Considered one of the most captivating beaches in Crete, Glyka Nera Beach is a remote destination on the southwestern coast of Crete, only accessible by foot or boat. Nevertheless, the splendid fine pebble beach is worth visiting for its secluded and romantic atmosphere, as well as the dramatic surrounding scenery with high cliffs or the clear freshwater springs that flow into the sea. Literally meaning “sweetwater” Beach, this location truly is one of the hidden treasures of Crete, a getaway destination revealing the unique beauty of the island.
Where is Glyka Nera Beach
Glyka Nera Beach is located on the dramatic southwestern coast of Crete, between the villages of Chora Sfakion and Loutro. From the capital of Heraklion or the airport, you can rent a car and drive up to Chora Sfakion or leave it close to Ilingas Beach and continue on foot. The distance from the capital is about 150 km, while Chania is located about 75 km to the north. The best way to visit is to book accommodation in the nearby Chora Sfakion and visit the beach on a day trip.
How to Get to Glyka Nera Beach
Getting to Glyka Nera Beach by Car
The beach is not accessible by car, as it is surrounded by high cliffs. The best option is to drive towards Glyka Nera Beach with a car rental and stop either by the overhead road on the way to Chora Sfakion or in the village itself, continuing the trip on foot. There are various footpaths towards the beach and although quite steep and challenging, they do offer stunning panoramas below. From either Chora Sfakion or Loutro, it takes anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour to reach the beach over treacherous terrain. A faster and more comfortable option would be to take a boat from the villages to the beach.
Getting to Glyka Nera Beach by Bus
The only way to reach this remote beach is by foot and there is only a local bus reaching Chora Sfakion from Chania. Nevertheless, the trip takes almost two hours and you still have to hike for at least half an hour to reach Glyka Nera. The best option is to hire a car in Heraklion and drive towards one of the villages near the beach. This also allows you to visit other interesting places nearby.
Best Things to Do in Glyka Nera Beach
The beach of Glyka Nera means “Sweetwater”, its name coming from the clear freshwater springs that flow through the small pebbles and into the sea. The water is drinkable and gives this beach a unique charm, doubled by its complete remoteness between the high cliffs around. Visiting this secluded beach is quite an adventure for those who dare to hike the few kilometers along the treacherous coast from either Loutro in the west or Chora Sfakion in the east.
The road descending into Chora Sfakion is sometimes closer to the beach and you can leave the car on the side of the road, but it is not recommended. The beach itself is truly astonishing, with deep green and blue colors, but also colder waters due to the springs.
There is a small tavern right on the beach where you can get drinks, food and snacks, while there are also sun-beds available for rent. The beach also features a few enchanting tamarisk trees that offer some shade during the hot summer days of Crete. The eastern part of the beach is usually naturist.
Visit Timios Stavros Church and Fort
If you hike from Loutro or you have some time to explore the area while relaxing on the beach, you can visit the solitary white chapel of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), located a short walk along the coast. There is an important feast taking place at this church each September. The visit is also interesting thanks to the old fort ruins lying next to the chapel.
Discover the Ilingas Beach and Kavis Gorge
Located right before entering the village of Chora Sfakion, the small beach of Ilingas features pebbles and some sand. Lying at the mouth of the splendid gorge of Kavis, this beach is particularly idyllic, with turquoise water and sea caves nearby. There is also a small tavern on the beach and a parking lot. From the beach, you can also explore the wild canyon of Kavis, featuring impressive rock formations, dry riverbed and virgin forests. Some parts of the gorge are extremely wild and untouched, offering nice shade from the sun.
Explore Ancient Anopolis
The ancient town of Anopolis used to be located on the plateau above the beach of Glyka Nera and interesting ruins have been discovered along the years. This used to be an important town in ancient Crete, having its own currency and important defensive structures. It was still flourishing during the Byzantine period, with many churches located nearby. The most interesting is structure in the area is the Temple and Fortress of St. Catherine, located where the small chapel of Agia Katerini stands today and overlooking the village of Loutro. The panoramas from above are truly stunning.
Visit Loutro (Ancient Phoenix or Katopolis)
The small and idyllic bay that today houses the settlement of Loutro used to be the ancient port for the towns of Anopolis and Aradena. The development of the port is visible from the many interesting ruins located in the area, including baths, home and temples. The ones still visible include the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of St. Anthony. There is also an old Turkish Fort above the village, but it fell into ruin.
Discover Other Beaches Nearby
While the beach of Glyka Nera is truly mesmerising, if you choose to stay in one of the villages nearby, there are other amazing beaches to visit nearby. Towards the west, there are a few peaceful bays with unorganised beaches before reaching Loutro, while one of the most beautiful beaches of the area is the tiny Marmara Beach, located at the mouth of the wild gorges of Aradena.
Surrounded by dramatic cliffs and sea caves, this small cove is extremely picturesque. There is also a small beach in Finikas and the larger Likos Beach before reaching Marmara. Even further towards the west, before reaching the village of Agia Roumeli and the Samaria Gorge, the most interesting beach is Agios Pavlos with its small stone church. To the east of Glyka Nera, you can find other splendid beaches, starting with the small beaches of Chora Sfakion, continuing with Ammoudi, Filaki “Prison” beach and the stunning Agios Charalambos beaches.
Where to Stay near Glyka Nera Beach, Crete
The splendid beach of Glyka Nera is quite remote and it takes a good hike to reach it from either Chora Sfakion or Loutro Villages. These settlements are also the best places to search for accommodation, with enchanting guesthouses and apartments to choose from. Most of these options are quite traditional and you will not find big fancy hotels in this part of Crete. If you are visiting Glyka Nera Beach during the high summer season, it is a good idea to book accommodation well in advance, as these places get pretty crowded.
One of the first hotels in Chora Sfakion, this superb hotel offers completely renovated rooms with an enchanting atmosphere, great views and perfect utilities, as well as a warm hospitality that is reflected into amazing reviews. It features large white rooms with Cretan design, as well as stunning suites, a select restaurant and other amazing elements.
☏ +30 2825 091071
Lefka Ori Apartments
Located in the heart of the Chora Sfakion harbor, these simple apartments offer cozy accommodation at budget prices. The apartments feature private bathrooms, air conditioning, some with kitchenette and sea view, while there is also a tavern next to the property.
☏ +30 2825 091209
Hotel Porto Loutro
Featuring two superb white buildings in Cretan style, one located in the port and another on the hill, this lovely two-star hotel offers comfortable accommodation in simple rooms with all amenities. There is also a café-bar inside the hotel and most rooms feature splendid views of the bay. There is no road into Loutro, visitors arriving by ferry.
☏ +30 2825 091433
Where to Eat near Glyka Nera Beach
The 3 Brothers in Chora Sfakion
Overlooking the small beach of Chora Sfakion, this delightful restaurant offers traditional Greek food with fresh ingredients, including seafood specialties.
☏ +30 2825 091040
Nikos Tavern in Chora Sfakion
If you feel like having delicious seafood and traditional Greek food in a lovely atmosphere, this little tavern is located right in the small port of Chora Sfakion.
☏ +30 2825 091111
Blue House Tavern in Loutro
Overlooking the charming bay in Loutro, this traditional restaurant offers delicious traditional Cretan and Greek food, but also Mediterranean recipes with a focus on fresh seafood.
☏ +30 2825 091035
What is the best time to visit Glyka Nera Beach
Weather is quite nice in Crete most of the time, except a few months in winter when it is too cold and humid for the amazing beaches on the island. The peak of the tourist season is in July and August, but this could also mean more visitors to Glyka Nera Beach. In conclusion, the best time to visit Glyka Nera might be during the spring or autumn seasons (May, June, September, October), when there are fewer tourists and the weather might not be as hot as the peak summer.