The small island of Gavdos, in south Crete, is one of the region’s best-kept gems. With emerald sandy beaches, dense piney and juniper woods and rugged seascapes the southernmost point of Europe is where memories are recorded forever, don't miss to visit it during your stay in lovely Crete.
Gavdos is the southernmost part of Europe, located 32 nautical miles away from Paleochora, 22 from Chora Sfakion, and 170 from Tobruk, Libya.
It was Homer who described the island of Gavdos as “a world apart” .... and it’s as much a state of mind as it is an island.
Famous for its alternative lifestyle visitors, this is a place that harks back to simpler days and ways, a natural paradise!
The island is surprisingly green, with almost 65% covered in low-lying pine and cedar trees and vegetation.
The seduction of simplicity ...
There may not be free love on this hippie-chic isle, but Gavdos is full of good vibrations. With around 100 permanent residents and covering only 36 square kilometers with a triangular shape, with a maximum length of 10 km and width 5km, the island has achieved almost mythic status: the last “undiscovered” island retreat in Greece, untouched by mass tourism.
For decades it was the preserve of a few hardy independent travelers who rocked upon its legendary Sarakiniko Beach to camp, chill-out, and sleep for free under the brightest stars in Europe.
Today that demographic still comes, but others do too, taking rooms in a handful of small hotels, apartments, and studios.
The Gavdos story was richly enhanced by a group of Russian nuclear scientists who made their home here after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Eager to find a place to heal and reinvent themselves, they’re still here – a colorful collective of philosophers who have become synonymous with the island’s life-enhancing energies.
History of Gavdos
According to Callimachus, Gavdos was the island of Calypso, the one known from the epic Ogygia. You can actually see on your own the nymph’s “palace” near a cave if you ask it from a local.
Of course Gavdos, apart from its mythological glamour was also used as a place of exile “hosting” famous Greek fighters, such as Aris Velouchiotis, Markos Vafiadis, Partsalidis, and many others, and the houses in which they lived still remain.
Other sights of the island are the tombs found in Lavraka Bay, the northwest of Gavdos. These are dated back to the Minoan age, even though edifices of the same period have not been found. In the same location remains of a settlement of the Roman period were discovered and it is considered that it is related to Gortyna of Heraklion. In the area, you will see remains of the aqueduct as well as the oven that was used for the exploitation of iron ore. Besides, it is believed that the essential deforestation of Gavdos is dated back to the Roman period when its trees were used as firewood for the production of iron.
The iron was exported from the Lavraka harbor which today is found three meters under the sea. South-eastern from Lavraka, in the region of Agios-Yiannis there are the ruins of the city from the First Byzantine Period.
During this period, the city of Agios-Yiannis had 8,000 residents, whilst the prominence of Gavdos is proved by the fact that it had its own archbishop. In Agios-Yiannis you will also see the famous chapel that was erected in 900 A.D.
In the village of Vatsiana you will find a notable Folklore Museum and in the settlement Ampelo, you’ll have a chance to see the vineyards of Minoa. Also, in Psathi, findings prove the existence of the Minoan settlement.
How To Get There
- Gavdos can be reached either from Paleochora, Plakias, Sougia, and Chora Sfakion. The routes are not standard and depending on weather conditions, therefore please contact the port authorities in Sfakia (+30 28250 91292) or Paleochora (+30 28230 41214). You can find information on ANENDYK website too.
- In addition, a great option to access Gavdos could be our Gavdos Island Boat Round Trip starting from Sfakia Port. A memorable experience not to be missed!
- The Local Bus of Gavdos. You can use the local bus that serves routes between Karave, Sarakiniko, Agios Giannis, and Korfos whilst it has a daily excursion to Ambelos, Vatsiana, and the Lighthouse! You can rent a car or a motorcycle at Sarakiniko!
Where To Stay
- Gavdos Panorama Rooms & Studios on a higher location at Korfos Beach. Simple and very good value for money with one of the best fish restaurants in Gavdos Island.
- Kalypso Residences at Kastri could be a great option for a more upgraded accommodation in Gavdos.
What To See & Do
- Kastri is the island’s capital, where you will take beautiful walks in the picturesque alleys with houses built out of stone and beautiful gardens.
- In Gavdos you will find wonderful beaches in Sarakiniko, in Agios-Yiannis, in Pyrgos, in Potamos, and in the pebbly beach of Lavraka, Korfos Beach, Diana's Beach, Lakoudi Beach, as well as the sandy beach in the cape of Tripiti with the three natural consecutive arches in the rock that is joined with the sea and it is believed that it was in this place that Ulysses was held in captivity by Calypso.
- Tripiti is famous for its bizarre rock formations which sometimes form arcades in the sea. The name Tripiti comes from the Greek tripa (hole), named as such due to the three arches diving into the sea. A chair has been placing on top of a rock formation there, indicating that Tripiti is the southernmost point of Europe.
- Potamos is a stunning beach with reddish sand, located in the north-west part of Gavdos. Visitors can reach Potamos by boat or on foot.
- Agios Ioannis, chosen as the second most beautiful beach in the world by the Travel Channel in 2007, is a solitary spot. There are no places to stay in the area, however, there are impressive caves and it is often a favorite spot for the naturist tourist.
- Snorkeling, the crystal clear waters of the beach of Lakoudi are ideal for snorkeling.
- In the same cape, you will also see an abandoned lighthouse, the second most visible lighthouse in the world after that in the Land of Fire in Argentina.
- The tower’s height was 14 m., while its focal height was 360 meters. It was built from the French Company of Ottoman lighthouses in 1880 and it was incorporated into the Greek lighthouse network after the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, but it was destroyed by a German bombardment in 1942. It was replaced by the lighthouse that is currently operating today just a little bit more to the south in the same cape. The lighthouse tower serves as a cafe during the summer season; the complex also contains a museum on the history of the original lighthouse with several rooms of photos and antique equipment.
- Wherever you prefer to camp, you will find easily a tree – a pine, a cedar, a plane tree - to put up your tent, and rest assured that no one will disturb your peacefulness.
- Also, nothing during your sejour in Calypso’s island will remind you of which age you live in.
- Great flora and fauna. Gavdos, together with the neighboring islet Gavdopoula, is a migratory bird station in their long journey from Africa to Europe and vice versa, and a shelter for the endangered species of Mediterranean monk seal and loggerhead sea turtle.
- Gavdos is a unique place, an island of great natural beauty, away from the bustling "civilized" world, with wild beauty, crystal blue waters, dreamy sunrises, breathtaking sunsets, amazing coastline and amazing beaches, where junipers reach the sea. In addition, pines, junipers, and endemic species of flora adorn the island, and heather, anger, and more aromatic herbs leave their fragrances in the air especially during spring, a great time to visit and explore the Gaudos. It is no coincidence that the Gavdos joined the Natura 2000 program.
- Well-designed trails offer wonderful hiking tours on the island: from Korfos to Tripiti, from Kastri to Ambelos, from Chamourio to Kedre and Lavrakas, from Vatsiana to Korfos, from Saint Panteleimon to Kastri and other routes. Tours that require appropriate shoes, hut, sunscreen, and enough water.
- Some great hiking routes. Maybe one of the best ones is the hiking route Lighthouse - Ambelos - Potamos - Pirgos and back. Another great one is from Korfos to Tripiti beach and back to Vatsiana, where you will see some of the most amazing landscapes and views of the island. Last but not least, the easy hiking tour from Sarakiniko to Ai Giannis and Lavrakas, quite appropriate for families too.
- Join us for the most exciting Boat Trip to Gavdos Island, starting from Sfakia Port.
- Or what about the Sailing & Sea Kayak Trip To Gavdos Island & Best Beaches Of South Chania Αbsolutely, one of the best trips someone can take in the Greek seas having a genuine sense of seclusion and discovering one of the most outstanding landscapes of Crete and the southernmost part of Europe, Gavdos Island.
- Agios Ioannis or St. Ioannis is one of the best beaches on the island. This is a long sandy beach with turquoise waters located on the western side of the beach of Sarakiniko. The beach is characterized by the unimaginable beauty of sand dunes, beautiful rocks, and cedar trees ... a wonderful combination. The beach was awarded as the second-best beach in the world by Discovery Channel in 2007. There are a cafe - tavern and a mini-market at the beginning of the beach.
- Korfos or Fokia is a sandy - pebbled beach with turquoise waters protected of Meltemi and north wind located on the southern side of the harbor of Karate. On the southern side of Korfos, one will find the secluded beach of Lakoudi.-
- Lavrakas, is an isolated golden sandy beach with turquoise waters located on the western side of the beach of Agios Giannis. An ideal beach for those looking for seclusion. The caves of Lavracas beach are linked with the myths of Calypso.
- Pyrgos are two isolated sandy beaches with emerald waters and junipers, dunes, and steep cliffs located on the northwest side of the island. Another beach ideal for those looking for seclusion and pure nature. Access is possible either by a long adventurous walk from the beach of Agios Ioannis or by boat.
- Potamos, is an isolated long yellow and red sandy beach with majestic clay formations and steep cliffs located on the northwest side of the island. The beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches of Gavdos. Potamos is accessible either from a difficult walk from the beach of Lavrakas, or from the village of Ambelos, or by boat.
- Sarakiniko the most famous beach of Gavdos (in our opinion not the most beautiful) is a long sandy beach with turquoise waters located on the northern side of the island. The beach was named after the Saracen pirates and it is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. It is a long beach hidden in a wild landscape of dunes and junipers. There are a few taverns, cafes, and mini markets next to the beach.
- Tripiti is a sandy beach with turquoise waters located on the southernmost side of Europe. The landmarks of the beach are the three arches called Kamareles and the well-known huge chair standing above the arches. The beach is located at the exit of a dried river hosting migratory birds during the spring.
Where To Eat & Drink
- Fish Tavern "Gavdos Panorama" located at Korfos Beach at a higher location so that the name panorama fits perfectly with the view you get. Here you are going to find the best fresh fish in Gavdos and some other local specialties. Friendly service and quite reasonable prices. This place is a clear suggestion in Gavdos.
Good to know
Gavdos has its own radio station Gavdos FM 88.8. In Kastri you will find the only post office on the island. You can also find the phone and a small clinic in Kastri (+30 28230 42195). There is a police station with a single policeman on the island (+30 28230 41109).
The Local Bus of Gavdos. You can use the local bus that serves routes between Karave, Sarakiniko, Agios Giannis, and Korfos whilst it has a daily excursion to Ambelos, Vatsiana, and the Lighthouse! You can rent a car or a motorcycle at Sarakiniko!
The reviews for the Gavdos Island