After visiting the historic site of Delphi in the midday heat, I desperately wanted somewhere to retreat. Somewhere that wasn’t going to be full of tourists and where I could relax for the final few days of my time in Greece. Galaxidi, an old ship-building village, is exactly what I was looking for.
Dubbed the 'prettiest resort along the Gulf of Corinth' by Lonely Planet, Galaxidi is set around little bays and is beautiful in that laid-back Greek fashion – an attractive church on the hill top and the village tumbling down slopes beneath it. The main port is small and is full of European family yachts. The port was a major ship building centre in the 19th century, but you’d only guess that now from the grand mansions still overlooking the sea front. Fish restaurants line the quay but there’s no-one there hassling you for your dollar, like in other places. Service is typically Greek – that means there’s an expectation you might be there some time but you’ll most definitely enjoy your food and drink. Galaxidi is the sort of place where the day is dominated by eating – an afternoon walk or swim is just preparation for the evening meal.
I stayed at the Mira Mare Hotel which is renowned for its breakfasts. When I first discovered this, I wondered how a breakfast could be so reputable, but by 9am on the first morning I had 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 pies, with the flavours changing each day.
Such a big breakfast justifies a walk. And there’s plenty of nice strolls around the picturesque bays 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 following the paths up through the pine trees. Through the town to the Church is via narrow winding streets overlooked by pink bougainvillea and stray kittens. You might bump into a shop or two, but those expecting tourist caverns stocked with evil eyes in all incarnations might be disappointed. Or pleasantly surprised.
Around the craggy rock bays are little beaches so you can set up for a swim on your own territory. There is every chance you can have a tiny bay to yourself. I imagine the town gets busier at certain times of the year. I went in October and the weather was still lovely.
At weekends, buses arrive from Delphi and Athens emptying their passengers into the ice cream parlour and restaurants. This is still nothing like the scale of what you see in some of the well-visited Greek islands. Clearly the Athenians have some favourites and they’re not wrong – Skeletovrachos is an excellent restaurant serving somewhat creative dishes but apparently recognisably Greek to the older clientele. I saw a man catch an octopus with his hands from the bay so you can be almost certain the food served in the restaurants is as fresh as it comes.
However long or short your stay in Galaxidi, you really shouldn’t miss a meal at O Bebelis. Set away from the port and the main square, it spills out onto the narrow street. Inside is like stepping back thirty years which might be promising to some and disappointing to others, however, the food won't disappoint. I'd say the food here was on par with Michelin star restaurants I've eaten at in England. Larger groups were sharing their dishes and this is probably the most sensible thing to do to enjoy the whole menu – I nearly made the amateur mistake of not leaving room for dessert....
Whilst there are a few tavernas on the seafront, don’t be expecting to conclude your evening to anything approaching European nightlife; enjoy your after meal drinks alongside others contemplating their next breakfast. In other words, if you’ve been to Greek islands and are expecting the same, you’ll be disappointed. This is mainland, stripped back and laid back. The number of restaurants was perfect; not too few but also not too many that you feel overwhelmed and spoilt for choice.
On the other side of the harbour are a couple more restaurants. The advantage of these being that you can watch the activity from afar. This is close to the beaches and the view of the town is stunning. Aiolida is a great place for waffles and pancakes if you need some more energy for another swim.
If you’re in the area having visited Delphi or anywhere else in that region and you’re looking for some relaxation, Galaxidi is for you. Getting to Galaxidi from Athens takes around 3 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.
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