Dating back to the Minoan age the remote island of Gavdos is enclosed with mythical glamour. According to Callimachus, Gavdos was the island of the numph Calypso, who captured Odysseus and kept him imprisoned by her charms for seven years.
Calypso and the epic Ogygia were the reasons why Odysseus was held away from his home Ithaca and his beautiful wife Penelope for seven extra years after his return from the War of Troy. Calypso fell desperately in love with Odysseus and wanted to keep him to herself by bewitching him. Near a cave you can see the “palace” of Calypso (just ask one of the locals to show you where). The cape of Tripiti with its three natural rock arches in the sea is believed to be the place where Odysseus was held in captivity by the nymph.
Gavdos is the perfect travel destination if you are seeking a romantic getaway or a holiday in nature far away from the modern civilization. Free camping, naturism and stress-free holidays characterized the informal life on this remote island.
Important sights in Gavdos island
In ancient times iron was exported from Lavraka harbour, which today is to be found 3 meters under sea level. In the region of Agios Ioannis, just southeast of Lavraka you can see the ruins of the city built during the First Byzantine Period. In those days, the City of Agios Ioannis had 8,000 inhabitants and Gavdos had its own archbishop. Today you can see the famous chapel erected from 900 A.D.
You will find the Folklore Museum in the village of Vatsiana and in the village of Ampelo you will have the opportunity to walk among the vineyards of Minoa. In Kastri, the capital of Gavdos, you can walk along picturesque alleys with stone houses and gardens.
The lighthouse of Gavdos
Near the village of Ambelos you will find the charming lighthouse of Gavdos. The original lighthouse was built back in the late 19th century by the French Company of Ottoman Lighthouses. It was one of the most visible lighthouses worldwide, second only to the one in the Land of Fire in Argentina. With a tower height of 14 meters its focal height was 360 meters. It was bombarded, though, by the Germans in 1942. Later it was replaced by the current lighthouse, which you will find a bit further south in the same cape.
The tombs in Lavraka Bay
The tombs found in Lavraka Bay on the northwestern side of Gavdos are dating back to the Minoan times. This is also where you will find the remains of a Roman settlement, supposedly related to ancient Gortyna of Heraklion Crete. You will see the remains of an aqueduct and the oven which was used for extracting the iron. Today scientists believe that Gavdos was seriously deforested during the Roman period, as the trees were used as firewood to produce iron.
Gavdos Beach Guide
Gavdos island has some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world. Pebbled or sandy they are all 100 % natural with an African ambience.
- Karabe Beach – Pebbled, non-organized beach located next to the port of Gavdos. Shops and rooms for rent nearby. Buses depart from here to other beaches and villages.
- Sarakiniko Beach – Sandy and beautiful, it is the most popular beach in Gavdos island. Non-organized located 2 km from Karabe port. Go by bus or on foot. Campers area providing basic facilities nearby.
- Agios Ioannis Beach – or Agiannis, sandy, non-organized, located 4 km from Sarakiniko Beach. One-hour hike from Sarakiniko. You can go by bus as well. African-style beach ranked as second-most beautiful beach in the world by the Discovery Channel.
- Lavrakas Beach – secluded beach on the northern coast of Gavdos, located 2 km from Agios Ioannis. About 30 min. walk from Agios Ioannis on foot. You can go most of the way by bus from the port, but Lavrakas beach itself can only be accessed pm foot. Archaeologists have found several Minoan caves and remains of ancient constructions in the area around Lavrakas Beach.
- Fetifes Beach – small beach next to Agios Ioannis, pebbled and non-organized with beautiful rock formations on the beach
- Tripiti Beach – the spectacular rock formations have given this spectacular beach its name. Unique arches rise from the sea. Tripa in Greek means “hole”, and you can see three arches at the end of the formation. The landmark of Gavdos is a giant chair standing on the top of the Tripiti formation. The chair is with its inscription “southernmost point of Europe” a favourite spot for tourists. All have a picture taken with their feet dangling from the edge of the continent.
- Korfos Beach – Pebbled and sandy, non-organized beach located 2 km from Karabe port. Here you can rent a room and find cafés and tavernas in the village.
- Lakoudi Beach – located 1 km from Korfos Beach, can be reached only on foot from a walking trail, the same as the one leading you to Tripiti Beach.
- Potamos Beach – Pebbled beach, family friendly, non-organized, located 7 km from Karabe port. Potamos beach is beautiful with cliffs, a small canyon and lush vegetation.
- Pyrgos Beach – totally isolated, accessible only on foot and by boat. Non-organized with no facilities – so remember plenty of water and provision. The walking path is long (3 hours hike from the village of Ambelos) and steep at times, going by boat is a good option for most visitors. It is a favourite spot for camping.
- Diana Beach – one of the most beautilful beaches on Gavdos Island. Secluded, only accessible by boat and non-organized not far from Tripiti on the south coast. Pebbled with great rock formations.
How to reach Gavdos island?
To reach Gavdos Island you must go by boat from either the port of Chora Sfakion or from the seaside villages of Sougia or Paleochora on the southern side of Crete. Before booking accommodation in Gavdos it is important to check the departure schedules. Beware of sudden changes in the schedules, they happen often. The most common port of departure is Chora Sfakion with several weekly routes to Gavdos. You can reach Chora Sfakion by car crossing the White Mountains through the Gorge of Imbros. You can also travel by bus from Chania Central Station to Paleochora and embark a ferry boat from there.
Where is Gavdos Greece on a map?
It is a good idea to visit Gavdos island as a part of your trip to Crete. Then you can allow for a day or two in Crete before your flight home. This is important since bad weather conditions often give delays for the boat connection from Gavdos.
Check the schedules in the official website of the local ferry line here:
Here you will always find the updated ferry schedule.
Where to stay in Gavdos Greece?
Gavdos island has only a few villages with just about a hundred inhabitants all year round. During the summer it gets pretty crowdy compared to local standards. Many of the visitors are campers, but you can also rent a room in one of the few hotels, an apartment, or a villa with sea view.
Best things to do in Gavdos
Camping and stargazing
Gavdos is a quiet and secluded island with just a few facilities. It is the perfect spot if you love to immerse into nature, listening to the sounds of the wind and the sea. Stargazing is a great activity in this island with only sparse electric light.
Snorkeling in the Libyan Sea
The beaches in Gavdos are unspoiled with a stunning seabed waiting for you to explore it. The waters are crystal-clear with beautiful underwater rock formations. You must bring all the necessary equipment for snorkeling and diving along, since facilities are limited on Gavdos.
Hiking and exploring the island
Walking and hiking is one of the best activities to on the remote island of Gavdos. Multiple walking paths will lead you to discovering amazing beaches and beautiful landscapes with cedar forests and pine trees. Since Gavdos has been inhabited since antiquity you will stumble upon ruins on your way.
Useful things to bring to Gavdos
- Snorkeling equipment
- Water purification tablets
- Motion sickness pills or wristbands
- Beach shoes
- Diapers (if you travel with babies and young infants)
- Beach umbrella
Gavdos – Weather and climate