Paleohora Town, on the rugged south-west coast of Crete, is 75 kms from Chania town. Looking over the Libyan sea on a natural peninsular, the view to the east of the White Mountains coming down to the sea is sublime.
Paleohora Παλαιόχωρα is a very Cretan town with a population of 2200. Although it has terrific beaches and plenty of visitors in the summer, it retains its Greek rhythms.
The history of Paleohora town shares the colourful history of Crete. The old name was Selino Kastelli from the castle built in 1279 by the Venetians. In 1539 the Pirate Barbarossa conquered the castle and destroyed it. It still survives in ruins, it is interesting to explore it and the narrow Venetian streets.
See our page about Paleohora beaches. Pebble Beach to the east has a long promenade with lamps and benches, leading to Oriental Bay Beach with its line of tamarisk trees. Sandy Beach to the west is the most famous and popular for windsurfing.
Windsurfing conditions are excellent on the bay and many visitors come for a windsurfing holiday.
Diving courses and trips are available for beginners and experienced divers, exploring the untouched waters of the south coast. Also on offer are day tours to nearby beaches and Gavdos island.
Sperm whales and Cuvier's Beaked whales are found in these waters. Some years ago the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute did a research program based in Paleohora to study the local whales and dolphins. The findings of this study can be found on their website www.pelagosinstitute.gr.
The beautiful Mediterranean Striped Dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba also swim here (above). Dolphin and whale watching trips leave daily from Paleohora in season. For more about Cretan nature and how you can support conservation programs, see our nature pages.
Cafés, bakeries, tavernas and nightclubs are busy in town during the summer. The sweet shop is called zacharoplasteio and is a central part of any Greek town. Here in Paleohora town it is no exception, with a wide range of yummy treats. Try one of the Cretan favourites, bougatsa, for breakfast.
Spring flower tours in April and May are based in Paleohora with daily excursions. A music festival is held in Paleohora in August.
We have selected a simple small family-run hotel in Paleohora, within walking distance of the beaches...Aris Hotel.
Another small place to stay is Haris Studios, run by Flora and Haris Arkalakis, with the Water's Edge cafe adjacent to the rooms, it sits facing the ocean on the southern tip of the peninsular... Haris Studios
The region is rich in agriculture, surrounded by olive groves, tomatoes in greenhouses, vineyards for wine-making and sultanas, and vegetable gardens. It is a treat to visit the small villages around Selinou province and meet the locals, perhaps to stop for a picnic.
Paleohora town makes a great base for exploring western Crete. Hiking and walking are popular, as are tours for nature lovers, climbers and cavers. Beach hopping and historical explorations are wonderful. Paleohora is close to Elafonisi, the Lefka Ori, Agia Irini Gorge, Omalos Plateau and Samaria Gorge. By boat you can visit Agia Roumeli, Loutro and Sougia.
Nearby passes the E4 European walking path, excellent hiking in the area with wonderful scenic paths along the south coast.
Gavdos Island (above) is the most southerly point of Europe, a small rocky island ringed with beaches and cliffs, with pine and cedar forests, located 65 kms from Paleohora town. Its inaccessibility and isolation attracts those really looking to get away from it all; campers, naturists and backpackers. There are three small villages virtually in ruins, with a permanent population of 55, whose main activities are fishing and in summer, looking after the travellers.
The small port of Karave is on the east coast, the village of Kastri in the centre of the island is the capital. There are a few domatia and tavernas. If you are planning to stay on the island, book ahead or be prepared to camp. The island can also be accessed from Loutro and Hora Sfakion on the south coast of Crete.
Take the time to visit the real Crete in Paleohora Town.