One of Crete Island’s most underrated coastal towns, Kissamos (Kastelli) is a seaside village on Kissamos Bay known for its wine and olive oil, and as a departure point for famous Balos Lagoon. The beauty of the town, however, lies in its adherence to tradition, and the unspoiled ecotourism that surrounds it.
With a population of just over 5000 people, Kissamos is a unique place if for no other reason than its
In antiquity, the town was known as “
In the Byzantine period, Kissamos remained a powerful religious and commercial center. Then during the Venetian occupation, the diocese of Kissamos was received into the universal church, as mentioned by a Latin bishop in 1307. From the period 1579 to 1582 a fortress with a pentagon-shaped church, prison, barracks, and well was constructed. During the Turkish occupation Kastelli (Kissamos) participated in revolutionary attacks against the Turks. Finally, during World War II Kissamos was
Today, Kissamos appears as it must have decades ago. Situated in a fertile area known for its grapes, sultanas, wine, and raki (tsikoudia), the most important physical features of the place are the long sandy beach along the bay and the harbor situated just outside of town which links Crete with mainland Greece and the aforementioned Balos Beach. Directly in front of town is Mavros Molos Beach, which has fine sand and shallow clear waters to swim in. To the east
In town, visitors can expect to find a good number of shops and supermarkets supplied with every conceivable type of merchandise. At Tzanakaki Square or Kastelli Square, there’s a mostly pedestrian zone where people can stroll unincumbered by the sea or sit and watch the sunset at a taverna or cafe.
See, Stay, and Do Ideas
Those interested in the history of the area or just plain sightseeing will find the Archeological Museum of Kissamos, situated in the central square Stratigou Tzanakaki, fascinating. This is where local archaeological finds from Minoan, Hellenistic, and Roman times are kept. One of the streets of Kissamos, Skalidi is a picturesque lane that runs through the center of the old section of town. The street boast of wonderful traditional arched buildings where small local tradesmen and shops line up to greet you. A few suggesting dining spots
- Mavros Molos Beach Restaurant –
Servesbreakfast, lunch, dinner Stellios& Katina – A taverna next to the Aphrodite Beach Hotel (below)
- PIXIDA – Mixed cuisine on the waterfront
- The Cellar Tavern – on the seafront promenade, Telonio Beach
- Gramvousa Restaurant – Traditional Cretan, one of the island’s best
Just outside of town the picturesque fishing port with two tavernas waits. The larger commercial port that links Kissamos by a ferry service to Kythera, the Peloponnese and Piraeus
Editors note: In 2014 we visited Crete for the first time and explored all around the Kissamos area. As a note of suggestion, take the ferry to Balos rather than driving the death-defying road there.
Other sites to see include; Parthenos Monastery, Castel Chissamo, Kedrodasos Beach, Sfinari Beach, and famous Falasarna Beach a few kilometers farther west of Kissamos, and the amazing nature lover’s favorite, the Gorge of Chalase. Of course, these are just a very few suggestions for your visit to the far west of Crete. I have not mentioned Elaphonisi Beach, the White Mountains, and the natural wonders on the southwest coast underneath Kissamos. We’ll cover it all, but please bear with us, Crete is a massive editorial undertaking.
For more information about Kissamos and the area, readers may visit the official website of the municipality (English), Kissamos News (English), or the International Society of the Kissamos Area (ISKA). Alternatively, readers may want to contact the municipality directly via the following:
The Mayor’s secretary: 28223-40200
The Deputy Mayor’s office: 28223-40203
As a final note, I’d like to thank Nikos Choudalakis of Aphrodite Beach Hotel for allowing us to use photos from their Facebook at the last moment. As it turns out, we had very few images in our database.