Agia Roumeli Village

Exploring Agia Roumeli: A Guide to South Crete's Enchanting Charms

Agia Roumeli is a small village located on the south coast of Chania District, at the end of Samaria Gorge. It is a remote and isolated village that can only be reached by foot or by boat, as there is no road. Even though it is not the easiest destination to approach, it has around 350.000 visitors every year. Let us explain why Agia Roumeli deserves a visit.

Roots of the name

Although the name Agia Roumeli is suggestive of Roumeli, as central Greece was once known, there is no historical connection between the two.
Many years ago, a temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Rumilia or Rumina was said to have stood here. Rumilia, according to Plutarch, was the protector of shepards and sheep, of which there must have been many in mountainous Agia Roumeli.
It is possible that after Christianity was established in Crete, the Roman temple was turned into a Christian church called Agia Roumilia, which was then corrupted into the name of Agia Roumeli.
According to another version, the name Agia Roumeli is derived from the Arabic terms “aia” (water) and “rumeli” (Greek), i.e. “Greek water”.

history in destinations

Ancient Tarra

Ancient Tarra, which was presumably founded in Classical times, was located east of where Agia Roumeli is now.

Tarra was an important religious center that flourished mostly throughout the Greco-Roman period.

Colonies were also built at Caucasus with the same name, as well as Tarras in southern Italy.

Excavations on the site have revealed the ancient Tarra cemetery, while the bay of Agia Roumeli was most likely used as a harbor. The city of Tarra was devastated by a large earthquake in 365 AD.

The earthquake was so intense that it had raised the western end of Crete by nearly four meters.

Venetian- Ottoman era

A little further to the north from the archeological site of Tarra, visitors can find two stone arch bridges that were built above an old stream. Their architecture though, belongs to the Venetian-Ottoman era.

Destinations from that era in the region can be found uphill near the mouth of Samaria Gorge. There, you will encounter a great Turkish fortress (Agia Roumeli Koule). The walk takes half an hour to an hour, and the path does not pose any particular difficulties.

The Turkish fortress of Agia Roumeli (Koule)
Agia Roumeli Village, Turkish Fortress Koule

It is a popular destination for walkers who enjoy the short walks around town or the hike to the castle.

The smaller Koule (Kouledaki) of Agia Roumeli is the ruins of a second fortress located further to the north from the Koule of Agia Roumeli.

The path to the Smaller Koule of Agia Roumeli is all uphill (around an hour), and the fortress is in a poor state of preservation.

During the Venetian and Turkish periods, there was a large shipyard in Agia Roumeli. With its abundant timber and river-powered sawmills, it was the ideal spot for shipbuilding.

modern history

After the fall of Crete to the Germans in May 1941, the port of Agia Roumeli was used for the escape of the Greek government, and King George left for Egypt.

The village is surrounded by the Libyan Sea and the steeply rising mountains at the exit of Samaria Gorge.

Until 1954, Agia Roumeli was higher up, about a kilometer from the shore, near the mouth of the Samaria Gorge. Heavy rainfall made the Samaria river flood and cause great damage to the village, which was moved to its present location on the coast.

The old village of Agia Roumeli, that was devastated by the flood of Samaria river
Agia Roumeli Village, Old village

Religious destinations

Except its various historical sites, Agia Roumeli Village has religious destinations for you to visit.

Panagia of agia roumeli

Panagia Kera of Agia Roumeli is one of the most important Byzantine churches in Sfakia Province. Located at the exit of Samaria Gorge, was built in the 15th century and probably on top of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo (1st century).

Byzantine church of Panagia Kera in Agia Roumeli village
Panagia Kera in Agia Roumeli village

Chapel of Agios Antonios (saint Anthony)

This little cave chapel is located inside the Samaria Gorge, uphill from the old village of Agia Roumeli. The hike is relatively easy and the views of the village and the Libyan sea are stunning.

Cave chapel of Agios Antonios (saint Anthony) at the old Roumeli Village
Cave chapel of Agios Antonios (saint Anthony), Agia Roumeli

Beaches & free campsite

Of course, this destination article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the choices that you have for your summer swim. Agia Roumeli is a tranquil community with a basic way of life and a leisurely pace.

The beaches are littered with stunning black-and-white pebbles, giving the shore its characteristic gray color.

The western coast is framed by rocky, crumbling cliffs and is called Mashali (Armpit). The eastern, just after the free campground and the wavebreakers, features undulating, curved monoliths with caverns beneath and then a normal pebbled coastline called Zeromouri.

Beautiful unspoiled beaches are hidden away by the mountains west of Agia Roumeli, and due to the cliffs, these beaches can only be accessible by boat or rigorous climbing, and they are rarely visited.

Photos featuring Agia roumeli


Walk around the village
Enjoy nearby beaches
Free Camping ground
Discover the old village remnants
Hike to the two Fortresses
Explore religious destinations
Trekking in Samaria Gorge
Visit ancient Tarra remains
Enjoy local food, snacks and beverages

How to Get There

As we previously mentioned, the only way to access Agia Roumeli is either by boat or on foot.

By boat:

You can take a ferry from surrounding towns such Hora Sfakion, Loutro, Paleochora, or Sougia to Agia Roumeli in Crete. On the south coast of Crete, the firm ANENDYK operates a regular boat and ferryboat service linking these communities. The exact timing and current ticket costs can be found on the company’s website or by calling +30-2825091101 in Hora Sfakion.

The distance between Agia Roumeli and Hora Sfakion is around one hour, and the distance between Paleohora and Agia Roumeli is slightly longer.

By feet:

There are various routes to Agia Roumeli if you want to hike there. The most well-known is the trip through the Samaria Gorge, which is manageable provided you are well prepared for the 16-kilometer hike.

Another option is to take the ancient trail that connects the Anopolis plateau to Agia Roumeli. From the village of Agios Ioannis, it takes around three hours to go to Agia Roumeli. This is without a doubt the most magnificent coastline stroll on Crete.

Another easy road is the seaside path from Hora Sfakion to Loutro and Agios Pavlos, which takes about seven hours to complete.

From Chania:

If you happen to be in Chania and want to see the Samaria Gorge and Agia Roumeli, you can take a bus to the top of the Gorge and then walk the trail to Agia Roumeli. You can then take a ferry to Chora and then a bus back to Chania. It is suggested that you have all of your tickets in hand before leaving Chania, and you can get them from a travel agent there.


In conclusion, Agia Roumeli is a beautiful and peaceful village in the Chania District, with a rich history and many nearby destinations to explore. Visitors can enjoy the short walks around town, hike to the Turkish castle, visit the ruins of the ancient city, and relax on the beautiful beaches. In just one destination, you can combine so many things and you feel adventurous is one of the greatest hidden gems in Crete.


Avoid the crowds!
Agia Roumeli can get surprisingly busy from 1 pm to 5 pm, so try to plan your visit outside of these hours.
Take your time!
Agia Roumeli is a peaceful village with a slow pace of life, so take the time to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Explore the hidden beauty!
Agia Roumeli has many hidden gems, such as unspoiled desert beaches, endless hiking routes, and quaint taverns.
Hike to the Turkish castle!
The hike to the Koule of Agia Roumeli is a popular destination for walkers, and it offers stunning views of the village and the surrounding mountains.
Stay overnight!
Consider staying overnight in Agia Roumeli to fully experience the village's peaceful atmosphere and to explore the area at a more leisurely pace.
Wear appropriate footwear!
If you plan to hike in the area, wear soft sneakers with notched soles to avoid slipping on the steep paths.
Check ferry schedules!
Agia Roumeli is only accessible by foot or by boat, so check the ferry schedules when planning your visit.
Slow down!
Perhaps the best thing to do in Agia Roumeli is to slow down, sit, breathe, and contemplate life while staring at the beautiful scenery.

Destinations near agia roumeli

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