*Translation from Gail Wareham
Paleochora is a coastal town located on the southwest coast of Crete, approximately 70km from Chania and 200km from Heraklion. It is built on a peninsula between two picturesque bays, and as it borders the Libyan Sea it is justly regarded as the “Libyan Bride” and “Land of the Sun”.
The town has the natural advantage of being built between two bays; the eastern and the western. The small peninsula is protected from strong seasonal winds by the surrounding mountains. The mountains, located geographically north of Paleochora are impressive because of their height (300 m), and because they posses a unique natural beauty and grace that combines rugged upland hills and crevices with lowland vegetation of aromatic shrubs and plants. This rare and somewhat rugged landscape automatically changes at the approach of sea level, with the long & flat plains of Paleochora town. The town itself is limited in size by the encroachment on both sides of the Libyan Sea. The western bay is defined by a beautiful artificial port, with the navy lighthouse projecting it’s signal for ships travelling to Gibraltar or contrary to the Suez Canal. Follow the coast west from the port and you find the thick sand beach of Paleochora town. The pristine beach which is permanently waving the blue flag receives thousands of visitors in the summer months. Across the town at the east bay you find every differential between shingles and rocks dependent on which part of the coastline you choose (ie an ordinary Greek landscape). Looking out from the shores of the east side of Paleochora, you can observe the caps of the White Mountains that separate our province from that of Sfakia. The ferry pier is located on this side of the bay which serves tourists who want to visit Soúgia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro, Chora Sfakia, Gavdos & Elafonisi.
With day trips on comfortable and convenient boats, always with available places, you ensure a quite beautiful and original journey. We have some of the best beaches in Crete spanning 18km either side of Paleochora. There are several hiking trails including the European E4 & E1 and whichever one you chose to take they all end up at one of our beautiful beaches. Water activities include swimming, surfing, water skiing, snorkelling, jet ski, kite, sailing, fishing …
In the evenings after a busy day (or not!), you can enjoy a walk, food, wine, coffee etc., in both the sea front and central streets of Paleochora which remain closed to vehicles all night, and are transformed into pedestrian streets with tables & chairs.
With all this on offer, Paleochora is a Greek corner where the holidaymaker is not subjected to the “tourist farm” and enjoys the real feel of the island & the famous Cretan hospitality making it a unique holiday experience. There is easy access to archaeological and historical sites, Byzantine churches, monasteries & museums.
The climate of Paleochora from early May until late October is the sweetest, and the sea temperature in May and October are higher than they are in July and August in northern European countries. The winter is pleasant, with rainfall at approximately 400 to 450mm per year. The average temperature is 19.5 °C with a maximum of around 41.5 °C and a minimum of around 6-7 °C.
TOURISM: It is widely known that Greece has had tourism now for several decades, with great emphasis on areas with particularly special archaeological interest such as Athens, Delphi, Mycenae, Knossos, etc. Over time several tourist coastal areas have developed in Greece such as Attica, the islands of the Aegean and Ionian Sea, the Cyclades and Crete. The idyllic town of Paleochora with it’s excellent climate, beautiful beaches and scenic coastline, could not remain unnoticed by those foreign visitors who first came to discover Greece. Tourism began in Paleochora in the decade of 1965-1975. The first tourists were Europeans. The tourists were welcomed with great kindness from the local residents who were the people who launched the first available tourist rooms in their houses. Homemade hospitality showed their love towards these foreign visitors. They would sit at the same table, discussing and exchanging opinions whilst sharing some raki. There was the hotel “Livikon” For those who had a little more money. Most of these first visitors spent their days on the beautiful beaches and enjoyed the warm, clear sea as well as the hot sand for sunbathing. Somehow the days would pass so casually & effortlessly.
Traditional restaurants and cafes were waiting quietly in summer evenings in the village square to accept them. Shopkeepers would try to accommodate peoples needs without any special training and tourism preparation. The luxury was missing from the shops, however the tourists found that they could call on the hospitality of their many groups of Cretan friends and many feasts were enjoyed together during these first days of tourism. We loved tourism, and we loved them. The advertisement of the place began and these first dozen tourists would bring more friends with them the next year and more the year after. So, somewhat timidly, tourism started in Paleochora.
During the twenty years between 1975 & 1995 the tourist development of Paleochora was rapid. Remarkable hotel & studio rooms sprang up all over, that could serve not only visitors moving individually, but also those that came with the various travel agencies.
The tourist groups now are from various European countries who arrive in Chania with specially chartered airplanes, and from there are transported by coach to various hotels.
The rooms mainly serve those individual visiting our country, foreigners and locals. Today there has been a high increase not only in the amount of tourists who visit the town, but also in the quality of the accommodation on offer.
In the town today you will find many restaurants and tavernas that offer a wide variety of delicious dishes. The fresh fish and locally roasted goat particularly impress those who try them. Several cafes and bars with modern equipment and gentle music and outdoor discos, offer their services around the clock, especially during the summer months. Many also traditional and quaint cafes stubbornly resist the modern reality and give the town a good mix of new and old to please every generation.
The beautiful and extensive beaches sandwiched by Aries cape west of Paleochora, until Elide and ancient Lissos in the east, are open to any kind of maritime activity. There is everything from thick sand through to large pebble and due to the varied geographic locations of the beaches there is something to meet the holidaymakers needs whatever weather prevails. Leisure time can also be spent hiking with walks near the Venetian fortress of Fortezza or on the picturesque hills and mountains that rise north of the town. From our region passes the European path E4, which enables all who love the long hours of walking to admire wonderful and unique landscapes within an enviably clean environment. The alternation of landscape with it’s array of flora and fauna, helps to soothe away the anxiety and noise of urban centers and towns in general.
The stay of each visitor to Paleochora can be combined with various standard day (or longer) trips and visits to other areas. Of these the most notable are: The visit of the ancient Lissos, the gorge of Samaria or the Holy Peace, Gavdos, Elafonisi with it’s unique beautiful beaches, Kountoura’s Byzantine churches, and the history and folklore museum of Azogyres. Today in Paleochora there are 3,000 beds available in apartments, hotels and campsites.
For the convenience of both residents and visitors alike, Paleochora has services such as:
Council Offices, Customs, Port Authority, private doctors, pharmacies, National, Rural and Chania Banks, Post Office, and Community Information Office.
Also important is the offer of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, which is based in Paleochora.
It works for about a decade before the German occupation continuously until today. It worked, and continues to work for the interests of the farmers of this, the Selino province. Today it is manned with adequate staff, modern facilities and equipment, and care in every way to protect the interests of farmers in our region.