We will stay for a week in a beautiful villa in Lefkogeia; a hamlet near the seaside resort of Plakias. From our terrace we look out on a high mountain with a chapel 'on top': Timios Stavros . Our Greek villa manager tells us that we can walk there. But the mountain looks very high and we doubt if we can make it. But we're up for a challenge, so we go! (here you will find the route instructions).
Start of the walk to chapel Timios Stavros
We plan to leave as early as possible, then it won't be that hot. So we start at 9am from the tavern in Lefkogeia. There is a parking lot, a (small) supermarket and we can also park our jeep there. There is a sign to Shinaria, and we follow it.
Great views of the surroundings
We immediately walk uphill and via a narrow asphalt road we are soon facing great views of the surrounding area. Bumblebees buzz above the blooming thyme and crickets can be heard loudly. Purple thistles are popular with colorful butterflies.
White chapel to our right
The road climbs steadily and a small white chapel is shining in the sun. Although it is a beautiful church, we pass it by. 'Our' Timios Stavros church, where we want to go, is a bit further.
As we walk we see the mountain on our left, the small white church on the right and the sea ahead of us. Not a human to be seen, the path is fine and we are having a good time.
Seven hairpin bends on the way to the top
We exchange the asphalt road for a 'dirt road' with stones. Now the climb really starts! With seven hairpin bends we walk up the bare flanks to Timios Stavros. Because of the pebbles we pay close attention to where we put our feet. The higher we get, the drier it gets.
many crickets jumpsagainst our bare legs
After the fifth hairpin bend, the sound of the crickets gets louder. A huge cricket crowd has settled on and around the path and we have to cut right through it. When we approach they jump up high with their strong back legs. Crickets know little sense of direction and many crickets jump against our bare legs. We walk as fast as possible on and try to be as ignore the mobile insects.
Last part of the climb
After quite a walk, we arrive at the last part of the climb. It is marked with two crosses on stone pillars. We continue our hike on a steep, rugged rock path with various stone benches as resting points. As we ascend, we enjoy the great views of the coast.
Almost to Timios Stavros
Until the top of the 433 meters high mountain, we do not see the small church of 'Timios Stavros'. Only at the last moment does the little white chapel loom before us and the reward is great! Before we enter the church, we take a breath. The panorama is fantastic and we have views from all sides.
We're a bit quiet about it
We enter through the blue door. White plastered walls, an altar with a red curtain, religious paintings and gold-coloured ornaments. Here reigns tranquility. And simplicity. We're a little quiet about it.
There is a yellow guest book on a table. When we leaf through it we see that we are not the first (and probably not the last!). The book is almost full but luckily we still find a small empty spot where we can lose our thoughts….
Once outside again, we ring the bell. We made it and feel 'on top of the world', or on top of Crete. In the distance we see our own holiday villa and from here everything seems so small!
After a good sip of water we say goodbye to Timios Stavros and find our way back down. The descent over the pebbles is almost harder than the climb, but through the seven hairpin bends we eventually reach the main 'dirt road'.
Round around the mountain
Now we can choose: do we walk back the same way or do we make a circle around the mountain? We decide to finish the round of the mountain further. That provides us with many beautiful views. And tired feet…..
Via Gianniou we eventually return to Lefkogeia where our trusty jeep is waiting for us. And once we are back home on the terrace of our holiday villa, we take another look at that high mountain with the Timios Stavros church….. We had a great time there!
Do you also want to walk from Plakias to Timios Stavros?
Get good walking shoes. The walk is mostly uphill and you sometimes walk on quite rough gravel paths.
If you walk there and back to the church, it is about 7 kilometers and will take you about 3 to 3.5 hours (including a break at the top).
You can also (like we did) walk around the mountain. It will take you a little longer, but you don't have to go back the same way.
Directions can be found below.
Another beautiful walk in the area is a route that starts from Preveli Bridge. Check my blog about this beautiful walk.
On my page about Greece, you will find more tips for Crete ( also for beautiful beaches)!
Directions for walking to Timios Stavros
Start in the 'center' of Lefkogeia, opposite the Tavern.
On the other side of the road you will see a sign 'Shinaria', follow the sign.
At the fork you go 'straight on' (so don't turn right towards Shinaria).
You keep following this path until you have passed the white church on your right.
After passing the church, take the second gravel path to the left. It's a fork split and runs uphill. This road continues in 7 hairpin bends.
You walk through the hairpin bends until you reach two pillars with crosses on them.
Continue walking. The path becomes rougher and between the stones you follow the blue dots. You will come across a stone bench here and there.
You won't see the chapel until you're all the way up.
Once at the top: visit the church, write in the guestbook and ring the bell!
For the way back you have two alternatives. The first is the same way back. The second is further described below.
Walk back to the road where you took the gravel path up.
Now you go to the left (not back to the right).
Follow this path, at a certain point you will pass a white church on the left that is built against the rocks.
After the church, keep walking straight ahead and you will see a number of solar panels in front of you. Take the second left (so not the U turn up).
Walk up (you will pass some solar panels on your right).
At the top through a kind of gate, go to the left.
Keep walking straight ahead until you come across a white church in a corner. Just before the church you take the U bend to the right. You then walk into the village of Gianniou.
As soon as you reach the main road, turn left towards Lefkogeia.
Keep walking until you reach Lefkogeia.