Crete is a beautiful place to visit and is the ideal candidate for a walking holiday. There is some truly spectacular scenery on this Greek island, with plenty of well-trodden paths, as well as routes off the beaten track that you can explore.
One of the other great things about choosing Crete as your base for trekking tours is there are trails suitable for the whole family, so kids and adults alike can enjoy the thrill of discovering the island together.
Wondering exactly where to go and what to see? Here are just a few of the highlights for walkers in the Chania region of the island.
Gorge of Samaria
This is one of the best-known hiking destinations on the island and, as such, don’t expect to be on your own. Stretching for 16 km, this ravine in the landscape is a wonderful place to discover on two feet. Before we start with the amazing things you can see, let’s get a few of the practicalities out of the way.
Firstly, the national park in which the gorge is located is only open between May and October. When it opens to visitors tends to vary depending on how much and how heavy the rain has been during the winter. The paths here are well maintained by the authorities who look after the reserve, but that means you’ll have to pay an entrance fee before you can start your trek!
As previously mentioned, it can get busy, so if you’re desperate to avoid the crowds, get an early start (aim to arrive before 7.30 am as this is when the first tourist buses start to pull up). The gorge itself is in among the White Mountains, so you’ll have towering peaks on either side. You’ll pass streams, springs and caves as you wander, so it’s perfect if you’ve got little explorers with you! Keep an eye out for Crete’s wild goats, too, as these remarkable creatures can often be spotted in precarious positions on the mountainside.
Gorge of Agia Irini
This shorter, but no less beautiful, gorge can also be found in the White Mountains and is a great way to escape the other tourists who are tackling the gorge of Samaria! Stretching for 7.5 km it’s the perfect length if you’ve got children with you and you’ll exit the ravine at Sougia on the coast.
The gorge starts at the village of Agia Irini and, as there’s a lot of shade along the route, you can stride out even when it’s really hot. There aren’t any restrictions on access, either, so you can hike here regardless of when you plan to go. Do bear in mind that rain can make the pathways difficult to walk on, though, so it’s best avoided for a day or two after the heavens open. You can go walking in Crete with Explore who offer walking tours with spectacular scenery and a taste of village life.
Lissos is the site of an ancient city, so walking here from Sougia is an excellent choice if you want to add a bit of culture and history into your break. It’s not far from the harbour wall at Sougia to the ruins – it takes around 90 minutes – giving you plenty of time to explore the remains of the temples and chapels you’ll find when you reach your destination.
You’ll spend most of this trail walking beside the sea, so it’s excellent if you love coastal views, while you’ll get a fantastic look at Lissos from the top of a hill before you descend into the valley. The Asclepios Temple is probably the best known of the ruins here, dating back to the period of Roman rule on the island. There were hot springs here and people used to travel for miles to bathe in the waters that were said to have curative powers.
My thanks for this article to Explore who offer walking and trekking holidays in Europe and around the world
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