Like so many Crete’s best-loved coastal villages, Agia Galini and Plakias are found on the island’s south coast, gazing into the Libyan Sea. With wonderful beaches, hotels, tavernas and so much more, they never fail to tick every box imaginable for holidays in the sun.
What to do in Agia Galini
Agia Galini: A famous beach, in the embrace of the sea
Once upon a time, this was Soulia, the port of the ancient city of Sivrytos, in the foothills of Mt Psiloritis, before Saracens destroyed it in 640 AD. The modern village scales the ancient hillside, affording panoramic views of the Libyan Sea.
A bit further east lies Agia Galini’s gorgeous and ever-popular beach. The beach boasts a Blue Flag, and cafes, restaurants and hotels cluster around it. Boats are also available to take you fishing or to explore the nearby sea-caves. Inland, the ancient sites of Phaistos, Agia Triada and Gortyna are star attractions.
Plakias: A fishing village at the apex of a crescent
This small, sleepy fishing village in southern Crete has evolved over the years into a favourite holiday destination for thousands of families. Nowadays, there are several good hotels and tavernas as well as hip cafes and bars for your evening entertainment. The crescent-shaped sandy beach is among Crete’s longest. Immensely popular, it offers a mix of organised and undeveloped sections, catering to everyone's preferences, while a scuba diving centre adds another element of holiday fun.
Southern beaches, unlimited choice
Are you a beach bar, umbrella and sun-lounger beach kind of person, or do you prefer something more out-of-the-way? The beaches in southern Rethymno, cater to every taste. Some of the closest to Agia Galini are Agios Pavlos, Agios Georgios, Triopetra and Ligkres, while Souda, Damnoni and Ammouthi are nearer Plakias.
The historic Preveli monastery
One of Crete’s most beautiful historic monasteries, Preveli, built in the 16th or 17th century, is a short drive from Plakias. A real architectural jewel and an oasis of serenity, it’s an ideal spot to view the sea and the surrounding rugged mountains. You’ll see rare icons and a magnificent iconostasis in the main church, built in 1836, while you’ll find exquisite and valuable portable icons in the monastery’s museum. The nearby abandoned monastery of Kato (Lower) Preveli has a belfry with an engraving from 1594.
The palm forest: Preveli beach and the lagoon
In the vicinity is another of Crete’s greatest attractions. The Preveli lagoon and famous palm forest begin where the Megas River and its Kourtaliotiko Gorge meet the sea, promising an exotic flavour to your holiday. You can walk there but there are also boats from Plakias.
Hidden gems of Agia Galini
The Kotsyfos Gorge is one of those hidden secrets you have to discover. If you don’t feel like hiking the gorge, you can admire it from the road. It extends from Kanevos village to Plakias. If you do hike it, you’ll be amazed by the vertical rocks and you can take a breather at the chapel built into the rock face.
This steep gorge with its caves is truly impressive. It begins at Koxari village and ends up at the Preveli lagoon next to the sea. Soon after you start walking, you’ll arrive at the chapel of the Blessed Nikolaos Kourtaliotis, set in a verdant spot where spring waters gush from within the rock. A hermit is said to have lived in the gorge in the mid-17th century and legend has it that the spring appeared thanks to his miraculous touch.
Agios Pavlos Beach
Imposing sand dunes add to the beauty of this beach, which is made all the more magical by the deep blue water that spreads out before you. It’s worth spending the whole day here, in one of the most idyllic landscapes in Crete, and watch the sun set behind the golden dunes.
- Agia Galini: A famous beach, in the sheltered embrace of the Libyan Sea
- Significant sights: The historic Preveli monastery
- The palm forest: Preveli beach and the lagoon
- Kotsyfos Gorge
- Kourtaliotiko Gorge: A lush crack in the earth