After visiting the historic site of Delphi in the midday heat, I desperately wanted somewhere to retreat to for the final few days of my time in Greece. Somewhere that wasn’t going to be full of tourists. Galaxidi was exactly what I was looking for, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I chose to visit simply because it was only 21 miles from Delphi.
Galaxidi curves around little bays and is beautiful in that laid-back Greek fashion — with an attractive church perched on the hilltop and the village tumbling down the slopes beneath it. The main port is small and is full of European family yachts. The port was a major ship building center in the 19th century, but you’d only guess that now thanks to the grand mansions still overlooking the sea front.
Fish restaurants line the quay but there’s no one there hassling you for money like you might experience in other places. Service is typically Greek — you can expect to be there for some time but you’ll most definitely enjoy your food and drink. This is the sort of place where the day is dominated by eating — an afternoon walk or swim is really just preparation for the evening meal.
I stayed in the MiraMare Hotel which is renowned for its breakfasts. When I first discovered this, I wondered how their breakfasts could be so reputable, but by 10 am on the first morning I found out. I had never before had a four-course breakfast until I stayed here. The friendly hotelier served course after course, including jams, cake, and pie of the day.
Such a big breakfast justifies a walk, and there are plenty of nice strolls around the picturesque waterfront, with views across the Bay of Corinth which appears more like a lake. The best view of all is from the little Monastery of the Metamorphosis, which you can get to via narrow winding streets overlooked by pink bougainvillea before you follow the paths up through the pine trees.
Around the craggy, rocky bays are little beaches perfect for secluded swims as there is every chance you may have a tiny bay all to yourself. I swam across the bay a couple of times to make myself feel better about the huge breakfast I had eaten just hours before.
During the weekends, buses arrive from Delphi and Athens and empty their passengers into the ice cream parlors and restaurants. This spectacle is still nothing like the masses of tourists you see spilling off the cruise ships on some of the well- visited Greek islands. The Athenians have some clear favorites when it comes to food on Galaxidi — Skeletovrachos is an excellent restaurant serving creative dishes that are still distinctly Greek in nature. I saw a man fish an octopus from the bay with his hands, so you can be almost certain the food served in these restaurants is as fresh as it comes.
However long or short your stay, you really shouldn’t miss a meal at O Bebelis. Set away from the port and the square, its tables and chairs overflow into the narrow street. Inside is like stepping back thirty years in time, with a menu that will not disappoint. Everything is balanced and well organized. Larger groups shared their dishes — which is probably the most sensible way of going about sampling the entire menu — I nearly made the amateur mistake of not leaving enough room for dessert. Nearly.
The number of restaurants was perfect; not too few but also not too many that you feel overwhelmed and spoiled for choice. Whilst there are a few tavernas on the seafront, don’t expect to conclude your evening with anything even remotely similar to European nightlife; instead, enjoy your after-meal drinks alongside others quietly contemplating their next breakfast. After all, this is the mainland, stripped back and mellow. If you’re in the area having visited Delphi or anywhere else in that region and you’re looking for some relaxation, look no further than Galaxidi. Getting to Galaxidi from Athens takes around three hours by car. It is definitely do-able if you’re looking for somewhere to relax after the hustle and bustle Athens offers. You can’t help but wonder why the locals haven’t turned this gem into something more akin to a tourist ‘trap’ with offers of boat trips, kayak rentals and the like. But this is what makes it so unique and the perfect place to retreat for some down time.
Have you found a hidden gem on the mainland of Greece? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!