The city of Chania is know for having both sea and mountains. Beautiful beaches long and short, with sand or peebles , nudist beaches, quiet ones and those packed with people, sun beds, umbrellas , music and noise. The mountains range lays there between the touristic North Coast, and the more quiet South Coast.
UP, AT 1000 METERS AFTER AN HOUR DRIVE, YOU FIND THE PLATEAU OF OMALOS.
Here the famous Samaria Gorge starts at Xiloskalo, (wooden stairs), the mountain cabin Kallergi belonging to the local mountain club, nice hotels and taverns and amazing nature. The hotels are made of stone, have fireplaces and use only local products. You can stay there the whole year. There are also stone houses for rent. You also find a couple of mountain tops here, most know are Volikas and Gigilos.
The people of Chania travel here the whole year, and in the wintertime, they visit Omalos every weekend. Many tourists come to do the gorge every day from May to October, but the get of the buses at Xiloskala and disappear down the Gorge. But it is worth a visit even if you are not doing the gorge. Let’s start with the drive up, it’s a marvelous trip. When you start out with a car, a motorbike or come with the bus, you drive through orange country. Fields everywhere, with oranges, lemon, grapefruit and avocado trees all the way from Chania.
This is the district on Crete that has the most citrus production. Gorgeous green district with large villages and a lot of life. You also find the small Agia lake, the village Agia and the agriculture prison. The lake was the first electricity source from 1912, and is a man made dam.
The lake is a important wetland and water source for Crete. A lot of imigrant birds stay here, and in the wintertime the lake is full of beautiful species. A nice cafe and wonderful view to the mountains is something amazing. You find this small lake on the map just behind Stalos and Agia Marina. An other way to get there, is the road on the back of Platanias. Perfect for walking and biking also.
Next possible stop is at the interesting Botanical Garden. A local olive farmer started it when all his olive trees burn in a big fire. The park is ful of tropical as well as Mediterainian trees and plants. Exciting walk and a nice restaurant. There is also a regular bus from the bus station in Chania. Lakki, the large village you meet high up, has a wonderful view, beautiful church and is a popular stop. This is the last stop before Omalos. After this there is a very curvy road and wonderful view.
You will find a tavern high up on your right side as you drive from Lakki. The plateau often is covered in mist in the wintertime, since the clouds gather here. The air, the food and the atmosphere makes it a wonderful trip any time of the year. The whole of Omalos takes about 10 minutes by car till you reach Xiloskalο, but you can also turn right and drive through the empty village of Omalos with it’s aple trees and small churches. The road takes you to Selinou where the road to Sougia goes. This road is much better and is lovely to take this way back to Chania.
The people of Chania always takes a trip to Omalos when it has been snowing. It is usually a lot of snow there and many years people have been snowed in at christmas time. Sometime helicopters have to get the people out of there!!! You get a feeling of Switzerland between the white mountains and the stone houses.