Explore the unique and lesser-known Akrotiri peninsulaBook Now
To the North-east of Chania lies the stunning lesser-known peninsular of Akrotiri. Scattered along the north of this incredible region are many monasteries, caves and churches that date back to before the 16th Century. We will start our journey at one of the richest and most beautiful monasteries in all of Crete. The Monastery of Agia Triada now lies less than 3kms from Chania airport. This incredible monastery was built by Venetian monks and hosts many different styles of architecture which add to its impressive size and unmatched beauty. Immerse yourself in this prodigious landscape and beauty for 1 hour before we continue our journey into the Akrotiri peninsular on a hike through the Avlaki Gorge.
We will start our walk through the Avlaki Gorge within the grounds of a small monastery at the start of the trail to Katholiko. While walking the path of Akrotiri you will see many beautiful abandoned buildings within the mountainside and these are remnants of its historical and religious past. After around 20 minutes of walking downhill you will come to the cave of Arkoudospilios (Bear Cave). This small cave has many impressive stalactites and stalagmites, the most impressive resembling a bear. After this short stop we will continue on the path to the impressive Katholiko Monastery.
The incredible Katholiko Monastery dates back to the 17th Century and was built by the same architectural Vento-Cretan Family as those that built Agia Triada. Katholiko consists of many vaulted storage spaces; monk’s cells; a bell tower and a church built into the gorge. Most impressive of all is a bridge that links one side of the gorge with the other. The church of Katholiko was built around the sacred cave of St John the Hermit where he is known to have died in the 11th Century. It is still considered a religious pilgrimage for some.
The ruins of this incredible monastery are rarely explored due to the rough terrain within the gorge but you will not be disappointed with the incredible architecture and vision of this compelling and historical site.
After emerging from the gorge, we will then continue our adventure to a beach that was made famous in the 1960s by Anthony Quinn. In 1964 “Zorba The Greek” was filmed here as it provided the perfect background of beautiful sand and calm seas. This marvellous beach has white/ pink sand and shallow turquoise waters, making it the perfect way to end your day being surrounded by nature at its finest. This picturesque bay also has tavernas to enjoy the magnificent local produce.
Your Hotel/ Accomodation
Between 8:00 am-9:00 am
Approximately 4:00 pm
Agia Triada is one of the richest and most impressive monasteries in all of Crete. Its Venetian architecture and Renaissance elements capture the distinctive style of the Veneto Cretan monks who started construction in 1611. This impressive monastery hosts an incredible Venetian façade with a grand staircase,its’ impressive size leaves everyone who visits in awe of this unparalleled beauty.
Agia Triada continues to be one of the most important and influential buildings in all of Crete. Its sheer size and supreme beauty are sure to impress every visitor whether for religion or architecture. Agia Triada hosts a small museum with a small but valuable collection of religious heirlooms and wooden icons, some of these date back to the 12th, 16th and 17th Centuries.
This monastery has seen many historical events but continues to play an important role in both the economic and religious community of Crete. This vibrant and incredibly well-preserved monastery is a delight to see but it also thrives in this modern-day civilization by producing its own olive oil, wine and many other products.
Arkoudospilios Cave is also known as the Bear Cave. It has been recognized as a place of worship since ancient times. Inscriptions inside the cave show depictions of the gods Apollo and Artemis.
According to local legend a bear once lived in this cave and drank from the dripping water of the stalagmites. It is believed that the monks, suffering from thirst, prayed to the Virgin Mary for aid, in which she turned the bear to stone. The stalagmite you see inside the cave today is Arkoudospilios.
The Venetian census of 1637 shows a Bear Cave on record among with the many monasteries within the Akrotiri region. The area surrounding the cave is scattered with ruined buildings, it is believed that these were used by the monks of the Gouverneto Monastery close by.
Inside the cave is a small chapel dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary) Arkoudiotissa and many local people stay inside the cave for the presentation of Christ in early February each year.
Katholiko Monastery is one of the most beautiful and impressive structures built within a gorge that you will ever see. This incredible monastery perfectly links its purpose of worship with nature and the gorge surrounding it.
There are no records of exactly when this monastery was founded but records show huge numbers of pilgrims to the area after the 11th Century to pay respects to the great influencer St John the Hermit, known to have died in a cave here. There is strong evidence of a much older monastery/ church on this site as the name Katholiko means central church. It is believed a church was built around the cave of St John shortly after he was recognised as a saint and since then pilgrims made the great journey to honor him but unfortunately there are no remains of a building from this time. This makes it to oldest monastic site in all of Crete.
The buildings that remain today of this impressive monastery were built in the 17th Century by a great Veneto Cretan Family also known to have built Agia Triada at the start of this tour. Looking around this extensive site there are many parts of the monastery that remain. Most impressive of all is a bridge that spans the river bed joining one side of the gorge with the other. At the foot of the bridge, there are large vaulted storage spaces while on both sides’ two-story buildings. Above, the church of St John the Hermit and a series of small rooms believed to have once housed the monks that lived here. The size and beauty of this monumental site is a clear indication of the love and devotion the architects had for this gorge and its religious importance.
It’s unclear exactly when this incredible monastery was abandoned but it is believed due to its wealth and pilgrimage to the area it was susceptible to many pirate raids. Some accounts say the monks of Katholiko fled to the nearest monastery of Gouverneto and others say they fled to Agia Triada. Either way this incredible monastery was given back to nature and has created the even more impressive site that we see today.
Stavros was once a small fishing town. It is located 17km north-east of Chania. Today the region has become a popular tourist area but is still a beautiful and unique place to visit. Through the unbelievable powers of nature it is said the surrounding mountains are shaped like a camel.
Stavros has 2 beaches that are both beautiful but have different characteristics. The small bay to the east of the village is the most popular and is very well organised with sunbeds, tavernas and a beautifully restored windmill. The main beach, to the north of the village, is much larger but also is not protected from the wind and the waves. Both are beautiful in their own way. The peninsular between the two beaches is also of some interest, as it is here that the limestone used for building Chania’s venetian walls was extracted. Today you can see the remnants of the ancient Venetian quarry which dates back between the 13th and 17th Centuries.
Stavros Beach was made famous in the 1970s when “Zorba the Greek” was filmed on this beach. Anthony Quinn famously danced Sirtaki here and since then it has been a popular tourist destination.
Price per group (1-3):
Price per group (4-6):
Price per group (7-9):
Entrance fee Agia Triada monastery 2.5€ (free entrance for children up to 18) (with appropriate clothes)
Upon request, we can arrange your lunch break for you and suggest a traditional “taverna” nearby, in order to experience the traditional Cretan cuisine
Remember to bring‼️ Sun Cream, Sunglasses and Hat, Long-Sleeved Shirt for Sensitive skin, Good hiking shoes, Bottle of water and Light Snacks (fruits, etc.), Swim Suit and a Beach Towel.
Upon request, changes to the itinerary may be made providing mileage and time limits are not exceeded.