Avlaki Gorge

Avlaki gorge: the home of the hermits and pilgrim's path 

Avlaki Gorge is located 20 kilometers from the city of Chania, near the northern shores of the Akrotiri Peninsula. It is a beautiful way out to nature, with many nearby destinations to explore through it. The hike is not hard, and it is only 30 to 40 minutes long. The entrance of the gorge is near the Gouverneto Monastery, where you can park your car and embark on an adventure. 

Avlaki Gorge


Avlaki Gorge is a natural wonder in the “Arkoudovounia” region. It is one of the most important and interesting gorges in Crete, with a special religious significance because numerous monks and hermits sought refuge in its caverns. Furthermore, the path you are about to take has been used by pilgrims since the 17th century to pay their respects at nearby monasteries.

The gorge is famous for its breathtaking scenery, crystal-clear waters, and the historical significance of the monasteries and hermitages established within its walls over the years.

Avlaki Gorge
Avlaki Gorge
Gouverneto Monastery: Main church
Gouverneto Monastery: Main church

The journey and attractions

As we mentioned above, the gorge has mostly religious significance and natural beauty, with stunning views. The journey begins at Gouverneto Monastery, where you can park your car. You could start by paying a visit to the monastery and then continue on the trail to enter Avlaki Gorge, which is located nearby.

The hike is not challenging and mostly downhill, but it would be advisable to wear good footwear. As you follow the path, you will find yourselves at Arkoudospilios cave or Arkoudiotissa Cave, where there is an ancient temple dedicated to the Olympian goddess of hunting, Artemis.

Along the way, on an opposing hill, you can see the abandoned monastery of Saint Anthony. You can explore it if you wish to hike there.

Continuing your journey from Arkoudospilios Cave, the road becomes a bit steeper. In about 10 minutes, you will reach Katholiko Monastery, which is abandoned too. The monastery is considered to be the oldest in Crete.

Avlaki Gorge or Katholiko Gorge, was the home and refuge of Saint John the Hermit. The saint was and still is a very important figure to the nearby monasteries.

Katholiko Monastery: The bridge
Katholiko Monastery: The bridge
Arkoudospilios cave
Arkoudospilios cave

He used to live in a 150-meter-long cave, which is located where the monastery is situated, and it is accessible to visitors.

Back in the day, when the monastery was still operable, this path was used by many pilgrims who travelled to pay respect to the saint. It is mentioned in the old scripts (Census of 1637) that the main income of the monastery was solely from visitors.

The monastery was evacuated because the shores of Crete became a target of piracy. The monks had to retreat to the inland, where the Gouverneto Monastery stands.

After passing the monastery and through the caves where the hermits formerly resided, one can walk along the riverbed for another 15–25 minutes and reach the exit of the gorge to the sea.

A small and rocky cove with deep blue water forms the gorge’s exit. There is a small Venetian arch and a small harbor where the monks docked and maintained their boats.

There is also a boat-shaped rock here, which is claimed to be a pirate ship that was petrified by the abbot of the monastery’s curses.

So, don’t forget to pack your beach towel and swimsuit if you decide to cross the whole gorge!

Katholiko Monastery: cove of Katholiko
Katholiko Monastery: cove of Katholiko

THINGS TO SEE AND DO at avlaki gorge

Pay a visit at Gouverneto Monastery
Enjoy stunning views at Avlaki Gorge
Hike to Saint Anthony Monastery
Visit Arkoudospilios cave
Take pictures of your surroundings
Explore Katholiko Monastery
Visit Saint John's chapel
Head to the Hermits cave
Swim at Katholiko cove

Photos featuring katholiko monastery

How to Get There

The entrance to Avlaki Gorge is located a bit further from Gouverneto Monastery, accessible by foot. Getting to Gouverneto Monastery is a delightful journey through the stunning landscapes of Crete. It is located approximately 20 kilometers (35 minutes by car) from the city of Chania on the Akrotiri Peninsula. 

By Car: The most convenient way to get to Gouverneto Monastery is by renting a car in Chania. Once you have a car, head west out of Chani and follow the signs towards the town of Kounoupidiana. Actually, you will be following the road leading to Chania’s airport. Once you arrive at the airport, continue following the signs to Agia Triada Monastery. After arriving at Agia Triada Monastery, follow the signs to Gouverneto (4 kilometers). The entrance of the gorge is near the monument located outside the monastery. There is a parking area where you can safely leave your car and prepare for your journey.

By Bus: Unfortunately, there is no direct bus towards Gouverneto monastery and, in extension, to Avlaki Gorge. If you prefer public transportation, you can take a KTEL bus from Chania to the Agia Triada Monastery. Buses depart from the central bus station in Chania. Check the current bus schedule, as it may vary depending on the season. Buses usually operate throughout the day.

Taxi or Tour: Another alternative is to take a taxi or join a guided tour of Agia Triada Monastery, Gouverneto, and Katholiko. This allows you to relax and enjoy the lovely scenery of Avlaki Gorge without having to worry about directions or transportation problems. You will visit the Arkoudospilios and Saint John’s caverns.

Whether you choose to drive, take a bus, or arrange a tour, the journey to the Gouverneto Monastery is a captivating experience that culminates in the exploration of this historic and scenic site.


In conclusion, Avlaki Gorge is an unpopular but beautiful destination in Chania, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore its stunning landscapes, historical sites, and religious significance. With proper planning and preparation, visitors can fully appreciate the natural beauty and rich history of this remarkable gorge.


Wear appropriate shoes!
The hike towards Katholiko Monastery can be challenging, especially at the end, so make sure to wear comfortable and durable footwear with good grip.
First stop!
If you plan to visit Gouverneto Monastery first, you should dress modestly. The monastery is active and may refuse you entry.
Gouverneto Monastery
Water & Sun protection!
Keep hydrated during your vacation by bringing a water bottle and consuming plenty of water, especially during the warmer months. Also, the sun can be harsh, so use sunscreen frequently.
Guided Tours!
Consider taking a group tour that includes all of the neighboring sights. The hike is easy, and the views of nature and monasteries are breathtaking.
Visit on a clear day!
A clear day provides amazing views of the surrounding area, including the Aegean Sea and the Akrotiri Peninsula.
Respect the environment!
The gorge is a protected area, so please respect the environment, keep noise minimal, and avoid littering.

Destinations near avlaki gorge

More options for nearby locations to plan your vacations better!


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