T he island of the Gods is not only an island of beaches, archaeological sites or colorful vacations, it is also a high place of hiking! Discover the 6 spots to do absolutely, for confirmed walkers or amateurs…
Hiking Crete #1: try the E4 Trail and cross the island!
We start this Top 8 of the best hikes on the island of Crete with the hardest of them all: the famous E4 Trail! A trail that measures no more and no less than 10,450km in length and crosses Europe, from Portugal to the island of Cyprus. By way of a beautiful hike in Crete.
The E4 crosses Crete from west to east, starting from Kissamos. It ends at Kato Zakros in the east, after the famous Valley of the Dead, which we will talk about below.
But above all, the E4 trail, marked from one end to the other, crosses some of the most beautiful places of the Greek island:
- Agia Roumeli,
- The plateau of Nida,
Below, the map is rough, but allows to realize the journey!
The markings are yellow and black all along the trail. The Cretan hike is 95 km long and climbs to a maximum altitude of 1250 m in the Irini Gorge.
Hiking in Crete #2: Samaria Gorge, wonder of Mother Nature
The Samaria Gorge is often cited as one of the main sights of an island that has so many. This is why this hike in Crete is a must!
Located in the heart of the White Mountains, in the west of the island and about 43km from the city of Chania, you should rush to this spectacular hike. And to start your walk, go to the beginning of the national park at Xyloskalo.
Afterwards, more than 16 km of walking and wonders await you: arid, mountainous landscapes, deep gorges, aquatic hiking, goats, plane trees, cypresses… Allow 4 hours for experienced hikers and 6 hours for slower walkers.
For those who would like to experience Samaria to the fullest, with a local guide, and discover all the secrets of this magical place, opt for one of the following organised excursions:
Hiking in Crete #3 : walk towards Loutro, the only way to get there?
Loutro is one of the postcard villages of the Greek island. An ancient and unpretentious fishing village typical of Crete, it is unfortunately better known today as a tourist spot than for its maritime activity.
The bay of Loutro, surrounded by mountains, is also an exceptional place, beautifully shaped by Mother Nature. The colours of the sea, to be admired from the heights, are the highlight of Cretan hiking.
Walk to see the village from afar and take some amazing photos!
Two paths lead you to Loutro:
- From the no less beautiful village of Chora Sfakion, in 2h – 2h30 and about 10 km. It is possible to stop at one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete: Glyka Nera.
- From the village of Agia Roumeli, in more than 6 hours of walking and about 15.1km.
Two relatively easy trails, with some elevation through the mountains above Loutro. Don’t forget your cameras!
Huking in Crete #4 : what about the Gorge of the Deads?
A lovely name that makes you want to go. Even more so when we tell you that the hike is completely accessible to children! This is also one of the main hikes in Crete.
Located in the east of the island, it reaches the villages of Zakros and Kato Zakros for about 7 kilometres. Note that it is possible to do the opposite route and that the path is marked in red.
Arid landscapes, cliffs, sunny (and sometimes shady) roads and gorges will be your main walking companions, to arrive notably at Kato Zagros and its monoen palace. The last of the 4 discovered in Crete. Wild and in ruins, the palace is very close to the beach and covers an area of 8000 m².
Huking in Crete #5 : walk to Elafonisi beach
A social network icon and a favourite spot for influencers, Elafonisi is not just a place of hype, it is above all a breathtaking beach. Like Crete has dozens of them. The yellow, white and pink sandbanks intermingle and you can swim in turquoise waters.
Elafonisi is therefore a 2-in-1 place: relaxing on the beach, but also hiking!
Indeed, from the lagoon of Elafonisi starts a path marked out in yellow and black and which can even lead to Frangokastello, in the vicinity of Chora Sfakion! It is nothing less than the famous E4 trail.
You can also walk to Palaiochora in 7 hours and 31 km by land. Or to the beach of Kedrodasos near the cedar forest if you are looking for a quieter environment (about 7h15 and 33 km).
It is of course also possible to go to Elafonisi by excursion as below:
Hiking in Crete #6 : Balos Beach and all its colors
In the far west of the Greek island is a place that could also be described as “magical”, “breathtaking”, “Mother Nature’s masterpiece”…
It is the beach of Balos, 54 km and 1h23 from Chania or 15 km and 37 min by car from Kissamos. Your hike to Balos can start right after leaving the car park, which is about 25 minutes (or 40 minutes for the less sporty) walk from the incredible Balos Beach.
This is a rather sporty walk, which is best done in the morning to avoid too many tourists and hikers, and above all, not to walk too much in the sun (even if a fantastic bath awaits you at the end!).
The return to the car park will take a little longer: don’t hesitate to take water, good walking shoes (essential here) and a hat. Finally, there is a slightly longer walk to Balos Beach. It starts from Kaliviani, for about 2 hours and 10 km.
To get to Balos Beach on an organised tour, see below: