Sougia, a charming seaside village located on the southwest coast of Crete, is a gem waiting to be discovered.
Away from the bustling tourist hotspots, Sougia presents an authentic slice of Cretan life.
With its laid-back atmosphere, pebbly beach stretching for a kilometer, and a collection of cozy tavernas and accommodations, Sougia exudes a relaxed and welcoming vibe.
Add to this a wide range of activities like exploring ancient ruins, hiking impressive gorges, or embarking on scenic boat trips, and you have a destination that’s as adventurous as it is relaxing.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about visiting Sougia and the best things to do in this less-traveled corner of Crete. I can’t wait for you to explore this stunning part of the island!
Let’s dive into it.
Prepare for your trip to Crete
🏡 Book your accommodation in advance – find the best hotel deals for Crete here.
⛵ Find the best tours in Crete – book your adventures in Crete in advance.
🚗 Rent a car – the best and easiest way to get around Crete is by renting a car.
☂️ Travel Insurance – make sure you’re covered before your trip! I always use SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance which is super affordable and flexible.
💳 Travel cards – Get a Wise or Revolut bank cards to avoid overseas charges and save money on your travels.
Things to Do in Sougia, Crete
1. Enjoy Sougia Beach
Sougia Beach is a long stretch of pebbly coastline, with inviting azure waters and tranquil atmosphere.
It’s the perfect spot to unwind under the Mediterranean sun, go for a refreshing swim or even do some snorkelling. Sougia is a little piece of paradise that any beach lover would fall in love with.
The beach strip is wide and spacious offering both areas with sun loungers and umbrellas, as well as free zones where you can just place your towel on the beach and enjoy the closeness to nature.
Just off the beach you’ll find multiple small tavernas and cafes, offering fresh seafood and delicious local specialties. Try the specialty salads and fried calamari at To Tzitziki, I promise you’ll be going back for more (we did!).
2. Explore Ancient Lissos & Lissos Gorge
Just a short distance from Sougia lies the ancient city of Lissos. Known for its therapeutic springs, the city was a healing center during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
You can reach Lissos by taking a one-hour boat trip or by following a scenic hiking trail through Lissos Gorge from Sougia, which usually takes around 2 hours.
The hike itself is well worth it, with diverse rock formations and stunning views along the way, giving a small glimpse into the E4 hiking trail running on the length of the coast of Crete.
There is also a small pebbly beach where you can relax and recharge after hiking. On the way back, you can either take one of the daily boats back to Sougia or hike back the way you came.
3. Samaria Gorge Hike
There’s no doubt you’ve already heard of Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe that lies in Western Crete.
With its unique and diverse landscape and 17 km length, the Samaria Gorge hike is one of the most popular and must do things to do in Crete.
From Sougia, you can take the daily bus to Omalos where the hike begins, making your way down to the bottom of the gorge and to the beach of Agia Roumeli.
Then in the afternoon you can take the boat from Agia Roumeli which takes you back to Sougia after your long but rewarding hike.
There’s also the option to do a shorter version of the Samaria Gorge hike, by taking the boat from Sougia to Agia Roumeli and starting hiking from the bottom of the gorge up to the “gates” of the gorge.
This option is perfect for people with knee issues since the usual route is primarily downhill, or for anyone who is interested in seeing the highlights of the Samaria Gorge. You can then go back to the bottom of the gorge and again take the boat from Agia Roumeli back to Sougia.
4. Visit Paleochora
Paleochora, often referred to as the “Bride of the Libyan Sea”, is a charming little town not far from Sougia.
Known for its colourful picturesque streets and vibrant atmosphere, it’s a popular destination among both locals and travellers.
Dotted with charming shops, cafes, and tavernas, it’s a great place to just sit by and enjoy the views and the slow pace of life here for a few hours.
Or, you can spend some time sunbathing and swimming in the crystal clear waters and Paleochora’s sandy beaches.
You can get from Sougia to Paleochora either with the daily boat (check itinerary here) or by hiking a moderately challenging scenic 16 km coastal trail.
The hike takes approximately 5-6 hours depending on your speed, going through the diverse landscape of Lissos Gorge and continuing on one of the most stunning coastal trails in Crete.
If you’re going to do only one coastal hike in Crete along the E4 route, Sougia to Paleochora is the perfect choice with some of the most beautiful panoramic views and diverse landscapes.
Make sure to leave earlier in the morning to allow you enough time to finish the hike at a leisurely pace as well as have time to stroll the cute little streets of Paleochora before heading back to Sougia with the last boat back in the afternoon.
5. Hike the Agia Irini Gorge
The lush Agia Irini Gorge is a close drive-away from Sougia, offering a less crowded alternative to the famous Samaria Gorge.
This tranquil hiking trail provides an excellent opportunity to immerse in the natural beauty of Crete, offering a mix of shaded woodland paths and dramatic cliffs.
The hike is easy to moderately challenging depending on your fitness and takes about 2.5 – 3 hours.
The best way to do this hike is if you have a car as the public transport options aren’t very convenient. However, you could also get a taxi from Sougia to the start of the hiking trail and either hike all the way down to Sougia (an extra 7 km) or take a taxi back down to the village.
You can read more about the Agia Irini Gorge Hike in my detailed guide here.
6. Boat Trips to Nearby Beaches
Boat trips from Sougia offer an exciting opportunity to discover secluded beaches and other points of interest along the coast.
Regular boat services can take you to the beautiful beaches of Agia Roumeli, the quaint seaside village of Loutro, and the colourful town of Paleochora. You can check the boat schedules here.
It’s an ideal way to experience the diverse beauty of Crete’s southwest coast, especially if you would like to skip the hiking and prefer a more relaxing way to visit the surrounding villages.
7. Visit Local Tavernas
When it comes to local cuisine, Sougia is home to several delightful tavernas where visitors can savor traditional Cretan dishes. For a taste of freshly caught seafood, head to To Tzitziki, Taverna Galini, The Anchorage.
For a cozy ambience and a wide range of vegetarian options, Rebetiko Cafe is a must-visit.
These local eateries, among others, serve up an array of local delicacies, allowing you to explore Crete’s rich culinary heritage. You’ll no doubt will be licking your fingers and waiting impatiently for your next meal!
Things to note when travelling to Sougia
Part of Sougia’s undeniable charm stems from its quaint size and its secluded location, distanced from the hustle and bustle of larger cities. Offering an intimate and authentic Cretan experience.
However, this also means that Sougia offers limited everyday amenities. While you’ll find a handful of supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, and a quaint church. Sougia doesn’t have a bank (though there’s an ATM operational only in summer), pharmacy, and comprehensive medical services. There’s only an infirmary offering basic first-aid.
For more comprehensive services, your nearest option is Paleochora, approximately an hour’s drive away.
The nearest gas station is near the entrance of the gorge of Agia Irini, about half an hour drive away from Sougia.
Therefore, ensure you come prepared: pack any essential medication, bring sufficient cash for your stay and make sure you got a full tank of petrol before you begin your journey!
How to get to Sougia, Crete
Traveling to Sougia from Chania can be done by either car or bus, depending on your preference.
If possible, I would definitely recommend renting a car as it gives you more flexibility and opportunity to visit other points of interest along the drive.
Sougia is about 70 km from Chania, taking around 1.5 to 2 hours to drive there, depending on traffic.
The drive is quite scenic, taking you through beautiful landscapes of western Crete so you’ll definitely want to be able to stop and take pictures along the way.
In fact, if your schedule allows and you have an extra hour, I would recommend you take a longer route to get to Sougia, going through the mountain village of Omalos.
It only adds an extra 7 km to your drive but the roads are more mountainous and at some point less-developed, and so it increases your drive by an extra half an hour.
Omalos itself isn’t spectacular but the road leading you there from Chania is absolutely worth the detour.
If for one reason or another you’re unable to rent a car, there are also public buses that run from Chania to Sougia, especially during the tourist season (from April to October).
The journey by bus takes about 2 hours each way and the service operates on a daily basis.
Do make sure to check the latest bus schedule on the KTEL website, as times can vary depending on the season.
Best time to visit Sougia
The best time to visit Sougia is during the spring (April to June) and early autumn (September and October).
During these months, the weather in Sougia is comfortably warm, making it perfect for beach activities, hiking, and exploring.
The summer months of July and August are also a good option, but they tend to be hotter and draw more crowds.
Spring and early autumn provide a delightful balance of pleasant temperatures, fewer tourists, and the natural beauty of Crete, ideal for any type of activities.
Where to stay in Sougia, Crete
Sougia is a very small coastal village comprising three small streets, therefore accommodation options are limited.
If you’re planning on staying in Sougia make sure to book your accommodation in advance as most options get booked up quickly especially in the peak summer season.
Below are some of the best hotels and guest apartments in Sougia to choose from on your trip.
Santa Irene Sougia
Located a mere stone’s throw-away from the beach, Santa Irene is one of the best places to stay in Sougia for the ultimate beachfront experience.
Santa Irene offers air-conditioned studios and apartments equipped with a kitchenette and dining area, as well as a terrace with views of the mesmerizing Libyan sea.
Start your day with a continental breakfast, or enjoy drinks and traditional meals at their seaside snack bar. This small family-run hotel is the perfect place to base yourself and enjoy your trip in Sougia.
Arhondiko Luxury House
Arhondiko Luxury House is one of the only places in Sougia which offers a fully private luxury experience.
Here you can rent out the whole holiday home for yourself, with a fully equipped kitchen and dining room as well as a private garden and a balcony overlooking the sea.
The house is only a couple of minutes walk from the beach in Sougia, in a quiet area a short walk to all the seaside tavernas. A great option if you’re looking for more privacy and a home-away-from-home experience.
Monastery Estate Resort Sougia
For the ultimate luxury experience, Monastery Estate Resort is the best choice in the Sougia region.
While it’s not located in Sougia itself, it’s less than a 10-minute drive away from the seaside village. The stunning property opens up to a panoramic view of Sougia and the mesmerizing Libyan sea.
The rooms at Monastery Estate Resort stand second to none in comfort and design. However, the highlight of your room is the private pool just beyond your balcony, a unique and irresistible finishing touch.
Paired with its own sauna and spa center, the boutique resort is the ultimate place for tranquility and relaxation after a long day of exploring the nearby gorges or sunbathing on the beach.
Sougia, with its tranquil beaches, historical treasures, and amazing nearby hikes, is one of the best places to stay in Crete.
Whether you’re an adventurer looking to explore ancient ruins and scenic gorges or someone seeking a peaceful seaside retreat, you’re in the right place.
You can easily base yourself in Sougia and spend a few days here, combining exploring nearby hikes and coastal towns with relaxing on the beach and enjoying the laid-back Cretan atmosphere.
To me, Sougia offers the perfect escape from city life, and the more time you spend here, the more you fall in love with the life and nature Crete has to offer.