Chania Sfakia

General information

The unspoiled and historical village of Sfakia is built on hill slopes, overlooking a natural bay. It’s a quiet seaside village, situated around the White Mountains mountain range, not so far from the famous Samaria Gorge. Sfakia lies 72 km southeast of Chania Town, close to the end of the Imbros Gorge. It was built around a harbor, and from there, you can admire an endless view of the Libyan Sea. Most of its inhabitants are involved in tourism, fishing, goat farming, and producing different types of delightful cheese, such as anthotiro or mizithra. The local farms are also among the major exporters of meat to Athens.

The village is known for its local cuisine, and a few excellent restaurants can be found on the seafront and inside Chora. The picturesque harbor of Sfakia is surrounded by many cafes and fish taverns, where you can test Cretan specialties made with fresh, local ingredients. During your visit, don't forget to also try the savory Cretan wine. In addition, you can also find a bakery with delicious cheese pies and shops that sell high-quality dairy products. You can also try the local Sfakian pie.

You can find nice, cozy hotels near Sfakia Beach and at a small distance from the village center. Most are traditional but recently renovated and offer an endless view of the blue sea and the dazzling horizon.


Brief History and Places of Historical Interest

The name Sfakia originates from the ancient Greek word Sfax, which means “divide land," because of the many gorges that can be found in the area. No trace of inhabitants during ancient times has been found, and the oldest building of the village dates between the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a castle located on the hill, north of the harbor castle, called Sfakia. In the Venetian period, up until the village was conquered by the Turks, the inhabitants were mostly involved in trading and shipping, which were flourishing during that time.

Sfakia is a place that has gone through many hardships throughout its history. It was destroyed during the Daskalogiannis Revolution in 1770 and the Greek Revolution in 1821. A century later, in 1943, the village was invaded and burned down by the Nazis.

There are points of interest you can visit in Sfakia that are historically significant to the locals, but the most prominent one is a memorial monument to those executed by the Nazis. On October 8th, 1943, a large Nazi force invaded the village and arrested and executed 19 men and 8 women before taking all the goods from the people and setting the whole village on fire. On the tall monument made out of marble are written the 27 names of those who were killed that day. Below, inside a glassed enclosure, there are some of their skulls and bones. On the left side, we can see 20 names of people from Kallikratris village who fought and were killed in the fonts of Macedonia, Asia Minor, and Albania.

What to do

The main town of Sfakia is an excellent place to start your exploration of the southern coast of Crete. The village is very traditional and authentic, and its calm atmosphere is only interrupted during the afternoon by the arrivals of hikers coming from the Samaria Gorge with small boats. In order to easily and comfortably explore the wild beauty of the area and admire the mesmerizing landscape, it is recommended that you have your own car.

Whether you prefer the mountains or the sea, Sfakia is a wonderful destination for both! On the southern side of Chania, right next to the village, you can find the main beach of Sfakia. It’s a small pebbled beach with crystal-clear water, making it an excellent choice for swimming. It may not be very large, but it’s comfortable and organized, with umbrellas and sunbeds. Having a swim surrounded by the beauty of the untamed landscape of Sfakia is a truly amazing experience. Alternatively, you can take scuba diving lessons in the waters of the harbor by the diving center of the village, or ride a kayak. In addition, you can go on organized boat trips to nearby destinations such as Gavdos Island and Loutro village, or rent your own boat to explore the area. If you are a mountain lover, you can try hiking in the White Mountains. The choices that Sfakia offers will not disappoint you!

Hotels in Sfakia

We have made a selection of the best hotels in Sfakia.
Recommended by Greeka

Samaria By The Sea

Hotel2 stars

Offering cozy and welcoming rooms, the renovated hotel Samaria by the Sea combines a beautiful environment with amazing views of the sea. The hotel is conveniently located near the center of Chora Sfakion and its rooms and suites are family-friendly. A car parking area is also available.


Top Activities & Tours in Sfakia

Experience once-in-a-lifetime moments by participating in well-organized tours related to Sfakia.
  • Imbros Gorge hike

    Category: Day Trips, Hiking

    Witness the impressive Imbros Gorge, stop by the village of Komitades, and enjoy a Mediterranean meal and a swim in the seaside area of Sfakia.

    8 hours Map
    from € 28.00
    Book now

Sfakia Map

Explore our interactive map of Sfakia.


2 Reviews
  • stahl 18 Jul 2010
    Authentic life and nature
    The unspoilt and tranquil atmosphere of Sfakia amazed us. We had booked ourselves into a simple, yet comfortable accommodation at the port. After unpacking, we took a walk around the small pedestrian street in Sfakia lined with taverns, coffee places and little shops right next to the sea. It was an absolutely wonderful experience to sit under the pergola on the waterfront with a coffee, while watching the goings-on at the little harbor. We found a lovely pebble beach in the village front, but there were a few remote beaches that were absolutely gorgeous with its crystal clear waters, and some of them were nudist friendly, too. The next day, we visited Frangokastello with its famous Venetian castle (there were only a few stone walls remaining!) and then we traveled up to Anopolis, a traditional village with its winding roads and an ancient bridge on the outskirts. We stopped at a bakery for some delicious cheese pies and pastries. The views over the mountains were simply amazing and so was the ellinikos coffee we had.
  • edward56 15 Sep 2008
    Brutal Sfakia
    I had heard a lot about Sfakia from my grandfather, who was a Cretan emigrant in Australia. When I was young, I kept listening about the hard Cretan men who get too angry once they are offended, who abduct their woman and who do anything to protect their honour.

    At first, I didn't believe him. I thought that all these stories were told with a lot of enthusiasm from him and maybe with a bit of excess. When we visited Sfakia this summer with my wife, we saw nothing more than a small, seaside village with smiling people and many hotels. Indeed, some men looked furious with their big moustaches but that is how most of Cretan men look.

    People in Sfakia were very easy to talk to and we even started a conversation on my ancestors and how life used to be there in the "old good times". In my surprise, I heard similar rough stories about men defending their honour in any way.

    From my whole trip on Crete, I understood that these stories were true, since Sfakia has the fame of a brutal and rough place many centuries now. It appears that the area was somehow isolated from the rest of Crete because transportation was not easy throught the high, rough mountains that exist in the middle of the island. So, when a crime happened, it would either take the judge a lot of days (even months) to come and punish the guilt, or he wouldn't come at all.

    Those were difficult and dangerous times, as there was a war between the Cretans and the Turks and also many thiefs were threatening travellers along their way. So, the people of Sfakia decided not to lay to the formal justice but solve their problems with their "own laws". That is how they developed such a brutal and hard attitude. Now the connection of Sfakia with the rest of Crete is easy but this brutal attitude is still existing at some point. Pretty interesting story, isn't it?