Aradena Gorge

Aradena is a village in the mountain range Lefka Ori (White Mountains) in the southwest of the island of Crete in Greece. The hike through the Aradena Gorge is one of the most popular and beautiful hikes on Crete. The starting point of the hike is the village of Aradena, ending at the sea on the south coast of the island of Crete. After a descent of about 20 minutes you walk about three hours in the gorge.

If one reaches the sea, one finds a beautiful beach (Marmara Beach) with a tavern. In the season you can eat very tasty food here. From Marmara you can take a small ferry to Loutro or Hora Sfakia or walk another 90 minutes on a hiking trail to the village of Loutro.

The bridge and the village of Aradena

One drives from Chora Sfakia  on a road in the direction of Anopolis. The road, which is well used nowadays, winds its way along countless serpentines to a height of several hundred metres. One has a grandiose view of the Libyan Sea in different shades of blue. One crosses the elongated village Anopolis and after a total of 15 kilometres one reaches a bridge. The steel bridge has wooden beams on the underside. If you drive over by car, there is an extremely loud noise that can be heard for many kilometres. Directly after the bridge of Aradena is a parking lot. Here we start our hike through the gorge.

The village of Aradena itself is a tourist attraction. It is an abandoned village. Around the year 1947 all inhabitants left their small municipality. Two families had held a vendetta in Aradena. Several villagers were murdered. The rest of the villagers moved out of fear. Only the church has been renovated since then, all other houses have deteriorated into ruins in the last 70 years.

The abandoned village of Aradena with a renovated church, in the background the hiking car park at the bridge.

In the last few years a few inhabitants are said to have come back and want to renovate some houses. Many hikers and tourists go for a walk in the village. The houses in danger of collapsing are of course a danger. Especially in spring you should pay attention to the many wild flowers. Many of the plants can only be found up here in the Lefka-Ori mountains.

Bungee Jumping in Crete (Aradena)

Bungee jumping is offered from the bridge described above during the season. Nowhere in Greece and only in very few places in Europe (e.g. Europabrücke in Tirol, Austria) you can do a longer bungee-jump. In Aradena the depth is 138 meters.

Description of the Aradena Hike

Descend to the right after the bridge on a marked path. Down in the valley you go through the gorge under the bridge. Even just under 150 metres below the bridge, you are afraid of the noise when a vehicle crosses the bridge.

The famous Aradena bridge from the ravine photographed

The hike is well marked. One should nevertheless be careful not to get lost. In more than three hours, a total of 700 metres of altitude can be climbed. In former times, one had to descend at one point with the help of ropes and a ladder. Since more than 10 years, there is a new hiking path here. Thus, the difficult spot can now be bypassed. In the gorge, one often sees the carcasses of dead goats. These often stink extremely Nevertheless, one must pass in the narrow gorge often very close to the dead animals. Sometimes you also see rock falls, which are a great danger for the hikers in the deep gorge. At the sea, one goes left towards Loutro or takes a boat there. We walked another 90 minutes to Loutro. On the way you can stop at taverns.

Hiking dangers

The hike through the Aradena Gorge is not an easy one. You should be free of vertigo and sure-footed. Hiking experience should be available. Also the equipment (shoes etc.) should fit. You have to take enough water with you. In the Aradenaschlucht it is extremely hot in summer. There is no water in the gorge. The tavern at Marmara beach is only open during the season. One should not rely on the fact that the tavern has opened or that there is a boat to Loutro or Chora Sfakion. Always better to take too much than too little drinking water and provisions. In case of an accident you can't hope for quick help in the gorge. In many places there is the danger of falling. Also between Marmara and Loutro there are some places where one can fall many meters into the depth by a wrong step. In the Aradena Gorge there have already been many serious accidents of hikers, including falls into the depths and rockfalls. Hiking in the mountains is a danger everywhere - whether in the Alps or on Crete.

Tavern in Marmama

It's a very good tavern. Many of the dishes are homemade, the ingredients come from the region. In winter, the tavern owner, who comes from a village in the area, closes the lonely pub at Marmara Beach. Then he opens his tavern in the big city of Chania on Crete. It is one of the best restaurants in the city. The Marmara beach is also called Dialiskari beach by the locals.

Directions to the Aradena Gorge

Most hiking enthusiasts leave their car in the village of Chora Sfakia or go there by bus. From Chora Sfakia there are two buses a day in the season via Anopolis to Aradena (currently 2017: According to a tavern landlord in Anopolis there are no more buses). One goes through the gorge and takes a boat from Marmara or Loutro back to Chora Sfakia. Thus one is again at the starting point of the day trip. The bus to Aradena runs in summer 2016 from Chora Sfakia at 9 a.m. and at 3:30 p.m. Of course only the bus at 9 a.m. makes sense for the canyon hike. Be careful, the bus timetable can change on Crete at any time. Also by taxi many tourists go up to the bridge of Aradena. If you can share the taxi with some other hikers, it is not too expensive.

2024: The buses do not run anymore

Important: In Chora Sfakia one should inform oneself exactly about the daily timetable of the buses and ferries before the hike. Timetables often change. Ferries can be cancelled due to wind and waves.

Going up the Aradena Gorge

Some go the Aradena-Gorgen (English name of the gorge) also uphill. This is possible, however, 700 meters of altitude are only for very fit people a cardboard stick. One should also know that there is currently (early 2017) no bus from Aradena to Chora Sfakia in the afternoon.





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