Road Trip: Phaistos, Matala, Agios Pavlos, Triopetra in Crete

Matala Beach
Matala Beach

This post is also available in: French

For several months now I was waiting for our four-day trip to Crete. Knowing that our arrival port would be Heraklion (there is a choice of Chania as well but we went there last summer) I organized my itinerary around the Heraklion and Rethymnon area. I wanted to focus especially to South Rethymnon because it is a place with incredible beaches and wild landscape, not yet discovered by  mass tourism. Agios Pavlos and Triopetra are some of them, places ideal for relaxation, good food and culture.

view from Pireaus
view from Piraeus

On Thursday afternoon, straight from work, we headed to Piraeus port to board on the overnight ship to Heraklion. Crete is an island that if you want to explore it, you need to have a car. There are a lot of car rentals available at the island that can pick you up either from the port or the airport. We took our own car with us this time and we also booked a cabin for the night. We believed it would be better since we wanted to arrive there refreshed and because we had our dog Charlie traveling with us. In all our trips within Greece Charlie accompanies us.

The ship arrived to Heraklion port at 7 am and we headed straight to the South of Crete towards Moires – Timbaki until we arrived at the archaeological site of Phaistos, approximately an hour’s drive.

church of St.George of Phalandra
church of St.George of Phalandra

Phaistos, inhabited from the Neolithic period until the 15th century BC, was one of the most important centers of Minoan civilization.  All the inscriptions that were found at the archaeological site of Phaistos are in Linear A code which is undeciphered, so all the information known about Phaistos came from the excavation at Knossos (day 4 of our road trip). The most famous finding was the disc of Phaistos, which can be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion among other findings (day 4 of our road trip) The most important monuments on site are the palaces and the Venetian church of St. George of Phalandra. Tickets cost: Full 4 € and Reduced 2 €.

After spending an hour around the archaeological site we headed to the seaside town of Matala only a 15 minute drive away. Matala’s beach became famous at the 1960’s when the hippies from around the world arrived at Matala and lived inside the caves that can be found there. These caves are actually graves from the Roman or the Christianity period. Matala is a cute seafront resort with hotels, restaurants and bars that can cater every need.

Matala Beach
Matala Beach

Our next stop was the seaside village of Agia Galini. The last time I visited Agia Galini was 20 years ago when it was at its prime. To tell you the truth I didn’t particularly like it now. On the plus side, Agia Galini’s beach looked lovely. On the small port of Agia Galini, there is a big rock. On top of it you can see the monument of Daedalus and Icarus. According to mythology King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus but they managed to escape. They went to Agia Galini and from the top of the rock they flown to freedom with wings made of wax and feathers.

Agia Galini beach
Agia Galini beach

Our last stop was Agios Pavlos, a very peaceful area by the sea. It was there we decided to stay for 2 nights. The area of Agios Pavlos has two beaches the main beach with umbrellas and a beach bar (quiet one) and one with huge sand dunes, easy to go down but difficult to climb up. That is the best place to watch the sunset. The latest was my favorite one. Agios Pavlos is very peaceful ita has only a few rooms to rent, 2 tavernas and a quiet beach bar.

Agios Pavlos sand dunes beach Crete
Agios Pavlos sand dunes beach Crete
Me and Charlie at Agios Pavlos beach Crete
Me and Charlie at Agios Pavlos beach Crete

Next to Agios Pavlos is an area called Triopetra with an incredible, long sandy beach dominated by three rocks. Both areas are quiet with wild beauty and breathtaking scenery. Triopetra is also known worldwide as a place with incredible energy and a perfect spot for yoga. In the area operates a yoga retreat.

beach next to Triopetra
beach next to Triopetra

The first night we had dinner at a taverna called Apanemia in Triopetra beach. The food was made from local ingredients and it was cheap and delicious. I totally recommend it. In the area there is another taverna but it was opening later on the day.

Our first day on Crete ended with a drink at Agios Pavlos beach bar.

Stay tuned for our adventures of the second day as our road trip takes us to Plakias for horseback riding, the historical monasteries of Preveli, Preveli beach with the Palm Tree forest and more…

Have you ever visited this part of Crete? How did you find it?

 

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