This is one of my absolute favourites. A mix of scenic views, history and activity. The scenic views are unbelievably stunning, the plateaus serene, historic Argyroupoli situated in lush green surroundings, the Imbros Gorge breath taking and the Venetian Castle and wide beach at Frangokastello something you don't want to miss.
Argyroupoli, Kalikratis, the Imbros Gorge and Frangokastello can be visited with tour operators from Plakias.
By car I suggest the following route:
Plakias - Argyroupoli
You drive out of Plakias to the east and take the exit to Myrthios. From Myrthios you drive via the mountain villages of Kali Sikia, Mountros, Roustika and Zouridi to Argyroupoli. The scenery is amazing during this drive, winding through the hills with mountains as a backdrop. Go into the town first and drive back out the same way and take the left turn to the springs.
Watch out when you are in Zouridi because the left turn to Argyroupoli is only signposted when you come from the other side!
This village was built on the remains of the former capital of a region called Lappa. There are many Roman remains and some of the Venetian Mansions are still inhabited. There is a very nice short walk around over cobblestones at the old upper part of the village with a mixture of new and old architecture, an old façade of a Venetian Mansion with the words "Omnia Mundi Fumus est Umbra (Everything in the world is smoke and shadow), 2 churches and remains of an old Roman mosaic floor, which used to be a bathhouse. The view over Argyroupoli and surroundings is beautiful if you walk to the fence across from the mosaic floor. Park your car at the clocktower, in front of the church and walk towards the gate. See the map for the walk.
Springs of Argyroupoli
In beautiful, lush green surroundings the waterfalls are all around you. You can have a walk around or have a drink or food in one of the tavernas, in between old plane trees and banana plants.
Argyroupoli - Kallikratis
You drive away from the springs continuing the road you were on and turn left over the bridge you pass. It's another beautiful drive through very green surroundings. After the village of Asi Gonia the road winds itself up the mountain through many hair-pin turns, the views getting more impressive with every turn. There is a perfect spot where you can park off the road to enjoy these fabulous views. Once your on the top you literally drive over the mountains to Kalikratis Plateau. Take the left turn, instead of going straight to the village to visit the unique herb shop. After the visit drive back and turn left to the village, drive through and your on your way again.
The Kalikratis Plateau is an off the beaten path destination at 700 meters above sea level, although it is popular with hikers and cyclists. The village of Kalikratis only has a few residents left, mainly goat herders who leave in the winter months because of the cold and the snow. The Kalikratis Gorge has a 4km path, southwest of the village which leads to the village of Patsianos. There are a few tavernas and a unique herb shop south of the village, where you can have a drink, buy herbs or honey from the mountains and enjoy the serenity of this plateau.
Kalikratis Plateau - Askyfou Plateau/Imbros Gorge
You drive through more amazing landscapes with views towards the Lefka Ori (White Mountains). You follow the signs for Chania while the road winds itself towards a t-section where you can either make a short d-tour to the right and enjoy the views over Askyfou Plateau or go straight to the village of Imbros by turning left. When you drive into Imbros village you can park your car on a big parking right next to a taverna on your left. From here you can walk the beautiful Imbros Gorge. You can share a taxi back to your car.
This beautiful plateau is situated just north of Imbros, flanked by the Lefka Ori (White Mountains). There is a small fortress on top of a hill on the north side of the plateau. In the village you will find the war museum of Georgios Hatzidakis.
This gorge is relatively easy to walk, also with children. The gorge is 8km long and will take you around 2.5 hours. At the smallest part it is only 1.60 meters wide! The entrance is a short walk from the big parking area next to a taverna in the village of Imbros. The entrance fee is €2,00 (2019).
When you reach the end there is small taverna from where you can take a (shared) taxi for around €5,00 euro a person (2019) back to your car in 15 minutes.
Imbros - Frangokastello
You zigzag down to the coast, with stunning views to the flat land below, and follow the signs for Frangokastello.
The Venetian Castle and adjoining wide beach have been popular by many a painter and writer, both for the scenery as for the serenity. Nowadays the beach can get busy in the summer months. The turquoise shallow water is ideal for families.
The castle was build in 1371 and is being renovated on the inside (2019). You can climb up one of the towers of the castle for an entrance fee of €2,00 (2019). There is a legend that in May the ghosts of slain Greek soldiers (1828 in a battle with the Ottoman Turks) appear as shadowy spirits, going towards the castle in the early morning. The Cretans call them Drosoulites ("dew men").
There also some nice sand dunes behind the beach on the east side.
Frangokastello - Plakias
The last part of this daytrip tip leads you along the beautiful south coast of Crete back to Plakias.