Agia Galini, Crete: Complete Guide by a Local

Agia Galini, bougainvillea in the village, Crete Island

Agia Galini is a small village on the southern coast of Crete and a popular summer destination. The coastal town is known for its fantastic beach, mountainous landscape, and peaceful atmosphere. The settlement is a tranquil place for an extended vacation or a short weekend in the south, perfect for a quiet retreat, an adventure in nature, or a taste of the authentic Cretan lifestyle. Grab your camera and get ready to explore Agia Galini.

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Essential Things to Know about Agia Galini

Beach bar by the sea in Agia Galini, Crete
Beach Bar in Agia Galini.

Combining natural beauty, relaxation, and a touch of traditional Greek life, the picturesque village of Agia Galini is a favorite destination in the region of Rethymnon, ideal for a summer getaway.

Chosen by tourists and locals alike, the small town has a gorgeous sandy beach, a great selection of traditional taverns, souvenir shops, nice cafés, and a beautiful marina where to board a boat to visit other areas along Crete’s southern coast or go for a walk or an ice cream during a warm summer night.

The village’s highlight is the coast, which has beautiful beaches, including the central Agia Galini Beach, which is well-organized and has sunbeds and facilities.

Agia Galini taverna by the sea
Beach bar, Agia Galini.

Not far from the main beach, there are also quieter and more secluded coves, some of which have trees offering natural shade.

The village is also dotted with traditional tavernas, where you can savor delicious Cretan food, fresh seafood, and local wines.

Agia Galini
Agia Galini, Rethymnon.

Like the rest of the southern coast, Agia Galini enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers. The best time to visit is from late spring to early autumn when the weather is most pleasant.

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Where is Agia Galini

Agia Galini Beach, Crete
The beach in Agia Galini.

Agia Galini is located on the southern coast of Crete, Greece. It’s part of the Rethymno region and is approximately 52 kilometers from Rethymnon. Getting there by car from the region’s capital takes about one hour.

Since Agia Galini is perched on the side of a hill, it offers stunning panoramic views of the Libyan Sea and the surrounding countryside.

However, this could also be a downside since many hotels are located in the upper part of town, and climbing steep stairs and hills might be necessary to move around.

How to Get There

Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

The nearest major town is Rethymnon, which makes it accessible to Agia Galini by bus. The village can be a convenient place for day trips from Rethymnon.

Renting a car to explore Agia Galini and the surrounding areas at your own pace is also possible. Getting to Agia Galini from Rethymnon is relatively straightforward.

You have to drive south along the Rethimou-Agias Galinis road. The journey is about an hour.

Distances from other cities to Agia Galini:

  • Rethymnon Town – Agia Galini: About 52.5 km (1 hour) via the Rethimou-Agias Galinis road.
  • Chania – Agia Galini: About 110 km (1 hour 50 min) via the North National Road (direction east until Rethymnon) and then via the Rethimou-Agias Galinis road.
  • Heraklion – Agia Galini: About 75 km (1 hour 20 min) via the Irakliou-Faistou road.
  • Agios Nikolaos – Agia Galini: About 133 km (2 hours) via the North National Road (direction west until Heraklion) and then driving on the Irakliou-Faistou road.
  • Ierapetra – Agia Galini: About 130 km (2 hours 30 min) via the Kallonis-Gdochia road.
  • Matala – Agia Galini: About 28 km (40 min) via the EO97 road.
  • Sitia – Agia Galini: About 200 km (3 hours 10 min) via the (direction west until Heraklion) and then via the Irakliou-Faistou road.

Best Things to Do in Agia Galini, Crete

Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

Like many other small villages in Crete, there’s a limited choice of things to do in Agia Galini. The picturesque settlement, in a certain way, reminds many other villages on the southern coast of Crete, like the tiny Loutro or beautiful Agia Roumeli.

Beach in Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

If you plan to visit Agia Galini, this guide will walk you through all the fantastic things to do in and around the village. You will find out where to stay, what restaurants to visit, and some fantastic day trips from Agia Galini. Take a look!

Relax at Agia Galini Beach

Beach in Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini beach.

Head to the main beach of Agia Galini to spend some glorious moments by the sea. Agia Galini boasts a beautiful coast with dark sand and crystal-clear waters, often chilly, like on most southern coasts.

Spend time relaxing at this low-key resort, sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying water sports in the central area of Agia Galini Beach. You can also explore the nearby secluded coves with a small boat rented at the village’s harbor.

Wheelchair access to the sea in Agia Galini beach, Crete
Wheelchair access to the sea in Agia Galini.

Agia Galini’s main beach is one of the many shores on the island that feature accessible facilities for people with reduced mobility.

Discover the River on Agia Galini’s Beach

River and beach in Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

Agia Galini’s beach features a long promenade full of Cretan restaurants and bars. However, the main trait is the beautiful river flowing into the sea, River Platys.

Over the river, there’s a small, green, iron bridge that divides the beach of Agia Galini and that you can cross to reach a more secluded seaside area.

Bridge at the beach in Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

Over here, you will also find several hotels and a fantastic camping site for those interested in camping in Crete.

Take a Boat Trip to Gavdos

Agia Galini, Crete
Port of Agia Galini.

Did you know you can reach Gavdos Island from Agia Galini (besides Chora Sfakion or Paleochora)?
There’s a boat service leaving from the port of Agia Galini.

Gavdos is the southernmost island in Europe. It belongs to the Chania region and is a paradise on earth that no people spending a few weeks in Crete should skip.

Port area in Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

Gavdos is closer to Africa than the country’s capital, Athens. It’s located less than 50 km from Chora Sfakion, on West Crete.

The island is pretty tiny, and it’s not hard to explore it in a few days. Gavdos is 9 km long and 4.5 km wide. Like many of Crete’s southern beaches, its natural landscape comprises small shrubs, pines, and junipers.

Gavdos Island, Crete

Another unique feature of Gavdos is that the central Mediterranean position makes the place an ideal stop for birds migrating between Africa and Europe.

Stroll around the Village

Bougainvillea in Agia Galini Village, Crete
Agia Galini.

When in Agia Galini, wander through the charming streets of the village, where you’ll find traditional Cretan houses, bougainvillea-covered alleys, endless flocks of stairs, and some picturesque local shops.

Agia Galini Village
Agia Galini.

In the village, you can stop for a cold coffee at a seaside bar and spend some time people-watching, enjoying the sunset hour, or tasting a drink while listening to music.

Learn about Ikarus and Daedalus

Theater, Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

According to the legend, Agia Galini is also home to a cave that Daedalus used to hide when King Minos persecuted him.

The myth says that he hid with his son Ikarus until he gathered millions of feathers, wax, and jars of honey that they used to craft two pairs of enormous wings that would lead them out of the island.

Daedalus’ advice to his son was simple: Don’t go too high or too low. Once they both wore their wings, they jumped from the cliffs in the area.

Daedalus and Ikaros statue in Agia Galini, Crete
Daedalus and Ikarus, Agia Galini.

And while Daedalus managed to fly steadily, Ikarus’ pride took him too close to the sun… the rest is known history. The wax and honey holding everything together melted, and Ikaros fell into the sea.

Locals claim that the rock they used as the base for their flight is on the right side of the harbor. Over there, you can now see two statues of Daedalus and Ikarus getting ready to fly. The area also has an impressive amphitheater from which the coast views are stunning.

Sunrise Views over Matala

Sunrise in south Crete, Agia Galini
This was the sunrise we captured from our balcony in Agia Galini.

Due to its position facing the east, Agia Galini might not be the best place in Crete to admire the sunset, yet the sunrise hour can be one of the most magical moments in the village.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to check online the exact sunrise hour in that part of Crete (Agia Galini coordinates: 35.097585, 24.690710) during your visit, set the alarm clock early, and enjoy one of the most magical sunsets on the island with stunning views over another popular village in Crete, Matala. Rinse and repeat as needed!

Hiking and Water Sports

Beach of Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

If you’re an adventure seeker, you can try water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, and windsurfing in the Libyan Sea.

If you prefer the mountains, explore the surrounding area’s natural beauty by taking a hike in the hills and enjoying stunning views.

Alternatively, take a boat tour from the harbor to explore nearby beaches and islands. Popular destinations for boat trips include Paximadia and Agios Georgios.

Festivals and Local Cuisine

Village view in Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini.

When staying in a traditional village like this one, it’s a good idea to experience the island’s authenticity through its cuisine. During the visit, try fresh seafood, local wines, and Greek meze (small plates) made with Rethymnian products.

Besides, always check beforehand if any local festivals are happening during your visit, as they offer a unique opportunity to taste the Greek culture, music, and Cretan dances.

Day Trips and Excursions from Agia Galini, Crete

Spili Village

Spili Village, Crete, Venetian Fountains with lion heads.
Spili, fountains in the main square.

Probably one of my favorite mountain villages in Crete, Spili is a traditional settlement on the island better known for its gorgeous central square adorned with a unique fountain featuring an endless line of identical lion heads from which fresh mountain water runs continuously.

An ideal stop during a hot day to refresh and taste the water from the local springs is also an excellent spot to purchase local olive oil and tsikoudia, visit old churches and the local museums, and taste freshly made lemonade under the shadow of ancient plane trees.

You can find more details about Spili and things to do in the area in this dedicated article.
>> Distance from Agia Galini to Spili: 25 minutes, about 25 km.

Maravel Garden

Maravel Garden Crete Island
Maravel Garden.

Not far from Spili, you can visit Maravel Garden, a botanical park that prides itself on its impressive collection of endemic flora and fauna.

The place offers the opportunity to see and learn about many Cretan herbs, check out different native grape varieties, and walk through the paths featuring gorgeous roses and trees.

This four-acre medicinal herb garden is filled with aromatic and medicinal herbs (more than 300 species), trees, and flowers that feed the pollinators.

Maravel Garden Crete
Maravel Garden, the shop.

Besides, there’s a small tavern, a wine cellar, and a shop where you can purchase various teas, essential oils, herbs, aromatherapy creams, massage products, healing balms, soaps, flower waters, and solid shampoos made only from the purest local ingredients.

You can read more here.
>> Distance from Agia Galini to Maravel Garden: 20 minutes, about 25 km.

Matala Beach


One of the most popular beaches on the island and certainly among the most famous beaches in Heraklion, Matala is a fantastic coastal village known for its legendary caves, located on a hill that rises east of the bay.

Besides featuring an incredible coastline, Matala is a picturesque hippie town with an exciting vibe and perfect for a night out. Just one day spent in Matala is enough to feel its one-of-a-kind atmosphere and connect with the bohemian side of Crete.

Read this post to learn everything about Matala.
>> Distance from Agia Galini to Matala: 35 minutes, about 27 km.

Archaeological Site of Phaistos

Theatre Area in Phaistos Minoan Palace, Crete

Located in the neighboring Heraklion region and just a short drive from Matala Beach, Phaistos is the second most important Minoan Palace in Crete and a massive archaeological site accessible to visit from Agia Galini.

Phaistos is an imposing archaeological site that is contemporary to Knossos Palace. It is known for being the home of the mythical figure king Rhadamanthys, son of Zeus and Europa.

However, one of the essential reasons that put the palace on the map was the discovery of the mysterious Phaistos Disc (now housed in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion). This disk of fired clay shows several imprints of symbols thought to be written in Linear A, the language probably used by the Minoans.

Although dozens of archaeologists and interpreters tried to decode the disk, its meaning remains a mystery today.

This dedicated guide to Phaistos Palace explains more about the place.
>> Distance from Agia Galini to Phaistos Site: 25 minutes, about 20 km. 

Preveli Beach and Palm Forest

Preveli Beach, river - Crete
The river in Preveli beach.

One of Crete’s most famous beaches and one of the few shores on the island with a river mixing with the sea is Preveli, located just a short drive from Agia Galini and an excellent spot for a day trip.

If you’re traveling to Preveli from Agia Galini, you will approach the beach from the east. From here, you must drive on the paved road leading from Drimiskiano Amoudi Beach and descend towards the coast.

The opposite access is a bit harder but more scenic, too. It follows a 25-30 minute steep descent directly to the beach. Preveli Beach has some organization. However, we recommend taking everything you’d need for a day by the sea.

This guide offers valuable details for the visit. Not far from the beach, you can also explore Preveli Monastery, one of the island’s most remarkable spiritual centers.
>> Distance from Agia Galini to Preveli Beach: 1 hour, less than 40 km. 

Agios Pavlos Beach Dunes

Agios Pavlos dunes in Crete
Agios Pavlos.

Adding to the allure of the island’s southern coast, the remote beach of Agios Pavlos features an impressive landscape of golden sandhills resulting from the wind, erosion, and proximity to the Libyan Sea. This exotic backdrop contrasts with the clear blue waters of the sea and the typical Cretan cliffs.

You can access the dunes from the beach and climb to the top for truly impressive views of the surrounding coastal area.

These dunes are within a protected natural area, and visitors are encouraged to respect the environment to help preserve this unique landscape.

>> Distance from Agia Galini to Agios Pavlos Sand Dunes: 35 minutes, about 23 km.

Kourtaliotiko Gorge

Kourtaliotiko Gorge Crete

One of Crete’s most impressive hiking opportunities is in the heart of the Rethymnon region and not far from Agia Galini: Kourtaliotiko Gorge.

Kourtaliotiko is an authentic natural wonder in the southern part of the island of Crete. Home to breathtaking landscapes, the gorge features cliffs, lush vegetation, and the Kourtaliotiko River. The contrast between the rugged rock formations and the greenery makes it a paradise for nature lovers and photographers.

The river flowing through the gorge creates a dramatic setting with crystal-clear waters. The gorge is also home to various plant species, including olives, cypress, and wildflowers.

Overall, Kourtaliotiko is an excellent place for hiking and exploration. Several trails lead into the gorge, allowing visitors to experience its magnificence up close.

Hiking through the gorge can be an adventurous and rewarding experience.
>> Distance from Agia Galini to Kourtaliotiko: 40 minutes, about 37 km.

Zaros Lake and Rouvas Gorge

Romantic things to do in Crete - Zaros Village
Zaros, Heraklion.

Zaros village is situated in the region of Heraklion, yet it’s easy to reach from Agia Galini. The area is known for its beautiful natural surroundings, including a picturesque lake, lush greenery, and the nearby Rouvas Gorge.

Lake Zaros (also known as Votomos Lake) is a small freshwater lake fed by springs and home to various fish species. You can stroll around the lake, enjoy the serene environment, and even have a meal at one of the many taverns and restaurants in the area.

Besides, the nearby Rouvas Gorge offers hiking trails and the opportunity to explore the Cretan wilderness. If you want to take home a few Cretan products, Zaros offers different places to purchase traditional Cretan products like honey, olive oil, and local herbs. Not far from the lake, the Agia Moni Monastery is a historical and religious site worth visiting.

>> Distance from Agia Galini to Zaros: 50 minutes, about 33 km.

Patsos Gorge

Patsos Gorge, Crete
Patsos Gorge.

Although you might need to drive for at least an hour to reach this area, Patsos Gorge can be a fantastic place to visit near Agia Galini.

Considered one of the easiest gorges to hike in Crete, the green, lush landscape and friendly paths are perfect for the whole family.

Patsos Gorge, Crete
Patsos Gorge.

Besides, inside the gorge, it’s also possible to explore the ancient cave temple of Saint Anthony, arguably built over a much older religious site.

Patsos Gorge, Crete
Patsos Gorge.

In the gorge, just by the river, there is a small picnic area, making it convenient to stop during your visit. So pack a lunch and some cold drinks, wear comfy tennis shoes (hiking boots are unnecessary), and drive north to Patsos.

>> Distance from Agia Galini to Patsos Gorge: 50 minutes, about 37 km.

Where to Eat in Agia Galini, Crete

Seaside promenade at night in Agia Galini.
Seaside promenade at night in Agia Galini.

Although Agia Galini has endless good restaurants, we fell in love with Avli and thoroughly recommend it.

Avli Taverna, Agia Galini

Taverna in Agia Galini, Crete
Agia Galini at night.

Over here, we tasted the most delicious local cheeses and some genuinely excellent fresh seafood. After the visit, we also discovered that this is Agia Galini’s best-rated restaurant.

I wholeheartedly suggest you visit this restaurant and try their salads, starters, the delicious Tomahawk, and any seafood dish.

Graviera cheese with sesame seeds, Taverna in Agia Galini, Crete
Graviera with sesame seeds.
Fried squid, taverna in Agia Galini, Crete
Fresh fried squid.
Raki inside abottle made with a light bulb, Agia Galini, Crete

At the end of the meal, enjoy a friendly kerasma (a small sweet on the house and a shot of tsikoudia served in a very original bottle. The staff and owner will make you taste the best of Cretan hospitality!

Other Good Places to Eat in Agia Galini

Agia Galini
Agia Galini.
  • Taverna Onar: Perfect place to dine with a view of the harbor, this traditional Cretan tavern serves fresh seafood dishes and other popular local staples. Click here to read the reviews.

  • Apnea Restaurant Beach Bar: Located opposite the main beach of Agia Galini, this top-rated restaurant is a welcoming place to eat during lunchtime. It is family—and vegan-friendly. Click here to read the reviews.
Agia Galini, Alexander New bar
Cocktails in Agia Galini.

And after dinner, go for a drink or two in the center of the village! We thoroughly recommend Alexander New for a delicious piña colada, ice cream, fruit snacks, and good music,

Best Areas to Stay in Agia Galini

Agia Galini Town
Agia Galini.

Agia Galini is relatively small and easy to explore on foot. And while it offers a variety of accommodations, there are just a few areas where to pick a place to stay:

Central Agia Galini: If you stay in the central part of the village, it will be easy to get to the main beach, the harbor, and most restaurants, bars, and shops. This is the best area if you prefer not to drive and be within walking distance of most amenities.

Beachfront: If you’re looking for a room with a view, consider accommodations located directly along the waterfront. Beachfront hotels and apartments offer immediate access to the beach.

Agia Galini, access to the beach
Agia Galini Beach.

Hillside: Some accommodations are perched on the hills surrounding Agia Galini. You’ll need to climb (down and back up) to get to the beach, but you’ll love the panoramic views of the Libyan Sea. This area has a quieter atmosphere, perfect for relaxation.

During your time in Agia Galini, you can also stay near the harbor, where you can find a variety of seaside tavernas and restaurants.

Agia Galini
Agia Galini.

There are also countryside guesthouses in nearby hills and the countryside surrounding Agia Galini, which is a good option for those interested in hiking and discovering the Cretan hills.

Hotels in Agia Galini

Agia Galini Campsite
Camping entrance, Agia Galini.

You’ll find a variety of accommodations, from small family-owned guesthouses to larger resorts with a pool, boutique hotels, and holiday apartments. Many of these places offer stunning sea views as the village is amphitheatrically built overlooking a wide bay.

Were We Stayed in Agia Galini:

Agia Galini
Palazzo Greco, Agia Galini.

Palazzo Greco: I loved staying at this 4-star boutique hotel, which is right by the sea and only steps from the center of the village. Our seaside suite had a balcony with fantastic vistas of the Libyan Sea and the pool, from which I enjoyed an amazing sunrise!

We were welcomed with a refreshing drink and a snack on the patio by the pool. Our suite featured a comfortable bed, coffee-making facilities, and a comfy bathroom with luxurious Cretan toiletries. The hotel is five minutes from the main beach and only steps from the port.

Agia Galini
Palazzo Greco, Agia Galini.

Palazzo Greco features private parking facilities and the possibility of enjoying a tasty Cretan breakfast by the pool. We felt genuinely welcomed by the staff and were even given a cute token of the stay upon checkout!

Overall, I recommend staying at Palazzo Grecco if you plan to spend some days in Agia Galini, and I would not hesitate to go back for another weekend.

>> Click here to book a room at Palazzo Greco

Other Hotels in Agia Galini:

These are some of the most convenient places to stay in Agia Galini.

  • The Maxine Hotel—Adults Only: This hotel is about 500 meters from the beach and is perfect for a romantic escape. It features a garden, bar, swimming pool, and restaurant.
  • Lenikos Resort: This pet-friendly resort features three swimming pools and offers various accommodation types, with sea views and kitchen facilities. Some rooms have a living room with a fireplace and a hydromassage shower.
  • Kissandros Hotel: This option is more affordable, with excellent rooms and comfortable facilities. The hotel is within a short distance of Agia Galini Beach. Rooms feature a terrace or patio with mountain or city views.

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More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking this guide to plan a trip to Crete. Remember to explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and helpful insider secrets. This comprehensive Crete packing list ensures you have everything you need.

When it’s time to plan, explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, and be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches. If you are exploring specific areas like Rethymnon or Chania, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Rethymnon

More useful travel resources

  • Check out all the digital travel guides I’ve specifically written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.
  • Welcome Pickups offers a convenient pre-paid airport transfer service.
  • To book adventures, tours, and cultural experiences, I always recommend Get Your Guide.

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Insider’s Gide to Do Agia Galini, Crete

Agia Galini
Agia Galini, Crete

About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the Crete. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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