Plakias

The small village of Plakias (population 300) was until the 1960s a small fishing port with four houses. It’s on the south coast of Crete in the centre of a big valley. There is often a strong north wind, which can be pleasantly cooling in summer. Plakias has expanded fast since the arrival of the first hippies in the late 1960s, and there are at least one hundred houses dotted around the valley these days.

 

Good Hotels in Plakias

Plakias

An old fan of Greece, I first arrived in Plakias in 1998. At the time, I was looking for a second home in Greece. After a few days here, I knew that this was the place I had been searching for. The 4km-long beach is right in the village centre, with even nicer beaches close by. Walk for a couple of minutes out of Plakias, and you will find yourself deep in the Cretan countryside. Plakias is set to a backdrop of mountains with the villages of Mirthios, Selia and Mariou dotted along at various elevations. All of these villages can easily be reached with a small hike. The majority of tourists in Plakias are backpackers, who still outnumber package tourists. There are around sixty people from northern Europe (mostly British, German and Dutch) who have made Plakias their new home. Many of them, including me, spent their first time here in the Youth Hostel.

Plakias Hostel  Plakias Youth Hostel
(Plakias Youth Hostel. In my opinion, the best in the world. Each of the rooms has eight beds.)

The hostel has developed a global community of hundreds of people who know each other. Some now live in Plakias, others visit every year, some for several months. This is due to the efforts of the English manager, Chris. I now rent my own apartment in Plakias, but you can still find me every evening in the hostel. If you want to meet me, just as for Jorgy at the hostel! The hostel will be open from the 28th March in 2009, and will remain open until the end of October. You can book Plakias Hostel here .

If people ask me in Plakias for a nice and cheap hotel, I recommend Hotel Sophia and / or Hotel Livikon. The Sophia is in a quite side street, the Livikon in the main street along the beach. Better and a bit more expensive is the very good Alianthos Garden Hotel.

Map Of Plakias
( This map is from Chris - the manager of the Youth Hostel of Plakias)

Tavernas and Nightlife in Plakias

Sirocco is an outstanding restaurant, a fact reflected by its higher prices. The jovial owner and his amusing son Babis serve fresh, good meals. The best pizzas can be found in Kri-Kri, and the best fish in Tasomanolis (the owner is a fisherman). A cheap place to eat is Mousses on the waterfront, which has a vast menu. Nikos Souvlaki is a simple, traditional taverna which serves delicious Greek specialities, often cooked by the owner’s mother. It has a great atmosphere, and is often the meeting point for local expats and backpackers from the hostel in the early evening. In Nikos Souvlaki, people sometimes just drink and enjoy the ambience. If you’re lucky, the owner might break out into an impromptu dance whilst you’re there.

After dinner Joe’s Bar (officially called Nufaro Bar) is the place to go for boozing and partying for hostel people. The owner Joe serves pretty much all-hours strong drinks and plays excellent music. A raki can be had for just 50 cents, a beer for €2.50 and long drinks for €3.50.

Joes Bar in Plakias  Nufaro Bar Plakias
(Joe’s Bar (Nufaro) is the ‘hostel bar’. During the day you can enjoy a quiet coffee, in the night you can party away with a strong G&T)

Good alternatives to Joe’s Bar are Ostraco and Smerna bars.

There are seven buses a day in summer between Rethymno and Plakias. In high season there are 1 or 2 buses a day between Plakias and Chora Sfakia along the coast, also stopping off in Frangocastello. If you want to go to Matala, Agia Galini, Phaistos or Spili, you’ll have to change buses – ask the driver for advice.

Plakias Library is a non-profit library run by retired British expats living in Plakias. The books (which number in the thousands) are all donations. Many tourists use the library for free, and most of the books are in English and German.

Library of Plakias  Plakias Library

Around Plakias

Mirthios: Mirthios is a small mountain village 180m above sea level and 2km from Plakias. If you walk up there, you should eat in a taverna – the three tavernas of the village (Mirthios, Plateia and Panorama) are some of the best in the region.

Selia: Standing 280m over the sea, you can walk here in one hour from Plakias. It’s a sleepy traditional village with a less touristy feel than Mirthios. There’s a cheese factory here, which produces the local cheese you can buy in all the supermarkets.

Mariou: This village is still very Cretan, because it is off the main road. There are two or three kafenions, which are excellent places to meet locals.

Asomatos: This small village is home to a small museum, run by a local priest, who collects everything he finds – well worth a visit!

Lefkogia (Lefkoyia): This village lies 5km east of Plakias. It has some basic tavernas and is the starting point for the hike up to the church of Timeos Stavros. There’s also a small donkey sanctuary. The buses between Plakias and Rethymno pass through here.

Moni Preveli: A monastery some 12km from Plakias. You can visit it; some monks still live here. It’s one of the most famous monasteries on Crete.

Damnoni: Once, Damnoni was the nicest beach near to Plakias (a mere 3km away). Then the big Swiss timeshare business Hapimag moved in. In Damnoni there are a few tavernas, car rental stores and some shops. These days, the best beaches are behind Damnoni: Pig’s Bay and One Rock. If you go further behind, you’ll reach Amoudi Beach, which has a Taverna with rent rooms.

Souda: this small hamlet 4km west of Plakias has about ten houses. It has a nice beach and there’s a small river going to the sea. If you cross it, you’ll find a track leading to the village of Rodakino, which is about three hours away on foot. There are a few hotels and tavernas here.

Hiking Around Plakia

To Timeos Stavros: Climing the mountain to Timeos Stavros takes approximately two hours from Plakias or one hour from Lefkogia. At the summit there is a small chapel and a visitor’s book. The walk is well worth it, giving you amazing views of Plakias, Mount Ida (one of the highest mountains in Crete) and the White Mountains. On a clear day you can see the southernmost island of Europe, Gavdos. To get there, you must leave Lefkogia in a southerly direction and walk around the mountain. Around the back side of the mountain, you’ll see a signposted track leading upwards. The summit of Timeos Stavros is 430m above sea level.

To Preveli Monastery: From Lefkogia you hike to the tiny village of Gianniou, which hardly sees tourists. There you’ll find a sign to the monastery. From there on you can go to the palm beach of Preveli (Plakias-Lefkogia: 1 hour / Lefkogia-Gianniou-Preveli Monastery 1.5 hours). You can do this either on foot or by bike, but there are some pretty steep hills.

To Mirthios: Leaving Plakias in a northerly direction (i.e. away from the sea), you’ll come to a fork in the road just before the Youth Hostel. Take the right fork and go up a very steep road, which should get you to Mirthios within thirty minutes.

 

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