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15 km east of Lerapetra on the southern coast of Crete is the lovely village of Galini. Its name means Holy Peace in the Greek language and this traditional fishing village certainly has the charm and location to inspire relaxation and tranquility. Built on the hills of Asideroto, Kedros and Psiloritis, the traditional whitewashed houses perch on a steep ampitheatre surrounding the little port giving the whole village breathtaking views over the Libyan Sea. Its popularity has seen Galini transform into a lively holiday destination with a diverse range of accommodation from modern hotels and guesthouses to camp sites.
Galini can be reached by a four hour flight from the UK to either Heraklion or Chania International Airports. The transfer times to Galini from either of these destinations are about one and a half hours by car or taxi. Travel around the area is easy with excellent main roads and frequent and cheap public transportation. There are KTEL buses from Galini to Matala, Iraklion, Phaistos and Rethymno and daily ferries to the beach at Preveli. All local services, ATM's and pharmacies are on one main street in the village that runs down the hill from the bus station at the top to the harbour at the bottom. Cars and motorbikes are available to hire from the village. You can browse the souvenir shops for interesting folk-art, jewellery and potent raki. In the centre of Galini there is an imposing tree which attracts hundreds of birds who stoop to collect its sweet nectar. At the time when the birds gather, the sky is filled with beautiful songs and the sight is quite amazing.
The beach has blue-flag status and is perfect for families as the glistening waters are calm and inviting. The coarse sand is peppered with colourful sun loungers and parasols ready for you to relax. On the eastern side of the bay there are rocky outcrops hiding fascinating sea caves, which can visited by hiring one of the brightly-coloured boats moored in the harbour. Boat trips can also take you across the crystal clear blue waters to the palm beach at Preveli, to the sands of Agios Giorgos or Agio Farago or to the enchanting Paximadi Island. The waters here are teeming with bright darting fish and are ever popular for scuba diving.
The harbour area of the village is a bustling meeting place, with plenty of places to enjoy a cooling drink as you soak up the atmosphere. It can be busy during the summer months but with so many beautiful beaches around this gorgeous coastline, you can be assured of finding a quiet spot if you explore. Hiring a car is a great way of getting off the beaten track and discovering your very own piece of Crete. Alternatively if you fancy some exercise walking in the quiet and awe-inspiring mountains behind the village will give you a glimpse of the real Crete and provide some stunning panoramas and the scent of herbs, olive groves and fruit trees.
Being situated right in the middle of the southern coast Galini is a perfect base for exploring all the amazing antiquities and culture of the area. Galini itself is built on the site of the ancient Minoan town of Soulia. Many of the current houses have remains of the original building in their foundations. The granite pillars that adorn the church are remnants of this village's past. There are so many fascinating places nearby, for example the remains of the ancient Roman city of Gortyn. Famous for being the Roman capital of Crete, Gortyn was inhabited from 3200BC. With the remains of its baths, temples, theatres, arches and statues all to be witnessed, this truly is a visit not to be missed.
In the centre of Crete, easily visited from Galini, is the Minoan Palace of Phaistos, probably one of the most important archaeological sites in the whole of Crete. There have been inhabitants of this area for over eight thousand years and the excavations have unearthed a massive site containing, amongst many other things, staircases, theatres, apartments and altars.
Nightlife in Galini is relaxed. There's a great choice of bars, tavernas and restaurants to enjoy the warm and friendly hospitality of the local people. The food, particularly the local cuisine, is well-priced and delicious. The grills and seafood are particularly recommended. A perfect end to a day would be chilling out chatting to the local people. Many visitors find themselves leaving with new friends that they will want to return to visit again and again.