Loutro is a small seaside village situated approximately 71 km south of Chania city, at the end of cape Mouri. It was the site of the ancient town Phoenix and was the port of ancient Anopolis. Later, it became the "winter" port for Chora Sfakion, due to the fact that the enclosed bay and the small islet Fanari at its entrance create a natural harbor where ships can be safe even in very bad weather.
You can stay at Loutro and use it as a base for visiting surrounding beaches, either by taxi boat, canoe, or on foot. You can get a small ferry to the majestic beach of Glyka Nera east of the village. Moreover, you can canoe or walk on the E4 trail to the adjacent unorganized pebbly beaches of Timios Stavros and Pervolaki and then continue to Glyka Nera. However, if you want to stay in Loutro, the small beaches in front of Loutro are a very good choice. Moreover, you could either walk or catch a boat to the closeby beaches of Likos, Finikas and Marmara.
Loutro is a place for those people who want something different. A small picturesque fishing village in southwest Crete, not yet spoilt by mass tourism. For example, there are no big hotels with swimming pools. There are no overcrowded streets, restaurants and beaches, there are no cars! The only access is by boat or as you wish, by foot (1.5-2 hour trekking from Chora Sfakion). There are daily ferries to/from Chora Sfakion, Sougia, Gavdos island, Paleochora and Agia Roumeli.
What to do in Loutro
Once in Loutro, enjoy walking in the scenic, unspoiled mountain countryside with its valleys and gorges. Firstly, you could visit the fort Koules above Loutro and then reach Finikas small port. Among the older buildings that you can see in Loutro, you will find the Old School used as the seat of the Chancellor of Sfakia in 1821, and the very old Church of Panagia, next to the school and admire the high Cretan date palm trees. In ancient times, habitats of the area were believed in Cretan-born Zeus and Apollo in Delphi. If you want some meters south of the village you will see the ruins of the Castella fort and later you will see part of the ancient town Phoenix and the temple of Apollo.
You could also climb to the beautiful village and plateau of Anopolis; you have to climb 2000 feet on a 2000-year-old mule ascending a zigzag track and reach Anopolis in almost two hours, where there is a very good choice of taverns. You could also explore the gorge of Aradena. Moreover, if you are a keen snorkeler, you might meet sea turtles that are very frequent visitors of Loutro.
The village was named ("Loutro" means "bath" in Greek) after the baths which have been found in the area and from which water was directed to nearby Anopolis.
Above Loutro there are still the ruins of the Turkish fortress, Koules, which dominated over the current settlement. The building was built in 1868 and had two towers on west and east sides. It has rectangular shape and some of its walls survive. Outside the walls, there are big tanks surviving.
Near the site of the current temple of Agia Ekaterini, above Loutro, traces of walls and buildings have been identified, belonging to the Ancient town of Anopolis, port of which was Katopoli or Phoenix, currently located in Loutro. Anopolis was an independent town and had its own currency.
Besides the two Koules of Askyfou, several other Koules had been constructed in the present province of Sfakia in order to suppress the revolutions of the Sfakians.
A very demanding trail due to very high slope is the old mule track that once linked the picturesque harbor of Loutro with the town of Anopolis. It can, however, be much easier if you start from Anopolis and go down to Loutro. In any case the panoramic view to the sea and to Loutro is breathtaking.
Most visitors of Loutro know about the fortress of Koules, which even today dominates over the village.However, they are unaware of the existence of a second fortress which is very easily accessible. The fortress of Kastella is located south of the village and next to the harbor where the big ships from Chora Sfakion stop.
Between Loutro Sfakion and the famous beach of Glyka Nera, at Perlovakia, we meet the white brushed chapel of the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) where a big feast takes place on September 14th every year.
In the middle of the settlement of Loutro we meet the beautiful and spacious temple of Panagia, dedicated to Zoodochos Pigi (Life Giving Spring) celebrating five days after Easter. The courtyard has a large Cretan date palm tree and a well with water.
The bay where today's Loutro settlement is built was the port of ancient towns Anopolis and Aradena. This port is mentioned in ancient texts as Phoenix or Katopolis. The gods Zeus and Apollo were worshiped in Phoenix.