When people talk of the traditional side of Crete, one of the first towns or regions to roll off the tongue is Sfakia. This is a rugged and mountainous region, populated with deep gorges, ravines, stunning mountain views as little towns and villages nestled on the coastline.
The area of Sfakia has been hardly touched by mass tourism, that´s why it’s so popular with those who want to see the real Greece. It was rumored that the film makers of the 2008 film Mama Mia first wanted to film in this area but were ended up filming it in Corfu, Skiathos and Skopelos due to time constraints.
Sfakia general information
Sfakia is the name for the region in Crete which covers a large proportion of the south west coast, including the villages of Chora Sfakion (commonly called Sfakia) and Loutro. Sfakia remains in the prefecture of Chania. The people of Sfakia are famous within Crete as they have never allowed the region to ever become fully occupied by foreign invaders. The locals of Sfakia are very friendly and welcoming but very strong willed and upstanding.
Chora Sfakion the seaside capital of the area of Sfakia, is a coastal village located on the Southwestern coast of Crete, 70 km from the city of Chania and 150 km from Heraklion. It has a small beachfront surrounded by local Taverns and a Hotel or two, also a small port where you can jump on a ferry to the other villages around the area and also to the dock of Samaria gorge.
The road from Chania to Sfakia crosses the island from North to South, through the village of Vrises. At the 33rd km off the road Chania-Rethymnon leave the main Highway and follow a paved side road to Vrises. From this village starts an impressive trip to the east side of the White Mountains crossing the mountainous area of Sfakia and ending up at Hora Sfakion by the Libyan sea. Half way from Vrises to Hora Sfakion is the fertile plateau of Askifou, surrounded by high mountain peaks.
From Askifou plateau to Hora Sfakion is the most impressive part of the route. The road hugs the western slope of the wonderful gorge of Imbros and the view to the gorge and to the Libyan sea is breathtaking.
The best thing to do in Sfakia is relax on its un spoilt beaches, but to get out and about bird watching is very enjoyable in this area with many native and rare birds. Take out your fishing rod and follow the locals to their favorite fishing spots at the port or of the rocks.
If the historic side of Crete is more your thing then there are plenty of little churches dotted around the area of Sfakia and these can easily be found on maps of Crete.
For the more adventurous there is of course Samaria Gorge and Imbros Gorge which can be accessed through most of the summer season. This can be booked locally with more information available here.
Sfakia is located on the south west part of Crete and is made up of lots of quaint little villages dotted all over the coast and mountainous regions. Sfakia is surrounded by the White Mountains mountain range, or Madares, as they are known to the locals in Crete with 110 peaks and the biggest gorges. The area remains the most un spoilt in Crete.
Beaches in Sfakia
There are many beaches in the region of Sfakia, we have presented you with a choice selection of photographs of the beaches, the main beaches can be found in Chora Sfakion or Loutro with others just a few minutes walk.
The photos above are mainly of Chora Sfakion beach, also Illingas beach is featured here. One of the most popular beaches is Sweetwater beach, which although is mainly a nudist beach, does have a clothing optional policy. The beach has its own cafe, which is surrounded by the sea.
The best way to explore the area is to hire a car, and you will find empty remote beaches you can have all to yourself with not a soul insight. The hidden bays and coves are ideal for snorkeling and fishing or just enjoying a peaceful day out in this region of Crete.
If you’re looking for beaches with more facilities then stay around the town of Chora Sfakion, here the beach has a few cafes and Taverns to keep you fed and watered. If you do venture out in search of hidden coves and beaches make sure you take plenty of water.