The southwestern coast of Crete from Paleochora to Hora Sfakion is famous for its stunning nature, distinctive culture and strong history. It is one of the most remote regions in the island, located behind rough mountains, and many of its beautiful pearls are only revealed to those who take the effort to reach them by boat or by foot.During our two trips to Crete this year, we visited all of the ferry line stops except Sougia and the Gavdos island.
1. Paleochora is the largest of these ferry stops, and a very good base for exploring the famous southwestern corner of Crete. One-day trips are organized from Paleochora to visit the famous “pink beach” Elafonisi. We visited Paleochora last May but because the high season had not yet started, the ferries were smaller and not capable of accepting cars (check this if you are traveling by car!). However, despite this small disappointment, we spent four lovely days in Paleochora and stayed at Hotel On The Rocks (http://www.hotelontherocks.gr).
2. Sougia is a laid-back, small village that lived its golden years during the Romans and the Byzantines. It is 40 minutes away from Paleochora by ferry. We did not visit Sougia, but the photos look appealing. For more info, visit http://www.sougia.info.
3. Agia Roumeli is 1h30minutes away from Palechora and one hour from Hora Sfakion. It is the “official” main base for exploring Europe’s longest gorge, the Samaria Gorge. We did a day trip to Agia Roumeli from Hora Sfakion, and enjoyed beach time. If you are not using the opportunity to explore the gorge (you definitely need running/hiking shoes), then there is nothing much else to do except watch colorful fish to swim by your feet.
4. Loutro is a tiny, delightful village only accessible by boat or foot. The fact that there are no cars makes it very charming. I fell in love with Loutro and could spend one week there. In a way it is this picture-perfect Greek village that you have always dreamed about. There is a nice beach right in the center and the water is very clear. It seems that every single house on the waterfront is a hotel or a bed and breakfast, and the restaurants are multiple, too. Since Loutro is not easily reachable, I would recommend reserving accommodation at least for the first night. We only made a day trip to Loutro (15 minutes from Hora Sfakion) but if I ever return to Crete, Loutro will be on my must-do list!! I would bring a pile of books with me, and when I get tired of reading, I would rent a boat for a day (I saw ads for 60€ per day) and catch octopus. Talking about relaxation…
5. Hora Sfakion is the easternmost stop on the ferry line. It is the capital of the Sfakia region, which is the only region of Crete that was not taken over by the Arabs, Turks or Venetians. Thanks to its rebellious nature, Hora Sfakion has remained very authentic (read my previous article Hora Sfakion: one of a kind). Today, this charming little village provides tourists with a variety of activities. One can rent a boat, hike all the way to Loutro or Agia Roumeli (and return by ferry) or visit the nearby mountain villages. Or simply talk to locals who are very friendly and happy to share stories about their daily life. We stayed four nights at Xenia Hotel –the only hotel in town– but there are several bed and breakfast places. To taste famous Sfakian dishes, you have a choice of several restaurant on the waterfront, or Three Brothers with an impressive view on the Libyan Sea. Visiting this part of Crete by ferry should be on everyone’s must-do list, regardless of one’s age group or interests, I reckon. Most of the tourists you will meet are those hiking in the gorges, and the places I mentioned above are quiet and authentic. As you already know, my favorite is Loutro, but I enjoyed every single village we visited on the ferry line. If I intrigued your curiosity, visit this wonderful website called http://www.sfakia-crete.com/sfakia-crete/ferries.html#B for more information (it is also where the map in the beginning of this article comes from).
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