Chania area Rethymnon area Scenic Road Trips

Road Trip Crete: High Plains and Gorges

Road Trip Crete through High Plains and Gorges
Kourtaliotiko Gorge - Entrance to the Agios Nikolaos church.
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Total duration: Full day tour (8 hours)   with stay in Frangokastello and/ or Plakias

Kilometers from / to Vrisses: approx. 130
Driving time: approx. 3½ – 4 hours including some photo stops
Total duration: Full day tour (8 hours) with stay in Frangokastello and / or Plakias

Driving Route
Coming from the north (the road branches off between Vrisses and Georgioupolis) it goes

  • up to the Askifou plateau (750 m)
  • past the village Imbros (here starts the 7km long walk through the Imbros Gorge).
  • The road to the South Coast leads along the Imbros gorge
  • Once you reach the South Coast head east to Frangokastello and Plakias,
  • Follow the road through the Kourtaliotiko Gorge to the north.
  • Just before Rethymnon you rejoin the National Road.

The Road trip Crete through high plains and gorges is not without a reason a classic among the Cretan Road Trips. You should not have fear of curves, the road during the whole tour is however well developed and impeccably paved.

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Road Trip Crete through High Plains and Gorges

Driving to Frangokastello: looking back to Krapi high plain and Akrotiri Peninsula in the north

Between Georgioupolis and Vrisses, the road branches off…

… south, towards Sfakia / Chora Sfakion / Imbros / Frangokastello. The curvy climb starts immediately into the mountains, past the Krapi Plateau up to the Askifou Plateau.

Road Trip Crete through High Plains and Gorges

Askifou plateau.

Askifou Plateau

One’s view automatically goes to a fortress built by the Ottomans in 1866. Here, on the plateau, the great battle between the Ottomans and the people of Sfakia took place in 1821, ending in victory for the Cretans. However, two years later, in 1823, the Askifou region was set on fire by Hussein Bey.

In the village Imbros

After a few kilometers you reach the village of Imbros. From there you can enter on foot the Imbros gorge and reach the village of Komitades at the South coast after 7 km. Detailed information about the Imbros gorge hike in Imbros Gorge – stunning natural landscapes

Road Trip Crete through High Plains and Gorges

Local speciality “Sfakiani Pita”

Our tip: don’t miss the chance to try a “Sfakiani Pita” in any coffee shop/restaurant in the village. This pie from the remote region of Chora Sfakion is a delicious thin pie filled with local cheese Myzithra or Anthotyros and it is served with honey and nuts. Sfakiani Pita comprises a traditional Cretan snack accompanying perfectly the Cretan spirit Tsikoudia, as well it can be served as a dessert.

Road Trip Crete: High Plains and Gorges

The road along the Imbros gorge …

… is of course curvy but beautiful. You will find a café is at the highest point, before you go over hairpin bends down to the south coast. You are always accompanied by the fantastic view to the Lybian Sea and to the fortress of Frangokastello in the east.

The fortification, attraction for many excursioners in Frangokastello Crete

Directly at the beach imposes the fortress of Frangokastello. The fortification is an attraction for many excursioners.

Coastal settlement Frangokastello

Once arrived at the coast, turn left to Frangokastello. After a further 11 km, following the signposts, you will reach the coastal settlement Frangokastello. Here you can: visit the castle, have lunch, swim in shallow waters (lunch and bathing also possible in Plakias). Read more about Frangokastello in Frangokastello – seaside settlement with Venetian fortress.

The village of Plakias can be reached after a further 1-hour drive, during which I recommend a stop and walk in the traditional villages Sellia (here you can see a first sign to Plakias / Souda, do not follow!!) or Myrtios.

Plakias at the southern coast of Rethymnon

Arrived in Plakias you can enjoy some hours in Taverns, Cafeterias or/and on the beach.

Plakias village

Soon you will see the Bay of Plakias. After the village Myrtios take the next turnoff (the signpost lies in the moat) to the right, and after a few minutes you will reach the coastal town of Plakias. Here you can: stroll around, have lunch, swim. Read more about Plakias in Plakias – between mountain peaks, beaches and monasteries

After Plakias follow the signs for Lefkogia and then to Rethymnon.

Road Trip Crete through High Plains and Gorges

Kourtaliotiko gorge

Immediately after the village of Asomatos, you enter the Kourtaliotiko Gorge. On your right hand you can descend on foot to the church of Agios Nikolaos and then continue to the river bed and the springs of the Megas Potamos river, which leads into the sea on the Palm beach Preveli (appropriate shoes are necessary, for the walk until the church and back calculate at least 1 additional hour). A little further to the left you can see the church of Agia Kyriaki nestled in the rocks.

Road trip Crete through high plains and gorges  – The return trip

From here, it is only a few kilometers to the main road Spili-Rethymnon and Rethymnon is only 40 minutes away. After the village of Armeni the “Late Minoan Armenian Cemetery” is signposted, which can be visited from 08.30-15.00hrs (daily except Mondays).

Just before the city of Rethymnon, all directions are well signposted…. our exciting day and the Road Trip Crete High Plains and Gorges comes to its end.

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