What to do in Sfakia

Sightseeing and Activities in the Region of Sfakia

Situated on the southwestern edge of Crete, Sfakia is a haven for nature lovers, history buffs and those seeking an authentic Cretan experience. Its mountainous terrain, dotted with secluded beaches and tranquil villages, offers a stark contrast to the more touristy areas of the island.

Despite its natural beauty and cultural richness, Sfakia has remained largely untouched by mass tourism. This tranquillity makes it an ideal destination for those seeking an immersive and authentic Cretan experience.

imbros gorge in the region of sfakia
Imbros Gorge

Dramatic landscapes and hidden gems

Sfakia’s greatness lies in its towering mountain ranges, particularly the White Mountains (Lefka Ori), with several peaks that are among the highest in Greece. Hikers can follow challenging trails through these peaks, rewarded with breathtaking views. The coastline is equally captivating, with secluded beaches such as Sweet Water Beach, Loutro and Marmara Beach, accessible only by boat or on foot.

The Land of the Brave

Sfakia’s history is interwoven with tales of courage and resilience. Its people, known as the Sfakians, have fiercely defended their homeland against numerous invaders, earning the region a reputation as the ‘land of the brave’. During the Cretan revolt against the Ottoman Empire and the Second World War, Sfakia played a key role in evacuation efforts.

Culinary delights and authentic hospitality

Sfakia’s cuisine reflects its rugged terrain, with dishes such as Sfakian pie, lamb cooked with fragrant herbs and raki, a strong distilled spirit, reflecting the region’s rich culinary heritage. The hospitality of the locals extends beyond food, inviting visitors to share in their cultural traditions and culinary creations.

What to do in Agia Roumeli, Askifou Plateau, Frangokastello, Chora Sfakion, Imbros, Kallikratis, Loutro

Agia Roumeli

  • Enjoy the lovely beach in front of Agia Roumeli.
  • The Samaria gorge ends three kilometres before Agia Roumeli. Walk along the path and continue to the narrowest point of the gorge, the Sideroportes (Iron Gates). It’s an easy walk, five kilometres there and five back.
  • Go up to the ruined fortress on the hill above Agia Roumeli. There is a magical view of the sea and the mouth of the Samaria Gorge.
  • Walk along to the east beach with the pine wood and the little Byzantine church of Agios Pavlos (St Paul), where you will probably have the sea to yourself.

Askifou Plateau

The Askifou Plateau is one of the most beautiful in Crete, on the road from Vrysses to Sfakia (Hora Sfakion).

  • Don’t forget to try the genuine “Sfakianes pites” (round, flat, soft cheese and honey pies) in the village of Askifou.
  • From Askifou you can go up to the Kallikratis Plateau.
  • From Askifou you can go up to the mountain lodge of Tavris and then hike to Mt Kastro, one of the many peaks of the White Mountains or Madares.


  • Enjoy the wonderful beaches, both the one in front of Frangokastello itself and the stunning Orthi Ammos beach.
  • Explore the castle with its rich history, the Monastery of Agios Charalambos, the basilica of Agios Nikitas.
    Enjoy a drink at the small bar at Frangokastello.
  • Explore the neighbouring villages, either in the direction of Hora Sfakion or towards Rodakino and Plakias.
  • If you find yourself in Frangokastello at the end of May and the first ten days of June, get up just before dawn and wait patiently to catch a glimpse of the Drosoulites or “dew men”, the ghosts of the defenders of Frangokastello castle. Your best chance is on damp, windless days or those with a light southerly breeze.

Hora Sfakion

  • During your stay in Hora Sfakion or Sfakia, it’s worth visiting the 15th-16th century fortress. Called Sfacia or Sfachia, it is said to have given its name to the whole area.
  • The village preserves many elements of traditional architecture. Visitors can admire the paved alleyways with their single- or two-storey houses with small doors and windows, each with its inner courtyard, perhaps containing a well or an oven.
  • From Hora Sfakion you can take the boat to Loutro and Agia Roumeli. From Agia Roumeli you can climb up to the mouth of the Samaria Gorge and the Sideroportes (Iron Gates), the narrowest point of the gorge.
  • From Hora Sfakion it’s only a five-minute drive to Ilingas beach, where you can cool off in the blue sea and shelter from the sun in one of the caves on the beach. If you’re hungry there’s a taverna which also rents rooms.
  • hiking in aradaina gorge
  • Just after Ilingas is the start of the E4 path leading to Glyka Nera beach and on to Loutro. Glyka Nera is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete.
  • From Hora Sfakion you can drive to Anopoli (12 kilometres) and Aradaina Bridge. In Anopoli you can try the delicious local meat or climb up to the church of Agia Aikaterini (St Catherine) and enjoy the panoramic view of the Libyan Sea.
  • At Aradaina Bridge you’ll be impressed by the breathtaking sight of the 138-metre gorge under your feet. Bungee-jumpers dive into the gulf in summer (video) .
    Here, too, starts the path down Aradaina Gorge (photo) to Marmara beach, west of Loutro.

Imbros Gorge

  • The Imbros Gorge runs down from the plateau of the same name to just outside the village of Komitades. It’s an easy walk lasting 1-2 hours. To get to Imbros, drive from Hora Sfakion in the direction of Chania.


Kallikratis gorge

You can reach the Kallikratis Plateau from the Sfakia area, from the Askifou Plateau or from the road between the villages of Patsianos and Kapsodasos near Frangokastello.

You can combine the climb and the descent in a circular route. The roads are mountain roads, i.e. narrow and with many hairpin bends. The route from Frangokastello especially is only for drivers with strong nerves.

The Kallikratis Gorge (photo) runs down from the plateau to the area between the villages of Patsianos and Kapsodasos near Frangokastello. It’s about a three-hour walk.


loutro in sfakia area in crete
  • Relax and enjoy the feeling of peace that pervades Loutro. All the hotels and tavernas are on the sea. There are no cars, and the walking necessary can be limited to just 50 metres. Forget about dressing up – the only clothes you need are your bathers, shorts and T-shirts. Add a sunhat, flip-flops, a beach towel and your sun lotion, and you’re fully equipped for carefree, lazy holidays in Loutro.
  • Paddle around the bay of Loutro in a canoe or visit the nearby beach of Glyka Nera (photo).
  • Walk to the Turkish fortress or the ruins of the Venetian fortress.
  • Climb the path to Anopoli and enjoy the view from Agia Ekaterini (St Catherine). Walk to Finikas and its Lilliputian beach, or even further west to Marmara beach at the mouth of Aradaina Gorge.

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