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Introducing Sougia

Sougia is one of the most laid-back and refreshingly undeveloped beach resorts along the south coast, with a lovely wide curve of sand-and-pebble beach and a few tavernas and rooms along a shady tree-lined coastal road. It was once a popular remote hippie hang-out and many nostalgic ex-hippies return religiously each year. It retains its chilled-out atmosphere and there is little to do other than relax and recharge depleted batteries for a few days. However, while the beach is good and the waters clear, the drop-off is quick, making it not the best swimming spot for families with small children (the shallower waters at Frangokastello, Paleohora and Elafonisi are better southern beaches for kids in this respect).

Sougia’s tranquillity has been preserved largely because archaeological remains at the eastern end of the beach prohibit development. It lies at the foot of a narrow, twisting road that also deters most tour buses and passing traffic. There are a few small complexes of rooms, a few tavernas, a couple of lazy beach bars, two open-air clubs and a small settlement of campers and nudists at the eastern end of the beach. It is also great hiking territory, close to Samaria and Agia Irini Gorges.

The ancient town was on the western side of the existing village. It flourished under the Romans and Byzantines when it was the port for Elyros, an important inland city (now disappeared). A 6th-century basilica that stood at the western end of the village contained a fine mosaic floor that is now in Hania’s Archaeological Museum.

There is one road into Sougia and the bus drops you on the coastal road in front of the Santa Irene hotel, where there is a ticket booth. There is an ATM next to Taverna Galini. Check out www.sougia.info for information about the town.

Roxana’s snack store sells boat tickets to Elafonisi. Internet Lotos can get you online.