When I saw the small blue and white island, just two miles west of Sfakia, on the south of Crete, I thought I must be dreaming! But no, “Loutro” is a hidden Cycladic paradise of the Libyan Sea.
Loutro truly is a real hideaway, a small seaside village with traditional Island homes, built around the small beach and pier where the boats are docked, a few restaurants and two coffee bars. Behind them, the steep slopes, 600 metres high, dominate, making the landscape even more picturesque. Even if I’ve had my fair share of Cycladic island holidays, I always want more…but I did not expect what I found here.
I stepped off the boat and started walking on the coastal road, which is the only one in the village. In Loutro there are no cars (only two for the supply of shops), making it a real paradise for pedestrians. The road passes through the taverns, mini markets, cafes and in front of the small beaches. At first you will see little corners made with care, with antique objects, perfectly combined together, that will certainly make you stand there for a while, taking some great photos. Here, all the locals know one another… and how can they not, in such a small place? Restaurateurs, hoteliers and tourists become one, something that you realise immediately when an old man greets you at the Cretan tavern like he has known you for years or when the parrot-mascot of the village, speaks to you as well.
Life at Loutro began before 120,000 years, but now it is more of a holiday spot since during winter there are only 2 or 3 people who live here, because they love the solitude and tranquility of this place. The strategic position of Loutro nestled in the White Mountains was the reason why it had been used as a base in the revolution of 1866 and before that was the basis of the uprising of 1770, led by the great rebel Daskalogiannis. Additionally it was the place where the revolution was declared in 1821 in Crete, against the Ottomans.
The village is named after the baths that were found there, the water of which came from Anopoli, a farmers village surrounded by nature at the top of the mountain. If you are lucky when you would be at one of the four small beaches of Loutro (Glyka Nera, Timios Stavros, Perivolaki, Marmara), you can swim side by side with the turtle Caretta caretta!
Unfortunately the day I visited Loutro, I was not scheduled to spend the night; which I will definitely do when I go back to Loutro to verify if the rumours are true- that the whole village becomes one- all singing and drinking raki until late. Undoubtedly, the Loutro of Crete is one of the most beautiful and authentic seaside villages in Greece with a unique and relaxing atmosphere, the only “must” that should accompany us on our vacation!
*To go to Loutro take the boat from Sfakia or Ayia Roumeli. If you do not want to go by boat, you can walk from Sfakia, on the mountainside to the small path E4 above the sea or take a bus from Sfakia, (a 20 minutes route) to reach Loutro.
*Please note there are no ATM machines at Loutro, so if you require cash you will need to have it with you before you arrive.
All images by Polina Paraskevopoulou (Copyright)