Sougia is a charming village situated at the entrance of the beautiful Agia Irini Gorge, 75km west of Chania city. Once a 70’s hippie haven, it now serves as a peaceful getaway offering relaxing vacations amidst scenic landscapes, equipped with necessary amenities. The village features a variety of restaurants, taverns, accommodation choices, cafes, bars, and mini markets, though larger facilities like gas stations, hospitals, pharmacies or banks are not available in this secluded paradise.
The village is home to a beautiful, long beach adorned with pebbly sand and crystal-clear deep water. The beach stretches an impressive 1.5km from the quaint harbour of Sougia at the Lissos Gorge exit to the east, concluding in a private cove surrounded by rocks. This part of the beach, largely undeveloped, is a favourite among naturists. The beach section facing the village, however, is well-equipped with facilities including umbrellas, showers, sports facilities, and a lifeguard tower. Tamarisk trees dotted along the beach provide ample shade.
In the summer, daily ferries carry tourists from Sougia to various destinations such as Chora Sfakion, Paleochora, Agia Roumeli, Gavdos Island, and Loutro.
Historical Importance and Nearby Attractions to Sougia
Known as Syia (“place of hogs” in Greek) in ancient times, Sougia was once a hub for pig herding due to the region’s abundant oak trees. Today, you can still see the oak trees while trekking through the majestic Agia Irini Gorge, a popular tourist spot in West Crete.
Consider exploring the remains of the Doric town of Elyros, with Syia acting as its port in the past. The ruins are located on Kefala hill, near Rodovani village. Elyros flourished from 500 to 350 BC, being one of the main cities of southwest Crete with approximately 16,000 inhabitants. Known for its weapons manufacturing, Elyros even had its own currency.
Other points of interest include the Church of Saint Panteleimon, built on the site of Syia’s early Christian Basilica, which houses ancient mosaics depicting natural scenes from the 6th century AD. Although the church is usually closed, keys can be obtained at the local kiosk.
Near Sougia, the archaeological site of Lissos, Elyros’ secondary seaport, contains remnants of an ancient theatre, thermal baths, and the Asclepeion, fed by the Lissos spring. Accessible by a boat or a hike through the Lissos Gorge, the ruined city is a two-hour walk away.
Lastly, a two-hour hike east on the E4 trail towards Agia Roumeli will take you to the picturesque St. Anthony Chapel, situated in a scenic cove, and further on, the legendary cave of Polyphemus.
The rocky beach of Tripiti is located 5km east of Sougia and 68km south of Chania city, at the ending point of the wild gorge of Trypiti. It is absolutely secluded, like all the beaches of the wider Sfakia area. Access to Tripiti is possible either by boat or by walking on a difficult path from Sougia (three hours). The vertical cliffs near the beach provide natural shade. If you walk 500m east to the beach, you’ll meet the much nicer pebbly beach of Sendoni, used by beekeepers.
Tripiti is believed to be the site of the ancient town Pikilasos with the protected natural harbour. The port has been converted to a reef with incredible formations after some geological changes during the 4th AD century. Inscriptions have been discovered in the area, revealing the existence of a temple dedicated to Serapis (Greco-Egyptian god of antiquity). Moreover, archaeologists have discovered several tombs, carved in the rocks.
On the beach, there is a cistern with water, a goat pen and the picturesque church of Agios Nikolaos. If you are in the area on July 19, you can take part in the celebration of the Prophet Elijah, which celebrates on July 20. The pilgrims arrive by boat in the afternoon on the beach of Trypiti and then walk on the path leading to the chapel of Prophet Elijah, 400 meters above sea level. They spend the night there with food and traditional Cretan songs and leave the next day. On the peak of the same hill, there are the ruins of Fort Voukelasi.
Lissos Beach, situated in the Agios Kyrikos region, lies about 71km south of Chania city and 3km west of Sougia. It was historically the seaport for the nearby town of Elyros, the remnants of which can now be found near the modern village of Rodovani.
Lissos Beach is a secluded and unspoiled spot, characterized by large pebbles and exposure to the southern winds. Visitors and campers can find shade under the beach’s abundant trees. Access to the beach is either via a 20-minute boat ride or a 90 to 120-minute hike from Sougia, a journey that passes through the scattered ruins of ancient Lissos.
Near the beach stands the charming Church of St. Kirikos, which holds a celebration on July 15th. If you happen to be in the area the day before, you can join in the festivities. Pilgrims arrive by boat from Sougia to participate in the ceremony and subsequent celebration.
Lissos experienced its golden age during the Hellenistic period, flourishing until the 9th century when it was razed by the Saracens. The town was renowned for its asclepion, or healing thermal baths, which attracted patients from across the island. The mosaic floors of Asclepios, despite being damaged by an earthquake, are still visible today.
A walk through the Lissos Valley will reveal an array of ancient ruins, including capitals, a Roman cemetery with vaulted graves, and the remains of an ancient theatre. The discovery of numerous statues and coins in the region suggests that Lissos was more prosperous than its parent city, Elyros. The most notable statues, those of the Goddess Hygeia (Health), Asclepius, and Pluto, are now displayed in the Archaeological Museum in Chania.
On the European E4 trail linking Sougia and Paleochora, you’ll come across the stunning small beach of Astropelekita with its deep blue waters. This sandy beach, situated to the east of the rocky Plaka cape, is encountered before beginning the ascent to Flomes or Elide Cape, on the way to the ancient Lissos. This little cove offers a perfect opportunity for a refreshing swim while trekking the E4 trail.
Astropelekita, translating to ‘thunderbolt’ in Greek, is named after a local myth. The tale suggests that the area’s distinctive whitish rocks were created when the Olympian Gods hurled a thunderbolt at the region.
The picturesque Domata beach, positioned 7km east of Sougia and 58km south of Chania city, resides at Tseses. This beach marks the end of the Klados gorge, a wild and rugged landscape. Its unique natural beauty is a result of the erosive power of water. The name Domata, translating to “roofs”, is derived from the layered structure of the surrounding conglomerate rocks, reminiscent of enormous walls. The beach owes its creation to the large amounts of pebbles and dirt deposited by the gorge, and the continuous oscillation of the sea and air.
The beach is striking, with its fine pebbles and transparent blue waters. By digging in the sand, you can discover fresh water from subterranean springs. As anticipated, the area is devoid of roads and infrastructure. However, the abundant pine trees near the beach provide natural shade and ideal camping spots. The southernmost section of the beach, separated from the main beach of Domata by rocks, is known as Kolotrividis, named after the adjacent cape.
You can reach Domata via the E4 European trail, which heads east and guides you to Agia Roumeli (a 3 -4 hour walk). Be cautious though, as the trail ascends to an altitude of 700m, with some sections being steep and potentially hazardous.