The village of Sougia is built on the ruins of the ancient city of Snia which knew great prosperity mainly in the Roman and first Byzantine period. The remains of vaulted tombs, of a water reservoir from the Roman time and of an early Christian basilica from the 4th century AD with marvelous mosaics give evidence of the long history.
Very near and within a radius of 3 km there are Byzantine churches from the 11th and 12th century with wellmaintained wall paintings as for example Agia Irini, Agios Nikolaos etc. Worth seeing is also the ancient city of Liso or the gorge of Agia Irini, which is of comparable beauty to that of Samaria. With the regular service boats you can visit Sfakia, Palaiochora or Gavdos, the southernmost island of Greece and of Europe.
The Byzantine church of Agia Irini is situated above Sougia. The church is not visible from the town but can be reached after 4km along the dirt track (rough on a car) going west at the entrance to Sougia. The hiker’s reward is a spectacular view of the bay from a hill high above Sougia. Agia Irini is a small but beautiful church of cruciform architecture with a high dome at the centre.
Sougia can be the starting point for a number of excursions around the south-west of Crete. Some of these can be made on foot, others by car or by boat. Some of the walks have links to more detailed descriptions.
The ancient town of Lissos is located about 1,5 hour walk (one way) from Sougia.
It used to be an important site in Hellenistic and Roman times and you can still see many ruins, especially those of an Aesculap temple.
The valley of Lissos is an extremely peaceful place to spend a day exploring. In summer there is a small boat going there from Sougia.
The chapel of the Prophet Elias is located on top of the steep hill which you can see from Sougia, quite far to the East. The views from the top are stupendous, in fact amongst the best in south Crete and the walk, on a shaded path above the sea is one of the most appealing coastal walks in Crete. A word of warning though: it takes around 4 hours one way so it might be best to arrange to be taken one way by boat and return on foot. Don’t forget to take enough water with you.
The gorge of Agia Irini is a very nice alternative to the gorge of Samaria, especially if you want to avoid crowds. The best way to do this walk is to take the morning bus to Hania and get off at the entrance of the gorge. From there it will take you around 3 hours to return to Sougia on foot. Bear in mind that the last third of the walk doesn’t offer much shade and can get pretty hot.