Agia Galini is a popular seaside resort, located 61km southeast of Rethymno and 68km southwest of Iraklion, on the southern shores of Amari. The name of Agia Galini means “Holy Tranquility” or “Holy Serenity” in Greek, implying that this place is very peaceful and the sea is always calm. The excellent pebbly beaches, the picturesque harbor and the traditional village attract thousands of tourists every year. Before the ‘60s and ‘70s, when it met a large tourism development, the village was a small fishing village that actually served the residents of the neighboring Melabes village. But later, in '60s, Agia Galini became a favorite destination for the liberated flower children, the hippies. Indeed, there are still many fans of the area, who visit the village every year since then.
Today Agia Galini is a modern resort, with a traditional character, which offers all amenities to its visitors. You will have many options for accommodation, food, entertainment, medical services, post office, banks, shops etc. Agia Galini is built on the slopes of a high mountain, near the mouth of the River Platys or Amarianos, which starts from the village Thronos and has water all year round. The houses of the village are overlooking the vast Messara bay and the South Cretan Sea.
The southern outskirts of Psiloritis rise a few kilometers northern of the village, surrounded by wild and imposing cliffs and with several traditional villages hanging over them. West of Agia Galini, along the coastline, many beautiful rugged caves are shaped, which you can visit only by tour boat. One of them is called the Cave of Daedalus, because they say that it was the workshop of the legendary craftsman and artist Daedalus. Boats also run from the harbor to the nearby beaches such as Agios Georgios, Agios Pavlos and Preveli. Opposite of Agia Galini, there are the two islets of Paximadia (i.e. Nuts), which can be reached by tour boat. Moreover, there is an unknown beach with pebbles on one of them.
Agia Galini is built on the site of the ancient Minoan harbor of Syvritos (today’s Thronos village), which was called Soulia. Archaeological excavations in the area have revealed several findings. Remains of columns and a temple, which was dedicated to the goddess Artemis, have been found near the river. Also, archaeologists have discovered a Roman ship wreck of the 3rd AD century. Figurines, lamps, statues, bronze objects have been found in it and are currently exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon city. Soulia was destroyed by the Saracens in 640 AD. When the Greeks became Christians, they built the Monastery of Serene Christ (Galinios Christos) on the ruins of the temple of Artemis. You still can see in the cemetery, just outside the village, the church of the monastery, now dedicated to Virgin Mary (Panagia). Lastly, next to the west end of the harbor, there’s a tall rock. According to mythology, Daedalus and Icarus and Icarus started their flight from that point, in order to escape from king Minos. You can visit the monument on the rock, with two modern statues of the first airmen in mythology.
Several versions have been heard on the origin of the weird name of Agia Galini (i.e. Holy Tranquility). One of them states that when a Byzantine princess traveled to the Jerusalem, her ship fell into a big storm. She started praying to Mary, begging for help, and vowed to build a temple dedicated to her. Indeed, the ship managed to approach the area and to anchor in the sheltered bay of the village, that is never wavy. The faithful princess built a temple and named it “Panagia Galini”, i.e. Virgin Mary of Serenity, which was later paraphrased to Agia Galini. This church is the old church in the cemetery. Moreover, the name can be derived from the greek words “aei galini", meaning “always calm". Agia Galini can be accessed by bus from Heraklion, via Tymbaki. Additionally, there are buses running from Rethymnon, via Spili. If you come by private car, estimate that you need 1 hour from Rethymnon and 1:15 hours from Heraklion.
It is certainly the most famous beach in southern Crete, accepting thousands of visitors every summer. During the 60s and 70s, it was a favorite destination for hippies. On the banks of the Grand River, there is a large colony of Theophrastus palm trees, which give the region a sense of an African landscape.
The Gorge of Kourtaliotis is located 22km south of Rethymno and has a length of 3km. It is one of the most spectacular natural attractions of Rethymnon. It starts from the village of Koxare and flows between the mountains Kouroupis (984 m) and Xiro Oros (Dry Mountain - 904m). The huge cliffs of the canyon reach a height of 600 meters and are full of openings and caves, where significant fauna species live.
One of the best-kept secrets in Rethymno aside from Akoumiani Gialia or more popularly known as Triopetra beach to tourists and locals alike, is the breathtaking Melissa Cape Sandhills, by Agios Pavlos, which is considered among the best beaches in Crete.
Paximadia Islands are two small uninhabited islets off the Gulf of Messara, 12km (7.5 miles) south of Agia Galini. By far they seem like a single island because they are very close. You may also hear locals refer to these as "Elephant", since from afar they remind you of a lying elephant. Their total length is about 3km.
Agia Galini is one of the most popular seaside resorts of southern Rethymnon, situated next to the exit of the Amarianos River, 61km south of Rethymno city and 68km southwest of Heraklion. This small town is bustling with life during the summer months and provides all the necessary touristic amenities.
The valley of St. George is located 3km west of Agia Galini, 69km southeast of Heraklion and 60km south of Rethymno. There are two small bays with wonderful pebbly beaches, which are separated by a rocky shore. The weather here is always mild, making the beaches ideal for swimming all year round.
The River Platis Potamos is one of the rivers of Crete with lot of water and dense vegetation. Indeed, along the banks there are several stone bridges with arches built by the inhabitants of the area to cross the river.
Platys (i.e. wide) river is one of the rivers of foremost importance in Crete, flowing all year round. It gathers almost all water quantities of Amari Valley and leads them to the beach of Agia Galini. At a secret location between the settlements Agia Paraskevi, Vyzari, and Petrohori, the wide river gets narrow and forms two impressive ravines. The first is the small Mesa Faragi (inner gorge), reminding of the gorge of Kourtaliotis.