Loutro (or Loutron) (gr. Λουτρό) lies on the south coast of Chania Prefecture in west Crete, between Chora Sfakion and Agia Roumeli, the exit to the Samaria Gorge. The whole area is known as Sfakia and the inhabitants, the Sfakians, are fierce, proud mountain dwellers. They have taken part in every struggle against the foreign invaders of Crete, whether Venetian, Turkish or German.
Loutro is a small place but it too has a rich history. This is the site of the ancient city of Phoenix, an important harbour in Hellenistic and Roman times. Today nothing remains of ancient Phoenix except the name preserved by the small village in the bay west of Loutro. Later the Saracen pirates used Loutro as a lair from which to attack the ships sailing south of Crete. The Venetians managed to drive out the Saracens and fortified Loutro with a small fortress whose ruins are still visible today. Another fortress preserved in better condition in Loutro is evidence of the Turkish presence here.
How to get to Loutro
The only way to get to Loutro is by ferry from Chora Sfakion. There is no road there, which is part of its unique charm. The boat leaves the harbour at Chora Sfakion, travels past the steep coastline with its caves and cliffs dropping sheer into the deep blue water, and enters the calm bay of Loutro where a row of white houses comes into view, crowning the small beach hidden in the arms of the Sfakia mountains.
Every house in Loutro gives the impression that it’s trying to squeeze in next to the sea. In Loutro you drink your coffee, eat and sleep next to the sea. From your window you can gaze out at the sapphire sea in the daytime and watch the moon reflected in the calm dark waters at night. Swim from the small pebble beach, have a beer in a taverna, enjoy the peace and quiet and feel the stress and tensions of everyday life melt away into the unruffled water.
Activites in Loutro
If at some point you do get bored of sunning yourself, drinking cold beers and looking lazily at the sea, Loutro offers a wide range of fun choices providing a little exercise:
- A short walk to the Turkish fortress or a stroll to the ruins of the Venetian castle of Loutro.
- Hire a canoe and paddle around Loutro bay.
- Take the morning boat to the nearby beaches of Marmara and Glyka Nera. Glyka Nera is one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete and is usually popular with naturists.
- Walk along the path to Glyka Nera. It’s an easy route and takes about an hour.
- Walk to Marmara, about one and a half hours away.
- Walk up to Anopolis along the path starting on the east side of Loutro. You climb up to about 700 metres above sea level, with the stunning view unfolding before you all the way.
- Take the ferry to Agia Roumeli and walk up the Samaria Gorge. This is known as the “lazy way”, as it’s only 3.5 km from Agia Roumeli to the “Sideroportes” (Iron Gates), the narrowest point of the gorge.
- If you love adventure and extreme sports, you can enjoy a plunge into nothingness by bungee jumping from the high bridge over the Aradaina Gorge.
- If you prefer a bit of a trek, walk along the Aradaina Gorge. The entrance is just past Anopoli and the exit is at Marmara beach, from where you can return to Loutro along the coast path.
Anopolis Department of Sfakia