Destinations in Crete



Sougia is a small village located 75km west of Chania city, at the exit of the beautiful Gorge of Agia Irini. A favorite destination for hippies in the 70s', today it is a perfect choice for peaceful holidays in a beautiful landscape with all the basic amenities provided. In Sougia you will find many restaurants, taverns, rooms, coffee shops, bars, mini market, etc. In summer, ferries run daily from Sougia to Chora Sfakion, Paleochora, Agia Roumeli, Gavdos island and Loutro

In front of the village lies a lovely quiet long beach with coarse sand and crystal clear deep water. The beach starts from the small harbor of Sougia (west) at the exit of Lissos Gorge and stretches to the east for 1.5km and is preferred by naturists

HISTORY AND What to see

The ancient name of Sougia (Syia)  means "place of hogs" in the ancient Greek, because pigs were fed on the plenty acorns of the area. Today you don’t see any pigs, but you still see the oak trees, if you make a stroll through the magnificent gorge of Agia Irini, one of the three most visited gorges in West Crete.

You can also visit the ruins of the Doric town of Elyros; ancient Sougia (then called Syia) was its seaport. The ruins of Elyros are located in Kefala hill, near the village Rodovani. Elyros flourished until the Greek classical period, from 500 to 350 BC. It was one of the major towns of the south-west Crete, with a population of approximately 16.000 residents. Elyros had its own currency and was famous for making weapons.

Another attraction is the church of Saint Panteleimon, built on the site of the early Christian Basilica of Syia, west of the village still preserving ancient mosaics on the floor. They depict scenes from nature and date back in the 6th century AD. The church is not open to public, but you should ask for the keys at the local kiosk.

Near Sougia lies the ancient city of Lissos, which was the second seaport of Elyros. It was famous about its theatre, the thermal baths and the Asclepeion, watered by the spring of Lissos. If you don’t have a boat, you have to follow the path that leads to the west through Lissos Gorge and you will reach the ruined town Lissos after 1.5-2 hours of hiking. 

Lastly, if you follow the E4 trail leading to Agia Roumeli (east), you will meet after 2 hours of hiking the picturesque chapel of St. Anthony, hidden in a scenic cove. In the same direction, you will also find the legendary cave of Polyphemus.

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Ancient Lissos

Ancient Lissos was the seaport of Elyros and was built in a small valley between Sougia and Paleochora. It flourished from the Hellenistic period up to the 9th century, when it was destroyed by the Saracens. It was famous for the Asclepion, where patients from all over the island arrived to be healed from the thermal baths.

Lissos Gorge

Through the gorge of Lissos passes the trail that connects Sougia to Ancient Lissos. It's a long canyon with imposing towering walls, but the path that leads to ancient Lissos covers only a small part of the route, taking only about 1 hour.


Ancient Elyros

Elyros was the most important town in southwestern Crete during the Doric and Roman Periods. Ruins are conserved 500m far from the village Rodovani atop the panoramic hill Kefala. The town had two harbors: Syia(current Sougia) and Lissos. The exact location of the town was verified by an inscription with the phrase in Greek "Glory to the people of Elyros".


Trail Sougia - Koustogerako - Omalos

Starting from Sougia, apart from the gorge of Agia Irini, we can choose the alternative route that comes through the beautiful settlement Koustogerako. Then the trail continues and crosses the pine wood by Olisma and conludes at Seliniotikos Gyros, i.e. the southwest passage to Omalos Plateau.


Saint Kirikos Church at Lissos

Saint Kirikos or Kirkos is located at the archaeological site of Lissos, on the site of a former Early Christian Basilica and gives its name to the entire valley of Lissos. The vaulted church has Byzantine frescoes, unfortunately damaged.


Saint Panteleimon Early Christian Basilica in Sougia

The present-day settlement of Sougia is built on the site of ancient Syia, which flourished mainly in the late Roman times. Underneath the surviving cemeterial temple of Saint Panteleimon there are the remains of a three-aisled basilica with a 20.80m x 12.40m narthex, which has been excavated by A. Orlandos.


Panagia Church at Lissos

At the site of the ancient seaside town of Lissos, west of Sougia, there are the remains of two 6th-century triple-aisle wooden-roof basilicas with a slightly protruding transverse aisle, which were discovered in 1955 by archaeologist N. Padouvas.


Church of Saint Irene in Sougia

To the north of the Sougia settlement, the church of Saint Irene (Agia Irini) is preserved in the architectural type of the single-nave church with a dome, to which an arched-roof narthex was added in a second stage, which survives as a late reconstruction of its dome.


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