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Like so many of Crete’s best-loved coastal villages, Agia Galini and Plakias are found on the south coast, on the fringes of the Rethymno region, gazing into the Libyan Sea.
With wonderful beaches, hotels, tavernas and so much more, they tick every box imaginable for holidays in Crete. So prepare for the feeling of wild beauty with a soft heart as you find out what to expect on holidays in Agia Galini and Plakias.
Once upon a time, Agia Galini 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 the gorgeous and ever-popular beach of Agia Galini. The beach boasts a Blue Flag, and clustering around it are cafes, restaurants and hotels. Boats are also available to take you fishing or explore the nearby sea caves. Inland, the ancient sites of Phaistos, Agia Triada and Gortyna are star attractions of Crete.
The small, sleepy fishing village of Plakias has evolved over the years into a favourite holiday destination in southern Crete. 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 the longest in Crete. It offers a mix of organised and undeveloped sections and a scuba diving centre adds another element of holiday fun.
Are you a beach bar, umbrella and sun-lounger kind of person, or do you prefer something more out-of-the-way? The beaches in southern Rethymno cater to every taste. If you are in Agia Galini on holiday, some of the closest are Agios Pavlos, Agios Georgios, Triopetra and Ligkres, while Souda, Damnoni and Ammouthi are nearer Plakias.
One of Crete’s most beautiful 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 from which to view the sea and the 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.
In the vicinity is another favourite on Crete: Preveli’s lagoon and palm forest begin where the Megas River and Kourtaliotiko Gorge meet the sea. You can walk there but there are also boats from Plakias.
The Kotsyfos Gorge is one of Crete’s hidden gems. 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 the chapel built into the rock face.
This steep gorge begins at Koxari village and ends at the Preveli lagoon by the sea. Soon after you start walking, you’ll arrive at the chapel of the Blessed Nikolaos Kourtaliotis, set in a 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.
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 watching the sun setting behind the golden dunes.
Agia Galini and Plakias are villages on the south coast of Crete and part of the Rethymno prefecture and are popular holiday destinations, especially during the summer months.
You can drive or take the bus to Agia Galini (55km from Rethymno or 110km from Chania) and Plakias (31km from Rethymno or 90km from Chania). Both Rethymno and Chania have airports (domestic and international flights) and ports with regular ferry connections with Piraeus and, seasonally, to Cyclades and Dodecanese islands and other ports close to Athens (Rafina and Lavrio).
As with so many of Crete’s coastal villages, Agia Galini and Plakias are great options for couples and families looking for quieter summer holidays, with wonderful beaches and swimming in the Libyan Sea, great food and authentic Cretan village life. The surrounding countryside is beautiful, including gorges and Mt Psiloritis, and you can do day trips to other villages and beaches along the south coast.
You can comfortably swim in Crete from mid-May till the end of October, but every season is special, with spring and autumn especially popular for outdoor activities. The temperatures can vary by 5-10 degrees from coastal to mountainous regions throughout the year. Crete does get busy in the peak summer months (July and August) but, even during these months, the villages on the south coast are relatively quiet. May/June and mid-September/October are ideal times to visit.
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