Tucked away on the southern coast of Crete, Plakias offers an unforgettable escape for travellers seeking solace and tranquillity. This picturesque village showcases a unique blend of rugged mountain landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant local culture. Visitors come here to unwind, reconnect with nature, and immerse themselves in the authentic Cretan way of life.
Journey to Plakias
Plakias lies roughly 36 kilometres south of Rethymno, one of Crete’s major cities. Getting to this hidden gem takes you on a scenic drive through lush valleys, olive groves, and quaint villages. As you traverse the winding roads, stunning views of the Libyan Sea come into sight. The anticipation builds as you approach Plakias, surrounded by imposing mountains that offer a dramatic backdrop for this serene coastal village.
Beaches in Plakias
Beaches rank among the top attractions in Plakias, drawing sun-seekers from all over the world. The village features an array of sandy shores that cater to different tastes and preferences.
Plakias Beach stretches over a kilometre along the coastline at the village’s doorstep. This expansive, sandy beach offers crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and various water sports.
Nearby, you’ll find Souda Beach, a tranquil spot hidden within a bay, offering calm waters and seclusion. For those seeking more adventure, Damnoni Beach boasts a lively atmosphere with facilities for water sports, including windsurfing, kayaking, and scuba diving.
Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the natural beauty of the more remote beaches.
Head to Preveli Beach, where the Kourtaliotiko River meets the sea, creating a unique palm tree forest oasis. Alternatively, explore Schinaria Beach, known for its vibrant marine life, making it an ideal spot for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Hiking and Exploring
Plakias offers more than just beaches; it serves as an excellent base for exploring the stunning landscapes of southern Crete. Hikers can embark on numerous trails that showcase the region’s natural beauty.
Kourtaliotiko Gorge, near Plakias, provides a remarkable hiking experience. The trail leads you along the riverbed, surrounded by towering cliffs, diverse flora, and fauna. You might even spot the rare Cretan wild goat, the kri-kri. The hike culminates at the breathtaking Preveli Beach, where you can reward yourself with a refreshing swim.
Myrtios: A Charming Village Close to Plakias
A visit to Plakias would only be complete with exploring the nearby village of Myrtios. Located just a short drive from Plakias, Myrtios perches on a hillside overlooking the Libyan Sea. This traditional Cretan village offers visitors authentic rural life with its narrow, cobbled streets, stone houses, and friendly locals.
As you wander the village, you’ll encounter charming churches, small shops selling handmade crafts, and an inviting central square perfect for a leisurely coffee break. Myrtios also boasts a small folklore museum, where you can learn about the history and daily life of the villagers. The exhibits include traditional costumes, agricultural tools, and other artefacts, offering a glimpse into the past.
Myrtios is renowned for its breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding mountains. To fully appreciate the beauty of the landscape, visit one of the village’s many tavernas or cafes. These establishments often feature terraces that provide panoramic vistas, making for a memorable dining experience. Be sure to sample the local cuisine, which includes Cretan favourites like lamb with stamnagathi, a wild edible green, and bougatsa, a sweet pastry filled with custard.
After visiting Myrtios, return to Plakias with a newfound appreciation for the rich culture and stunning landscapes that make southern Crete a remarkable destination. The combination of Plakias’ coastal allure and Myrtios’ traditional charm creates an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing for more.
Discover Local Culture
Plakias and its surrounding villages boast a rich cultural heritage that provides visitors with an authentic Cretan experience. In Spili, a picturesque settlement in the mountains, you can stroll through narrow streets lined with traditional stone houses. Stop by the central square, where you’ll find the Venetian Fountain, a historic structure adorned with lion head spouts.
For a deeper dive into Cretan history, visit the nearby archaeological site of Phaistos. This ancient Minoan palace dates back to 1900 BC and offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of its ancient inhabitants. The site features well-preserved ruins, including a central courtyard, storage rooms, and a theatre.
Every trip to Plakias would be complete with indulging in delicious local cuisine. Cretan gastronomy emphasises fresh, seasonal ingredients and traditional recipes passed down through generations. The region’s abundant olive groves produce some of the finest olive oil in the world, which features prominently in Cretan dishes. Be sure to sample local specialities like dakos, a barley rusk topped with tomatoes, feta cheese, and oregano, or kaltsounia, a delicate pastry filled with cheese or greens.
Plakias offers a variety of dining options, from casual seaside tavernas to upscale restaurants. One of my favourites is Sifi’s with traditional food and honest prices. His Fava is to die for. Many of these establishments showcase breathtaking sea views, creating a memorable dining experience. For an authentic taste of Crete, visit a traditional kafeneio, where you can enjoy local coffee or raki, a strong Cretan spirit, alongside the locals.
Accommodations in Plakias
A range of accommodations awaits visitors in Plakias, ensuring everyone can find the perfect place to stay. Options include family-run guesthouses, boutique hotels, and luxury resorts. Many accommodations feature swimming pools and offer stunning views of the sea or mountains.
For travellers seeking a more immersive experience, consider staying in one of the traditional stone villas or restored farmhouses that dot the area. These unique accommodations provide a charming, rustic atmosphere and allow you to live like a local during your stay.
In conclusion, Plakias, a secret paradise in Crete, promises an unforgettable experience for those who venture off the beaten path. This enchanting coastal village combines the best of pristine beaches, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, or a taste of authentic Cretan life, Plakias has it all.