11 Best Trails for Hiking in Crete

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One of the best things to do when you are visiting Crete is to go for a hike. You can discover this gorgeous island which is known for its scenic beauty, beautiful beaches, and turquoise blue waters. Hiking is a fun outdoor activity, but you need to evaluate the difficulty, accessibility of the location, and distance to cover beforehand only. Here is everything you need to know before you go on a hike in Crete:

1. Samaria Gorge

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One of the most famous hiking trails in Crete is Samaria Gorge. Thousands of tourists from different parts come here. It is a total of 14.5 kilometres long and is a moderate hiking trail. This trail generally gets crowded and is open for only some months yearly.
Time Taken – 5 to 7 hours (depends on your speed and experience).

2. Imbros Gorge

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Imbros Gorge is known for its natural beauty and is a popular hiking trail. The total length is 8 kilometres one-way and can take 3 hours. It is a moderate hiking trail and is much less crowded than Samaria gorge. The path is lined with oaks, figs, almond trees, and cypresses. The route starts in a village where you can find a market. You should purchase the snacks you need before beginning your hike.
Recommendation: Keep a lot of water with you and wear sturdy shoes as you can see a lot of large stones. The trail starts at 780 meters above sea level, and the finish point is Komitades. You can then take the road 4.6 kilometres down to Hora Sfakion, a small fishing village with hotels, tavernas, and beaches.

3. Agiofarango Gorge

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This is the best hike in Crete for beach lovers. The distance is 7 kilometres one-way and takes 3 hours. It is a moderate hiking trail. The trail starts at Moni Odigitria, a monastery where you can climb and enjoy the view. Other highlights of this trail include the caves that are ubiquitous in this part and various chapels, some of them are as old as 1000 years. There is also a Byzantine-era chapel marked by an ancient olive tree, and a well with drinking water. This trail ends at one of the most beautiful beaches of Crete.

4. Agia Irini Gorge

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One of the other popular options for hiking in Crete is to go to the Agia Irini Gorge. The distance is almost 7.5 kilometres which is one-way and take approximately 3 hours. It is a moderate hiking trail. You can see the shady trees, lush vegetation and small caves. This trail descends 500 meters, and at times, you also need to clamber over boulders. During spring, the river level can rise and wash out some parts, so it will be difficult. This Gorge is open all year round. It starts with a village of the same name. The end is 7 kilometres from the village of Sougia on the road. You can rest at the taverna at the end, and you can also get a taxi from here.

5. Aradena Gorge

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This trail is best for a seaside retreat. The distance is 3.5 kilometres one-way and takes 2 hours. It is a moderate hiking trail. This trail begins before the Vardinogiannis bridge, a spot for bungee jumpers. After less than a kilometre, the trail will reach one of the early Byzantine churches of Agios Ioannis. If you take a trail towards the east, then you can enjoy Marmara Beach at the end, which is an isolated beach on the southwest coast. Then you can walk around 4 kilometres along a coastal trail which will take you towards the village of Loutro. You can find tavernas here and a beach, so just relax and enjoy the beauty of the coast from here. However, you will not find road access, so you can opt for a ferry on the route of Paleochora-Chora Sfakion. There will definitely be some large rocks that you can scramble upon, so it is recommended to wear sturdy shoes.

6. Paleochora (Palaiochora)– Sougia Coastal Walk

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If you want to enjoy the coastal view, then you can go on a walk here. The distance is 14.5 kilometres one-way and takes approximately 6 hours. It is a moderate hiking trail. This trail begins in Paleochora, which is a port town and ends in another fishing village Sougia. You can see the coastal cliffs in between the trail. Also, there are many isolated, beautiful beaches that will leave you absolutely spell bound. You can also find small pine forests. Almost 3.5 kilometres before you arrive in Sougia, you will pass through an Ancient Greek archaeological site Lissos where you can find ruins that date back to the 2nd century BCE to 900 CE.

Keep in mind that it is difficult to find shade or many sources of water, so you must keep a lot of water with you. You can easily reach Paleochora by ferry or bus and can also find tavernas and places to stay. Another great option to stay is at Sougia, which is quieter and has bus and ferry services too.

7. Malia to Mohos to Stalis

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If you are a beginner, then this trail is perfect for you. The total length is seven kilometres, and it will take approximately 4 to 5 hours to complete (depending on your experience and speed). The elevation gains can sometimes be 400 meters on this trail. The starting point of this hike is Malia village, which is in northern Crete, and you will follow the path until you reach Mohos village. Here you can get some refreshments and wander in beautiful alleys. You can also enjoy the views of North Cretan and the sea of Crete. Also, don’t forget to try the delicious dishes at the end of the trail.

8. Messonas Gorge

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This trail is said to be an easy-to-moderate trail, and the length is a total of 9 kilometres. It will take approximately 5 to 6 hours to complete (depending upon your experience and speed. The elevation gains can sometimes be 650 meters on this trail, and you will surely love the view once you reach the top of the gorge. The hike will start in Kavousi village, which is in the eastern part of Crete, before heading uphill. Once you reach this gorge, you can move to Azoria, the ancient settlement, before you hike down to a 3400 years old tree. You can enjoy the cafeterias and the shops at the end of this trail. And also, you can walk on the beach.

9. Lassithi-Karfi–Krasi Trail

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This is a moderate-level trail. The length is 7 kilometres, and the elevation gains can be up to 300 meters. You will need almost 4 to 5 hours to complete it. The beginning of this hike is Nissimos Plateau, then you need to go uphill to Karfi, which is an ancient Minoan settlement. You can also enjoy the views and check out the wildlife. Then you can go downwards and find the oldest natural spring, where you can also see the animals and vegetation. The end of the trail is the village of Krasi.

10. Spathi Mountain Hiking Trail

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This is one of the best hiking trails in Crete. This is said to be a difficult trail, and the length is overall 13 kilometres long. The elevation gain can be up to 1154 meters. It will take almost 6 to 7 hours to complete your hike. The beginning point is the Limnakaros plateau which is on the Lassithi plateau. When you reach the top of the mountain, you can see the exceptional views of northern and southern Crete. When you go downhill, you can find restaurants and settlements. Try the meals here too.

11.  Minoan Path

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The Minoan path is a moderate hiking trail, and the total length is almost 11 kilometres. It will take you almost 5 - 6 hours to complete it. The elevation gain can be up to an elevation of 500 meters. The starting point of this hike is a historic village at Kastamonitis. Then you can reach the Lassithi plateau, where you can rest. There is a tavern at the end where you can rest and eat international cuisine and also eat Greek dishes.

Best Time for Hiking in Crete

The best season for hiking is Spring and Autumn (Spring from April and lasts till June; Autumn starts from September and lasts till November). During the spring season, you can get to see the rare orchids and beautiful colourful butterflies and smell some of the best herbs. During the autumn season, you can see amazing flowers.

What to Pack?

  •  A hat for the heat
  •  It is better if you pack a waterproof jacket
  • A camera for capturing the memories
  • Some warm and comfy clothes
  •  A beach towel and a swimsuit
  • Sunglasses for your eyes
  •  Do not forget to have waterproof and comfortable hiking boots
  • Walking poles
In conclusion, you have various options for hiking trails in Crete. You can explore and enjoy. But do keep all the essentials with you before you begin your trip.

This post was published by Aayushi Shukla

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FAQs on Crete

Are hiking poles essential?

It depends, for some hikes you should definitely keep it, for example, if you plan to go to Samaria, it is better if you have hiking poles.

Can I hike on my own?

It is better if you go with a certified guide. Some hikes can be done alone, for example, Samaria. However, it is better to go for a professional guide because they will provide you with information, experience, and guidance too.

What equipment is needed for hiking?

The first thing to keep in mind is to have good hiking boots. If you want, you can also rent hiking poles on the island.

Do you need to have some hiking experience?

No. If you are a beginner, it is better to choose an easy or a moderate trail.

How to prepare for a hike? 

One of the most common mistakes that is observed in first-time hikers is that they don’t prepare properly beforehand. So, many people go on a hiking trail without food, water, backpack, rain gear, etc. No matter how long or difficult your trail has, you must pack enough food and water for your trip. In many of the trails, you will be unable to find water sources too. Another thing to do is to inform anyone close to you about your trip beforehand, for example, where you will go, how many people are going with you, what routes you are planning to take, etc.

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