Therisos Gorge: Complete Guide by a Local (A Fantastic Day Trip From Chania!)

Therisos Gorge Crete - Complete Guide

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Looking for a self-made day trip from Chania that’s not too far from the city, with easy-to-drive-roads, and stunning landscapes? Then you should visit Therisos Gorge!

Also known as Theriso, Therisso, and Therissos, the drive starts less than 20 minutes from the center of Chania and will leave you in awe…

Plus, you can find some of the most delicious food from the region!

This complete guide to Therisos has all the info you need, including the best stops on the road, recommendations for the tavernas, and nearby visits to extend your day in the White Mountains. Let’s go!

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Therisos Gorge, Crete

Therisos Gorge, Crete

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Only 28 km from Chania’s International Airport, and less than 20 minutes from the center of Chania, Therisos Gorge is a surprising destination and a great day trip for those who want to learn more about Crete’s countryside traditions.

therisos gorge
Therisos Gorge.

You can also check out the mountainous landscape, and – of course – taste some of the most delicious dishes you can find in the region.

Down below, you’ll find some interesting historical facts about the area and discover all the things you can do in Theriso during a day trip from Chania.

A Bit of History: Why is Theriso a Historic Village in Crete?

therisos gorge

One of the most important villages during the Cretan Revolution, Therisos was home to some of the bravest freedom fighters on the island.

Located after a narrow gorge, the village was naturally protected and hard to access, making it a great refuge for the rebels.

A Turkish army of over 5000 tried to occupy the village but it was defended by a much smaller number of local rebels that were located at the entrance of the gorge.

During the episode, many battles took place in the area, and inside the local restaurant Antartis today it’s possible to see a small exhibition with old objects related to the battlers.

Therisos is also known as the native village of Eleftherios Venizelos’ mother. Venizelos was one of the most prominent politicians in Crete, as well as a future prime minister of Greece.

therisos gorge
Antartis restaurant opposite Museum of National Resistance 1941-1945

When the Turkish rule was nearing its last years, in 1866, Moustafa Naili Pasha set fire to Therisos and conquered the village. Among the residents, was Eleftherios Venizelos’ mother who was forced to leave the island.

Later, once Crete was free from the Ottomans (yet still not part of Greece), it was from this village that Eleftherios Venizelos proclaimed a revolution against Prince George.

In this period, Venizelos formed a temporary government in this settlement. A few years had yet to go by for Crete to become part of the Greek Nation (1913).

therisos gorge
Old photos of Venizelos and writer Kazantzakis in Antartis, a local taverna.

On the main (and only square) in the village, you can see a statue of Venizelos.

It’s also possible to visit the former headquarters of Venizelos which today houses the historical museum of Therisos and the Museum of National Resistance.

How to Get to Therisos Gorge

Gorge of Therisso - Gorges in Crfete

Getting to Therisos Gorge from Chania by car is quite easy, you need to drive from the center of town South along Kissamou Street and follow the sign that indicates the way to Theriso.

You will pass the small settlement of Perivolia and after a few minutes on the road, you will be driving through the narrow but incredibly beautiful gorge.

therisos gorge

After you’ve driven through the almost-9-km gorge, you come across the village and all the tavernas that Therisos is famous for.

If you don’t feel like driving, there’s a small touristic train that leaves from the seaside village of Platanias and reaches Theriso along its way.

therisos gorge

You can find more info here or check out this particular ride through Therisos to find out about prices and departure hours.

Therisos Gorge

therisos gorge

One of the few gorges on the island that you can either hike or drive through, Therisos Gorge is about 10-20 meters wide and features an asphalt road quite in good condition, without much elevation and just a few turns.

Although it can be quite narrow at times, the visibility is good and the place is safe.

At the narrowest points, the gorge is enclosed by cliffs covered in plane trees and oleanders while goats are also easy to spot.

Therisos Gorge, Crete

On both sides of the road, there are high mountain walls and the landscape is lush, made of fragrant herbs, cypresses, and oranges (typical of the whole area).

therisos gorge

Once you’ve passed the gorge, you will find the small village of Therisos, with its many traditional tavernas and typical grills.

GOOD TO KNOW: The gorge is also known as Eleftherios Venizelos Gorge.

Map: Chania to Therisos Gorge

therisos gorge

What to See in Theriso Village

therisos gorge

Therisos Village is located at the end of Therisos Gorge, about 580 meters asl. Although there might be just a few places to visit, the place is a green oasis so close to Chania that you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled miles!

The village has a few stone houses, several Cretan restaurants, a small square with a statue of the local hero, Venizelos, but also a museum, a permanent exhibition, and a tiny church worth a visit.

Church of the Panagia

therisos gorge

Known as the Chapel of Holy Mary, this small church is in the center of the village and is one of the many places you can visit in the Chania region.

On August 15th, the village celebrates the Virgin with festivals, music, dances, and – of course – local dishes.

National Resistance Museum 1941-1945

therisos gorge

The Museum of National Resistance is one of the first places you will see on the main road of the village and one of the two museums in Theriso.

It features old weapons, a press, and an old typewriter used by the resistance.

However, there are also military objects that date from the period of Crete’s German Occupation (1941-1945).

If you enjoy maps, you can check out maps of the major battles that took place on the island during WWII.

Historical and Folklore Museum of Therisso

therisos gorge
(Photo courtesy of the National Research Foundation Eleftherios Venizelos).

Also known as the Headquarters of Therisos, this museum is located in an old building that was the headquarters of Therisos’ Armed Movement.

It was here that Venizelos, together with Konstantinos Manos and Konstantinos Foumis, proclaimed the Union of Crete with Greece (which was not recognized and would have to wait to come into effect until 1913).

This was the place where the rebels printed Therissos, the official newspaper of the revolutionary, government of Crete.
You will find all the necessary information to visit on the official website.

What to Eat in Therisos

There are about 10 incredible taverns in Therisos, all of them serving authentic Cretan food. Over here, dishes are deeply rooted in the White Mountain traditions.


therisos gorge
Antikristo in Therisos.

The most common thing you can have is Antikristo, a traditional technique of cooking meat (which can be lamb and, sometimes, goat).

Antikristo is not a dish, but a unique technique that sees the meat being cooked across the fire.

How do Cretans prepare Antikristo: Before putting the meat on this special grill, it is prepared by cutting it into four pieces (goulidia). They add salt and then place the pieces on big skewers. The skewers are arranged around the fire in a circle, oftentimes taking into consideration the direction of the wind.

Other factors that influence the way the meat is slowly-cooked include the intensity of the fire and the distance between the meat and the fire.

This way, the meat cooks slowly (up to 5-7 hours) in its fat with the heat coming from the flames instead of coals.

According to the tradition, local shepherds are experts in this cooking method and it is said that it originally originated in the slopes of the Psiloritis Mountain, in Rethymnon, but today is used all over Crete.

Sfakian Pita

therisos gorge

Sometimes served as a snack with a glass of tsikoudia and other times as a dessert after a good meal, Sfakian pita is one of the most common dishes you can find in the White Mountains, around the area of Sfakia, especially.

The thin pie is filled with goat soft cheese, usually myzithra, and served warm and drizzled with abundant thyme honey, also characteristic of the area.


therisos gorge

Also made using fresh myzithra, these fried pies are a great dessert that you can taste in the region.

They are also drizzled in thick local honey that, in contact with the hot dough, truly enhances the flavor of the cheese and the honey itself.

Together with a glass of tsikoudia, you can eat dozens of them!

Although these are the most common dishes in the Therisos Gorge, you will also find delicious lamb in the oven, often with local rosemary and potatoes, lamb chops, wild greens with abundant olive oil, and graviera cheese with honey.

The drink of choice will certainly be homemade wine. Also in the village, ask for a plate of ladotyri, Graviera cheese aged in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, delicious!

Where to Eat in Theriso Village

therisos gorge

There are less than 10 restaurants to try in the village, all of them equally tasty and often full of tourists in summer, and locals during the rest of the year.

Therissos is a common day trip for Chania people too who enjoy driving along the gorge with their family and friends on the weekends either for a Saturday evening dinner or for Sunday lunch.

therisos gorge
Food at Antartis, Therisso.

People get from Chania to Therisso on National Holidays, on New Year’s, and even on election Sundays to spend a peaceful time far from the chaos of the city.

therisos gorge
Baked lamb with potatoes from Melintaou Tavern.

I’ve been to Therisos several times and tried most tavernas, and none of them ever disappointed me. However, my favorite ones are:

  • Antartis
  • Melintaou
  • Meterizi
  • Madares
  • buy, any of these, or any of the ones I do not mention here, offer excellent Cretan food for quite affordable fees.

Places to Visit Near Therisos Gorge

Rikounakis Tyrokomio Theriso – Therisos’ Cheese Factory

therisos gorge
Graviera Cheese, courtesy of Rikounakis Cheese Factory, Therisos).

Although not a landmark, historic attraction, or natural wonder, this cheese factory is one of the places you must see before reaching the heart of Therisos Village.

Especially if you’re interested in the production of Cretan cheese or simply would like to taste some of the top-renowned cheeses made on the island.

Here you can also purchase authentic Greek yogurt and they also sell the honey that so-well goes on top of the yogurt!

Kato Sarakina Cave

Also known as Elliniko Cave, this area is about 2.5 kilometers north of the settlement (before entering the village if you’re coming from Chania). 

Do not confuse it with Sarakina Gorge, in the region of Lasithi, near Ierapetra.

therisos gorge
The mountains in Therisso.

Inside the cave, archaeologists found ancient rests of pottery dating from the Neolithic era and Minoan Crete which made specialists believe that this place could have been a sanctuary in ancient times.

The cave is about 12 meters long and it’s quite slippery inside, so explore carefully and wear the appropriate shoes.

Aqua Creta Limnoupolis

therisos gorge
This aerial image is courtesy of Limnoupoli.

If you’re traveling with kids and staying in Theriso, Chania’s most visited aquapark, Limnoupolis is a must-go fun water park to enjoy in summer. We’ve been several times in the last few years and had tons of fun!

Kids will love the several slides and high water rides and the different pools for all ages. Parents will enjoy the cocktails at the bar and a long, relaxing ride, on the lazy river.

You can purchase skip-the-line entrance tickets to Limnoupolis in advance here.

Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete

chairs, tables, mountain view
The beautiful restaurant inside the Botanical Park.

Another of my favorite places to visit in Chania, the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete is not far from Therisos Gorge (about 20 km).

Crete’s Botanical Park features local flowers, fruit trees, and herbs from the island, as well as stunning exotic plants from different regions of the world. 

The garden is in the village of Fournes, on the road that takes you to the Omalos Plateau.

The area is easy to reach by car and there’s also a comfortable parking space at the entrance. You can read everything about the Botanical Park and Gardens here.

Agia Lake

therisos gorge

Another of my favorite places to visit on a lazy Sunday in the region, especially if you want to get away from the chaos of the center.

The small region of Agia is located on the road to Omalos. Known as the citrus village of Chania, for the endless orange and lemon trees located in the area, you can also visit the Lake of Agia and enjoy a glass of freshly made orange juice by the lake.

Choose a table at the gorgeous Enasma Cafe opposite the lake and enjoy their delicious homemade cakes or a cup of coffee.

Lakkoi and Meskla Villages

therisos gorge
Meskla, a fountain near the church of Meskla.

After the village of Fournes, and quite close to one another, Meskla and Lakkoi are two villages you can check out while driving around Lake Agia or Theriso, both at the foot of the White Mountains.

Lakkoi in particular, is an incredibly picturesque village, on the road between Chania and Omalos.

The village stands at 450 meters asl., and features old houses clinging to steep slopes with abundant olive groves and chestnut trees.

therisos gorge
Lakkoi (via Aymatth Wikimedia)

This could be included as one of the many villages in Crete with historical importance as it took part in a historic revolt against the Venetians in the early 1200s.

Once Crete fell under Ottoman domination, the villagers were often involved in revolts against the Turks.

The place played a key role during the Battle of Crete (May 1941), when almost 500 locals resisted the German occupiers with many of them losing their lives in the fights.

Drakonas Village

therisos gorge

Although not exactly near Therisos, the best way to get to Drakonas is to pass through Therisos village, so do not miss the chance… to visit both!

Drakonas is not a big or particularly important village in Crete, however, in the last years, it became famous for hosting one of the best restaurants on the island.

therisos gorge

I was lucky enough to eat there more than once and to meet the owner, Stelios, who is one of the best cooks in Crete, certainly one that most respect the gastronomic traditions of the island.

If he is not really busy, he might even show you his kitchen, his garden, his wine cellar, and even his animals, including the unique Minoan cows, of which there are just a couple of specimens left on the island!

therisos gorge
With Stelios from Ntounias.

When eating at Ntounias, his slow-food restaurant, you won’t find a menu, just the food that is in season and comes from his garden.

The dishes are delicious and the cooking methods are more than original but don’t get there too late or you won’t find much!

therisos gorge
Feeding his Minoan Cows.
therisos gorge

Tourists flock to this place after it was featured in many online sources, and the food, the landscape, and the authenticity make it a unique visit. In my opinion, the place does deserve all the praise it gets!

Where to Stay near Therisos Gorge

therisos gorge
(Photo courtesy of Elia Rustic Apartments, in Therisos).

Although staying close to Therisos might not be the most common choice, it is not such a bad idea if you think about it, especially for those who’re not really interested in paying the higher fees of seaside hotels and for those who enjoy mountain hikes.

Moreover, staying in Therisos, you wouldn’t be more than 15 km from the center of Chania, making it relaxing enough but still close to the center for evening walks and interesting things to do in the old town. These are some of the places you should consider in the area:

  • Villa Drakona: Although closer to Drakona than Therisos, this villa is an unmissable property if you’re looking for utmost relaxation surrounded by Chania’s White Mountains. Situated in Keramia, the villa features mountain and river views, a balcony, and a terrace with a pool. You will find a modern kitchen, a living room with a seating area and a dining area, 3 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms as well as a relaxing outdoor dining area.
    Click here for more information and to get the latest prices.

Read more about Chania

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Pin this Complete Guide to Therisos Gorge, Crete

Therisos Gorge, Crete

You might also want to read about these other places near Chania’s White Mountains…

About my blog:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I moved to Crete in 2016. During these years, I learned much about the island.
In Crete, I juggle being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours, and writing for several travel blogs.
I’ve written for Greek Reporter, published travel guides about Greece, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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