Best hiking in Crete, Greece

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Best hiking in Crete

The island of Crete, with its rocky landscapes, ancient history, and breathtaking scenery, offers some of the best hiking experiences in the Mediterranean. We have always loved hiking in Crete because its so well maintained trails and infrastructure for hikers and various difficulty levels. Apart from hiking, there are also other fun things to do in Crete, such as sightseeing, sunbathing, and archeology.

Does Crete have good hiking?

Whether you’re an experienced hiker seeking new challenges or a casual adventurer looking to explore and have some easy workout done, Crete has something to offer for everyone. The island is a great mix of diverse landscapes, stunning mountains, green valleys, beautiful empty beaches, and rocky coastlines. This varied terrain provides hikers with a wide range of environments to explore, from conquering peaks to hidden coves.

Let’s dive into the world of hiking Crete and discover the wonders that await on its trails.

Best hiking in Crete

Planning your Hike in Crete – where to stay

Crete offers numerous options for hiking enthusiasts, with stunning landscapes and diverse terrain to explore. When choosing where to stay for good hiking in Crete, consider these regions:

  1. Chania: This region in western Crete is home to the White Mountains (Lefka Ori), offering excellent hiking opportunities. Chania town itself is charming and offers a good base for exploring the surrounding areas. Good hotels in Chania: Trianon Luxury Apartments & Suites and Odos Oneiron Boutique Hotel 4*.
  2. Rethymno: Situated between Chania and Heraklion, Rethymno offers access to the Psiloritis Range, including Mount Ida (also known as Mount Psiloritis), the highest mountain in Crete. The area is dotted with traditional villages and offers a mix of coastal and mountain scenery. Best hotels for price/quality ratio: Theartemis Palace 4* and May Beach Hotel 4*.
  3. Agios Nikolaos: This coastal town in eastern Crete is another good base for exploring the region’s hiking trails. The nearby Kritsa Gorge and the trails around the Mirabello Bay offer scenic routes for hikers of various skill levels. Our recommendations: Miramare Resort & Spa 4* and Ariadne Beach 4*.
  4. Southern Crete: The region south of Rethymno and Heraklion, including areas like the Asterousia Mountains and the Libyan Sea coast, offers quieter hiking routes with rugged landscapes and beautiful beaches. Plakias is a good base with hotels like Horizon Beach Hotel 3* and Belvedere Luxury Apartments & Spa 5*. Another great place to visit in Southern Crete is Loutro.

Wherever you decide to stay, you will need a rental car to reach the hiking trailheads.

Best hiking in Crete

Samaria Gorge

One of the most famous hiking trails in Crete, the Samaria Gorge offers a thrilling trek through stunning natural scenery. The 16-kilometer-long gorge is located in the White Mountains and is a designated national park. The hike can be easily taken from Chania or other Crete towns either by yourself or with Crete hiking tours. Hikers can expect to encounter towering cliffs, fragrant pine forests, and the crystal-clear waters of the River Styx.

Best hiking in Crete

Agia Irini Gorge

Start your trip at village of Agia Irini, which is located in the southwestern part of Crete. There’s a parking area near the entrance to the gorge where you can leave your vehicle. From the parking area, you’ll find the entrance to the gorge and the start of the hiking trail. The trail follows the course of the river through the gorge, winding its way through towering cliffs and lush vegetation. Along the hike, you may need to cross the river several times via wooden bridges or stepping stones. These crossings add an extra element of adventure to the hike and provide opportunities to cool off in the refreshing water.

The hike through the Agia Irini Gorge is approximately 7 kilometers long and takes around 2-3 hours to complete, depending on your pace. The trail eventually leads you out of the gorge and into the village of Sougia, where you can catch a bus or taxi back to the starting point.

Best hiking in Crete

Preveli Beach hike

The walk typically begins from the parking area near the Monastery of Preveli. The monastery itself is worth a visit, with its historic buildings and beautiful surroundings. From the monastery, you’ll find a trail that leads down towards the beach. The trail is relatively well-marked but can be steep and rocky in some sections, so sturdy footwear is recommended. As you descend towards the beach, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the rugged cliffs and clear blue sea. One of the highlights of the hike is passing through the iconic palm forest near the mouth of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge. This lush oasis is home to thousands of palm trees and provides a welcome respite from the sun.

After about a 20-30 minute hike (depending on your pace), you’ll reach the bottom of the trail and arrive at Preveli Beach. Take some time to relax on the sandy shores, swim in the refreshing natural beauty waters, and explore the nearby caves and rock formations. After enjoying the beach, you’ll need to hike back up the same trail to return to the monastery parking area. Be prepared for a bit of a workout on the uphill climb, but the breathtaking views make it worth the effort.

Best hiking in Crete

Imbros Gorge

Located in the rugged mountains of western Crete, one of the easy walks in Crete, the Imbros Gorge is a popular hiking destination known for its dramatic scenery and rich biodiversity. The 11-kilometer-long gorge is accessible to hikers of all levels and offers opportunities to spot rare flora and fauna, including wild goats and eagles.

Best hiking in Crete

Richtis Gorge

The hike usually begins near the village of Exo Mouliana, which is situated in the eastern part of Crete. There’s a travel parking area where you can leave your vehicle before starting the hike. From the parking area, you’ll follow a well-marked trail that leads into the gorge. The trail initially descends gradually, offering lovely views of the surrounding countryside. As you progress deeper into Richtis Gorge, you’ll encounter towering cliffs, lush vegetation, and the soothing sounds of the Richtis River flowing through the ravine. The trail follows the course of the river, crossing it several times via wooden bridges.

One of the highlights of the Richtis Gorge hike is the stunning waterfall located at the end of the path. The Richtis Waterfall cascades into a small pool below, creating a picturesque and tranquil setting that’s perfect for a rest or a refreshing swim. After enjoying the waterfall and surrounding scenery, you’ll retrace your steps back along the same trail to return to the starting point. The uphill climb on the return journey can be a bit challenging in places, but it’s manageable for most hikers. If you’re up for more exploration and hikes, you can combine the Richtis Gorge hike with a visit to nearby attractions such as the traditional village of Exo Mouliana or the nearby beaches of Richtis and Agios Nikolaos.

Best hiking in Crete

Aradena Gorge

The hike typically starts near the abandoned village of Aradena, located in the southwestern part of Crete. You can park your vehicle near the village or arrange transportation to the starting point. The trailhead is easy to find near the village, and the hike begins with a descent into the gorge. The trail can be steep and rocky in parts, so sturdy footwear is recommended. As you make your way into the gorge, you’ll be surrounded by towering cliffs and rugged landscapes. The trail follows the course of the Aradena River, and you’ll encounter sections where you may need to wade through shallow water or navigate over rocks.

Along the hike, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the gorge and the surrounding countryside. Keep an eye out for wildlife and unique rock formations as you explore this remote and unspoiled landscape. One of the highlights of the hike is the Aradena Bridge, a striking stone bridge that spans the gorge high above the river below. You’ll have the opportunity to cross the bridge and admire the impressive views of the gorge from above. After completing the hike through the gorge, you’ll eventually reach the coastal village of Marmara, where you can relax and unwind on the sandy beach. Take some time to swim in the crystal-clear waters and soak up the sun before heading back. You can either retrace your steps back through the gorge to return to the starting point or arrange transportation from Marmara back to Aradena.

Best hiking in Crete

Peak of Crete hike

The “Peak of Crete” typically refers to Mount Ida, also known as Psiloritis, which is the highest mountain on the island of Crete and in the entire region of the Eastern Mediterranean. There are several routes you can take to hike Mount Ida, but one common starting point is the village of Anogia, located on the northern slopes of the mountain. Alternatively, you can start from other nearby villages such as Livadia or Nida. From the starting point, you’ll follow a well-marked trail that leads up the slopes of Mount Ida. The trail can be steep and rugged in places, so it’s essential to wear sturdy hiking boots and bring plenty of water and snacks.

As you ascend the mountain, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, including lush valleys, rugged cliffs, and distant coastal vistas. On clear days, you may even be able to see other Greek islands from the summit. Mount Ida is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including wildflowers, herbs, birds of prey, and endemic Cretan ibex. Keep an eye out for these natural wonders as you hike through the mountainous terrain. The summit of Mount Ida stands at an elevation of 2,456 meters (8,057 feet) and offers a rewarding sense of accomplishment for hikers who reach the top. Take some time to enjoy the panoramic views and soak in the serene atmosphere before beginning your descent.

Best hiking in Crete

Getting ready for Hiking in Crete

Before setting out on your hiking adventure in Crete, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some essential tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Packing Essentials

When packing for a hike in Crete, be sure to bring essential items such as sturdy hiking boots, plenty of water, sun protection, and a first aid kit. Depending on the season and terrain, you may also need to pack additional layers of clothing, a hat, and insect repellent.

Weather Considerations

Crete enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. However, weather conditions can vary significantly depending on the region and altitude. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out on a hike and be prepared for sudden weather changes.

Navigation Tools

While many hiking trails in Crete are well-marked, it’s still important to carry a map, compass, or GPS device to help navigate your way. Familiarize yourself with the trail route before setting out and pay attention to any signage or trail markers along the way.

Safety Measures

Safety should always be a top priority when hiking in Crete. Be sure to let someone know your hiking plans and expected return time, especially if you’re venturing into remote areas. Stay hydrated, pace yourself, and know your limits. If you encounter any difficulties or emergencies, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from local authorities or fellow hikers.

Guided Tours vs. Self-Guided Hiking

When planning a hiking trip in Crete, you’ll need to decide whether to join a guided tour or venture out on your own. Both options have their advantages, depending on your preferences and experience level.

Best hiking in Crete

Basic Clothes for Hiking in Crete

When preparing for hiking in Crete, it’s essential to consider the terrain, weather conditions, and the duration of your hike. Here’s a list of basic clothing items suitable for hiking in Crete:

Moisture-wicking base layers: Opt for breathable, moisture-wicking materials such as merino wool or synthetic fabrics. These will help keep you dry and comfortable by wicking sweat away from your skin.

Convertible hiking pants: Choose lightweight, quick-drying pants that can convert into shorts if needed. This versatility is useful for adapting to changing temperatures and terrain.

Long-sleeve shirts: Lightweight, long-sleeve shirts offer protection from the sun and can also provide an extra layer of warmth if temperatures drop.

Fleece or lightweight jacket: Even in warmer climates, temperatures can cool down, especially at higher elevations. Pack a fleece or lightweight jacket to stay warm during breaks or in the evenings.

Rain jacket or shell: Weather in Crete can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to pack a waterproof and windproof jacket to protect yourself from rain and strong winds.

Sturdy hiking shoes: Invest in a pair of comfortable, supportive hiking shoes with good traction. The terrain in Crete can be rocky and uneven, so proper footwear is essential for stability and injury prevention.

Moisture-wicking socks: Choose socks specifically designed for hiking that are moisture-wicking and provide cushioning and support to prevent blisters.

Wide-brimmed hat or cap: Protect your face and neck from the sun’s rays with a wide-brimmed hat or a cap with a neck flap for added coverage.

Sunglasses: Bring sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s glare, especially if you’ll be hiking in open areas without much shade.

Backpack: A lightweight backpack with padded shoulder straps and a hip belt will help distribute the weight of your gear evenly and keep you comfortable during your hike.

Gloves and beanie (optional): Depending on the season and elevation, you may want to pack lightweight gloves and a beanie to keep your hands and head warm in cooler temperatures.

Best hiking in Crete Best hiking in Crete Best hiking in Crete Best hiking in Crete

9 Responses

  1. Sinjana

    These are some really fascinating treks and so offbeat. Can I do any of these on a day trip ( without camping overnight)?

  2. Bri

    I’ve been to Crete a few times but never went for hikes! Will have to save for next time 🙂

  3. Sonia

    We missed a few of these hikes on our visit to Crete last year. Always a good incentive to return. One hike we really enjoyed was from the Gouverneto Monastery to the coast.

  4. Linda (LD Holland)

    We would certainly have a return to Crete on our list for great beaches and historical sites. But great to read about the hiking options too. There are certainly some great views on the hikes.

  5. MicheleinPlaya

    Greece is still on my travel bucketlist and exploring Crete will certainly be a part of that adventure. We love walking and hiking. The Peak of Crete looks like a fun challenge!!

  6. Jenn | By Land and Sea

    This looks great! I didn’t realize there were hiking options on Crete – I always imagined it to be very flat. Sounds like a great place to spend some time being active outdoors.

  7. Maggie

    I had no idea that Crete was so mountainous!! I never would have thought of it as a hiking destination but I’m clearly wrong. Those gorges look like incredible places to explore.

  8. Moona

    I had no idea Crete had so many hiking trails. Each hikes seem to offer hikers the possibility to enjoy breathtaking views of the island’s rugged landscapes, stunning coastline, and unique flora and fauna. I would love to explore the island.

  9. DM Marino

    Oh, this makes me want to go hiking in Crete, thanks so much. The photos are beautiful and very useful information.

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