Georgioupoli is quite popular with tourists in the summer months and attracts many visitors. Even the residents of Crete enjoy coming to the beach here, at the apex of the bay of Almiros, to relax in the sun, to watch the nature unfolding its beauty, to breathe in the eucalyptus-perfumed air of the village, or just to pray at the iconic Chapel of Agios Nikolaos. But what if you want to adventure outside of Georgioupoli?
Outside of Georgioupoli village and within minutes drive towards Rethimno, you will find a number of traditional hamlets that are usually not overcrowded by tourists because of their off-road location and lack of entertainment. These settlements, however, do have traditional taverns that are favored for the authentic Cretan fare. They also show the true spirit of the island, unaltered by the things usually designed to please the tourists.
Here are five villages worthy of a visit when you stay in Georgioupoli
Exopolis is a small settlement about nine to ten minutes drive from Georgioupoli. It sits on a hill overlooking the bay of Almiros and Georgioupoli and offers some of the most fascinating views of the sea. Besides admiring the vistas, there’s nothing much to do here, but you should try the food at the only taverna serving this hamlet. The food has no commercial influences, is always made from scratch, fresh, and authentic.
Kalamitsi is split in two: Kalamitsi-Amigdali and Kalamitsi-Alexandrou. They can be reached in less than 15 minutes as you drive from Georgioupoli. The main attractions here are found in Kalamitsi Alexandrou: the Church of Agia Triada, and “Softas,” an underground reservoir dating from the Ottoman occupation. Both Kalamitsi villages are peaceful, traditional, and offer beautiful views of Lefka Ori. As it was the case with Exopolis, you can enjoy authentic Cretan cuisine here. But, unlike its neighboring Exopolis, Kalamitsi has some entertainment from the Kalamitsi Arts Group by Francesca and Phil Harrison. They offer a variety of cultural activities for locals and tourists alike. Check out their website for a schedule of events.
Litsarda can be reached from Georgioupoli in less than 20 minutes on the roads in the countryside. It enjoys a beautiful location among olive groves. It is small and bucolic, with views of the mountains and the sea, as well as traditional homes. It has a pizza place and a beautiful church you should visit when you are there.
Kefalas can be reached in less than 25 minutes when you drive from Georgioupoli. It offers both views of the sea and of the mountains from a delightful rural location. It is a historic village with a tradition that can be traced back to the Kephalades, the leaders of the Byzantine settlers sent to Crete in 1182. It also has eight churches, traditional stone homes, and Turkish architecture. It also has a village museum containing items donated by the locals. It’s interesting to see to gain insight into the lives and lifestyle of the villagers. The streets of Kefalas are narrow, so don’t drive a bus or a large vehicle. The food here is exceptional too, but the taverns of Kefalas are very popular – it’s unlikely to find a table if you drop in unannounced.
Xirosterni is reached in 20 minutes by car from Georgioupoli. It’s a lovely ride on paved country roads. It doesn’t have any tourist attractions, so it’s not very busy. It’s a lovely stop if you want to enjoy a couple of hours of peace. Besides the local kafenion and the church, you can only enjoy the nature surrounding the hamlet and the views.