Located on the southern coast of the island, Preveli Beach, Crete is a stunning and unique destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and adventure.
Known for its crystal-clear waters, river delta, and the famous Palm forest, this secluded paradise has become a must-visit spot for travellers visiting Crete.
Despite its growing popularity, Preveli Beach remains relatively untouched and offers a peaceful and relaxing environment for visitors. The beach is surrounded by hills and offers several hiking trails that lead to beautiful viewpoints.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need for an unforgettable visit to Preveli Beach, from what the area has to offer to how to get there and the best day trips to Preveli Beach. Let’s dive in!
Prepare for your trip to Preveli Beach
➔ Book your accommodation in advance – find the best hotel deals for Crete here.
➔ Find the best tours for Preveli Beach – book your adventures in Crete in advance.
➔ Rent a car – the best and easiest way to get around Crete is by renting a car.
➔ Travel Insurance – make sure you’re covered before your trip! I always use SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance which is super affordable and flexible.
What to see at Preveli Beach, Crete
1. The Beach
Preveli Beach is renowned for its unique charm, owed in large part to the lush palm forest that encircles the river, originating from a gorge and flowing directly into the sea.
Upon arriving at the beach, you are instantly greeted with a stunning view of the azure waters of the Libyan Sea. The water is crystal-clear and mostly calm, ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
The soft golden sands and small pebbles also make the beach perfect for sunbathing and relaxation.
This idyllic and exotic natural setting has made the beach grow in popularity over the years, which has led to its recognition as a natural reserve to protect its natural beauty and delicate ecosystem.
2. Preveli Palm Forest
One of the most unique features of Preveli Beach is the nearby palm forest, home to the endemic Cretan Date Palm. This lush oasis creates a stark contrast with the rocky terrain of the surrounding gorge, contributing to the unique landscape of the beach.
Walking through the palm forest feels like stepping into another world, with the soothing sound of the river and rustling palm leaves making you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise.
3. The Kourtaliotiko Gorge (Preveli Gorge)
Kourtaliotiko Gorge stretches for about 3 kilometres before opening up to Preveli Beach and the sea. This impressive gorge is characterised by its steep cliffs, which rise to heights of over 200 metres.
Hikers and nature enthusiasts alike will be amazed by the diverse flora and fauna, including rare plants and birds of prey such as the griffon vulture.
The Kourtaliotiko Gorge creates a breathtaking sight which makes for some beautiful viewpoints and hikes in the area. It also serves as the backdrop for many local legends and stories.
4. The Megalopotamos River
Adding to the charm of Preveli Beach is the Megalopotamos River, which flows through the Kourtaliotiko Gorge and palm forest before reaching the sea. Creating a beautiful lagoon as it flows through the middle of the beach and it flows into the sea.
Swimming in the refreshing river waters is a great way to switch things up in between swimming and snorkelling in the sea.
History of Preveli Beach
Preveli Beach takes its name from the nearby Monastery of Preveli, a historic site that has played a significant role in Cretan history, particularly during the times of Venetian and Ottoman rule.
Established in the 16th century, the monastery has been a centre of spirituality, learning, and resistance, and it remains an important pilgrimage site for Orthodox Christians today.
When visiting Preveli Beach, make sure to take the time to visit the monastery and learn more about Cretan history. You can find the location of the monastery here.
How to get to Preveli Beach
There are a few different options to get to Preveli Beach depending on where you’re staying and your preferences.
You could opt for the scenic drive yourself, winding through verdant landscapes, charming villages, and past ancient olive groves that dot the Cretan countryside.
Public buses are also a great option, providing an affordable and local means of transportation. Or if you prefer a completely stress-free experience, you could opt for an organised day trip to Preveli beach.
How to get from Chania to Preveli Beach
1. Chania to Preveli Beach by car
The best way to get from Chania to Preveli beach is by renting a car and driving there. The beach is about 90 km away from Chania and it takes approximately 1.5 hours to reach.
However, you really get the flexibility to explore the area at your own pace and even visit some of the surrounding sights like the waterfalls at Kourtaliotiko Gorge or stopping at Rethymno for dinner on your way back to Chania.
We rented our car through Rental Cars which always have the best options for budget cars. And it was the best decision we made as it allowed us the freedom to fully explore the island without the limitations of public transport.
2. Chania to Preveli Beach by bus
While there isn’t a direct bus connection between Chania and Preveli beach, it is still relatively easy to reach the beach by bus.
You can take the bus from Chania to Rethymno, and then transfer to a bus that goes from Rethymno to Preveli Beach. Scroll down for the full information on the bus from Rethymno to Preveli beach.
3. Chania to Preveli Beach Tour
If you’d rather sit back and relax and have all the details sorted out for you, a Chania to Preveli Beach tour may be just the right option for you.
These organized tours are designed to give you sufficient time to relax on the beach, enjoy the Mediterranean climate, and swim in the clear waters, offering a comprehensive experience while local guides introduce you to the region’s culture and history.
We loved having all the details organised for us when we visited Preveli Beach, and so for the ultimate hassle-free experience I can highly recommend booking a day trip from Chania to Preveli Beach.
How to get from Rethymno to Preveli Beach
Rethymno is a lot closer to Preveli than Chania or Heraklion. It takes around 40 minutes by car. There are also direct bus connections from Rethymno to Preveli making it an easy and convenient trip if you don’t have a car. Or you can also join an organised Rethymno to Preveli Beach day trip.
1. How to get from Rethymno to Preveli Beach by bus
There are two buses per day going from Rethymno to Preveli beach. One is at 10:30am (10:30) in the morning, and the other is at 5:30pm (17:30) in the afternoon.
The return journey times from Preveli beach to Rethymno are at 12pm (12:00) and 6:15pm (18:15).
When you are at the Rethymno bus station, look out for the buses going to Plakias. The fare for this bus is €4.50 one-way. You can buy your ticket at the bus station.
The trip takes one hour and it makes a stop at the Preveli Beach Monastery, which is a mere 2 km away from Preveli Beach.
It’s a great way to visit the Preveli Monastery as well as enjoy a nice scenic walk down to the beach.
Note: During the winter season and on weekends throughout the year, the bus has a restricted schedule with few routes available. Please check at the bus station for an updated timetable.
2. Rethymno to Preveli Beach day trip
Joining an organised day trip from Rethymno to Preveli Beach is a great way to visit the area and enjoy a hassle-free trip to one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete.
You can check all Preveli Beach tours here.
How to get from Plakias to Preveli Beach
Plakias is the nearest tourist town, about 10 km away from Preveli beach. It offers beautiful views over the sea and it’s a great spot to stay if you’re looking to stay in the area overnight.
1. Plakias to Preveli Beach by car
If you’re driving, the journey to the parking locations near Preveli Beach takes approximately 20 minutes by car. You can read about all your parking options later in this article. From there it will take you between 15-20 minutes to walk/hike to the beach depending on where you decided to park.
Additionally, you can also grab a taxi from Plakias to Preveli Beach that will take you approximately the same time.
2. Plakias to Preveli Beach by boat
Going from Plakias to Preveli by boat is one of the most picturesque ways to get to Preveli Beach. It’s a great way to turn your beach trip into an exciting boat excursion and enjoy the turquoise colours of the Libyan Sea from the boat.
The boat is operated by Plakias Finikas cruises and runs three times per day everyday as per the below schedule (please note this schedule may vary depending on season).
Departure from Plakias : 10:20 / 12:20 / 14:00
Return from Preveli : 13:30 / 15:00 / 17:00
Price: Adult – €17 ; Children – €9
You can buy your tickets from Smerna Cafe bar in front of the old harbour in Plakias or from directly from the boat.
For more information and to confirm boat schedule in low season, you can contact the ferry company by phone – 0030 28320 31971 or email – firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also catch this boat from Damnoni beach which is a few kilometres east of Plakias and operates at a similar schedule:
Departure from Damnoni : 10:35/ 12:35/ 14:00
Return from Preveli : 13:30 / 15:00 / 17:00
Preveli Beach Tours
Although you’ll find some tours to Preveli Beach from Heraklion and Chania. Due to the distance, most day tours to Preveli Beach start from Rethymno, which is just an hour’s drive away.
These tours are a great affordable option to visit Preveli Beach, as well as discover some of the nearby secluded beaches, and impressive waterfalls and viewpoints along the way.
1. Rethymno Landrover Safari to Preveli Beach
This Land Rover Safari from Rethymno to Preveli Beach is your best choice for a fun, action-packed day. This is one of the most popular day trips to Preveli Beach.
The tour takes you through the Kourtaliotiko Gorge and Prasses Gorge, discovering some hidden sights in Crete, before ending the day swimming in the Libyan sea at Preveli Beach.
You also get the chance to try authentic Cretan cuisine at a local taverna for lunch, alongside some specialties from the region, village raki, and unlimited wine.
The tour also includes pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Rethymno, and it’s the perfect day trip to explore Preveli Beach and the region.
2. Preveli Beach Tour from Rethymno or Chania
This Preveli Beach day tour is the perfect way to explore the beach and the area if you don’t have your own transportation.
After picking you up from your hotel in Rethymno or Chania, the tour takes you through Kourtaliotiko gorge, visiting its impressive waterfalls. Followed by visiting the small village of Damnoni where you board a small boat, taking you to the beautiful palm beach of Preveli.
After spending some time on the beach exploring the lush palm forest and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Libyan sea, the trip continues to Plakias, a small fishing village where you can have authentic lunch at a local taverna.
We personally really enjoyed this tour and had one of our best days on the island. I would highly recommend booking a day tour to Preveli Beach for a relaxing and hassle-free experience. If you prefer to book a private tour, this one is a great option.
3. Preveli Palm Forest Hike & Beach Day Trip
After your pick from your hotel in Rethymno, the tour begins close to Preveli Monastery. From here you start the hike through lush green fields overlooking the Kourtaliotiko Gorge from above.
The highlight of this tour is undoubtedly the hike through Preveli Palm Forest. With its unique ecosystem and refreshing contrast to the Cretan landscape, you start wondering whether you’re still on Crete or have teleported to Thailand.
After the hike, you get plenty of time to relax at Preveli Beach and swim in the crystal-clear Libyan sea. If you cold doesn’t bother you, try taking a dip in the cool waters of the river delta.
To round off your day, the tour continues to Plakias, a charming fishing village where you can sample traditional Cretan cuisine at a local taverna, paired with village raki and unlimited wine.
This trip is a great way to combine visiting one of the most beautiful beaches on Crete while staying active and enjoying a scenic hike through the stunning Kourtaliotiko Gorge.
Facilities at Preveli Beach, Crete
Food and drinks
When planning your trip to Preveli Beach, Crete I would definitely recommend bringing with you some water, snacks and if you can, packed lunch.
There is only one small cafe / snack bar at the beach that serves drinks and some basic food. Based on reviews from other travellers, the food there is overpriced and not of great quality, so I wouldn’t recommend eating there. Also, keep in mind that the cafe is only open from June till September.
Therefore, I’d recommend either bringing your own lunch or if you’re driving, stopping by one of the tavernas in Plakias, Damnoni or near the Preveli Bridge a few kilometres before you reach the beach.
There’s a few restaurants to choose from both in Damnoni and Plakias which offer fresh fish, salads and meats. We stopped by Mesogeios Restaurant in Damnoni which was perfect for lunch. Delicious food, beautiful view of the beach and friendly and quick service.
Toilet and changing facilities
The toilets and changing facilities at Preveli Beach are connected to the beach cafe. Therefore, they are only open for use when the cafe operates, which is from June till September.
There are no other toilets you can use at Preveli Beach.
When we visited there was no fee to use it even if you’re not a customer.
Parking at Preveli Beach
As previously mentioned in this article, there is no way to park directly at the beach since it’s part of a protected natural area.
However, there’s a few places where you can park which are only a few minutes walk to the beach.
1. Preveli Beach Parking
Preveli Beach Parking is the official car park for visiting Preveli Beach and it’s the most commonly used. It costs €2 for the day and it has a big number of parking spots.
However, as the car park is on top of the hill above the beach, be prepared for a 10-15 minute walk down to the beach from the car park and bring sturdy shoes. The way down is not too steep but may be more of a challenge depending on your physical level.
It’s a nature path so that means a few loose stones here and there, so mind your step! The plus side is that the views from the walk down are stunning and definitely worth the hike.
2. Drymiskiano Ammoudi Beach Parking
Drymiskiano Ammoudi Beach car park is on the other side of Preveli Beach in comparison to the official car park.
Here the parking is free and since it’s closer to the sea level it doesn’t require the same amount of hiking as the official car park on top of the hill.
Therefore, it’s more suitable for people with lower physical levels or if you just don’t fancy hiking up and down a big hill in the scorching summer sun.
With that said, the walk still takes about 5 to 10 minutes and sturdy shoes are still recommended. It’s along a nature path and still offers beautiful views of the beach so you won’t be missing the views if you pick this option!
Walks and Hikes near Preveli Beach
Beyond the captivating beauty of Preveli Beach itself, the surrounding area offers a plethora of hiking trails that are amazing for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
Lace up your hiking shoes and embark on one of these beautiful hikes.
1. Palm Tree Walk
The Palm Tree walk at Preveli is the most popular trail from the beach. It starts from the beach and leads you upstream into the gorge through the palm trees. At the end there’s a nice spot for relaxing and swimming in the river.
It’s a beautiful easy walk suitable for all ages and abilities, and a great way to hide away from the sun and cool down in the palm forest.
2. Preveli Beach hike from Gefyra Bridge
If you’re looking to do a full-day hike in Preveli then this is the perfect way to explore the area and admire the diversity of Crete’s landscape.
Starting from Gefyra Bridge where there’s a few cafes and free parking spaces, the walk to Preveli Beach from here takes approximately 2.5 hours each way.
It’s a circular walk which takes you alongside each of the gorge’s walls and down to Preveli Beach, with stunning panoramic views along the way.
There’s decent elevation at certain points but overall the hike is of easy to medium difficulty.
However, keep in mind that the whole hike is pretty much out in the open so I wouldn’t recommend it during the hot summer months of July and August.
3. Kourtaliotiko Gorge Waterfalls
The Kourtaliotiko waterfalls are one of the gorge’s most spectacular features and make for a great stopover on your way to Preveli Beach.
The waterfalls are located inside the gorge and are easily accessible through stairs going down from the main road. The starting point is indicated as ‘Kantina’ on Google Maps although when we visited there wasn’t actually anything there.
You can even get down to the bottom of the waterfalls which flow into the Megalopotamos River, and cool down in the refreshing cold waters in the hot summer months in the midst of the stunning landscape around you.
4. Hike through Kourtaliotiko Gorge
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to go off the beaten track, hiking through the Kourtaliotiko gorge is one of the best ways to do so.
The path through the Kourtaliotiko Gorge is so much more than your typical hike. We embarked on this hike accidently as we were originally trying to reach Preveli Beach from here.
It is possible but it would definitely take you a long time and once we realised how far we actually were, we returned to the car and drove down to Gefyra Bridge instead.
However, the Kourtaliotiko Gorge hike actually ended up being one of my favourite hikes I did in Crete. The ruggedness and feeling of exploring an untamed path, crossing through the crystal-clear waters of the river, and taking on the challenge of scaling over the gorge’s rocks along the way was a truly adventurous experience.
Things to bring for your Preveli Beach trip
- Water, snacks and packed lunch (optional)
- Beach towels
- Sturdy shoes (if you’re driving and parking at Preveli Beach Parking or Drymiskiano Ammoudi Beach Parking)
- Goggles and a snorkel
In conclusion, Crete’s Preveli Beach, with its stunning palm forest and azure Mediterranean waters, is one of the most beautiful beaches to visit on the island.
Coupled with the thrilling adventurous hikes and activities you can do in the area, visiting Preveli Beach is an amazing off-the-beaten-path experience that is a must do when visiting Crete.
Are you planning to visit Preveli Beach? Let me know if you have any questions and enjoy your trip to this turquoise water paradise!