With clear waters and a lush backdrop of swaying palm trees, Preveli Beach emerges as a landscape reminiscent of a tropical trance.
Whether you’re drawn to the soothing rhythm of the sea or the simple joy of basking in nature’s splendor, Preveli Beach presents a medley of treasures, an idyllic escape that caters to every heart’s desire.
Join me in uncovering the secrets of this coastal paradise in southern Rethymnon that will undoubtedly add further charm to your vacation in Crete.
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Preveli Beach, Crete
Everything You Need to Know
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General Details about Preveli Beach
Preveli Beach is a gorgeous shore on the island’s southern coast; its most distinctive trait is the Megalos Potamos River ends right on the beach lined with a dense palm tree forest, not as impressive as the palm grove in Vai Beach, yet incredibly beautiful.
The shore features coarse sand and pebbles, while the coast is not as deep as many other beaches in the south.
The sea bottom is rocky, with areas featuring both big and small rocks. The water is crystalline in the parts where the sea is farther from the river.
Organization is minimal, and access to the beach requires a bit of walking.
This beach is famous for its natural beauty, with a palm forest and a river that flows into the sea, creating a unique and picturesque landscape.
Good to Know: According to the legend, Preveli was one of the places where King Odysseus stopped on his way to Ithaka. In more recent years, especially during the 70s, together with Matala Beach and the easternmost Vai Beach, this was one of the places on the island that attracted hippies from all over the world who would spend long months living under the palm trees.
Where is Preveli Beach
Latitude: N 35.152570 | Longitude: E 24.473779
The beach is located in the Rethymnon region, on the southern coast, facing the Libyan Sea. Nearby seaside villages in the area include Ammoudi and Plakias to the west and Katsouni, Ligres, and Triopetra to the East.
Getting to Preveli
The easiest way to visit Preveli is to drive south from Rethymnon (on the northern coast). The drive to the parking area of Preveli is about 50 minutes (approximately 34 km via the road Rethimou-Agias Galinis and the road Koxaron-Moni Preveli).
If you’re staying in Chania or Heraklion, it’s essential that you plan a full-day trip. The journey from Chania to Preveli is about 1 hour and 40 minutes (about 90 km) each way and about 2 hours from Heraklion (112.5 km) each way.
Those staying in Agios Nikolaos will have to drive a longer way (about 180 km each way). If this is your case, I strongly suggest making this a two-day trip to enjoy the beach and avoid getting on the road too tired (you would be driving more than five hours!) Spending the night in nearby Plakias is the best idea.
Hiking to Preveli Beach (from the West and from the East)
There are no direct road connections to get to the beach; you must hike -at least for a few minutes- to get there.
For this reason, the beach will remain virtually hidden from your eyes until you walk down the path and approach the coast; this is one of the best things about visiting Preveli. The views from above are stunning!
Reaching Preveli from the West
If you’re coming from the northern coast, you can get to Preveli by driving through the impressive Kourtaliotiko Gorge. From here, you will continue the route that leads to the nearby Preveli Monastery.
Before reaching the monastery, a road descends to the parking area of Preveli. From here, once you’ve parked the car, there’s a 25-30 minute steep descent to the beach.
The path is made of stones, and most of the time, you will be descending on rocky steps. Hiking down can be tiring under the midday sun, so carrying enough water and wearing a hat is essential for a comfortable walk.
Avoid flimsy flip-flops and wear sneakers or hiking sandals. As you descend, you’ll come across the breathtaking Preveli Beach and its palm forest; the views are stunning.
Walking back to your car at the end of the day can also be tiring if you’re not used to steep climbs. The total distance to the beach from the parking space is about 550 meters, with a total drop of about 120 meters.
Reaching Preveli from the East
You can also get to Preveli by approaching the beach from its eastern side. The walk to the beach prevents a softer descent with a more smooth terrain.
To get to Preveli this way, you must drive on the paved road leading from Drimiskiano Amoudi Beach, where you can park your car.
From here, walk the short path that leads to Preveli in about 10 minutes. The parking area and Drimiskiano Ammoudi are also visible from Preveli Beach.
This hike is shorter and more accessible, yet you will miss the impressive views that you can get if you hike from the west.
Whether you pick to get to the beach from the east or the west, descending from the mountain, your views are spectacular. You will spot the river coming down from the gorge and a lush palm forest. The river exits into the sea right at the pebbled Preveli Beach.
Descending from the eastern side, it’s easier to see the famous big rock in the sea with a heart shape, just meters from the shoreline.
LOCALS KNOW: Many people who plan to stay for a few days in Preveli book a room at Preveli Crete – Dionysos Tavern & Rooms to spend the night in the nearby Drimiskiano Ammoudi.
Getting to Preveli by Boat
If you’re staying in nearby Plakias or Damnoni Beach, it is also possible to visit Preveli by boat.
The company Plakias Finikas Boat Cruises operates the short route with the following prices and schedules:
Daily departure from Plakias: 9.20 am, 10.20 am, 12.20 pm and 2 pm
Daily departure from Damnoni: 9.35 am, 10.35 am, and 12.35 pm
Return from Preveli: 11 am, 12 pm, 1.30 pm, 3.30. pm and 5.30 pm
Schedules are subject to change, so checking before departure is always better.
The ticket price at the time of writing (August 2023) is €17 for adults and €9 for children. Tickets are available for sale at Smerna Cafe Bar opposite Plakia’s old harbor. More info on the website.
Hiking to Preveli from the Venetian Bridge
Another alternative to get to Preveli is to reach the old Venetian Bridge at the bottom of Kato Preveli Monastery (the old and abandoned Monastery), next to Gefyra Taverna Cafe, and hike next to or wade along the Megalos Potamos River, through Kissano Faragi (Preveli Gorge), until you reach the beach.
Some people choose to walk literally in the river until they reach the beach, which is possible. Still, if the river level is high, you might walk like the people in the picture above, with their belongings above their heads to avoid getting everything wet!
There’s also a parallel path next to the river. If you walk this path, you will reach the beach about the same time. The path ends next to the chapel of Agios Savvas on the eastern side of Preveli Beach.
The hike is a little more than 2 km long, and it can take about 30 minutes to reach the beach.
Following this path, the first thing you’ll see when reaching Preveli is the beach as well as the famous heart-shaped rock in the sea, one of the most famous sights on Preveli Beach,
Organized Tours to Preveli
If you’re not ready (or don’t want) to drive to Preveli, you can also join an organized tour that includes Preveli Beach as a stop or as the final destination.
Most tours also include visiting the gorgeous Preveli Monastery, one of Crete’s most important religious centers.
These are some of the Preveli tours I recommend:
- Departing from Rethymnon: Day Trip to Preveli Beach & Damnoni Beach.
- Departing from the Chania region: Preveli Palm Beach Day Trip.
- Departing from the region of Heraklion: Preveli Palm Beach Boat Trip & Rethymno Town Tour.
- Safari from Rethymnon: Full-Day Land Rover Safari to Preveli.
- From Plakias: Beach Safari to Ammoudi and Preveli.
Public Transport to Preveli
It’s also possible to get to Preveli by public bus from Rethymnon. The route is operated by Ktel (departing from Rethymnon’s central bus station).
The bus from Rethymno to Preveli leaves every 4 hours (about 5 buses depart each day), the ticket is about €5, and the journey is a bit less than an hour, depending on the traffic (it might take longer in summer).
The bus will stop at the top of the road (before Preveli Monastery). From here, you must follow the road until you reach the car park and then hike down the rocky trail and steps that lead to the beach (west approach).
Preveli Beach Map
This map of Preveli Beach gives you an idea of the access routes to the area from the Venetian Bridge, the West (near Preveli Monastery), and the East.
You can consult the interactive Google map by clicking on this link.
The River and the Palm Trees in Preveli
In the heart of the enchanting gorge that leads to Preveli Beach lies a captivating sight that weaves together nature’s elements in perfect harmony: the river and the palm trees.
As if plucked from a dreamscape, the river meanders through the landscape.
Born from the rugged mountains, the cold Megalos Potamos (literally translating as Great River) flows gently towards the pebbled Lybian coast, where it mixes with the crystal waters of the sea.
The water temperature gets pleasantly refreshing and helps mitigate the heat, especially after hiking down to the beach.
Standing tall against the backdrop of the mountains, the palm trees lend an air of tropical splendor to the scene. With a history that spans millennia, these palm trees have silently witnessed the passage of time.
The Natura 2000 Program protects Preveli Beach, and even when such a program would prohibit human intervention on the beach, this is Crete. Laws are often overlooked (see Elafonisi!).
On Preveli Beach, there are no umbrellas or sunbeds. However, you find showers and a tavern with a small shop selling clothing and souvenirs.
The only taverna is right by the beach, and it features dozens of tables and chairs scattered under the shadow of tamarisks.
The tavern sells snacks, simple dishes, drinks, ice cream, and coffees, while there’s an annex shop offering beach essentials, including flip-flops, beach towels, and beach toys.
Prices are higher than you should expect. Therefore, many travelers pack their own lunch or purchase snacks and drinks in the nearby villages of Plakias.
On some days, there’s also a fruit truck at the path’s entrance that leads to the beach, where you can buy cold water.
The area surrounding the beach is relatively isolated. Therefore, plan ahead if you don’t want to eat at the tavern in Preveli.
There’s a shower on the beach, and you will find natural shade provided by a combination of palm trees and tamarisks, but no umbrellas to rent.
Arriving early is vital to find the right spot under the shade.
Best Time to Visit Preveli
Of course, summer is the best time to explore and enjoy the beach. However, the sun can be merciless on your way down to the beach in July and August.
Therefore, if you plan to visit Preveli in summer, don’t forget a sun hat and sunscreen. And, whenever possible, avoid the hike in the hottest hours of the day.
Visiting between May and June is better to enjoy more favorable weather. However, the sea temperature can still feel cold for some swimmers (remember that the Lybian Sea is often colder than the Cretan Sea on the northern coast).
A visit to Preveli in September offers the perfect combination of pleasant sea temperatures and not-so-hot weather, making the beach much more pleasant, even if you don’t find a shady spot to extend your towel under the trees.
Things to Keep in Mind for a Visit to Preveli Beach
Embarking on a journey to Preveli Beach promises an enchanting experience that blends natural beauty with historical significance. To make the most of your visit, here are essential things to keep in mind:
Season and Timing: Preveli Beach is a popular destination, so consider visiting during the shoulder seasons (spring and early autumn) to avoid the peak crowds and enjoy more pleasant weather.
Access and Transportation: The beach can be reached by car, but remember that the road leading to the beach might be narrow and winding, especially if it’s your first time driving in the mountains in Crete. Alternatively, consider taking a boat tour from nearby Plakias for a unique perspective. Also, remember that you need to hike down (and then up) to the beach, which leads us to the next point…
Footwear: The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles, so comfortable walking shoes or sandals are advisable. However, before getting to the coast, you must embark on a short but tiring hike, so sturdy hiking shoes, trekking sandals, or even running shoes might be beneficial and make the walk much more accessible.
Sun Protection: The Mediterranean sun can be intense from May to September. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and appropriate clothing to shield yourself from UV rays.
Water and Snacks: Carry an adequate water supply to stay hydrated, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time exploring or sunbathing. Packing some snacks is also a good idea, as there are not many options right on the beach, and prices tend to levitate in the middle of summer
Respect the Environment: Preveli Beach is a place of natural beauty, so be sure to adhere to environmental guidelines. Avoid leaving any litter behind, and treat the surroundings carefully and respectfully.
Monastery Visit: If you’re interested in history, visiting the Preveli Monastery is a must. Remember to dress modestly and maintain a respectful demeanor. Check out this Preveli Monastery guide for further reference.
Swimming Safety: While the river is inviting for swimming, be cautious of any currents, especially if you’re not an experienced swimmer. When swimming in the sea, remember that the seabed is made of pebbles; packing water shoes can solve problems for delicate feet.
Camera and Binoculars: Capture the stunning scenery with your camera or smartphone. If you’re a birdwatching enthusiast, binoculars might come in handy to observe the diverse avian life in the area.
Cash and Essentials: Some remote areas on the island have limited card payment facilities, so carrying some cash is a good idea. Additionally, have your essentials such as identification, travel documents, and emergency contact information easily accessible.
Exploration Opportunities: Preveli Beach is not just about the beach itself. Nearby hiking trails and viewpoints offer opportunities to explore the surrounding landscapes, so consider venturing beyond the shoreline.
By keeping these practical tips in mind, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to Preveli Beach that allows you to fully embrace this captivating destination’s beauty, tranquility, and history.
Places to Visit Near Preveli Beach
There are many exciting places to visit near Preveli Beach; these are some of the ones you will not want to skip.
The historical Preveli Monastery, located just a short drive from Preveli Beach, is worth a visit.
It’s important to know that Preveli Monastery has two buildings: the Lower Monastery (Kato Preveli), now abandoned, and the Upper Monastery (Piso Preveli).
The latter, also known as Piso Monastiri, is one of the most important religious complexes on the island and certainly one of the oldest.
Historically, Preveli Monastery served as a refuge for soldiers and rebels during Crete’s freedom struggle, thus holding significant historical value.
Piso Preveli is about 2 km from Preveli Beach, so you need about 5 minutes to get there.
The monastery is easy to reach from the parking spot on the western side of the beach. Once there, you can visit the church, the museum, and the rest of the premises in about an hour.
Venetian Bridge and Kato Monastiri
During a trip to Preveli, don’t miss a stop at the gorgeous Venetian Bridge located a few meters before heading to the road that leads to the mountain road that passes from the former (and now abandoned) monastery, Lower or Kato Monastiri.
Resistance and Peace Memorial
On your way to the monastery, don’t skip a stop at the Resistance and Peace Memorial, featuring the statues of a soldier and a monk in combat attire, located in a small square at the edge of a cliff facing the sea.
If you’re a mountain enthusiast, you already know that Kourtaliotiko Gorge is a must-experience for hikers in the Rethymnon region.
Kourtaliotiko stands about 9.5km north of Preveli Beach, in the village of Koxare, and it can be easily reached by car.
The drive from Rethymnon town is pleasant and takes about 45 minutes.
This spectacular ravine, created by the same river that flows into the sea at Preveli Beach, offers endless adventurous opportunities, while several organized experiences, like this canyoning trip in the area, let you discover the secrets of the gorge in total safety.
You will find unique geological formations and some splendid waterfalls along the hike.
Southern Beaches in Rethymnon
Beach enthusiasts, instead, will also enjoy visiting several other beaches along the coast in the area, including Plakias, where immersion, scuba, and snorkeling are part of the deal.
Many of the most incredible beaches in Rethymnon are located on the southern coast, near Preveli.
Some of them are really popular, such as Plakias, Triopetra, Rodakkino, and Damnoni, while others, including Ligres, Souda Beach, Skinaria, and Peristere, are lesser known and more authentic.
If you’re traveling to preveli Beach from the northern coast, it’s a good idea to stop for a refreshing break at the mountain village of Spili.
Over here, you can have a cold coffee sitting at an authentic kafenio in the main square and marvel at the unique Venetian fountain featuring 25 identical lion heads from where there’s a constant water flow from a mountain spring. You can learn more about Spili in this article.
Best Places to Eat Near Preveli Beach
Although eating at the beach is possible, I suggest avoiding an entire meal over here. Prices are high, and quality is doubtful.
It’s a good idea to reach the famous Venetian Bridge, where you can have lunch at Gefyra Taverna, where they serve a simple but delicious Cretan menu made of fresh dakos, salads, and grilled meat as well as some staples, including moussaka and gemista (learn more about Cretan food here).
Another place to eat in the area is Taverna Amoudi, located close to Drymiskiano Ammoudi Beach; they also offer rooms to rent. Another lunch option in the same area is Dionyssos Rooms & Restaurant.
Where to Stay Near Preveli Beach
Since the area is protected, this makes it relatively isolated, so no hotels are available near the beach.
Finding a place to stay in some of the nearby seaside villages will be easier. The best options are often in Plakias, a famous village in south Rethymnon.
I suggest checking out these places when looking for a convenient place to stay in the area near Preveli Beach.
- Olive Forest Villa, located in Koxare, is a top-rated home that can host up to 6 guests. Its location makes it perfect for those who also want to explore Kourtaliotiko Gorge and enjoy a stay in southern Rethymnon.
Click here for more information and the latest prices.
- Afroditi Hotel is in Plakias and is an excellent facility close to some of the best shores in the village.
Click here for more information and the latest prices.
- Oasis Apartments & Rooms is an affordable hotel with a pool located between Plakias and Damnoni, allowing easy access to Preveli and most attractions in the area.
Click here for more information and the latest prices.
- Preveli Crete – Dionysos Tavern & Rooms is probably the most popular place to stay for those wanting to spend more than one day on Preveli Beach since it’s close to the famous shore.
Click here for more information and the latest prices.
🏖️ Please, help us protect the beaches in Crete. Respect the environment and don’t leave any trash behind.
Read more about Rethymnon
- 5 Days in Rethymnon, Crete: The Ultimate 5-Day Itinerary!
- Spili, Crete: Complete Guide by a Local
- Panormos, Crete: Complete Guide by a Local
- Bali, Crete: Complete Guide by a Local
- Visiting Preveli Monastery: An Insight into Cretan Culture and Spirit
🛌 Suggested Accommodation in Rethymnon:
- Affordable: Faros Rooms and Suites and Rethymno House in town.
- Mid-range: Hotel Olympia near the city beach.
- Luxury: Palazzino di Corina in the old town.
- Check also Rental Homes in Rethymnon and Rethymnon Accommodation Guide
🗺️ More resources to book your trip to Crete
- 🛫 Search for cheap flights with CheapOAir.
- 🛥️ Find convenient ferry tickets with Ferryhopper.
- 🚕 Book airport transfer with Welcome Pickups.
- 🚘 Rent a car in Crete with Discover Cars.
- 📍 Join adventures and cultural experiences with Get Your Guide.
- Never leave without travel insurance Safety Wing.
- 💳 Carry the best credit card for travel with Wise.
Pin this Complete Guide to Visit Preveli Beach in Rethymnon, Crete
You might also want to read these posts about Crete’s regions:
- 52 Things to Do in Lasithi Region
- 52 Things to Do in Heraklion Region
- 52 Things to Do in Rethymnon Region
- 52 Things to Do in Chania Region
About my blog:
I moved to Crete in 2016. During these years, I learned much about the island.
In Crete, I juggle being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours, and writing for several travel media.
I’ve written for Greek Reporter, published travel guides about Greece, co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.