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Crete: Loutro and/or Plakias

I am about half-way through booking our trip to Crete in September, using only public transportation. We decided to do a minimum of 3 nights at each stop and to focus on western Crete. At this point we have:

  • Chania -- 6 nights, at the Elia Palazzo hotel
  • Falasarna -- 3 nights at Petalida
  • Paleochora -- 3 nights (waiting to hear from hotels)
  • Sougia -- 3 nights at Oceanis Rooms

We have about 10 days left to book but logistics are getting harder.

We want to walk up the bottom of the Samaria Gorge from Agia Roumeli. Can we do that as a day trip from Sougia?

It looks complicated to get from Sougia to Loutro and then to Plakias. Are they both worthwhile or would you choose one over the other? And do you have hotel recommendations?

Finally, how about Panoramos? I haven't read many reviews of that but guidebooks make it look appealing. It might be fun to spend our final night in a seaside town.

We haven't booked return flights yet. If we fly home from Heraklion, we could add a night or two there.

Thanks for all of your help thus far!

Posted by
7709 posts

We drove from Chania to Chora Skafion , parked our car, and took the ferry to The bottom of the Samaria Gorge. We walked up the Samaria Gorge and back, took the ferry there from Loutro. You will need to check ferry services from Sougia. I would shorten your stays in some of these southern coast towns and add it to Chania which offers so many more day trip options. We spent two full weeks there and didn’t visit all we wanted to see.
Our Greek friends who live in Chania strongly suggested we go stay in Loutro over the towns you are planning to visit on the south coast. How did you choose Sougia? Perhaps you going there to do the beautiful hike up to Lissos?These are VERY SMALL towns. Maybe we went to one restaurant? Two hotels? In Loutro we stayed at Hotel Porto Loutro on the beach. Most other guests were northern European. I only remember one restaurant or maybe we returned to just that one as it was so good?
Have a south coast experience but not as much as you’ve planned. Give Chania more time and take interesting day trips from there.
Look at a local travel and tour agency in Chania for ideas:
Also, head into the hills SÉ of Chania to see some Greek villages such as Douliana ,Vamos, and the village of Kefalas, nice to wind through the streets looking at the old houses. Not a long drive from Chania.
Falasarna was a nice beach but I don’t recall much else unless you just want a beach experience. Do NOT skip seeing Elafonisi Beach, so tropical, like the Caribbean yet not far from Falasarna Beach with it’s surf.

Posted by
991 posts

You are going to have a great time. The trip along the coast of the Libyan sea is absolutely spectacular.

Here is what i would do.
Chania fine 6 nights is good. It gives you time to fully explore the old town and Venetian harbour. After a couple of days you can start to explore the area near Chania. My favourite is the boat excursion from Kissamos to Balos and Gramvossa. You get two great beaches and a 14th century pirate fortress to visit. Any travel agent can sell you a ticket normally with a bus pick up at your hotel ( or nearby if you are in the old town)
You can visit the Monastery of Agia Triada near the airport. ( You will probably have to take a taxi)

Also consider the ruins at Ancient Aptera. Great views over the sea and lots of Roman era ruins. This too will take a taxi.
You could also visit Rethymnon. It is similar to Chania with a port and old town but the big attraction is the Venetian era Fortezza. This can be done by KTEL bus.
Falasarna has some really good beaches with lots of waves. There is an ancient site there as well. If you have an I phone you can aim it at a ruin and it will show you a recreation of what the original building was like. I am not sure if there are any taxis availalbe for Falasarna. You might be able to walk to the site.

Now here is the big change I would make. We have visited Paleochora twice. It is nice with a decent beach and amazingly every evening they close all the central area to traffic and the tavernas take over the whole area. It also has an excursion boat that goes to Elafonissi as a day trip. It only goes when it has sufficient passengers so its a bit unpredictable. However other than that it really does not call us back. I would drop Paleochora and replace it with 4 night sin Sougia. Sougia has been a destination for us on every Crete trip. Yes it is a small village and the beach is small pebble rocks but the whole area is framed by high Mountains and the sea. We have never had any problem staying in Sougia for 4 nights. At the far end of the beach after you pass the dry river you will find sea caves. Just after the dry river are a few tavernas which feature comfortable seating soft music snacks and lots of drinks. Every 45 minutes or so its a short walk to the beach for swimming. We spend most of the afternoon in this area.

There are hiking trails all over the place and a water taxi to the ruins at Lissos. While small Sougia has 3 of the best taverna around. Polyformas for lamb and other grilled meat. Anchorage for the stuffed mushrooms and our favourite. REBETIKO where everything is first class. We always start our first night at Rebetiko and our last night there as well.

There is a daily ferry from Paleochora that stops in Sougia to pick up passengers for Agia Roumeli which is where the Samaria gorge terminates. I have a bad knee and the walk from the bottom is pretty level. The exit from the gorge is 3 km up a trail and I understand there is now a shuttle service to take you to the entrance gate. Your legs will be happy you did not bother to walk all that way up. Do walk back down after your leave the Gorge park. There is lots of interesting things to see on the way back to Agia Roumeli.
When you are finished in Sougia you can take that same ferry back to Agia Roumeli then change to the second ferry which stops at Loutro and terminates at Chora Sfakion.
This whole ferry trip is something you will remember for ever. Loutro is stunning but last time we tried to book we could not find a hotel that would take us unless we stayed for 3 nights. Over the past few visits we have just taken the early morning bus to Chania 5AM transferred to the Rethymnon bus. From Rethymnon we transferred to Vrissos where we met a bus down to Plakias.
It might make sense to just ferry to Chora Sfakion, take the morning bus to Rethymnon and transfer to Plakias.
I have run out of space.

Posted by
991 posts

Plakias is a nice village along a long stretch of sandy beach including a section that is blue flag. It is framed by the mountains the sea and a sheer cliff face at the far end of the beach. If it is windy there are 5 nearby beaches and at leas to one of them will be sheltered from the wind.
Indeed it is a but cumbersome to get from Chora Sfakiion to Plakias, but the trip is an experience itself.

Oh I forgot we have stayed at Oceanis rooms several times. It has sea views and a lovely shaded courtyard for restful sight seeing. The family that owns it are quite friendly. Yes you can do the Samaria gorge from teh bottom as a day trip.

There is lots to do in Plakias and the surrounding area. If you want to go somewhere you can take a local shuttle bus or a taxi.
Here are images of your planned trip

Ferry trip Libyan Sea
Samaria Gorge from the bottom
Crete Libyan Sea villages
Chania Sougia and Plakias 2019

Posted by
1917 posts

Thank you both for your detailed responses. Having never been to Crete, this is so very helpful.

Hearing about all the day trips available from Chania, I will contact the hotel and try extend my stay there by a day or two.

I know we have a lot of time in Falnasarna, but one day will be a boat trip to Balos Beach. And frankly, sitting here on a snowy Colorado day, the idea of just watching the sea and having fresh-caught fish for dinner sounds perfect.

I was having trouble deciding on a hotel in Paleochora so I think I’ll just skip it. I’ll extend our stay in Sougia by one night if possible. And then I’ll book 4 nights in Loutro and 4 nights in Plakias. So our trip will feature a lovely tour of Libyan seaside villages

And then … ? I’ll need to find a final stopping place.

Posted by
991 posts

I think you have made some good choices. You are going to have a great trip.

Posted by
1917 posts

Getting from Loutro to Plakias seems to require connecting through Rethymnon. SO it seemed logical to spend two nights in Rethymnon, between the two seaside towns. Hotels are booking up quickly so I have booked (cancellable) hotels in all three places.

But after a couple of hours looking at ferry and bus schedules, I'm just wondering: can we get from Loutro to Rethymnon in one day (Friday September 23)? The ferry leaves Loutro for Hora Skafion at 12:15. We would then need to catch a bus to Vrissos and from there to Rethymnon. EDIT: I emailed K-tel and they just responded, saying that the schedules are posted about a month in advance.

If anyone has successfully made this transfer, or has a better idea of how to accomplish it, or even a better use of those two days, I'd appreciate your ideas!

Posted by
3106 posts

Just one thought...even though Hora Sfakion wasn't our favorite place to stay, I would considerer staying there one night before taking the bus to Rethymnon.

We were scheduled to take the ferry between the towns, and the morning we were to leave, the ferry was canceled due to rough sea. We had to find a taxi to make the trip by land (cost around 50 Euro.)

There is nothing wrong with Hora Sfakion - we scheduled 3 nights there and it was too many. There are some nice tavernas along the water. The bus stop (just a parking lot) that goes to Rethymnon is very near the main part of town.

Posted by
1917 posts

Thank you -- that's a great idea! I really appreciate all the help I've received from you and other travelers in planning this trip.

Posted by
2179 posts

Charlene, first I hope you have a wonderful trip. Second, I do hope you will come back to the forum with a trip report as Crete is very high on our travel list and I would love to know how it turns out using public transport.

Posted by
1917 posts

Thanks Tammy! Will do. I've learned a lot in this process, thanks to other posters, and will be happy to pay it forward.