superhuman feats is renewed. The video below from Kreta Info should give you shudders.
With no guard rail in sight (Cretan drivers balk at the suggestion) there are some places along the trek that offer a grade of 26% or more. The road starts (with an opening prayer by some) at the beautiful Kallikratis village on a small picturesque plateau in Lefka Ori with an altitude of 720-740 meters. Then, with no turning back on account of there’s no place to turn around, the fearless (or fear ridden) traveler reaches Kapsodasos, another picturesque village just north of Frangokasteilo at an altitude of 120 meters. Further along, and down to the seaside just east is Chora Sfakion, home of a legendary Cretan people renown for their courage – fittingly.
Finally, for those travelers less in touch with suicidal tendencies, a more leisurely toad from Vrise to Sfakia exists. But then, you won’t be able to tell your friends back home that you traversed Kallikratis Hell, one of the most dangerous roads in the world.