In the shadow of the majestic White Mountains and at the edge of dramatic gorges that embrace of the Libyan Sea, the picturesque settlements of Hora Sfakion and Loutro promise to be summer destinations full of swimming, delicious local cooking, hiking and so much more of life’s simple pleasures.
You’ll be enchanted by Anopoli, built beneath the wild mountains, the Aradaina Bridge (ideal for bungee jumping) and Frangokastello village with its legendary Drosoulites (‘dew men’), the ghosts of warriors that appear every May.
What to do in Sfakia-Loutro
Hora Sfakion, the untamed mountains
Built near the end of the Imbros Gorge, south of Chania, Hora Sfakion is surrounded by the White Mountains. The untamed landscape is juxtaposed with this quiet, charming seaside settlement. From here you’ll take a boat to the coastal hamlet of Loutro, the islet of Gavdos and nearby beaches. To the west, there’s Hora Sfakion’s sandy beach, with its blue-green waters. A few coffee shops, tavernas and hotels can be found within and around the village. In its northern neighbourhood, you’ll find the ruins of a Venetian castle (one of the most significant sights in the area and an excellent viewpoint).
Loutro, nature’s peaceful marina
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.
Anopoli, a reason to travel inland
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.
Aradaina Bridge: bungee jumping
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 has a height of 138m.
Hidden gems of Sfakia-Loutro
Frangokastello and the legend of the Drosoulites
The impressive castle on the beach is striking. It was erected by the Venetians in 1371. 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 battle’s anniversary, the shadows on the plain or “Drosoulites” are the returning spirits of the heroic warriors.
Hiking holidays in Crete
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 trail and the length of the route is approximately 20km.
The Imbros Gorge
Even though it’s shorter than the world-famous Samaria Gorge on the same island, the Imbros Gorge offers an unforgettable experience to anyone who loves hiking. It can be found in southern Crete, on the eastern edge of White Mountains and offers majestic scenery, with the walls of the gorge virtually touching in some places!
- Aradaina Bridge
- Frangokastello and the legend of the Drosoulites
- The Imbros Gorge