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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.
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.
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.
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.
A good location is the Delfini Hotel Apartments, on the Mavros Molos Beach, just 1.5 km west of the town. This family-run small hotel is perfect for a beach holiday, at reasonable prices.
Mediterranean Studios Apartments are located just metres from the sandy beach at Kaloundiana, 3.7 km east of town, on the Gulf of Kissamos.
Dimitris the owner will attend to your every need.
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!
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.
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.
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...
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.
Kastelli Kissamos is as relaxed a Cretan town as you can find, whist still being a hubbub of activity and hospitality.
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 Kythera Travel.
NB: Ferryboat Ionis has annual maintenance from 12 Nov 2018 until 7 Jan 2019. There will be no crossings to Crete.
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.