Despite its secluded position among the steep shores of southern Crete, Sfakia is one of the most popular regions of Crete. The capital of the municipality of Sfakia is Chora Sfakion, a picturesque harbor with a little less than 300 inhabitants. Chora Sfakion is located 70 km from the town of Chania and approximately 65 km from the city of Rethymnon. The shoreline of Sfakia hosts some of the most beautiful beaches of Crete. Some of them are popular, such as Frangokastelo and Loutro, while others are much less crowded and perhaps somewhat more beautiful, such as the beaches of Agios Pavlos, Glyka Nera, Orthi Ammos, Domata and many others.
Chora Sfakion has two beaches. The first one is by the taverns and in front of the main street of the village. Though its waters are crystal clear, swimmers avoid this beach, as it is right next to the harbor. The second beach is longer, it is called Vrissi and it is located on the west side of the village right behind the breakwater. Both beaches have fine pebbles and umbrellas with sunbeds available for rent.
The region of Sfakia was first reported during the Arab raids in Crete during the 9th century AC. Sfakians were then refused to declare allegiance and functioned as an autonomous community with their own power. The autonomy of Sfakia was also maintained when Crete became part of the Byzantine Empire later on. In the 13th century the Sfikion, as it was called until then, came under the rule of the Venetians, who divided the area into three "baronies". These were the Anopolis, Agios Nikitas and Sfikion that over time was paraphrased to Sfakias. Anopolis was destroyed by the Venetians in 1367 and was declared a forbidden zone with all the baronies coming together into one in today's Chora Sfakion. As a sign of amity and in order to avoid conflicts, every wealthy family of the area agreed to build a church somewhere around the village. Today Sfakia has nearly 100 beautiful churches, others ruined while others excellently preserved, all scattered in villages, in caves or clinging to cliffs in every corner of this truly spectacular region. Since 1669 when Crete went under Ottoman control, the people of Sfakia initiated numerous uprisings. Therefore, in Sfakia you may come upon many monuments related to that era and historical places that are worth visiting.
If you come here in order to stay a day or two at one of the hotels in Sfakia, then you will find many things to do and many places to visit. If, however, you arrive in Sfakia with just a handful of hours, then try not to leave without visiting the nearby beach of Ilingas and the perfectly preserved castle of Frangokastelo. It is also worth trying some of the local dishes by the sea, such as Sfakiano giachni (fried lamb or goat) and the popular Sfakian pies with honey.