Hikes, jaunts and scenic strolls
Many activities in this part of Crete include exploring your surroundings and getting familiar with the Gouves lifestyle. Once you’re able to peel yourself away from the beach, there’s a waterfront promenade extending for three kilometres that’s called Possidonos Street. It’s speckled with ornate street lamps plus bars and tavernas to pause in along the way.
Hike up to the tip-top of Mount Ederi and you’ll be treated to some of the best sea views around. It’s a steep walk, but the sightseeing at the end is worth it. Further inland, you’ll come across the village of Skotino, where the famous Skotino Cave lies. Dipping 160 metres into the earth, it’s believed to be a former shrine dating back to the Minoan periods – some even think it’s where the fabled Minotaur lived.
Greek food for days
Gouves is a deceptively large town and has a wide selection of restaurants to match. Up into Pano Gouves, you’ll find more traditional tavernas, while Kato Gouves is where the expat pubs take hold of the waterfront. Greek cuisine dominates the town, though there are a few international bites and British dishes, plus occasional live music from local musicians.
Gouves also has a pretty decent after-hours scene, though things here are by no means rowdy. There are quite a few bars and pubs to choose from, including open air clubs and dance spots. Plus, the majority of cafes and restaurants become low key bars by night, inviting you to stick around for a glass of raki and pint of Mythos beer.
Though Kato Gouves is arguably the town’s heart, it’s in Pano Gouves where you’ll find a quirky underlining and hidden avenues to uncover. It’s a traditional village lined with whitewashed houses and orthodox churches that carry on as normal places of worship throughout the high season. In Pano Gouves, you’ll have no choice but to dial the energy down and find a resting point in an authentic kafenio, or Greek cafe, with a cup of coffee and watch as the locals drift by.
Just a 15-minute drive away lies the town of Hersonissos, one of the most popular destinations in Crete. It too is divided into a vibrant coastal town and sleepy, older village. The newer sections are home to an array of watersport-laden beaches, three waterparks, a theme park and the only Cretan golf course, not to mention some of the best designer shopping on the island.
The older part of town is where you’ll find some incredible traditional Greek food, with restaurants almost always featuring outdoor dining.