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Nearby Villages

Gavalochori is close to a number of villages that are fun to explore for their natural beauty, traditional architecture, and historic features. Although the owners of eateries in Gavalochori appreciate your patronage, they understand that you will not want to eat every meal in the village while you are staying here, so these nearby villages also provide many options for enjoying meals at other tavernas. 

Vineyards. Kenneth, Pexels

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Xirosterni

2.8 km from Gavalochori

Xirosterni (Ξηροστέρνι) is a traditional village that is 2.8 kilometers (1½ miles) from Gavalochori. It used to be called Viola, the name of a local flower, but it was changed during Turkish rule when a Turk ordered a villager to get water out of a cistern for his horse to drink. The villager didn’t want to be humiliated by serving the enemy, so he replied that there was no water. The Turk angrily suggested that the town should not be called Viola but Xirosterni, which means “dry cistern.” There are no amenities in the village except for one, and it is the Kostas Taverna operated by Marlene Santos and Kostas Piperakis. Marlene is from Brazil, so the food here is a fusion of Brazilian and Greek. More information is available here. On August 5 and 6, a festival takes place in Xirosterni with Cretan music, dancing, and food prepared by the villagers. 

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Vamos

3.5 km from Gavalochori

Vamos (Βάμος) is a large village on top of the hill 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) south of Gavalochori. The village goes back to the 9th century, when pirates settled there. The Greek Ministry for the Environment has classified Vamos as a traditional village, so investment continues to keep it that way. Late in the 17th century, during the Turkish occupation, the town started to assume its present layout under the guidance of a Turkish administrator. He had streets laid out in a square pattern with each road connected to the next, unlike the typical Greek village with its numerous blind alleys. Vamos has a number of modern amenities, including a bank, a dentist, a health center, several tavernas and coffeeshops, markets, a butcher, and other shops.

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Douliana

3.7 km from Gavalochori

Douliana (Ντουλιανά) is a small village 3.7 kilometers (2 miles) from Gavalochori. It has scenic alleyways and back streets and three tavernas. The taverna in Douliana’s central square was recently revived and now serves as a co-op for local products and regularly offers live music and other special events.

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Almyrida

4 km from Gavalochori

Almyrida (Αλμυρίδα) once was a small fishing village but is now a thriving tourist resort. If you like active (and often crowded) beaches, this is the place to be. You can find just about any kind of food here in its 30 restaurants, many of them right on the water. Immediately west of Almyrida is a site that contains the mosaic floor of a 5th- or 6th-century Byzantine church. One of the three main roads in and out of Gavalochori takes you directly to Almyrida, which is only 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) away.

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Kefalas

5 km from Gavalochori

Kefalas (Κεφαλάς) is a village with views of both the Bay of Georgioupoli and the White Mountains that is just 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Gavalochori. If you wander around a bit, you’ll be able to see a number of historic relics, including threshing circles in the fields from when cereals were grown in the area, an ancient windmill, and numerous churches. An old house has been turned into a museum here, so you can see what a Cretan house from the previous century was like. Kefalas has one taverna, the Meterizi Taverna. More information is available here.

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Plaka

5.4 km from Gavalochori

Plaka (Πλάκα) is a small village 5.4 kilometers (3 miles) from Gavalochori that overlooks Souda Bay. Because it was nearly destroyed by a tornado in 1960, many of its buildings are more modern than what you will see in other villages in the area. The upper part of the village, though, still retains a traditional feel with narrow lanes and stone houses. Plaka is a village where many expats from the UK have settled, so don’t be surprised if you hear a lot of British accents here. It is particularly known for its seven tavernas and kafeneia (coffeeshops/pubs), many of which are open in the winter.

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Drapanos

6.2 km from Gavalochori

Drapanos (Δράπανος) is a small traditional village that is 6.2 kilometers (4 miles) from Gavalochori. Its primary attractions are two churches—the Church of Saint Panteleimon and a church nearby the village that was built in a cave, the Church of Saint John. Nearby is the Elephant Cave, a favored destination for scuba diving, as well as a lighthouse built by the French that stands at the edge of a vertical cliff. The village also has two traditional tavernas — Eleonora’s and Leonida’s.

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Armenoi

7 km from Gavalochori

A 7-kilometer (4-mile) drive from Gavalochori, Armenoi (Αρμένοι) is home to many mature plane trees that shade much of the village. It also has springs that run through channels that crisscross the village and provide water for irrigation. The village has about a dozen tavernas, one of which is the Tzitzikas Taverna, located in a shady spot next to one of the water channels. Adjacent to this taverna is the trailhead of a pleasant walking trail that runs along an irrigation canal that is a particularly lovely place for a walk in the spring.

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Kaina

7 km from Gavalochori

Kaina (Κάινα) is a small, picturesque village that seems to be more a suburb of Vamos than a separate village. It’s 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Gavalochori. The main reason you would want to visit Kaina is to eat at the taverna Parasia. Open year round, it offers a broad menu and on many Saturday nights features rebetiko music, urban popular music associated with poverty and the lower class that developed in the early 20th century on Crete. It’s also a place that tends to be open on New Year’s Eve. Check it out here.

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Kalamitsi Alexandrou

7.4 km from Gavalochori

Kalamitsi Alexandrou (Καλαμίτσι Αλεξάνδρου) is a small, very quiet village with old houses, a small square, scattered private villas to rent, and an old church just south of the village that you can visit. Kalamitsi Alexandrou is 7.4 kilometers (4.5 miles) from Gavalochori. The main reason why you would go to this village is to eat at Taverna Kolymbos. The food is traditional Cretan and receives high critical ratings, and the taverna is open year round. You can get more information about the taverna here.

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Vryses

8.3 km from Gavalochori

Vryses (Βρύσες) is the site of the Apokoronas municipal government, of which Gavalochori is a part. It is a large village that has many amenities, including tavernas, shops, a bank, a police station, and a school. The village largely serves as a traffic junction, with most visitors passing through the village on their way to the Samaria Gorge or to the south coast. There’s no need to spend time here unless you have need of the amenities available. The Voutakis River flows through the village, providing a picturesque setting for several tavernas that are located under the plane trees that line the river. Vryses is 8.3 kilometers (5 miles) from Gavalochori.

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Kalyves

8.4 km from Gavalochori

Kalyves (Καλύβες) is a commercial center at the entrance to Souda Bay that has beach access. The village is 8.4 kilometers (5 miles) from Gavalochori. It was inhabited by farmers of the surrounding mountain villages who saw the wide flat plain around Kalyves as the perfect environment for successful agriculture. The small huts they built in the area to spare them from daily commuting from their villages were called kalyves (καλύβες). Kalyves was the first village in the Gavalochori area to get electricity, which prompted a building boom and the influx of many new businesses, including hardware stores, plant nurseries, markets, bakeries, and close to 40 eating establishments. Unfortunately, the infrastructure got left behind, so you’ll find yourself negotiating streets in Kalyves made for donkeys. On a hill above Kalyves is the Koumos Stone Village, which is a fascinating agglomeration of stone buildings and other highly creative visual delights all handmade from stone by one man, including tables, chairs, arches, sculptures, and chandeliers. There’s also a taverna here that serves classic Greek dishes. Find more information here.

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Maza

11 km from Gavalochori

Maza (Μάζα) is a tiny village 11 kilometers (7 miles) from Gavalochori. You will want to go here for two reasons. One is the traditional taverna in the village square, Costas Kafeneio, which serves excellent classic Greek fare. Next to the taverna is a Byzantine church from the 14th century, the Church of Saint Nicholas. Inside the church are amazingly preserved frescoes covering the walls and ceiling that tell the story of Saint Nicholas. The taverna owner holds the key to the church and will let you in to take a look if it isn’t open. The taverna doesn’t have a website, but you can find some information here.

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