A spur of the moment trip to the beach at Georgioupoli, on Crete, provides the perfect backdrop for Greece tourism story that is the cliché and at the same time an enlightening surprise.
Logic dictates that any place with a history as old as Crete should probably hold few remaining surprises. But logic has very little to do with the island the Minoans ruled the Mediterranean from. Crete is all about heart, the normative in us, and a place of unending revelations. And this is particularly true for those who’ve never visited. This “surprise” aspect of Crete can best be illustrated by someone who lives on Greece’s biggest island. But before I describe yet another Cretan adventure, an introduction to touristy Georgioupoli is in order.
The town of Georgioupoli sits on Almiros Bay almost exactly in the middle ground in between the Rethymno Prefecture and Chania Prefecture of Crete. Named for Prince George of Greece, who was high commissioner of the island in the last years of Ottoman occupation, the former fishing village is actually much older. During Minoan times the town was known as Amphimalla, and it served as the harbor of the nearby city of Lappa, on the site of modern-day Argyroupolis. Georgioupoli is stunning visually, but the town’s not something extraordinary for most locals, who often shun such touristy areas. a Taken for granted at by those familiar with “stunning” Crete, this region in North Central Crete is part of the larger Apokoronas, an area notorious for its majestic landscapes and cozy rural villages. In Georgioupolis, the River Almyros joins the Cretan Sea at one of the islands most famous blue flag beaches. Visitors are coming to the town from Chania’s international airport on the National Road, are greeted by a majestic and ancient avenue of cypress trees with mixed eucalyptus at the entrance to town. But it’s the sea, and photo ops like the chapel of Agios Nikolaos (feature image) travelers most often remember.
Entering the village for the first time, we discovered the town’s main square as any tourist would, taking note of all the charm you’d expect from a classic Cretan fishing village. Driving by car from the east and Heraklion, visitors here are met by a chain of luxurious resorts like Mythos Palace & Resort & Spa where we stayed the weekend, and by a smattering of wonderful taverns, shops, and an unmistakable atmosphere of charmed relaxation this stretch of Cretan beach is notorious for. For the first-time visitor, there’s an infinite selection of places to stay and things to do. All inclusive resorts like Mythos Palace, Anemos Grand Luxury Resort, family accommodations such as Eliros Mare, and small bed & breakfast tavernas like Asteri Rooms provide unparalleled holiday choice.
As for things to do while in Georgioupolis, at the top of my list are sunning and swimming at the pristine Kalivaki Beach just North of Agios Nikolaos Chapel, riding the Talos Express choo-choo (if you have kids), and visiting local agricultural producers as our team so often does. But there’s a lot more than a weekend visit here does not allow for. Nearby Lake Kournas is also a fantastic excursion for hiking or via horseback, a top choice our lead animator at Mythos Palace recommended, but one we’ve reserved for another adventure. Ultimately, the value of places like
Georgioupoli always resides in the atmosphere, which is always created by that mystical combination of people and place. The beaches here are magnificent and calm. The wind blows in off the Cretan Sea like a whisper from God. The people of the area are far past pleasant toward just plain kind. And the people who run hotels like the aforementioned Mythos Resort have hired the absolute best Cretans to accentuate all experiences. Everywhere we went during this weekend excursion we were welcomed by extraordinary hosts, waiters, animation guides, clerks, and even business owners. No writer can reflect the spirit of a people and such a place better than Crete’s most famous author, Nikos Kazantzakis, who wrote:
“I said to the almond tree, ‘Friend, speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed.”
Rather than trying to describe further what is so special about the seaside town of Georgioupolis, maybe I can just tell you there’s a bit of the divine in this place. Like almost every other adventure we’ve had since moving to this island, finding mystic beauty even in touristy places is always a revelation. Beyond this, I can only recommend this to readers. Late in the dark of night sit holding your 9-year-old son (or daughter) in a vacant sunbed on the beach in front of Mythos Palace (or your choice of stay). And there, just the two of you must gaze up at the stars while God whispers in your ears.
There’s something epic that attracted all those tourists to Georgioupolis, and it wasn’t saltwater and sand. You’ll just have to take my word, go and let your memories blossom.
Founder/Editor Argophilia Travel News