A Local’s Guide to Agia Roumeli

Agia Roumeli, Crete

Agia Roumeli is a small village on the southern coast of the Chania region. It is a beautiful settlement located almost at the exit of Samaria Gorge and often surprises for its strong sense of character.

If you’re up for exploring the village’s authenticity or looking for a few things to do in Agia Roumeli, this guide has you covered.

Last updated: April 2024

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Agia Roumeli: Essential information

Agia Roumeli
The Daskalogiannis ferry boat connects the southern villages in Chania, West Crete.

The first thing to know before visiting Agia Roumeli is that it can get surprisingly busy from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. when the village becomes a chaotic, touristic, cosmopolitan resort for a few hours daily due to the presence of plenty of hikers that end the Samaria Gorge trail.

Since Agia Roumeli is right on Samaria’s exit, many thirsty, hungry, and tired hikers reach the village, causing a frenzy resembling Black Friday.

Agia Roumeli
Agia Roumeli village before the invasion of Samaria gorge hikers.

However, as soon as they get ready to leave the village and hop on ferries to Paleochora or Sfakia, the place is again a peaceful community filled with rich Cretan heritage. It’s pretty safe to say that this village has two very different faces!

Experiencing both sides of Agia Roumeli can be fun. And if that’s what you’d like, I suggest you spend at least one night in the village.

While in Agia Roumeli, you can explore unspoiled deserted beaches, embark on different hiking routes (there are more trails than the famous Samaria Gorge), or enjoy homemade-style food in the small, quaint taverns.

Where is Agia Roumeli

Surrounded by Crete’s White Mountains and facing the Lybian Sea, Agia Roumeli is located in one of the wildest regions of Crete. The place boasts rare flora and fauna, unique geology and history, and breathtaking landscapes. 

Most interestingly, since there is no way to access Agia Roumeli by car, ferries are the primary means of transport. In short, it’s like an island inside an island! 

How to get there

Agia Roumeli
Agia Roumeli beachfront.

Although you can take a ferry to Agia Roumeli, hiking through Samaria and ending in Agia Roumeli offers a fantastic experience you can’t find anywhere else. Most visitors devote some time to exploring the village after completing the Samaria descent. However, it’s not the best route you can take if you ask me!

Let me explain…

Considering only natural beauty and uniqueness, hiking Samaria Gorge (or any other gorge in Crete) is a no-brainer. However, travelers often forget that Samaria is one of the most visited spots on the island, with hundreds of hikers walking the 13-km trail from May to October.

Agia Roumeli
Agia Roumeli coastal path.

You will love this popular trekking route if you don’t mind sharing the experience with summer crowds. 

On the other hand, if you’re like me and prefer walking in nature to disconnect and relax, you may prefer fewer crowds. In that case, walking from Chora Sfakion to Agia Roumeli is a better idea. This relatively flat path is a fascinating section of the E4 European Path. 

Agia Roumeli
E4 Coastal Path.

Suppose hiking sounds too much of a hustle or is not a sport you would consider. In that case, you can visit Agia Roumeli by boat, taking the ferry from Paleochora, Sougia, Loutro, or Chora Sfakion.

In any case, even if you come to Agia Roumeli on foot, you will likely take a ferry back to the northern coast of Crete, so it’s worth checking out the timetable in advance.

>> This Day Cruising from Chora Sfakion offers an alternative way to reach Agia Roumeli.

Attractions and things to do

If you’re wondering what to do in Agia Roumeli, you’re in for a treat. Apart from the obvious choice of hiking Samaria Gorge, here are some options. 

Agia Roumeli, the main beach

Agia Roumeli
Agia Roumeli Beach.

As mentioned, the beach can be quite busy in the early afternoon. But do not dismiss it just for the crowds; Agia Roumeli Beach, also known as Gialos, is worth all the attention it gets.

Behind the beach, the background of mountains offers an imposing contrast against the azure waters of the Libyan Sea. And in the middle of it all, you’re standing in a coarse gray sand, soaking up the sun. 

Take a kayak to the caves

Agia Roumeli
Caves near Agia Roumeli.

Renting a kayak in Agia Roumeli is a unique activity. It is ideal for enjoying the nearby scenery and visiting places otherwise hard to reach. If you want a suggestion on a route, head west to view three hidden caves only reachable by sea.

You’ll love sitting on pebble beaches and snorkeling surrounded by stunning rock formations. Alternatively, you can also head to Mashali Beach

Discover sheltered beaches

Agia Roumeli
Aerial view of the coast near Agia Roumeli.

Apart from the main beach, the area around Agia Roumeli has several pristine sheltered beaches, offering the chance to enjoy a day full of adventures, hopping from one secret location to another.

To enjoy it the most, rent a boat since many beaches are only accessible by water. 

Agia Roumeli
Kalogeros Beach, near Agia Roumeli.

Explore surrounding hiking routes

Agia Roumeli
Coastal Path between Sougia and Agia Roumeli (E4 Path).

If you want a break from beach hunting, there are many trekking and walking options around Agia Roumeli.

Whether you head north toward Samaria Gorge or east along the coastal paths, the scenery is always unique, not to mention all the sights you can find along the way.

Agia Roumeli
Saint Paul, Agia Roumeli.

For example, not far from the village, you will come across an ancient Byzantine chapel where St. Paul is said to have landed on the island while traveling to Greece.

Remains of the old village

Agia Roumeli

If you want a glimpse of what life was like in Crete just a few decades ago, you must visit the old village of Agia Roumeli. It is right before the entrance to the protected National Park of Samaria.

The settlement was lively until only 50 years ago. However, a river flood ruined many houses, forcing the inhabitants to move to today’s location.

Cretan food in a local tavern

Agia Roumeli
A table by the sea to enjoy Cretan food.

You’ll always get it right when deciding where to eat in Agia Roumeli. The local taverns take great care of their dishes and have a reputation to uphold. The sheer number of servings they handle due to Samaria day trippers ensures the ingredients are always fresh.

If you want specifics, Artemis Restaurant is a top choice. It offers delicious traditional cuisine and local specialties, such as lamb meat fresh from the mountains.

Day trips from Agia Roumeli

Agia Roumeli
Loutro, South Crete.

If you stay in Agia Roumeli for a while, consider a day trip to the nearby coastal settlements, which are connected by a ferry service.

Paleochora and Sougia are the options on the east, but if you had to choose, I recommend heading west. The ferry from Agia Roumeli to Loutro will reward you with glorious landscape views while dropping you off at one of Greece’s most popular car-free resorts.


Where to stay in Agia Roumeli

If you’d like to spend a quiet night on the Libyan coast, then check out my recommended places to stay in Agia Roumeli:

Budget-friendly option:
Tarra is an affordable beachfront accommodation and an excellent choice for a long or short stay in Agia Roumeli. It features a terrace and mountain views only 100 meters from the beach. It also offers a bar, outdoor seating, and a daily continental breakfast. A family-friendly Greek restaurant is also open for dinner, lunch, and brunch.
Click here for more information.

Value option:
The family-run room rental complex, Faragi, is right by the sea. The owners also operate a traditional restaurant in town where continental breakfast can be enjoyed upon request. The property features rooms and apartments with a tea and coffee maker, a fridge, and air conditioning.
Click here for more information.

Deluxe option:
Check out Agia Roumeli by the Sea if you’re after supreme accommodation. It offers rooms with a spacious private balcony and direct access to a private beach. Breakfast is available daily and includes à la carte, continental, and Full English and Irish options. There is also a coffee shop and bar.
Click here for more information.

Where to eat in Agia Roumeli

These are some of the places where you’ll find genuine Cretan dishes at very affordable prices:

  • Rousios: If you’re looking to find Greek comfort food that makes you feel better after a long trek through Samaria, this is the place you should go to. Read the reviews here.
  • Calypso: Those longing for a good fried fish dish and a cold beer will enjoy their time at this great authentic taverna. Read the reviews here.
  • Artemis Restaurant: Excellent place to taste delicious Greek flavors. Set in a quiet location, this is a great place to eat in Agia Roumeli. Read the reviews here.

Agia Roumeli is a fantastic village in south Crete. Spending a few nights there is great if you enjoy very peaceful destinations. However, there are also things to do if you’re interested in outdoor adventures. Besides, the peace and serenity you’ll experience outside the busy afternoons will reward you tenfold.

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More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking out my guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets. You can also get one of the digital travel guides I’ve written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.

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 Heraklion, Rethymnon, Lasithi, and Chania, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Crete

No time to read all my accommodation guides? Check out these places to stay:

Agia Roumeli

Written by Dimitrios Tsevremes
Passionate about travel, spirituality, and sports, Dimi divides his time between Chania (Crete) and other countries. Writing is a way for him to express himself and his creativity. You can find out more about him and his work here.

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A Local’s Guide to Agia Roumeli, 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.