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|THE TOWN OF KASTELLI KISSAMOS ON CRETE|
Kissamos (also called Kastelli or Kasteli Kissamos) is the major town and port in the far north west of Crete at 40 kilometres distance of Chania. With 3.000 inhabitants it still remains relatively quiet. There are not many cars rushing through its boundaries, like on the stretch of the main road that leads along most of the north coast. The village of Kissamos has many names. The Venetian built a fortress here and than named the village Kastelli or Kastelli Kissamos (the castle of Kissamos). This name was often confused with another village that is situated 36 kilometers south east of Heraklion and that has the same name (and there is even one more village with that name). People decided to name the town Kissamos in order to make it easier, but now in reality all these names are used next to each other for the same town. Kastelli Kissamos is famous as a centre for making wine, olive oil and agricultural products.
Kissamos has all the facilities of a modern holiday resort, like banks, a post office, car rentals, supermarkets, hotels and a boulevard with tavernas and shops, yet it is not accompanied by all the noise. This is probably also due to the fact that it is too far away from the main airport at Heraklion, which has made the town less interesting for mass tourism. On either side of the village there are beaches, the most western one having sunbeds and umbrellas for rent. In the middle inside the village there is also a pile of sand, but not very comfortable or popular.
|The beaches and the port of Kastelli Kissamos on Crete|
When the road stops you can only walk along the boulevard and the beaches on either side of it. The beach at the far end of the town is the best and has some umbrellas and chairs. The bigger stretch of beach on the other side is left original and is more wild. A quiet, friendly, maybe some would think boring place, but I liked it. Kastelli Kissamos has its own port with ferry connections to the nearest island of Kythira and Kalamata, Gythion and even to Piraeus. The port of Kastelli Kissamos is situated on the west side, a little bit outside the town. There are ferries and boats going to the nearby small island of Imeri ("Mild") Gramvousa (and not to Agria or "Wild" Gramvousa, there is no boat going to this island), which is topped with a Venetian castle.
|Antiquities in Kissamos - the Venetian castle and the Roman remains|
Kastelli Kissamos itself has its own Venetian castle. The town is close to Roman and Mycenaean archaeological sites, as well as to the ancient Dorian village of Polirrinia (a fortified town from the 8th century BC), of which Kastelli Kissamos used to be the harbour. This was an important town that even minted its own coins. When he Romans occupied this town they made a water supply here that ends in a fountain. From the Acropolis in Polirrinia there are dramatic views over the Gulf of Kissamos.
Spread over this small town of Kissamos you can find several antiquities like Roman baths and mosaic floors. Note: to see all the excavations there are signs on either side of the main road leading into town. The mosaic floors were found in an urban Roman villa called the House of Pheidias, but on inspection I couldn't find remains of mosaic floors, just remains of the building. Probably the mosaics have ended up in the Kissamos Museum and they are splendid. Go and check them out.
Another relic of the Venetian time is the beautiful large fountain dating from 1520. It is situated about 100 meters from the main square between the houses on the left side, as you walk towards the east (take the road on your right hand side when you're on the square and you look toward the east). It stands in a courtyard, not far from the big church, but can be seen from the street. One of the stones has some kind of feet pressed in it. The fountain is still working today!
|The Archaeological Museum of Kissamos|
When you visit the town of Kissamos make sure to take a look in the Archaeological Museum. This museum is housed in a Venetian-Turkish monument and houses artefacts that were found in the Kissamos district. The finds go from prehistoric times through to late antiquity (Early Christian Period) and is really interesting. The building has two floors and the material is displayed according to chronology and geography. Besides the vases, beautiful statues, glass, jewelry and coins there are also two beautiful large colourful (and almost intact) mosaic floors on display. This is something not to be missed and puts a new light on any of the visits you will later make to the archaeological sites in the area.
When you stay in the town of Kastelli Kissamos it is easy to combine a relaxing day at the beach with a visit to several archaeological sites or Chania (also possible by bus), a boat trip to the island of Gramvousa or a day at the (partly) naturist beach of Falassarna. There are remains of old towns like Polyrrinia and Falassarna nearby, and old Monasteries like Chrissoskalitissa and Gonies. Close to Kissamos there are also interesting Byzantine churches which contain frescoes, like the beautiful church in Deliana. The quaint Byzantine church of Rotonda (near Episkopi) is also worth a visit. The area is also suitable for making nice walks of bicycle rides. All together: not a bad place at all.
If this appeals to you and you like privacy, personality, hospitality, beautiful views and luxury at a very good price than you might want to check the Kastagnia Lodge accommodations (see below) which consist of one large and beautiful studio, one large apartment and one house that share a 50 m2 pool. I thought the prices were very, very reasonable and the owner is super friendly. Loved it!
|Hotels, apartments, studios and villas for rent in and around Kastelli Kissamos on Crete|
Even though Kissamos doesn't feel like a tourist hot spot there are still quite a few accommodations you can choose from. We go and stay with our friend Arianne in the Kastania Lodge every year (see below) which is fantastic.
For all hotels, apartments, studios and villas in Kissamos on the island of Crete - click here.
|Kastania Lodge, Kastelli Kissamos in Crete|
Kastania Lodge is a small complex consisting of one house, one apartment and one studio. It is are situated just above the town of Kastelli Kissamos, in the north west of Crete. It is situated on a very quiet spot in the country side and it looks out over the town of Kissamos and the sea on one side and on the other side the mountains and the olive groves. The small and intimate complex comes with a 50 m2 pool and a small bar. This is really one of my favourite accommodations on the island of Crete. The perfect place to relax, the view from the large private terraces is beautiful, and the studio, the apartment and the villa are all very nice. Moreover, the owner Arianne is great fun and so very nice. Besides this it is really not expensive. This place is in my top three of places I have stayed in the island of Crete. It might be wise to reserve ahead if you want to stay in this complex, because it is popular and so you could be disappointed if you don't. There are many repeat guests and people that visit after word-of-mouth advertising.
|Nopigia Villas - Azure Beach Villas - Nopigia Beach|
Just a few metres from Nopigia Beach, Azure Beach is a complex of small villas with 8 shared pools amidst landscaped gardens. The beach bar Ble Lounge serves a selection of drinks and local wines. Tastefully decorated, all bright and air-conditioned villas open to a balcony or rooftop terrace with pool, mountain and Cretan Sea views. Each consists of 1 or 2 bedrooms and fully equipped kitchen with dining area. A flat-screen TV with satellite channels and DVD player is available in the seating area. Azure Beach Villas is located 5 minutes drive from Kolimbari village. Both the famous beach of Falassarna and the scenic town of Chania can be reached within a 30 minutes drive. Free parking and BBQ facilities are provided.
For more info go to - the Nopigia page.
|Papadakis Restaurant / Fish Tavern Kissamos|
The Papadakis Restaurant is situated in the port of Kissamos and basically any time we visit Kissamos we have a bite to eat here. The service is fast and friendly and the food is good. They have salads, fish and various Greek dishes on the menu. The bread is always fresh and in 1 piece. At the end with the bill the last time they also brought us a piece of delicious pear cake with whipped cream.
Our verdict: good and with a friendly service - an 8 out of 10
|Aeras Café - Kissamos|
Aeras Café is situated on the lively town square near the Archaeological Museum and this is a nice place to have a drink or a cup of good coffee and see the world go by. There are tables in the sun or in the shade that you can choose from.
Our verdict: also good and with a friendly service - an 8 out of 10
|Dodoni Ouzeri - Kissamos|
The lovers of an ouzo should try the Dodoni Ouzeri, which is situated in the side street leading to the west from the town square of Kissamos. Here you feel one with the Greeks. The price of a small bottle of ouzo is very cheap and it comes with a free plate of "mezes" (different small things that you can eat). They have also ice cream, good coffee (Segefredo) and pastry. The toilets in Dodoni are clean. You can sit inside or take a table outside and join the locals in looking at who ever is passing by.
Our verdict: friendly people, an experience, loved it - a 9 out of 10
|Café Tavern Korakas - Kissamos|
Café Tavern Korakas is situated at the boulevard of Kissamos at the very end (east side) at the seashore, overlooking the beach. They serve salads, all kinds of appetizers, zucchini balls, vegetables, meat and chicken, pastas, oven dishes, grilled chicken, lamb, schnitzels, fish and deserts. The owner Katherina is a real sweetheart. The white house wine is a good and tasty village wine with a taste of retsina. We tried the tasty cheese dip (delicious!), the saganaki (fried feta cheese), the beetroots salad (very nice), the tasty zucchini balls and the boureki (an oven dish with slices of potato and courgette and feta with a mint taste - very good).
Our verdict: friendly service, nice food - an 8 out of 10
|Agato Tavern - Lousakies, Kissamos - CLOSED|
The Agato Tavern is located on the outskirts of Kissamos in the village of Lousakies. There is a menu of the day. This tavern is a favourite of the locals, not only because of the food but also because of the friendliest cook of Crete, who does the cooking here and is stirring in the pans. The food is traditional Greek. We ordered several dishes. The chicken in tomato sauce was delicious, just like like the moussaka and stuffed vegetables (peppers, tomato and courgette flowers). The house wine is good and the bread is fresh and at in one piece (so not loose pieces that may have previously been on other tables). Grapes and raki for free at the end of the dinner.
Our verdict: the most friendly service of the whole island, nice food - an 8,5 out of 10
|Restaurant Maria Beach - Maria Beach, Kissamos|
This restaurant is located on the beach in Kissamos called Maria Beach, approximately at the height of the Carrefour. It is a somewhat fancier restaurant than most restaurants in Crete, with for example real tablecloths instead of paper ones. The menu is quite extensive. We ordered the grilled vegetables, two types of stuffed bifteki (stuffed minced meat) and a salad with rucola. The white house wine is very tasty and the bread that is served with the dinner is toasted bread with olive oil and garlic.
Our verdict: good - an 8 out of 10
|Limani Fish Taverna - Kissamos Ferry harbour|
Limani Fish Taverna is situated just outside of Kissamos towards the west, in the small ferry harbour of the town. I was tipped to us as having the best fresh sword fish fillet on the island, so we had to try. On arrival we walked in and said hello to a woman that was working there, but there was no reply and we were ignored. When we were about to leave again we were stopped by a friendly girl that worked there, so why not: we ordered the famous sword fish fillet and half a litre of white wine and decided to stay. It was not really that busy. After waiting for half an hour the waitress came asking what it was again that we ordered. We still had no wine. Again we had to wait 15 minutes before the wine came to the table. In the meantime we felt like idiots. Why did we not leave? After a whole hour after our order was placed the sword fish fillets were brought to the table: dry in some places and raw in the middle. I brought mine back to the chef in the kitchen, my friend just didn't eat his. The French fries and the wine were okay though. We received apologies and we didn't have to pay for one of the sword fish, but still it was a disappointing experience. For me the best sword fish on the island is therefore still served in Taverna Mouragio in Agia Pelagia.
Our verdict: disappointing - a 2 out of 10 for both the service and the fish