Gialiskari Beach is one of the hidden gems of Greece, and one of the best beaches in Crete. It’s tucked away on the mountainous south coast of the island near Paleochora, Crete. There are several outstanding Paleochora beaches either side of this charming small town, but Gialiskari beach is one of the pick of them, no doubt about it.
Paleochora is one of the best southern Crete resorts, and an ideal base for south Crete holidays. It’s perfect for exploring south and west Crete, including the Samaria Gorge hike. It’s an area of fairly slow travel, with relatively few roads, but with some of the best Crete attractions to discover, including Gialiskari beach.
Gialiskari may just be our own favourite Paleochora beach. It should be on any things to do in Crete bucket list. The approach to the beach is amazing, and there’s another secret beach hidden just around the corner. Read on to discover one of the best kept secrets in Crete Greece.
GIALISKARI BEACH – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Gialiskari is located on the south coast of Crete, 4 km from the small Crete resort town of PaleochoraIt’s pronounced “Yee-al-is-KA-ree”
It can be reached by a small dirt road just outside the town
Gialiskari is one of the best of many stunning Chania beaches, which for our money has the most beautiful beaches in Crete
Gialiskari is a few minutes’ walk from Anidri beach Crete, a partly sandy beach
During the season, a small café is open on Gialiskari beach
There is a busier taverna in the shade of the trees just above Anidri beach
WHERE IS GIALISKARI BEACH?
Gialiskari beach is located roughly 4 km (2.5 miles) east of the small town of Paleochora, and 10 km west of the village of Sougia, on the Crete south coast. Paleochora (whose alternative spellings include Palaiochora and Paleohora) is quite isolated, with just two roads (one from Chania) leading to the town. Getting to Gialiskari involves an additional bit of driving or walking to reach.
HOW TO GET TO GIALISKARI BEACH?
Gialiskari beach can easily be reached from Paleochora, and all of these involve the same dirt road.
The road to Gialiskari runs out of the north of the town, in the direction of the village of Anidri (sometimes also spelt Anydri). Around 1 km from the centre of Paleochora, a right turn directs you to the beach at Gialiskari.
It’s a short, relatively easy dirt road. We saw several small hire cars making the journey without any difficulty, though you should check the terms and conditions of your Crete car hire – many stipulate no off-road travel.
Otherwise, the Paleochora taxi operators are happy to make the short run to Gialiskari.
I opted to walk the route instead. It took about an hour from our Paleochora hotel on the far side of the town.
WHAT’S GIALISKARI BEACH LIKE?
Gialiskari is a fantastic beach, one of my favourite places to visit in Crete.
It’s a wide triangle of pebbles, with two sides meeting at a small rocky peninsula at the southern end of the beach. The south west Crete coast can get windy, so the beauty of Gialiskari beach is that if it’s rough on one side, the other is usually well sheltered and protected – the same applies with the two beaches at nearby Paleochora.
The approach along the dirt road from Paleochora is especially memorable. The road skirts the shoreline for most of the way, passing two very quiet pebble beaches before a short climb. You then pass between a cliff and rocky outcrop before Gialiskari is dramatically revealed below.
There’s plenty of competition, but for us it’s one of the best beaches in Chania province. The road descends to a series of small car parking spaces, with a larger one a minute or so further along.
Gialiskari is popular with the locals, and is also a popular stopping point for walkers enjoying some of the best hiking in Crete, walking from Sougia to Paleochora.
The setting of Gialiskari is outstanding, with cliffs to one side, the sweep of the coast east towards Sougia on the other and the rugged Cretan mountains providing a stunning backdrop to the scene.
The sea water at Gialiskari is pristine and crystal clear. The locals I spoke to didn’t think it was necessary to wear dive shoes there, but I saw some visitors doing so.
I’d suggest that Gialiskari is one of the best places in Crete to seek out for amazing coastal scenery without the crowds you find elsewhere. But there’s more. If you make your way down the hill to the biggest car park, you’ll see signs pointing you to sandy Anidri beach. It is not to be missed.
FACILITIES AT GIALISKARI BEACH?
Gialiskari is a fairly quiet beach, with a café in the middle. You can hire sunbeds and umbrellas from them, and they serve drinks and typical Greek food including gyros and souvlaki. They also have a WC.
WHAT ABOUT ANIDRI BEACH CRETE?
Gialiskari is the place mentioned by everyone on the local grapevine, but Anidri beach had more people there when I visited.
It’s a lovely beach that’s partly grey sand, curving away a few hundred metres to the east. There are more facilities here than at Gialiskari, including the taverna in the trees.
This has a more extensive menu than the café on Gialiskari beach. You can also rent sun beds and umbrellas from them, and water sports equipment.
The shaded area with tables is an idyllic spot to relax and cool off with a glass of Alfa or Mythos beer, especially in the blazing Crete summer heat.
WHERE TO STAY TO VISIT GIALISKARI BEACH
Paleochora is possibly the best place to stay in Crete if you’re looking to explore the spectacular but remote south Crete beaches and coastline. It’s the starting point for the Agia Roumeli ferry, which runs east along the breathtaking mountainous southern Crete coast. It’s also a good base for visiting Elafonissi beach during the season.
Otherwise, it’s also possible to see many Crete destinations, including Paleochora and Gialiskari, from the provincial capital, Chania. The main road runs from Chania to Paleochora via Tavronitis on the north coast: it’s less than two hours by road. You could comfortably drive there and back in a day trip. You can also just about do a day trip to Paleochora (and Gialiskari) from Chania by bus, though you won’t have a great deal of time to see the other great beaches in the area.
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.