We often find ourselves a bit surprised where we end up while driving in Crete and it was no different in September 2023 when we were exploring Anopolis and ended up at Likos Beach. It was a pleasant destination but getting there by road was quite the journey.
Breakfast in Chora Sfakia
We woke up at our lovely accommodations in Chora Sfakia, Crete to another dreary day but at least it wasn’t raining. The weather promised to improve as the week went on so we decided instead of hiking along the beaches as planned, we would drive up to the mountains and check out the little town of Anopoli. We still had plenty of time to hike and swim on this trip so exploring was a good option for the day.
After we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of yougurt, walnuts, orange juice, and of course coffee, we hopped in the car and were off.
Driving to Anopolis
The road to Anopoli was a bit of a challenge. It had sharp hairpin curves and was steep. In addition, much of the road ahead had no guard rails. To make this even more challenging, there was a dense fog that increased as we came closer to the top of the mountain. I definitely used my back seat driver skills as I continuously told Steve to “Slow Down” and “We’re going to drive off the cliff!” His only comment was, “If I go any slower we can walk this faster”. Luckily for him, I guess, he seems to have a knack for tuning me out and as always drove us safely to the destinations.
Anopolis is a very small village in the White Mountains. It is also referred to Anopoli and has roots back to ancient times. Because of its remote location, my understanding is that this area was never inhabited by the Ottomans or conquered by the Nazi’s. It is also considred one of the most traditional areas of Crete. Currently, many people come here to hike. There are several trails that start here and lead to various places in the White Mountains. I wanted to visit this area because I have been importing honey from this region since 2018. It is one of my favorite Greek honeys and I was curious to see where it is made. Unfortunately I can no longer import this honey to the US, so I decided to stock up on honey from this area to bring home.
As the fog was lifting we decided to explore the ruins just outside of the village. I have not been able to find any information on them so I do not know if they are ancient ruins or just old. I think the area may be the ruins of Ancient Anopolis according to Google Maps but again, I am not sure. Regardless, they were pretty cool. We wandered around here for a bit but did not want to cross over any of the fenced areas and also we weren’t sure if any of this was private property.
At first sight, the Aradena Bridge might just look like an ordinary bridge over another gorge. It is so much more. Built in 1987 by funding from the family Vardinogiannis, this steel frame woodplank bridge is suspended 452 feet above the Aradena Gorge. It is also the highest bridge to bungee jump in Greece and the second highest to bungee jump from in Europe. It connects the road to the abandoned village of Aradena.
The village of Aradena was abandoned in the 1950’s after a vendetta between families left several dead and the rest of the village left the area immediately after. You can read about the history of Aradena here. Currently it appears that some of the homes in the abandoned village are being restored.
In addition to the bridge and the village, Aradena Gorge is an attraction for hikers. You can hike from the top of the gorge to the sea at Marmara Beach. We saw a few hikers the day we were there and it is on my list for places to return to.
After driving over the Aradena Bridge we ended up at the end of the road at the small village of Agios Ioannis and passed many bee hives and a small church. Since the road ended and we did not see any trails we turned back towards Anopolis.
Exploring the Mountains and Ending up at the Sea
While driving we noticed a road that appeared to head up and perhaps eventually overlook the sea. We thought we would go further into the mountains and perhaps enjoy some views of the sea far below. After driving along a barren area and passing what looked like some type of animal barn, perhaps goat we saw the sea! We followed the road as it started to twist and turn downward. We could see a small village that appeared to be Livaniana so we assumed the road would take us there.
As we continued to twist and turn and drive very slow we passed Livaninana. At this point, we excitedly came to the conclusion the road went all the way to the sea! I thought the road was quite a nail biter. Even more so than the road to Anopoli earliear. All in all, the drive from Anopolis to Likos Beach is probably the most nerve racking road we have taken in Crete.As the road leveled off and came closer to the sea, we became more excited. At the end of the road, there was what appeared be a parking area.
Exploring Along the Coast
We parked the car, let ourselves through a gate, and followed the narrow pathway to see where it would take us. The area felt very remote as other than a few goats and a dog we had not seen anyone else since we left Aradena Bridge.
The Path took us to Nikos Taverna along the sea. We were not hungry yet so we walked through the restaurant, and walked down to the shore. We walked along the shore and also past a guest house ending up on Likos Beach. The water was quite rough so we did not get in but nonetheless, we enjoyed being there.
We walked back the way we came and stopped at Nikos Taverna for a cold drink and to enjoy the beautiful day. Then it was back up the mountain from where we came. From our experiences, It seems that going up the mountains in Crete has been less stressful and this was again the case driving from Likos Beach back to Anopolis
By the time we returned to Anopoli we were starving and stopped at the first place we came across. Anopoli Taverna is a typical Greek taverna with a garden like patio area where we were seated. It was mid afternoon and there were just a few others dining at this time. Steve and I shared Soutzoukakia (Greek meatballs ) and also stuffed fried zucchini. For dessert we were given complimentary Portokalopita (Orange Pie) which is one of our favorites. Everything was wonderful. Before we left we bought a couple of jars of honey to take home with us.
On our way out of town we stopped at Bakery Orfanoudakis. This traditional bakery was exactly what we were looking for. We were planning on hiking the next day and wanted to take a few treats. We decided upon a loaf of soft bread and also some cookies. Of course we also bought a couple of jars of honey to add to our take home bag.
After driving down the curvy, twisty road we returned to our hotel and made it back in time to see the sunset along the coast. We enjoyed walking around the town and to the port. We called it an early night as we had plans for hiking in the morning.
Although we had no particular plans for this day, we enjoyed exploring more of Crete by seeing Anopolis and also Likos Beach. Anopoli is a great little village with friendly people, interesting history and great food. It was the first week of September, therefore the tourist crowd was pretty light.
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