Walking in Crete is the best way to explore the scenery, meet the locals, smell the flowers and discover that quaint little tavern!
Between east and west, on the crossroad of three continents -Asia, Europe and Africa- Crete is like a country on its own: With varied landscapes of gorgeous coastlines, high mountains, and plateaus, steep ravines, Eden-like plains and open panoramic views, Greece’s largest island is best discovered on foot. This is no secret, and that’s why every year it attracts hikers from all around the globe. And they need not be particularly experienced -just keen and effervescent. With thousands of kilometres of tracks of different degrees of difficulty to suit all levels of fitness and expertise, options for outdoor enthusiasts are plentiful. How about taking a break from the staple sea-sun-sand combo, to experience dramatic vistas, enchanting scenery, and the slow-paced, stress-free rhythms of local life?
Just 9 km away from the emblematic old town of Chania, the Oscar Suites & Village, our family-run, family-friendly hotel in the blue flag awarded beach of Agia Marina-Platanias is ideally positioned for all sorts of walking trips in one of Crete’s most beautiful parts. Whether for a few hours or for a multi-day hike through protected parks, native forests and stunning coastal regions, choices abound. Read on for our handpicked suggestions for walking in Crete:
Walking in Crete: Around Agia Marina -Platanias
Short hikes or day walks are plentiful around the Oscar Suites & Village and can easily fit into your holiday. Of course, vibrant Platanias is famous for its crystalline waters and exciting lifestyle. Yet unbeknown to most is a scenhttp://www.oscarvillage.com/studios-apartments-agia-marina-chania/ic 3 km long route that starts from the upper part of Platanias and goes all the way to Drakiana. Passing through orange and citrus trees, avocados, olives and walnut trees you will end up in a small grove by the river, with huge plane trees. You may relax or have a bite in the quaint tavern. You can also visit the neighbouring Byzantine chapel of Agios Georgios.
Walking in Crete: Take to the mountains
If you want to get acquainted with the splendour of Cretan nature, yet without hiking for hours or driving long distances to get there, a great choice is to visit Therissos Gorge, less than 20 km away from Agia Marina-Platanias. With vertical cliffs and lush vegetation, Therisso, or otherwise known as Eleutherios Venizelos Gorge, beauty-wise is on par with Crete’s other more famous canyons. Yet this one is suitable for the somewhat reluctant hikers and families with children.
You may opt to drive through the stunning scenery, stopping along the way to explore and take photos of the goats climbing around on the steep rock face. Then it is lunch in one of the traditional tavernas in the homonymous historical village: Therissos was the starting point of Venizelos’ armed uprising in 1905 that aimed to unite Crete with the rest of Greece.
The more adventuresome, on the other hand, may take the road to Meskla, then drive on to Zourva with the views getting more impressive by the minute. Park your car in the layby and take the path forking off to the right uphill. This path goes steadily uphill and is clearly marked. After about 30min climbing you shall reach a lovely rocky outcrop with great views. Then retrace your steps to the car. Drive on to Theriso with more dramatic vistas in store.
Walking in Crete: Hike the Kings
Blending outstanding beauty, unique scenery and easy-to-moderate hiking opportunities, Crete’s gorges are awe-inspiring and soul-restoring at the same time. If you are looking to connect with nature and engage in thrilling physical activity, then this is your chance. Put on your sturdiest shoes, get kitted with sunscreen, a hat and water and make sure to bring your camera along.
Samaria, often dubbed “Grand Canyon of Europe” is the most famous, and perhaps most dramatic, Cretan Gorge: With a length of 16 kilometres and a width that varies from 150 meters to a narrow 3 where the opposite rock faces almost touch each other, this national reserve is home to the indigenous Kri-Kri goat. It also hosts some rare bird species and several endemic plants and herbs which you’ll see growing on the steep mountain cliffs. It shall take about 6 hours to hike from the top of the White Mountains, all the way down to the seaside Agia Roumeli, where you’ll be recompensed with a cool dip in the village’s crystalline waters.
Samaria’s younger sibling, Imbros Gorge is 11 km long and boasts beautiful landscapes with old cypresses, oaks and maples popping up through the rocks, and a spectacular narrow part of just 1,60 meters. The descent to Komitades village, in which you’ll be greeted with stunning Libyan sea views, is quite easy; takes about 3 hours and is ideal for families with young kids.
Forming a deep cut along the western edge of the White Mountains all the way down to the shores of the Libyan Sea at Sougia, the gorge of Agia Irini is open year-round. Far less crowded than Samaria, it is also significantly shorter at 7.5 kilometres; and much easier on the knees with an altitude of around 500 meters. Strewn with local flora and fauna, including the endangered Cretan wild goat and plants like cypress, pine, and dittany, Agia Irini was once the shelter of Cretan revolutionaries during Ottoman Times. Historical and naturalist interest aside, the 2-hour hike is largely shaded and suitable for hot days.
Walking in Crete: E4- European long-distance path
Thousands of outdoor and trekking enthusiasts are drawn to Crete every year thanks to its myriad hiking opportunities and options. The famous E4- European long-distance path is one of them with routes of varying lengths and difficulties. Suitable for walking throughout the year, the path is meticulously kept. Passing through old trackways, settlements, monasteries and of course, the island’s high mountain reaches, the E4 offers undaunted walkers a first-rate opportunity to experience Crete at its most untouched and authentic.
Combining exotic shores and alpine landscapes with friendly inhabitants, temperate climate and wild beauty, Crete is a hiker’s paradise. Whether you are a seasoned walker or merely a beginner, options abound -and the above mentioned are merely indicative.
Looking to get fully immersed in our island’s rhythms and cadences? Bring along your most comfortable shoes and consult our Oscar Suites & Village team to tailor design the walking adventure that suits your style, needs and party composition.