The Island of Gramvousa

The uninhabited island of Gramvousa is located northwest from Cape Gramvousa in the north-western part of Crete Island. The island has many ruins of Venetian fortresses. The best-preserved parts are on top of the highest cliff of the island on the southern shore at 137 meters. From these partially restored walls of the fortress you can see the view down to the sea and the dock used by tourist boats.

The small island has been a stronghold for Cretan rebels and pirates during the span of time. The steep cliffs and banks and a good visibility to the sea have made the island a good location for a strong fortress. During the reign of pirates up to 3000 inhabitant lived on the island. There are some signs of farming and agriculture from ancient times, but the main “income” came from piracy and seizing of sea vessels.

The boats to Gramvousa head out from a harbour west of Kastelli-Kissamos. There are several tour operators offering different types of trips. Others will take you to both Gramvousa and Balos beach, others only to Gramvousa. Tickets can be purchased from the harbour or from tour operators.

You can dine onboard, which is almost a must on a Gramvousa trip with a visit to Balos beach. You can rent sun umbrellas for Balos which has no natural shade from the shining sun. The boat sails around the Gramvousa Cape very close to the shore. Views are beautiful and the rocky cliffs are fascinating. There are three islands around the cape and the boats sail between them.

In Gramvousa the passengers have a couple of hours to climb up to the ridge and the fortress. The sea breeze offers some relief from the shining sun. There are no services available on the island, only onboard the boat.

The famous Balos Beach is only a 10 minute boat trip away from Gramvousa. The water here is clear and turquoise in colour. You can get to Balos also by car via a poor road along the ridge of Gramvousa Cape. There is a parking place on top of the ridge, from which a trail with hundreds of steps leads down to the beach. (Check out “Balos” in Beaches section).

Additional Information:

Coordinates for Gramvousa: 35°36’38.93″N 23°34’43.73″E
Real-time weather information for Gramvousa:
The boat operator’s website:
You can reach Kissamos also by public bus: