By far the best-known canyon hike is through the Samaria Gorge in the south-west of Crete. In summer many thousands of people pass through the Samaria Gorge every day. However, the hike is not easy because of its length (almost 20 km). If you are looking for a shorter or calmer gorge hike on Crete, you will find the right gorge.
How many canyons are there on Crete?
We've tried counting all the canyons, there should be over 100 bigger ones. Most of them are in the south of the island, many of the famous ones between Frangokastello and Sougia. But there are also some great gorges in the north and east.
Are gorge walks difficult and dangerous?
That's very different. There are some gorges where you have to climb and need real mountaineering equipment. Some are so difficult that only a few people cross them every year. Others can be walked on an easy trail in a few hours. There is even a road running through several gorges and one can comfortably view the wonder of nature with a rental car
Through the 5 to 10 known gorges leads a mostly well developed hiking trail. No gorge is completely safe, whether in the Alps or on Crete. The dangers are, for example, the underestimated length of the hike, the heat, lack of water, changes in the weather, too much water in the gorge stream or falling rocks. Every year some tourists die in the gorges of Crete. Often it is inexperienced tourists who die.
Which canyons on Crete are rather simple?
The Imbros Gorge near Hora Sfakia or the Irini Gorge near Sougia, for example, are well-known gorges on Crete that can be walked in 2-4 hours on a hiking trail. However, a little surefootedness is also required here. There are sections where you have to walk from rock to rock or on boulders. For sporty people usually no problem, but no tours with baby carriages or for not fit tourists. Often the extreme heat is the biggest problem. Hikers often take too little drinking water with them.
Those who do not want to hike at all can drive through the Koutolatiko gorge in the central south of the island Crete near Plakias. There are some bigger parking places.
Which gorges on Crete are ok for fit people?
The world-famous Samaria Gorge on Crete is considered one of the longest and highest gorges in Europe. In summer, 5,000 people pass through the gorge every day. Almost all of them are foreign tourists. The way is not too difficult, but one problem is the length.
The 18 kilometre long hike with a difference in altitude of 1200 metres takes about 5 hours without breaks. This is simply too much for many holidaymakers. There is no possibility to interrupt the crossing of the Samaria Gorge, once you are inside you have to walk to the end. As one gets away from the end of the hike at the sea only by the ferry, one also has a time pressure. The ships only leave in the late afternoon.
The crossing of the Aradena Gorge and on to Loutro is somewhat shorter and highly recommended. Here you should bring fitness, a head for heights and endurance.
Which canyon walks are possible with the public bus ?
Not all holidaymakers have a rental car or want to pay for a long taxi ride. In addition, a rental car does not always bring much, as the starting point and the end point are not the same on a canyon tour.
Several buses run to the Samaria Gorge in the morning from May to October. After the hike you return by ferry and bus. This is for example possible in the season (about May to October) from Chania. In summer there are also buses (sometimes only on a few weekdays) from Sougia and Paleochora and even from Retyhmno, for example. In addition, there are many rivate tour operators who offer bus tours to the entrance of the Samaria Gorge at the resorts in Crete. In the evening you will be picked up by the ferry.
To the entrance of the Agia Irini Gorge there are also buses in the morning from Sougia. You can walk back to Sougia (a few kilometres from the end of the gorge). Also these buses do not always run every day.
Some hikers also take the bus to the Imbros Gorge (get off at the village of Imbros). In the evening you walk from the exit to the village of Hora Sfakion. There are also tour operators offering bus tours to the Imbros Gorge.
Is it possible to walk the gorges of Crete from the bottom to the top ?
Far more than 90% of hikers go from top to bottom. Of course, you can also walk uphill through the gorges of Crete. Of course, this is more strenuous and takes a little longer. In the Samaria gorge, the thousands of hikers who meet on the narrow path were annoying in the summer.
What do I need for canyon hikes?
For all the gorges you want to walk through in Crete, we recommend good hiking boots. You should also have a hiking backpack for water and food. Many hikers nowadays also have walking sticks. These are a big advantage on paths with bigger stones or rocks. The most important thing is enough drinking water. You should never go alone, the risk is always greater than in pairs or in a group.
A hiking guide (book) and a travel guide about Crete are also useful. A hiking map of the region on Crete is also helpful. A map on your mobile like Google Maps makes sense for owners of smartphones. But you should download it before the hike. In gorges on Crete you often don't have mobile phone reception, not even for emergency calls.
Note: Gorge is called in Greek φαράγγι (feraggi).