Another beautiful day in Crete and we decided to hike to Katholiko Monastery and then on to the sea. Also known as, Moni Katholiko, it is considered the oldest monastery in Crete, dating back to the 11th century. Founded by St John the Hermit, this monastery is built into the Avlaki Gorge on the North shore of Cape Akrotiri in Northwest Crete. The monastery was abandoned in the 17th century due to pirate raids.
Directions to Katholiko Monastery
The monastery is about 35 minutes from Chania. We started out from our resort and took the National Highway East past Chania towards Pithari. That is where we totally lost GPS. Luckily, I had a map and we turned North at Anemomili and kept heading North. Basically, follow the signs towards Gouverneto Monastery. This is where you will park and then find the trail to Katholiko Monastery. The roads were good but narrow. We had no major problem finding the monastery entrance and there is a small fee per person. The drive was pretty and we enjoyed driving through the quaint little villages.
Most days you can visit the Gouverneto Monastery which is a functional, operating monastery. It was Tuesday though, and we have found out many spots of interest are closed in Greece on Tuesdays. I do not know why. Any one else know? You need to walk past the Gouverneto Monastery to get to the trailhead, it was impressive.
Trailhead to Katholiko Monastery
You can’t miss the path to Katholiko Monastery because it is right through the gate at the end of the side walk at Gouverneto Monastery. The view is spectacular, you can see the Aegean Sea from the trailhead so anticipation is high!
The Trail to the Monastery
The Trail to the Monastery again has a lot of steps. The trail has a gravel path at times and also a cobblestone path at times. I felt it was a good, well maintained trail. The views are gorgeous
Cave of the Bear
The Cave of the Bear has a large rock in the center of it that resembles a bear, thence the name. You can’t miss the entrance as it is along the path.
The Monastery is spectacular. The ruins give a glimpse as to how impressive this must have been. The monks that lived there at the time lived in small rooms or even in the caves all around the gorge. Incidentally, during the WWII Nazi invasion many Crete locals inhabitants who fought in the Battle of Crete hid in the monastery and it’s surrounding caves.
Hike to the Sea
We decided we would go ahead and hike to the sea. The hike starts under the large stone bridge. There are 2 paths down the steep hill, both are tough and take careful footing. I used the 3 point method where I kept 3 points of contact at all times, meaning if I moved a leg, my other leg and two hands held on firmly. In addition, I did not move another limb until I was firmly footed. It did not take long, just caution.
The path to the sea was a loose rocky path through the gorge. Not treacherous, but again, good and careful footing required. I would definitely not wear flip flops and it would probably be a rough trek for someone who had bad knees or hips. It also was hot!
Once at the sea, the views were spectacular! We did see an ancient boat dock which was pretty cool! We did not find any place that looked like a beach. The area was all sharp, volcanic type rocks. We were told that swimming was forbidden as of 2 months prior to our arrival. Not sure where people swam at in the past as I didn’t see any place that looked swim friendly.
We hung out and explored the cliff above the sea enjoying the views and then followed the same trail back up. I found it to be easier from a walking stand point to hike up. It was a good cardio work out though, and we weren’t the only ones huffing and puffing on our way up! It took us a little over an hour to get to the top from the sea.
I absolutely loved everything about this hike. The views, history, monastery, cave, and sea are all things I love about Crete nestled in to one hike.
While planning our trip to Greece, I found the travel guide Top 10 Crete to be very useful. It lists the top 10 of places to go, restaurants, and sites. Then it also lists the top 10 by region and area. I felt it was a great planning tool, plus it came with a pocket size map.
I also bought a National Geographic Map of Crete and this was priceless as we lost our GPS several times. The map is pretty accurate and durable. It really did help us out!
Where We Stayed in Chania, Crete
While in Chania we stayed at the Domes Noruz, a beautiful seaside resort with wonderful amenities. Our room, which overlooked the pool, was comfortable and spacious with a plunge pool and soaking tub. The staff was welcoming. I will write more in a future post on where we stayed and ate during this trip. In the meantime, if you want you can click here for more information on Domes Noruz in Chania.
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You can find my other Greek Adventures by following these links:
Elounda Peninsula Hotel, Sept 2019
Windmills of Lasithi, Sept 2019
Chania Harbor and Gallini Restaurant, Sept 2019
Preveli Beach and Palm Grove, Sept 2019
Seitan Limania Beach, Crete, Sept 2019
Balos Beach, Crete, Greece Sept 2019
Five Favorite Santorini Restaurants 2018/2019
Santorini by Dune Buggy, Oct 2019
Imerovigli to Fira Hike, Sept 2019
Exploring Sunny Santorini, Sept 2018
Five Places to Eat in Plaka, Athens, 2018/2019
Temple of Hephaestus & Ancient Agora, Oct 2019
The Temple of Olympian Zeus, Oct 2019
Another Athens Sunrise, Lycabettus Hill, Oct 2019
Sunrise Over Athens, Philopappos Hill Sept 2019
Acropolis and Parthenon Oct 2018
3 Days in Milos Greece, Oct 2018
19 thoughts on “Hike to Katholiko Monastery in Crete”
Wow that hike looked incredible. Such beautiful blue skies and wonderful scenery, fabulous photos. And the hotel doesn’t look too bad either! So nice.
It was pretty amazing!!
Worth a visit then? Is it expensive?
Yes, worth a visit. The Monastery is 2.5 euros. Crete, as an island, seemed less expensive than Santorini and Athens. We did 4-5 hikes and most were free or inexpensive. I’ll be posting all of them in the next few weeks, after I get back to the States.
Beautiful ruins 👍🏼
They were very impressive!!
And there was a lot of them too. That is what makes it awesome.
I agree!! I love when ruins are intact enough that you can picture in your mind how life was there!
the views seem to make all that hiking worth it! I’m curious if you keep track of how many steps you take each day?
We did keep track of our steps each day. Over 15,000 steps everyday with 3 days over 19,000 and 4 days over 23,000 with one day at a whopping 25,392!!! But we ate like you wouldn’t believe!!!!
the eating is the reward for all that walking! thanks for letting me know about the steps…
Fascinating that so much of the ruins are still standing. I can imagine how incredible it must have been. So much history. Such beauty surrounding! What a wonderful trip for you. Maybe one day for us……. but Sicily will be my next overseas trip.
I too was impressed by how intact the ruins were. Sicily sounds wonderful! Hoping to get there some day!!
Very nice capture of these wonderful, rustic architectural structures!
Thank you. It was a truly amazing place!
The beaches look great, but one should be conscious of the safety regulations. Glad that you chose not to take risks.
This one is another fantastic place. If I am not mistaken, the origin of these caves appear to be natural. There are a few artificial structures and spots for prayers though, but the cave looks quite prehistoric and natural to me. Is that the case?
The surroundings and the monastery look so picturesque and serene. Thank you Madam for sharing.. 😊
Yes, the caves are natural, with a few areas for buildings, etc. This was by far my favorite hike in Greece. I loved how all the history intertwined, including how the ancient caves were used in WWII for protection. Also loved how beautiful the area is. My husband and I are fairly cautious, I am 54 and he is 61 so we don’t take unnecessary risks. We ask about conditions at the entrances if there is someone manning the area. If it’s past our comfort level we don’t go!!
Well, you went way past your or a general tourist’s comfort zone to discover these places by yourself.
Safety is important. People ignore it while traveling usually and end up paying a heavy price. Your post is one of the few I have seen which tells about safety.
Glad to know about these caves. History (both ancient and modern) and geography are perfectly intertwined here.
Thank you once again Madam for sharing.. 😊