Surrounded by stunning warm seas from all sides, the island of Crete is the perfect summer destination if you are looking for an unforgettable getaway. With so many idyllic small beaches, one could eve find a private one to enjoy the Cretan sun and the turquoise waters. Secluded on the southern coast of the island, the small village of Tris Ekklisies has one of the most beautiful beaches imaginable. Tucked away at the mouth of the impressive gorges of Ambas, the little village and its beach are truly picturesque, especially when admired from above while driving along the dizzying road that curves down the mountains from the village of Paranymfi.
With its quaint atmosphere and complete isolation, Tris Ekklisies is the perfect romantic destination. Meaning “Three Churches”, the village has three small churches and a few accommodation choices for those who wish to stay for longer in this enchanting place. The beach of Tris Ekklisies is quite lovely, although not organized with sunbeds of umbrellas. After the modernization of the road to reach the village, more people started visiting, yet it remains a true getaway. Here is the most important information about Tris Ekklisies and its surrounding area.
Where is Tris Ekklisies?
The small village and the beach of Tris Ekklisies is located on the southern coast of Crete, about 60 kilometers from the capital of Heraklion. It is a quite isolated destination, surrounded by mountains on all sides and about 9 km from the nearest village. You can rent a car from Heraklion and drive to Tris Ekklisies, which is basically the only choice other than organized tours. There are no direct buses from the capital to this destination.
How to Get to Tris Ekklisies Beach
The best option to visit Tris Ekklisies is with a rental car from Heraklion or its airport. The capital is located about 60 km north of the village and it takes a little over an hour to reach it. The road is quite straightforward crossing the island towards the south up to the village of Paranymfi. From there, the recently paced road descends abruptly down the mountain in a succession of dizzying curves. There are several steep and narrow portions, but the drive is quite unforgettable, offering breathtaking views of the Tris Ekklisies beach and village from high above.
Hiring a car in Crete is also a always choice as this allows for freedom to explore many of the wonderful sights located near each destination. There are no direct public transport connections to the remote village of Tris Ekklisies.
Best Things to Do in Tris Ekklisies
The enchanting Tris Ekklisies is quite fascinating when thinking about its secluded location at the entrance of a canyon and surrounded by tall mountains. The small Tris Ekklisies Beach is one of the main highlights of the village and although unorganized, it has sand and small pebbles, while the water is truly spectacular. There are several taverns right on the beach, while the village also has a supermarket that is open during the tourist season. To east and west of the village and within walking distance, there are other wild beaches for those looking for a more peaceful atmosphere.
The name of the village comes from the three small Byzantine churches that can be visited there, dating as far back as the 14th century. The small Sacred Church of the Annunciation is located near the beach and the parking area. It sits where another older basilica and it is believed that an ancient settlement used to exist where Tris Ekklisies stands now. The other two churches might be more difficult to locate, with the Church of the Transfiguration located right at the entrance and also standing over an older basilica, featuring several frescoes that were once covered.
The Church of Saint George is located near the beach behind some houses and also features interior frescoes and two Roman columns in front. From the village, you have the option to either hike through the Ambas Gorge towards the village of Paranymfi or explore the nearby canyon of Mesosfini. Traveling by car, there are many other amazing sights to explore, including some exceptional beaches along the coast.
Explore the Ambas Gorge
One of the most splendid natural destinations of Crete can be found right behind the village of Tris Ekklisies. The impressive gorge of Ambas by the Mousoulis creek that only flows during winter and rainy times. When it reaches the edge of the plateau high in the Asterousia Mountains, it drops quickly forming the spectacular waterfall of Ambas, with a height of 145 meters, one of the tallest in Greece.
Close to the village of Paranymfi, there is a path that takes you to a breathtaking panorama of the waterfall and the sea. There is a canyoning trek from the waterfall towards the beach through the gorge, but it should only be attempted if you are experienced. Along the gorges, there are other smaller waterfalls and geological formations, as well as a great number of birds of prey that can be admired.
Near the village of Paranymfi, you can also admire the Monastery of Saint Paul, with its small basilica featuring frescoes and the old temple ruins.
Discover the area of Koudoumas
Located just a few kilometers to the west along the coast, the monastery, gorges and beach of Koudoumas can be reached by car after a long trip and down a perilous mountain road. From the village of Sternes, the 24 km long dirt road reaches the monastery and beach, a splendid sight from above.
The monastery of Koudoumas was built by two monks in 1870 over a ruined one that was much older. Near the monastery, there is an idyllic small beach, as well as the mouth of the Kataraktis or Koudoumas Gorge. It starts high up the mountains near the peak of Kofinas and the first part is very difficult. Nevertheless, you can explore the rest of the canyon with great care, with many caves that can be found along the way.
Explore the Mesosfini Gorge
Another amazing canyon near the village of Tris Ekklisies is called Mesosfini and can be reached a few kilometers to the east. Nevertheless, it is impossible to hike along it, only experienced canyoners could descend from the village of Mournia, up the mountain. The canyoning path is quite challenging, with high descends over boulders and waterfalls.
Visit Maridaki Beach
Maridaki beach is the perfect choice for those tourists who simply want to relax. One of the biggest attractions the island of Crete has for tourists is its beaches. Maridaki is at a distance of 65 km from Heraklion, the capital of Crete. The closest town, Tsoutsouras, is only 2.5 km toward the east. If you plan on visiting Maridaki beach, you can get there by bus, car, or taxi.
Get to Koudoumas beach
Koudoumas Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete. It is located 74 km south of Heraklion, on the west side of Cape Martelos. To get there, you must drive a long dirt road starting from village Sternes. You can reach the beach of Koudoumas either by taking a bus, renting a car, or taking a taxi. The best time to visit Koudoumas beach is from May to September. During this time, the beach is busiest with locals and tourists alike. If you prefer a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere, visit in April and October.
Discover Other Beaches Nearby
The steep Asterousia Mountains dominate the landscape of the southern coast of Crete, with only a few areas where remote yet astonishing beaches can be found. There are not many beaches in this region and they can only be reached via difficult roads or by boat. From the village of Tris Ekklisies, you could visit several fascinating beaches, including Kaminaki Beach, Aspes Beach or Voidomatis Beach, as well as other that can only be visited with boats. These offer complete isolation and can be a wonderful day trip from Tris Ekklisies. Further away, there are longer and more organized beaches in Tsoutsouros in the east or Lassea and Kali Limenes in the west.
Where to Stay in Tris Ekklisies, Crete
As a very small and isolated village, Tris Ekklisies does not have many accommodation options, yet those who really wish to stay there could find something if booking in advance. Other accommodation choices can be found in the villages up the mountains, with more traditional and private experiences.
Sunset Home Crete
An extremely well appraised accommodation in Tris Ekklisies, it offers accommodation in a two bedroom apartment that comes equipped with private bathroom and sun terrace, private parking and excellent location close to the beach.
☏ +30 28420 28471
House with View
Located just east of the beach, this small house is perfect for families that wish to find the authentic atmosphere of Crete, offering fully equipped bedrooms and other facilities, as well as breathtaking views of the sea and the beach.
This small lodging options is built in traditional Cretan style and offers 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen, the perfect option for small groups. Just a short walk from the beach, the house offers amazing views of the surrounding area.
Where to Eat in Tris Ekklisies
O Gialos Tavern
Cheap and welcoming tavern located right on the beach. It offers delicious Greek and Mediterranean specialties.
☏ +30 2893 026915
Traditional tavern with amazing Greek and Mediterranean food, pizza and fish mainly.
☏ +30 2842 028254
Marinela Café Snack Bar
Nice little restaurant located right on the beach, with delicious fish and other simple dishes.
☏ +30 6984 126756
Best Time to Visit Tris Ekklisies Beach
Located on the southern coast of Crete, the village of Tris Ekklisies has pleasant weather all year, with hot summers and mild winters. You will find that the best times to visit including the spring and autumn months, when the weather and water temperatures are perfect, while the prices are lower and there are not as many people around. Nevertheless, summer is also good as all the tourist services are open and the village still does not have many visitors due to its remoteness.