The Omalos Plateau is located at the southern foot of Mount Dikti, up from the village of Kato Symi. You can get there easily following the road through Kato Symi. The road is an asphalt road at first that winds up the mountain and later becomes a relatively good dirt road (in summer and autumn), so even with a normal car you can drive up there most of the time.
Omalos Plateau seen from the top of Dikti
It does take a while to drive up, as you have to drive slow as stones stick out of the road. Once on the plateau follow the road until the gate. Open it, drive through, and close it again behind you (for the sheep), and follow the road until the little church where you have the best view of the whole Plateau. There are also alternative routes, dirt tracks, for which you need a (good) 4WD-car. The road down towards Amiras hadn’t been driven in quite a while when I was there, and all the gates we passed were rusty. The goats up there looked strangely at us, and the small ones looked like they’d never seen a car before. But the road gets maintenance just before the yearly celebration at the church on Omalos in June, and after that the road is ok for a while. With a normal car it’s best you take the same road back down to Symi.
This plateau is called small Omalos, as there is a large Omalos plateau in Chania prefecture. The only building here is a small chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit – in Greek: Agio Pnevma – Άγιο Πνεύμα. The church was first built during the last years of the Turkish occupation as a hideout. It was used again during the Nazi occupation, so a small memorial was built, too.
The plateau is only used by local shepherds during summertime. Every winter it is covered by snow, making the landscape very beautiful. When the snow melts a small lake is formed in the middle of the plateau, which is still there till early summer. In spring it’s still quite cold up there, as it is at 1300m above sea level. Even in my windproof jacket and thick sweater it was still chilly in March. In September it is much warmer, and a T-shirt could be fine (but bring something more just in case).
It’s a really beautiful place to walk for hours, or to just sit and enjoy the views and the silence. Driving up a bit from the church (or walking up), passing the gate and parking a little after it, you have an amazing view of a large part of Crete, and can even see Psiloritis mountain, the highest mountain on Crete with 2456m, floating on top of the clouds.
Other sights in the same area:
- Kato Symi
- The temple of Hermes and Aphrodite
- Dikti mountains