With one of the most dramatic backdrops in Crete, the picturesque settlements of Sfakia in southern Chania (chief among them Hora Sfakion and Loutro) promise summer holidays in Crete full of swimming, delicious local cooking, hiking and so much more.
You’ll be enchanted by Anopoli, built at the foot of the wild mountains of western Crete, the Aradaina Bridge (ideal for bungee jumping) and Frangokastello village with its legendary Drosoulites (‘dew men’), the ghosts of warriors that appear every May.
Found near the end of the Imbros Gorge, Hora Sfakion (the largest of the Sfakia settlements) is a quiet, charming seaside village, from which you can enjoy the sea and untamed landscape that surround it.
There are boat trips from here that visit the coastal hamlet of Loutro, the islet of Gavdos and nearby beaches. And to the west are sandy beaches with blue-green waters. A few coffee shops, tavernas and hotels can be found within and around the village that capture all the authenticity of Crete. In its northern neighbourhood, you’ll find the ruins of a Venetian castle which has an excellent viewpoint.
Leave your wheels and high-heels behind. The journey by boat from Hora Sfakion gives you just enough time to prepare for the pure and simple way of life that awaits you at Loutro. Built like an amphitheatre above the sheltered bay, with its quaint homes, tavernas and beach, this car-free hamlet moves at a leisurely pace. In Loutro’s bay, you can kayak or canoe until you reach the nearby beaches of Glyka Nera and Marmara.
The road from Hora Sfakion to Anopoli will give you an incredible view of the Libyan Sea. And be sure to stop at one of the area’s bakeries to sample the semi-sweet biscuits or rusks with star anise – one of the most interesting delicacies in Crete. From Anopoli’s main square, you’ll continue to Agia Aikaterini and the remains of the Cyclopean walls that once surrounded the city, taking in the panoramic vista of Loutro and the open sea off the coast of Crete.
Who would imagine that in this secluded corner of Crete you’d find the tallest bridge for bungee jumping in Greece and the second tallest in Europe? It unites the two edges of the Aradaina Gorge and is 138m tall.
Frangokastello was erected by the Venetians in 1371 and, in May 1866, a bloody battle took place here between Mustafa Pasha’s soldiers and 338 of Hatzimichalis Dalianis’ warriors. Legend has it that every May, on the anniversary of the battle, the shadows on the plain or ‘Drosoulites' are the returning spirits of the heroic warriors. The view of the castle from the beach is especially striking.
One of the most beautiful hiking trails in southern Crete can be found here, connecting Hora Sfakion with Loutro and Agia Roumeli. It is a section of the E4 pan-European hiking trail and is about 20km long.
Even though it’s shorter than the world-famous Samaria Gorge on Crete, the Imbros Gorge offers an unforgettable experience to anyone who loves hiking. It can be found in southern Crete, on the eastern edge of the White Mountains and offers majestic scenery, with the walls of the gorge virtually touching in some places!
Sfakia is a mountainous and coastal area in southwestern Crete, within the prefecture of Chania. It is one of the largest and least populated areas of Crete, renowned for its wild scenery and coastal villages by the Libyan Sea. The main village in Sfakia is Hora Sfakion.
The closest airport (international and domestic flights) and port is in Chania, which is approx.. 1hr20mins (76km) by car. There are buses from Chania which are safe and cheap.
You can comfortably swim in Sfakia from mid-May till the end of October, but every season is special in Crete, with spring and autumn especially popular for outdoor activities. The temperatures can vary by 5-10 degrees from coastal to mountainous regions throughout the year. Crete does get busy in the peak summer months (July and August) but, even during these months, Sfakia is relatively quiet.
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