Paleochora is a small town located 77 km south of Chania, at the southwest coastline of Crete and it’s built on a small peninsula of 400m width and 700m length. The town is set along 11 km of coastline bordering the South Cretan Sea. Paleochora is built on the ruins of the ancient city of Kalamydi. It was the capital town of the municipality of Pelekanos and its population was 2213 in the 2001 census. Paleochora's economy is based on tourism and agriculture (mainly tomatoes cultivated in glass houses and also olive oil). It is a relaxing holiday destination since the early 1970s when it was popular with hippies. Paleochora is currently one of the fastest-growing tourist towns on Crete.
Paleochora's wider area has crystal clear waters, well-organized beaches, and beautiful isolated small anchorages. It is served by numerous hotels, restaurants, tavernas, cafés, bars, and nightclubs. Facilities in Paleochora include bank branches, a post office, a central telephone office, a health center, doctor's offices, dentists, chemists, a police station, a coast guard and customs office, and many types of stores. Ferry boats connecting the town with Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro, Chora Sfakion, and Gavdos dock in the local harbor.
In 1278, the Venetian general Marino Gradenigo built a fort in the Palechora area, called the "Castel Selino". The fort gave its name to the whole province, previously called "Orina", which was then renamed "Selino". The fort was destroyed in 1332 and was rebuilt in 1334. Near the fort, the Venetians established a new settlement for workers and merchants called Vourgos (burg). The pirate Hayreddin Barbarossa destroyed the fort in 1539, but later in 1595, Dolf revamped it. In 1645, the Turks conquered the town and modified the fort to suit their needs. In 1834 an English traveler named Robert Pashley found the fort completely destroyed and the whole area without any inhabitants and with only a granary and one or two small buildings left. In 1866 the recolonization of Paleochora began. During the Battle of Crete during World War II, the town was the scene of fighting between motorcycle-riding troops of the German 95th Reconnaissance Battalion and the Eighth Greek Regiment (Provisional) with elements of the Cretan Gendarmerie. The general phase of urbanization that started in other parts of Greece in the 1960s, took place in the 1950s on the nearby island of Gavdos. During that period the islanders exchanged their land on Gavdos for ex-Turkish land on Crete, which had now become exchangeable through a state program. They created a community known as "Gavdiotika", in the 'old town' section of Paleochora.
Elafonisi is located 76km west of Chania and 5km south of Chrysoskalitisa Monastery, in the southwesternmost point of Crete. Elafonisi is an oblong, which often "breaks" in two parts by water giving the impression of being a separate island.
Kedrodasos (i.e. cedar forest) is an amazing beach, located 76km southwest of Chania and 1km east of the famous Elafonissi lagoon. The beach is filled with juniper trees (mistakenly confused with cedars) and sand dunes, reminding of Lebanese beaches.
The Samaria Gorge is the longest trekking gorge in Europe and also the most famous of all. Thousands of tourists flock here daily in the summer season to walk from the top to the bottom. For many visitors, it is the sole purpose of their visit to Crete. The length of the gorge reaches 18km and takes almost 4-7 hours to hike from Omalos to Agia Roumeli, depending on trekking speed.
From the exotic lagoon of Lafonisi, located 4.5km south of Chrysoskalitissa, starts the coastal trail to Paleochora. Originally, it comes from the stunning Kedrodasos beach, passes from the church of St. John, the ancient sanctuary of Viena, Krios Cape, and then from the beaches to the west of Paleochora. The trail is one of the nicest parts of the European trail E4.
The secluded beaches by village Anidri, known as Gialiskari or Dialiskari, are surely some of the most beautiful beaches of Crete. Gialiskari is located 4km east of Paleochora and 80km South of Chania. The beaches are the easternmost beaches of the coasts of Paleochora, having an overall length of 18km.
The beach of Pahia Ammos (i.e. Coarse Sand) is located on the west side of Paleochora, 79km south of Chania. Pahia Ammos has been awarded with a blue flag, which confirms that this is a safe and clean beach.
The Lake of Krios or Viena is located 10km west of Paleochora and 90km south of Chania. The beach is on the part of the European footpath E4 that links Paleochora and Elafonisi.
This amazing hike is about 16km long and takes about 5-6 hours. The trail is clear and well-marked with the typical E4 back-yellow signs. It crosses the archaeological site of Lissos, where you can find water from the local spring. It isn't too difficult but plenty of water, sun protection, and steady shoes are recommended.