Agia Pelagia is a small coastal town with a lovely beach, suitable for relaxing holidays in Crete. 20 kilometres west of Heraklion, as the national road drifts high above the coastline, you'll begin to see the first impressive pictures of Agia Pelagia – the type of pictures that postcards are made of.
At least twice in past times Agia Pelagia has been destroyed and washed into the sea. Once was probably due to a seismic sea wave from the earthquake that created Santorini. Before 1965 there was almost nothing in Agia Pelagia, which was a small port from where they transferred wood and coal to Heraklion. In 1965, a man appeared and started buying land from the locals for 5,000 drachmas (approximately 17 EUR) for 1,000 square meters (or 1 strema, the common way of measuring land in Greece). Soon another buyer showed up and he offered double the price.
Agia Pelagia, Ligaria and Mononaftis
The large deep cove of Agia Pelagia itself is surrounded by the smaller Ligaria Cove on the east and Mononaftis Bay on the west. The picturesque white buildings, the bluish-green of the Mediterranean and the varying shades from sandy brown to lush green along the shore, create a landscape of rare beauty. Agia Pelagia is an alwayse-inspiring example of the beauty of Cretan Nature and it's almost impossible to resist taking a closer look.
We drive downhill to the main area of Agia Pelagia, which is built amphitheatric-like on the hills and slopes around the shore, creating an even more impressive sight when viewed from above. Along the road, which slopes quite steep at times, you'll begin to see the first of the hillside hotels, and tourists sweating as they walk uphill from the beachfront.
Useful Infomation about Agia Pelagia
Agia Pelagia has just about everything you'll need on your holiday: super markets for fresh bread and other local products and produce, pharmacy and a doctor's office, car and bike rentals, tourism and sightseeing offices, internet cafe and an ATM (automatic cash machine). There are daily buses to Heraklion (20 kilometres) but the departure/arrival times are not always exact, and there is no night bus service.
If you plan to visit Heraklion, and plan to stay late, you can take the bus there, but you will have to return by taxi, which costs about 35 euros (2019). In the winter Agia Pelagia has only a few hundred inhabitants and only one or two tavernas and a supermarket will remain open. The situation changes drastically during the tourist season.
The central beach of Agia Pelagia
It is sandy, with umbrellas and beach chairs, plus water sports and diving centres, which offer beginners' courses. The bay deepens relatively fast, but in the middle of the beach there is a long and narrow rocky plate which provides a small area safe for children. There is a good selection of tavernas and cafeterias along the beachfront.
A small beach
on the peninsula of the Capsis Beach Resort. It's a nice, but tiny beach, with just enough sand for about four or five people to lay down their beach towels. You can get there by swimming or by peddle boat. To find it you must look at the centre of the peninsula for an inlet with steep sides and green waters.
The Ligaria beach
east of Agia Pelagia. This one is also sandy, with umbrellas and several tavernas. The bay is smaller, but it is also protected from the north winds, and rent-rooms are available.
The beach of Made
You can get here from the Ligaria road, but it is not particularly attractive. It is used mainly by the locals for tying up their fishing boats. A big hotel imposes above the bay.
The Psaromoura beach
Another rather small beach, preferred by locals on weekends. There are umbrellas, but it is not protected from the north winds, and the water can get choppy. To find it, continue on the road after the Capsis hotel, but you may have to ask a local for accurate directions.
west of Agia Pelagia. This is a lovely small cove with umbrellas, restaurants and hotels, but it is not protected from the north winds. The beach is beautiful with sand and pebbles, but, here too, the water deepens rapidly. The tavernas which surround the beach create a claustrophobic sensation which is soon forgotten as you immerse yourself in the pleasurably cool waters.
Knossos Minoan Palace
Knossos, the famous Minoan Palace lies 5 kilometres southeast of Heraklion, in the valley of the river Kairatos. The river rises in Archanes, runs through Knossos and reaches the sea at Katsabas, the Minoan harbour of Knossos. In Minoan times the river flowed all year round and the surrounding hills were covered in oak and cypress trees, where today we see vines and olives. The pine trees inside the archaeological site were planted by Evans. Constant habitation for 9,000 years has brought about great changes to the natural environment, so it is hard to imagine what the Minoan landscape was like.
The village of Rogdia
The village of Rogdia, high above the bay, stands out for the unique view it affords of the cove below and the entire city of Heraklion in the distance. The tavernas offer good food, along with the beautiful vistas, and they attract the residents of Heraklion along with the tourists. The village streets are narrow, dotted with traditional Cretan homes, and there is the Monastery of Savathiana, which is one of the most beautiful Cretan monasteries.
The village of Achlada
The area of Agia Pelagia is almost totally owned by people who came down from the high village of Achlada. Visit this quaint village situated on top of the mountain over Agia Pelagia, offering an incredible view of the Fodele bay and the sea beyond.
Heading west on the national road from Agia Pelagia, turn off at the sign for Fodele village. Fodele is known as the birth place of painter Domenicos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco. The house where he was born is now a museum, featuring copies of his work.