Aptera village in North Western Crete (also known as Megala Chorafia) is just five minutes drive from the quiet sandy beaches at Kalami and ten minutes from Kalives, with its beach side tavernas, shops and cafes, 15 minutes from Almirida beach, while Chania town, with it’s beautiful Venetian Harbour, is 20 minutes away.
The village of Aptera is ideally situated for exploring the surrounding countryside, ancient archaeological sites and the idyllic beaches of western Crete. The town of Rethymnon is also within easy reach (40 minutes), as is the spectacular Samaria Gorge. The archaeological sites of Knossos and Phaestos are 1.5 hours drive from the village.
The ‘Metoche’ area on the eastern side is on a ridge which extends towards the ancient town of ancient Aptera. ‘Zacharias’ is a cluster of houses on the hilltop to the west. Wild flowers bloom along narrow roads on which shepherds move their flocks between fields. There are three small tavernas, two cafes and a new mini-market in the village. The archaeological remains of ancient Aptera, dating from the Minoan and Roman times, are within walking distance of the village. Beyond these stands a Turkish castle, perched strategically on the headland overlooking the sea. Aptera was for many years called Megala Chorafia, which literally means `Big Field’. Aptera is a scatter of houses and farms with an ornate orthodox church as its centrepiece. The local council has recently (2008) announced that the village name has changed to Aptera and some local signs reflect this change. However the signs on the main road, and the name in maps, remains Megala Chorafia.
Attractions and Facilities
Site of Ancient Aptera
Amazing views of the White Mountains and Soud Bay
Friendly village tavernas and cafe
Local store with fresh bread
5 mins drive from the coast
20 mins drive from Chania Town
Taverna Aptera - This local tavern specialises in traditional home-cooking and is recommended in the Rough Guide to Crete. Open from 10.00am for breakfast through to the evening serving a full menu including a variety of vegetarian dishes.
Reviewed in the Independent by Anna Pavord: "The food was the best I have ever found in Greece. Not a sign of moussaka or souvlaki. Instead there was lamb with lettuce in egg and lemon sauce, black-eyed beans with fennel, salt codfish in filo pastry. The Taverna made all the difference to the stay in Aptera. It meant minimal shopping (bread, yogurt, oranges - all local - for breakfast) and no need to use the car at night. It was full moon while we were there and the walk up the track to the house,if occasionally unsteady, was always a pleasure."
The Cretan Corner - Serves local Cretan dishes, every Saturday a Cretan night with traditional dancers. Wonderful views across the countryside from the terrace.
Taverna Strata - Also serves local dishes and has a charming roof terrace.
The 1912 Cafeneon - popular with the locals (opposite Taverna Aptera) is open for drinks and delicious local snacks.
(Free Wi-Fi is now available at the tavernas in the village square)