Highlights of a trek through Crete

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.

Gates of Iron in the Gorge of Samaria in Crete Photo: visualthinker of Flickr

Gates of Iron in the Gorge of Samaria in Crete

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.

Walking the Gorge of Agia Irini in Crete Photo: oliver regelmann on Flickr

Walking the Gorge of Agia Irini in Crete

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.

Ruins of the Lissos temple on Crete Photo: orientalizing on Flickr

Ruins of the Lissos temple on Crete


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

Photo credits: Gates of Iron by visualthinker, Agia Irini by oliver regelmann, and Lissos temple by orientalizing.

More things to see in Greece

A turtle spotting boat trip on Zante – in Greece – Video
Is this the best beach in the world? – Navagio on Zakynthos
Visiting St Denis Monastery on Zakynthos – in Greece

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  • Reply
    Keith Kellett
    June 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I’d say Imbros is the one to do if you can’t, or don’t want to do Samaria. Also, at Samaria, you emerge at Ayia Roumeli, to get out of which you MUST take a boat (if you don’t want to walk back up the gorge!)

    At Irini or Imbros, you can take a bus or a taxi from the end …
    Keith Kellett´s last blog post ..The Face in the Stone

    • Reply
      June 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      @Keith That’s a useful tip about having to take the boat at the end although that sounds fun, sometimes you don’t want to pay for all these added extras

  • Reply
    Caribbean Islands Map
    June 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    These Crete trails are beautiful, reminds me of the Grand Canyon; I hope to walk these trails someday.

  • Reply
    Simon P
    June 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Sounds great. I’ve always wanted to visit Crete, having been to a couple of nearby Greek islands and loved them. One day…
    Simon P´s last blog post ..YOUR favourite travel souvenirs

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