If you are looking for a more secluded and relaxed destination in Crete, there are plenty of quiet and peaceful villages on the southern coast of the island. One such place is the village of Agia Galini, where the beauty of its beaches perfectly combines with its rich historical heritage. Even its name that may have several roots actually means “Holy Serenity”, a perfect description for this traditional Cretan village built on the slopes of a hill descending into the blue sea, with its charming little port and beautiful pebbly beaches.
Surrounded by mountains and crossed by a river that flows into the sea, with its tiny quaint port and stunning white houses, Agia Galini is gaining more and more popularity, soon to become one of the favorite destinations of southern Greece.
Where is Agia Galini
The village of Agia Galini is located on the southern coast of Crete, in the southeastern part of the Rethymno region. The distance from the capital of Heraklion is about 70 km and you can rent a car to Agia Galini, which is also the fastest way to reach it.
Agia Galini is also reachable by car from Chania, passing through Rethymno and then following the road south through the more mountainous and traditional part of Greece. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, markets and general services to make your trip to Agia Galini complete, also offering amazing opportunities to visit fascinating sights located nearby.
How to Get to Agia Galini
Getting to Agia Galini by Car
The best way to reach Agia Galini is by hiring a rental car from Chania Airport and then driving towards the village. This will avoid the hassle of waiting for the slow and usually packed public bus. From the Heraklion International Airport, the trip to Agia Galini takes up to 90 minutes and follows the route down south through the plains of Crete.
Renting a car allows for a fast and comfortable trip to Agia Galini, but also gives you the opportunity to explore the area while you enjoy your holiday.
Getting to Agia Galini by Bus
Another option of getting to Agia Galini is by public bus and there are regular buses from Heraklion or Rethymno during the summer and less during the winter. Although it would be more comfortable to hire a car in Heraklion, the buses are cheaper if you are searching for a budget vacation.
The availability of the buses is sometimes limited and depending on what time you land at the airport, you might miss the last bus.
Best Things to Do in Agia Galini
While the village of Agia Galini still retains part of its peaceful charm, the last years have seen a development of the tourist activity, with more visitors discovering its true beauty and authentic atmosphere. You will find plenty of things to see and do in and around the village, starting with the amazing beach located just to east of the port, where the river Platis Potamos flows into the sea, forming an enchanting landscape.
The small patches of beach are pebbly and quite small, so lounge places are quite limited during the high season. Nevertheless, the beautiful scenery, clear shallow waters and the vicinity of the village make them quite enjoyable. There are plenty of bars along the beach that offer beverages and fast food. Agia Galini is quite lovely by itself, offering you a chance to explore the network of cobblestone alleys, discovering small jewellery shops or traditional taverns.
Another highlight is the harbor, where you can find some boats that offer day trips towards nearby beaches or other attractions. The modern village was built over an ancient Minoan city known as Soulia and parts of the historical heritage can still be found today. The old Byzantine church of Panagia can be admired in the village cemetery, overlooking the sea. Agia Galini is the perfect base to explore the central part of Crete’s southern coast, with plenty of accommodation options right inside the village, great taverns and unique sights in the vicinity.
Boat trip to the Paximadia Islands
These two small and uninhabited islands are located just off the coast in the Gulf of Messara, about 12 km south of Agia Galini. You can book a daily trip from the harbor to these quaint and rocky islands, with a chance to admire the stunning Libyan Sea and maybe spot dolphins on the way. The islands offer small pebbly coves where you could enjoy the scenery and the water in peace, as well as amazing fishing opportunities. The daily boat trips cost about 20-30 Euros and might also include lunch. There are certain legends linked to these small islands, one of them saying that the goddess Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on these islands.
Explore the Gortyna Archaeological Site
Located about 30 minutes by car from Agia Galini, this is one of the most fascinating archaeological destinations in Crete, featuring exceptional ruins dating back to 1050 BC. The discoveries of Gortyna include the old citadel, a high temple, statues and figurines, an ancient agora and other treasures. The law code discovered here is considered the oldest and most complete in the whole of Greece, parts of it being displayed in the Louvre Museum. It is also possible to reach this site by public bus along the route to Heraklion and you should allow for a couple hours to explore the various attractions.
Explore the Phaistos Archaeological Site
Another interesting archaeological destination that you can visit on the way to Gortyna is Phaistos, located just about 20 minutes from Agia Galini. Phaistos or Phaestus was one of the most important settlements in ancient times on the island, with the remains of two palaces and other structures being excavated along the years. You will feel like traveling back in time to the Minoan Age by exploring the various ruins at Phaistos, allowing for a more intimate visit than the palace of Knossos, usually overrun by tourists.
Discover Other Beaches Nearby
While the beach of Agia Galini is quite small and pebbly, there are other amazing and spectacular beaches on the coast nearby that can be reached with a rental car or with daily boat trips that leave daily from the harbor. One of the most unique is the Preveli Beach, known for its palm grove lagoon and the monastery nearby.
This is one of the most fascinating places in southern Crete and well worth the day trip. Another splendid beach can be found at Agios Pavlos, which is quite remote and deserted, mostly known for its sand dunes and deep green waters.
The nearby Triopetra Beach is quite famous as one of the largest sandy beaches in Crete, offering amazing swimming opportunities and stunning scenery. Other lovely beaches that can be visited during your holiday in Agia Galini include Prasonisi beach, Agios Giorgios beach, Kalamaki beach or Kommos beach.
Where to Stay in Agia Galini, Crete
The village of Agia Galini offers a wide variety of accommodation options located right in the village or along the coast and next to the small beach. From private rooms to studios and beautiful hotels, you will find a choice for any preference and budget. Although there are plenty of accommodation places available in the village, during the peak times of the tourist season, it gets rather crowded and you might want to book in advance in order to get the best offers and opportunities.
Perfectly located above the beach of Agia Galini, the hotel offers unique panoramas of the sea. It features 14 studios and apartments that can accommodate 2-6 people, a lovely pool, a cafeteria and free wireless internet.
☏ +30 283200 91415
Palazzo Greco Boutique Hotel
Overlooking the splendid by from the entrance of the village, this gorgeous hotel offers 28 elegant and luxurious rooms with bright colorful ambiance and excellent amenities. The hotel also features a swimming pool, café-bar, Jacuzzis and a charming garden.
☏ +30 28320 91187
Located just a short walk from the center of Agia Galini and the beach, this hotel offers traditional accommodation in the charming Cretan style, with amazing authentic architecture, splendid and comfortable rooms, guest kitchen and amazing views of the bay.
☏ +30 6974 309978
Where to Eat in Agia Galini
One of the best taverns in Agia Galini, it is located right on the beach and offers traditional Greek and Mediterranean food, with delicious meze, pasticcio, mousaka and seafood dishes.
☏ +30 697 855 6166
The tavern is located in the village center, very near to the harbor, offering quality and fresh food delicacies. You should definitely try the fried fish and traditional Greek recipes.
☏ +30 2832 091288
Located right on the beach, this charming restaurant offers fresh fish and seafood delicacies, as well as traditional Greek and Mediterranean recipes.
☏ +30 2832 091323
Best Time to Visit Agia Galini
Weather is perfect in Crete most of the time, except a few months in winter when it is too cold and humid for the amazing beaches on the island. Nevertheless, during the months of July and August, it could get very hot and the beaches are very crowded most of the times. This makes the months of May, June, September and October the perfect time to visit Agia Galini and enjoy most of the sights.