Chania by Locals
The island of Imeri Gramvousa

Gramvousa Island: Our local guide!

Are you looking for a magical experience and an adventure in Greece? If the answer is “Yes I am!” we have the ideal destination for you. Gramvousa Island is one of the most stunning destinations in Crete.

Gramvousa is located 20Kms off the north-western coast of Crete and the Gravousa Peninsula.

The island is not easy to reach, however, just because of that you can expect to see reserved wild natural beauty.

Note: One of the best ways to visit the island is with a private boat trip. Check our boat trip to Balos & Gramvousa for more info!

There are two islands – Agria Gmramvousa and Imeri Gramvousa.

The last one is way more popular and larger and the one we usually refer to as Gramvousa.

Tourists that visit the island will get a chance not only to enjoy the natural exotic experience of the Balos lagoon but to keep in touch with the rich history that this area carries.

Balos lagoon is an incredibly popular and dreamy destination that provides 2 of the most well-known beaches in Crete.

We are talking about crystal clear turquoise water and white sand beaches where you can have a peaceful relaxation while enjoying the warm sun rays.

This island is so popular because it is ideal for different types of people.

Therefore, if you do not feel like laying all day in the sun and you are looking for some adventure, you can climb to the magnificent century-old Venetial castle.

The giant rock formation and the beautiful view from the top of the island are something that should not be missed.

Except for the beach and the fortress, it is worth seeing the Dimitrios shipwreck as well.

Let’s learn more about the island of Gramvousa!

panoramic view of gramvousa beach
Panoramic view of Gramvousa beach - Unsplash

How did the main Gramvousa Island get its name?

As we said, Gramvousa Island carries a rich and unique history. In the period of the 1820s, the residents of Crete needed to fight against the powerful Ottoman Empire and defend their independence.

During that time, the island became the refuge of Cretan insurgents who were actually pirates. The historical stories tell that after the politician powers forcibly killed the Cretan pirates, there was only one person who escaped.

The woman who escaped the capture was named Vousa and she was the wife of one of the main pirates. From that moment, the island got this specific name in tribute to this woman.

Imeri and Agria Gramvousa

Imeri Gramvousa is open for tourists and offers a sandy beach and some historical attractions.

This is the island we refer to as Gramvousa and is very popular.

Agria Gramvousa is translated as “wild Gramvousa” and it is inaccessible because of the steep rock formations on its coastline.

However, both islands keep untouched natural beauty and they are uninhabited by law. Many incredible species of flora and fauna are protected here.

Except for the fortress, historical attractions, and the beach on Imeri Gramvousa, there are no other facilities there. This means you can not stay the night or camp on the islands. Because of that, the island is accessible only by boat in the form of a day trip.

The Castle of Gramvousa

castle of gramvousa
The Venetian Castle - Unspash

Venetian fortress was built between 1579 and 1584 and it represented the strategic location on the coast.

It was built at 137 meters above sea level and it was a strong defense against any potential attacks.

In the period of the 1690s, a Captain betrayed his Venetian army and surrendered the whore castle to the Ottoman Empire.

In return, he got a good life in Constantinople. After that, the island changed its name to tribute Vousa, the wife of one of the Cretan pirates, who occupied the island.

Nowadays, this fortress is a breathtaking historical attraction to tourists. It has been more than 400 years and after so much time, wars, insurgents, the fortress still impressively stands in the same condition.

The hike to this attraction takes 20 minutes, however, the view from above is worth your time and effort!

The Famous Gramvousa Shipwreck

Just on the beach coastline, you will notice an old cargo ship. It was abandoned three decades ago and since that, it represent a landmark.

You can access this shipwreck even without the need for scuba diving gear since it is located right in the beach area. You will have the opportunity to explore it and take some unique photos.

gramvousa shipwreck
The famous Shipwreck - Unsplash

How to get to Gramvousa?

There are not many ways to reach this destination. The only way is by the sea. There are many boat trips for you to choose from and there are also some cruise lines available.

Cruise lines are ideal for anyone who just want to visit Balos & Gramvousa, but they do not provide the privacy one could seek in such a place.

On the other hand, booking a private boat trip to Gramvousa and Balos will offer you privacy and flexibility on the trip’s schedule.

However you choose to visit the area, travelers are picked up from the beach in the afternoon and returned back to the port.

If you are interested in a private boat trip to Gramvousa and Balos, check out our recommended boat trips!

The nature of the island

Balos Lagoon in Crete is a seduced place due to the stunning untouched natural beauty, shallow and turquoise water are enjoyable and leave a huge impression on every visitor.

However, that is just the surface of what the island has to offer. Since the whole area is protected under the Natura 2000 program, you can find many species of flora and fauna here.

This is a safe ground for some endemic species such as endangered monk seal and loggerhead sea turtle.


Before visiting Gramvousa & Balos in Crete, you should know that there are no facilities here. There is just one small bar on the Balos beach that works during the summer.

However, the options referring to food are limited, so if you are visiting the area using one of the cruise lines available it is better to pack your lunch before your trip or buy some food onboard. If you booked a private cruise, a light meal is often included in the price.


On the island of Gramvousa, you can try hiking and visiting a historical attraction, diving and exploring the undersea world near the shipwreck, and you can also rent pedal boats.

Best time to visit Gramvousa and Balos

These two are the most famous attractions on the island of Crete, meaning that during the high summer season both could be overcrowded.

So we would recommend you visit early in the summer or later in September or even October.

Visiting the area off-season is not possible. Balos beach is closed for the public during the winter, while boats trips and cruises are operating from April to October.


We tried to get you close with the incredible experience that this must-visit destination has to offer.

However, words are not enough to express the beauty of Gramvousa Island and Balos Lagoon in Crete.

Therefore, we strongly encourage you to visit this destination and experience for yourself how you can be amazed by this paradise.

A day to this place actually feels like an escape to heaven.


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