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Kastelli Kissamos

In North West Crete, Greece

Gramvousa Islet and Balos Lagoon from Cape Tigani (image by Mark Latter)

The town of Kastelli Kissamos  Κίσσαμος is on picturesque Kolpos Kissamou. It is in Chania region, on the north coast to the far west of the island, 40 km from the capital Chania.

The wide bay is formed by two prominent peninsulas – Gramvousa Peninsula and Rodopou Peninsula. The town sits on a long pebbly/sandy beach on the spot of the old town of Kissamos.

Travellers may arrive in here on the ferry from the mainland of Peloponnisos (travelling via the island of Kythera), or visit for a tour around exciting western Crete.

The five sandy coves at the beach of Falasarna and the spectacular Gramvousa Islet and white sand and turquoise Balos Lagoon, invite beach goers and lovers of nature.

There are the inland gorges of Topolia and Sirikari to explore, and the Samaria Gorge is to the south.

There is some debate about the name of the town. Perhaps the Greek name is Kissamos, and the Venetian name was Kastelli, so now it carries both. My Papou says it is in the nomos of Kissamos, so it is Kastelli of Kissamos Kastelli tou Kissamou. Do you have an answer?

This lovely Cretan town with a population around 7,500 retains its character and rhythms of daily Greek life, whilst providing hospitality for the visitor. The town is an agricultural centre for the region, the major activities being wine and olives. The brandy-like dry red wine is delicious.

Promenade of Kastelli Kissamos next to the bayThis image is the view from the Argo Rooms, with great sea and esplanade views and budget prices

History of Kastelli Kissamos

View of the town and across the bay from the hills (image by photographicity)

The history of Kastelli Kissamos shares the colourful history of Crete. 7 km from the town are the ruins of the Dorian city of Polyrrinia dating from the 6th century, one of the oldest Dorian towns.

The town was a port to ancient Polyrrinia, the name Kissamos dates from before Hellenic times. It prospered during Roman and Byzantine periods, and being a trade centre, was always under attack from pirates, hence the protective Kastelli, the ruins of which can be seen in the town today.

The history of the region can be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Kissamos, on Stratigou Tzanaki Square in the centre of town.

Kastelli Kissamos Accommodation

There are plenty of hotels, domatia, rooms and accommodation in the town, and lovely tavernas along the seaside on a beautiful promenade, looking over the clear turquoise waters of the bay.

Delfini Apartments - exterior showing gardens and closeness to the sea
This is the budget symbol

A good location is the Delfini Apartments, on the Mavros Molos Beach, just 1.5 km west of the town. This small family-run place is perfect for a beach holiday, at reasonable prices.

"Friendly owner, beautiful house, nice view from the balcony, great location. Perfect place to stay before or after trip to Balos or for all vacations."

Argo Rooms are a good old-fashioned Greek pension with caring owners who cook you wonderful breakfasts
Argo Rooms Kissamos
Budget symbol

Argo Rooms are located right next to the seaside at the esplanade about 400 m from the bus stop and central square and close to the seafront tavernas. Large, bright and airy rooms with magical sea views. Wonderful for a budget choice. My full moon view over the Gulf of Kissamos was magic!

"We stayed in a lovely large room with a huge deck looking out to the sea. The room was nicely updated and pleasantly furnished. We particularly liked the comfortable sitting area. The location is wonderful being right on the water with numerous restaurants beside it."

Mediterranean Studios - exterior
Mediterranean Hotel Kissamos

Mediterranean Hotel & Apartments are located just metres from the sandy beach at Kaloundiana, 3.7 km east of town, on the Gulf of Kissamos.

"Located very close to a nice, quiet beach. Nice pool and very clean environment over all."

Seaside Dining

Now for one of our suggestion of great water-side taverna experiences... right by the bay's edge…the Papadakis Taverna (below) is about as close to eating in the water as you can get! A terrific spot and great, friendly service. Of course seafood is a must, it is so fresh. Traditional Greek cuisine and old fashioned taverna; you can even go into the kitchen to choose your meal! Try grilled octopus or sardines. Try the local wild greens with olive oil and lemon.

Papadakis Taverna - outside seating next to the bay

A seaside dining experience is exquisite at Maria Beach Restaurant (below), try the fish soup and fresh fish. The service is great and the position is relaxed and tucked away by the beach on the western side of town, just opposite the Maria Beach Hotel.

Maria Beach Restaurant - twilight next to the sea


Rent a moto sign with scooters on main street

Hire scooters are available on the main square. Buses leave from Kissamos to Samaria Gorge each day and boat trips leave each day to the beautiful Gramvousa Island, its ruined kastelli and Balos Lagoon.

Or visit the nearby Falasarna Beach.

Visit the small village of Kaliviani just 7 km from town, with tavernas in the main street and a quiet natural feel, visit Gramvousa Taverna for traditional Cretan food.

Gramvousa Taverna, KalivianiGramvousa Taverna, Kaliviani, looking across to Kissamos Bay

Visitors can learn the secrets of one of the healthiest cuisines in the world by taking a Cretan Traditional Cooking Class here in Kissamos. Bookings can be arranged via Balos Travel on Eleftheriou Venizelou Square.

Guided by Helen and Mrs Chrisoula who are both local and experienced cooks, you will prepare delicious dishes from pure Cretan products, such as olive oil, fresh vegetables, free range meat, dairy, wine and herbs.

The classes are held in the afternoon and followed, of course, by a scrumptious meal.

Cycling Tours can also be arranged by Balos Travel, there are plenty of paths to choose from, including coastal rides to Nopigia, a ride through the olive groves to Potamida village and long, hard wild rides for the more experienced and fitter riders.

Diving classes, introductory dives and dives for experienced divers can also be enjoyed in the very clear waters of Kissamos Bay.

The E4 European Walking Path starts the Cretan section of its journey here. Its length in Kriti is 320 km and it crosses over the mountains, plateau and gorges, taking in the spectacular scenery. A real hikers' path, there is the option of an alpine route or a coastal route.

We love Kastelli Kissamos because it is as relaxed a Cretan town as you can find, whist still being a hubbub of activity and hospitality.

Ferries to and from Kissamos

Ferry icon

Ferries run from Kastelli Kissamos to the islands of Antikythera and Kythera and to the mainland ports of Gythion and Neapolis. One can also travel forward to Pireaus port of Athens, in summer. Winter timetables vary and schedules are few.

For details and bookings see Seajets.

Generally in the summer season, the crossing from Kissamos to Gythion takes about 8 hours and costs around €23 for a deck ticket and up to €50 for a cabin.

Travelling from Europe, it is possible to travel across to Greece from Italy via Patras, then on the mainland to Gythio in the Peloponnese, then take the ferry from Gythio to Kissamos to arrive in Crete, without going to Athens. On this journey, one can stop over on the island of Kythera or Antikythera, or both. 

Travelling from Athens, it is possible to take ferries from Pireaus to Kythera and Kissamos, or take the mainland route to Neapolis to Kythera and then to Kissamos.

Check the ferry timetables, using the port name 'Kissamos'. Beware that not every ferry stops at Antikythera, also summer and winter timetables vary and must be checked. Rough seas will mean delayed or cancelled ferries. If in doubt of the schedule, always contact the ferry line directly.

The sea always has the last word - ferry schedules can be disrupted by bad weather and delays experienced. If in doubt, always check with your hotel, or a booking agent down by the harbour side.

Images of Kastelli Kissamos

Beach with umbrellas - white sand and clear waters

Aerial view of the beautiful Gulf of Kissamos

View through the trees to the Beach and Bay

Mavros Molos BeachMavros Molos Beach in Kastelli Kissamos

Videos of Kissamos & Region

The video below shows the town and surrounding region of Kissamos, including Kissamos Bay, Balos Lagoon, Gramvousa Islet, Falasarna Beach and Elafonisi Beach. It shows the archaeological sites of ancient Falasarna, ancient Polyrrhenia including the ruins of the Roman aquaduct, and the ruined Venetian Castle on top of Gramvousa Islet.

This wonderful video below shows trail-running adventures of a mad Scot, starting at Kissamos town then going to Balos Lagoon and Falasarna Beach, a really good look at the wild country around the region, for serious hiking enthusiasts

Getting Here

Take a 1 hour flight from Athens to Heraklion with Aegean Airlines or Olympic Air, with many flights available per day.

Or take a 9.5 hour overnight ferry from Pireaus port of Athens to Heraklion port.

More on flights and ferries below.

Car hire in Crete is a really good idea as it is a large island 60 km by 260 km. There is so much to explore.

When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and easy online booking. We are sure you will be well looked after by the team. Choose from hybrid, electric or regular vehicles.

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We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the We Love Crete team. Evíva!

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