Adventures in Chania: Loutro

Secluded and car-less, the village of Loutro on Crete’s south-west coast may not be quite off-the-beaten-track these days, but it’s still an idyllic place to unwind – an iconic Greek island getaway.

Set on a sheltered crescent bay a 15-munute minute boat ride from Chora Sfakion, blue shuttered white houses tumble down from the hillside to two pebble beaches and a string of waterfront tavernas and bars. This is a place to while away the day, enjoying simple Aegean pleasures – a swim in translucent blue waters, the kiss of the sun’s rejuvenating rays, a meal of fresh seafood, and at day’s end, perhaps a game of backgammon beside the bobbing fishing boats under a canopy of stars.

Mornings are fun too. Take a lazy breakfast at the water’s edge and the only decision to make is which of Loutro’s delights should you sample first. A handful of boats await to whisk you off to an isolated beach nearby. Sweetwater, 3km to the east, is the most famous; once a hippie hideout it now has sunbeds and its own taverna on stilts. To the west, Marmara beach, 5km distant, lies at the foot of the spectacular Aradena gorge, much favoured by hikers.

Walking is a favourite Loutro pastime. For those who like their hikes on the gentler side, climb the hill above the harbour and beyond a ruined castle and tiny ancient chapel the headland curves round towards laid-back Finix beach. The area of the White Mountains around Loutro offers more serious hikers the chance to scale some of southern Crete’s most inspiring landscapes.

In July and August Loutro can be busy. The best times to visit are spring and early summer and September/October. There are regular boat services between Chora Sfakion and Loutro. Check out Anendyk’s timetable for details:

Top bites and bars

Ilios (28250 91160)

Reputedly the best place in town for fish and seafood, Ilios also serves a good range of Cretan classics.

Madares (28250 91166)

A Loutro favourite since the 1980s, this friendly traditional seafront taverna with rooms serves great no-nonsense classics with tables at the water’s edge.

Notos (28250 9501)

Set back from the main beach, little Notos is known for its excellent mezhedes as well as imaginative vegetarian dishes.

Cafe Bar Maistrali (28250 91346)

The first bar you’ll come across after stepping off the boat, Maistrali is one of Loutro’s most laid back and comfortable. Maistrali’s sun-shaded deck is made for cocktails and cold beers.

Keramos (28250 91356)

A hideaway beside Loutro’s second (and better) beach at the end of town, Keramos is a chilled spot for music lovers. Mojitos and Pina Coladas a speciality.

At Finix beach

The Old Phoenix (28250 91257)

A delightful 20 minute walk from Loutro (or take a water taxi), The Old Phoenix taverna above Fenix beach serves Cretan classics and is a beautiful place for lunch or dinner.

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