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Agia Roumeli Remains My Favorite Destination on Earth: Crete, Greece

I’ve written about Agia Roumeli, in southern Crete, many times.  Last month, I realized a dream by sharing my favorite place on Earth with my mother, who now understands and supports my love for the place.


Approaching Agia Roumeli

Approaching Agia Roumeli


Who can explain why some places resonate so deeply within?  From the moment I first set foot in Agia Roumeli, thanks to the guidance of the amazing traveler Hans, I felt like I was home.  Each time I return, I feel relief, like finally being in the arms of a long-lost love.  The people are kind and generous. The scenery is stunning.


River coming from gorge

The crystal clear river that flows from the mountains, through the Samaria Gorge, and into the sea.


It’s such a tiny village, only accessible by foot (through the 16-kilometer Samaria Gorge) or by sea.  Life is simple and the pace slow.  The sun, wind and sea are the rulers and determine the mood and routines of the locals.


Walkers delight in Agia Roumeli’s short walks around town or the hike to the Turkish castle perched high above the village.  There are longer walks to the old village and onward to the Samaria Gorge or along the stunning coastal E4 European Long Distance Path.


Walking Agia Roumeli

Walking around the old nearly-abandoned village settlement.


Every afternoon, hundreds of Samaria Gorge hikers pour into town which means an abundance of competing restaurants and shops to accommodate the masses.  During the afternoon the village is relatively bustling, but blissfully, at 5:30 PM most hikers leave on the ferry and the village returns to a peaceful hamlet where the loudest sounds come from tinkling goat bells and the lapping sea.  And maybe occasional gunfire.


Old Church in Agia Roumeli


I’ve never had a bad meal in town.  The food is regularly outstanding.  Even as a vegetarian, the choices are abundant.  I can highly recommend Rousios as a favorite and if you don’t taste his honey (from bees that forage wild thyme exclusively), you will never know what heaven tastes like.


Yogurt and honey

Yogurt and honey. Perfection.


The beaches are full of beautiful rocks in all variations of black and white.  The western beach is shadowed by craggy, crumbling cliffs while the eastern beach, beside the free campground, displays undulating curvy monoliths with caves within.


Agia Roumeli

The strange geology of the eastern beach of Agia Roumeli


Perhaps the best thing to do in Agia Roumeli is to slow down. Sit. Breathe. Stare at the cyan Libyan Sea and distant Gavdos Island and contemplate life.  Watch the dolphins play in the surf and watch the moon and sun rise and fall.


Balcony of Paradise Hotel

The perfect place to contemplate.


The Easiest Way to Get from to Agia Roumeli from Chania


If you won’t be arriving by way of the Samaria Gorge, you can leave from Chania.  From the central bus station in Chania (map found here), you get a ticket to Chora Sfakia pronounced “ho-ra-sfa-kia” and often alternatively spelled “Hora Sfakion”.  As of 2017, the cost of the ticket is €8.30.  Bus schedules are found here.  The trip is quite scenic and lasts 100 minutes.


Chora Sfakia

Chora Sfakia


Departing from the bus stop in Chora Sfakia, you walk down the stairs and turn left until you get to the ferry ticket kiosk beside the port (a 3 minutes walk).  Purchase a ferry ticket to Agia Roumeli.  Boat departures often coincide with the arrival of the buses.  The ferry will stop in stunning Loutro to load and unload people and products and continue on to Agia Roumeli.  The whole trip takes about an hour.  The ferry schedule can be found here.


Schedules for the bus and ferry vary throughout the year so be sure to check the latest times.


Where to Stay in Agia Roumeli


I’m biased because I’ve met the dearest people, Jurgo and Maria, who I now consider my extended family.  They run the modest Paradise Hotel which you won’t find on the internet.  It’s not a fancy place; but it’s affordable, spotlessly clean and has great views of the Libyan Sea.  You won’t find better examples of Cretan hospitality.  Try Jurgo’s fresh homemade cheese and Maria’s lemon marmalade with your morning yogurt.  And give them my regards.


Paradise Hotel

Paradise Hotel


Photos of Agia Roumeli:


  1. I was there the day you posted this message! Had a stop there with the boat from Paleachora to Sfakia. Two of my favorite places, along with Lefkogia. I can not choose. Stayed in Agia Roumelli 20 years ago and come back to southern Crete at least every other year. Now in Sfakia, dinner overlooking the sea. Crete is just a few hours away from Holland.

    • Lucky you Arjan! I’ve never been to Lefkogia, but now I have a new place to check out. Enjoy your time and thank you for commenting.

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