Crete Island explorer: gorges of the South-West

€660 per person

On the south side of the Aegean Sea lies a remote piece of land so mythical and meanwhile so warm and welcoming. Undoubtedly, it is a paradise for adventure-seekers, hikers or just nature lovers. With a stunning view across the deep blue waters of the sea, the coastline of Crete is proudly named Europe’s most impressive seaside! The majestic high mountains fall steeply into the salty waters of the Libyan Sea and it seems like the connection between the Earth and water is infinite. Wonder how to explore this unique beauty? A self-guided walking trek around at your own pace is the right answer. In just a week you will pass from Irini Gorge, full of fragrant oleander bushes, up to the picturesque plateau of Omalos where you will spend one of your overnights. The trails will take you to the world-famous Samaria Gorge. The program will unlock your romantic side as part of the journey will be the visit of the charming village Loutro, surrounded by harsh rocky hills. The last trek of your independent journey will be a little bit challenging compared to the past hikes but definitely worth doing! A great chance to explore the Aradena Gorge and leave Crete with precious and beautiful memories. On top of these, all of the food lovers will be fully satisfied with the delicious local cuisine and refreshing beverages!

  • Destination
  • Duration
    8 Days I Level: 3 (of 5)
  • What is included
    7 nights accommodation on B&B basis (2x in Paleochora, 1x in Sougia, 1x in Omalos, 1x in Agia Roumeli and 2x in Loutro); All luggage transfers; Transfer Paleochora-Azogirai on Day 2; Transfers Sougia-starting point Irini Gorge and Agios Theodoros (end of Irini Gorge)-Omalos on Day 4 (if requested in advance); Transfer Omalos-Xyloskala (start of Samaria Gorge) on Day 5; Emergency hotline; Detailed road book and maps in English;
  • What is not included
    Admissions and entrance fees of any kind (appr. 7 Euros for Samaria and Irini gorges); Drinks and other meals; Ferry/Boat tickets; City tax (payable locally in the hotels; 0,5-1,5 Euro/night)
  • Best period
    April, May, June, July, August, September, October
Day 1 : Arrival in Paleochora, Crete
Plan your arrival in Crete at one of the convenient airports - Chania and Heraklion. You have to reach your first destination - the city of Paleochora. You can do this via public transport or private taxi (check with us rates for private transfers). Depending on your arrival in the city, you may have some time to wander around the cozy streets with buzzing cafes and restaurants. The coastline is approximately 11 km long and has wonderful sandy and rocky beaches, suitable for all tastes! Back in the time, a Venetian general built a fortress to protect the city and today you can observe the remains of this architectural site.
Day 2: Walk through the Anidri Gorge (only May-Sept, alternative walk from Elafonissos to Paleochora) (11km, 3-4hrs, +75-200m/-450-200m)
A warm-up circular hiking trek awaits you on the first day of the program. After breakfast, you will be transferred to the village of Azogires where it is the starting point of the trail. It matches for a while the famous “Monastery of the 99 Monks-trail”. You will be pleased with a variety of aspects of Cretan nature. The scenery will change from massive olive groves, quiet green hills where a herd of goats is a common view, a typical Byzantine church will pop up behind the hills and a popular schoolhouse tavern will be waiting behind another turn of your path and the highlight of today’s walk - the small rocky gorge of Anidri. You will then reach the peaceful beach of Gialiskari. Before going back to Paleochora along the coastline, you may have some time for relaxing at the beach and swimming in the turquoise waters of the sea. This will be the first option for the day, which is available in April and October only. From June to September a second option may be available (subject to availability with boats): take a ferry (normally operating every day except Sundays; tickets not included in your package) from Paleochora to the marvelous Elafonissi Lagoon from where you can get back to Paleochora along the coast. It is hard to leave this small piece of Paradise, but along the coastal walk, there are many more deserted beaches waiting to be discovered where you can stop to take a deep breath and relax to the fullest. This walk ends at Kryos Beach from where you can arrange a transfer back to Paleochora (taxi ride not included in your package; payable on spot).
Day 3: Coastal walk: from Paleochora to Sougia (15km, 5hr, +375m/-375m)
You leave Paleochora after breakfast and head up towards your next destination - Sougia. The route follows a dirt path that smoothly glides into the tranquil natural wilderness, then continues along the enchanting coastal path (E4) with great panoramic views over the glittering sea. The trek passes through ancient Lissos which back in the time was an important harbor of the Dorian city of Elyros. Due to its strategic location, it flourished economically and the population reached 30 000 at its peak! Many people were visiting this place attracted by the healing power of the local waters. You can also stop for a while and enjoy the pleasure of swimming there before heading off east to Sougia through a beautiful narrow gorge.
Day 4: Mountain walk: from Sougia to Omalos plateau via Irini & Figou gorges (12/16/21km, 6-7-8hrs, up to+1200m/-100m)
A breathtaking trek is yet to come! You will pass through two thrilling gorges at above 1000 altitude. The first gorge to traverse is the Agia Irini Gorge and as Cretans are often quoted to say “every gorge has its own character” so for sure passing through each one of them will be a remarkable experience. The ascent is demanding but not too steep, along a well-maintained hiking trail under the shades of plane and pine trees. After you exit from Irini Gorge you dive into the other adventure by passing into the deep Figou Gorge. After you gain some height you would be able to enjoy spectacular panoramas over the hills! During the Ottoman period, Irini and Figou Gorges were used as a shelter for the Cretan rebels. Strong believers, the inhabitants of these lands have erected many churches and monasteries, and your daily walk will stop by the chapel ‘Agios Theodoros’. If you do not want to walk the last part of the trail you can be transported by car to your hotel in Omalos plain from where you can admire the impressive panorama of the majestic summits of the White Mountains.
Day 5: Walking the Samaria Gorge (17km, 5-6hrs, +50m/-1200m)
The Samaria Gorge is open from 1st May onwards until autumn rains start, usually the end of October. You are about to explore the undeniable raw beauty of one of the most popular gorges in Europe - Samaria Gorge. Its presence in everyone’s must-do list makes it a little bit crowded during some hours of the day, so to avoid the big crowds, we suggest a very early morning start or rather late. You will spend the night in the charming coastal hamlet of Agia Roumeli, located just at the end of the gorge. You do not need to hurry to finish the hike earlier, as you will end just by the salty waters of the Libyan Sea and before set off for dinner, do not forget to swim in its glittering waters. (Please note that the gorge can be closed by authorities in case of extreme weather conditions)
Special notes: In case of adverse weather conditions, the gorge may be closed due to safety measures. The alternative is to travel from Omalos to Sougia and take the ferry from Sougia to Agia Roumeli. There is an optional walking trek to the ‘Kastro’ (Castle of Agia Roumeli) from Agia Roumeli, 10 km length (no route description at hand) In case the ferry is not working due to stormy winds, but the Gorge is open, then you take your most needed stuff for a one-day hike and overnight in Agia Roumeli and the rest of the luggage will be transferred from Omalos to Loutro (Day 6 of the program). In case on Day 6 the ferry is still not running, luggage is taken from Omalos to Chora Sfakion and arrives in Loutro from Chora Sfakion.
Day 6: Coastal walk: from Agia Roumeli to Loutro (15km, 5hrs, +275m/-275m)
After breakfast, get ready for another awesome coastal adventure! You start from Agia Roumeli towards a Byzantine church of Agios Pavlos built on the beach just a few steps away from the salty waves. From there you continue ascending through a coniferous forest until the trails go down to the white-pebbled beach of Marmara. Behind your back you leave the solid figures of the mountains and just in front of you are the deep blue waters of the sea. Do not hurry but relax on this remote beach, there is a welcoming tavern from where you won’t be able to resist the local freshly prepared dishes. Once you are ready to move ahead, you will continue on the coastal trail to Loutro. The white colors of the houses perfectly match the transparent waters of the sea and the great news are - no cars in here! The village is accessible only by foot or boat. Enjoy your well-deserved rest listening to the sound of the calm waters.
Day 7: Roundwalk from Loutro & Aradena Gorge (9-16km, 4hrs, +450-840m/-450-840m)
The last trek of your independent journey will be a circular walk above Loutro. You head off on a zig-zagged steep path up to the village of Anopolis, continue onwards to the abandoned village of Aradena located just at the gates of another impressive gorge with the same name. The hike through this gorge may be a little bit more challenging compared to the other ones so you can shorten the route to 4 hrs duration via the tiny village of Livaniana and then descend through Aradena Gorge to the shore. In case you stay for the longest hike, then get ready for an exceptional beauty all day long! It is very rich in endemic fauna and some of the species are quite rare. Depending on your flight departure tomorrow, you may need to travel back to Chora Sfakion by ferry today, and on to Chania or Heraklion, so you can consider the shorter option due to travel reasons as well.
Day 8: Departure
Say goodbye to Loutro and get on a ferry to Chora Sfakion. From there you can continue to some of the airports (Chania or Heraklion) by public transport or with the pre-booked transfer (check rates for private transfers with us).


660 Euro per person in twin/dbl room (01-28/04)
710 Euro per person in twin/dbl room (29/04-25/10)
* Triple rooms for odd number of travelers available upon request (contact us for details)
Single room & Solo Traveler supplement
Single room supplement: 255 Euro
Solo traveler supplement: 430 Euro (incl. sgl. room supplement)
Daily departures between the beginning of April and the end of October. The best time to travel to the Greek islands is between April and June and September to the beginning of November. In the summer months it gets very hot. Active travelers should either go in the spring time (when nature is at its best) or after summer (when sea water is still warm). The trip is suitable for anyone in a good physical shape. The walks are mostly unsurfaced tracks; footpaths and mountain trails. Some coastal sections are along cliffs. If you very afraid of heights or suffer from acrophobia, this may be challenging.
Best arrival/departure airport: Chania. Heraklion is possible as well, though much further from the starting point. In case of heavy rainfall, the Samaria gorge may be closed. Last minute adjustment to your program may be necessary in that case. In April and end of October the Samaria gorge will be closed and guests will travel with the luggage to Sougia, take ferry to Agia Roumeli and make a 10km walk to the ‘Kastro’. The Samaria Gorge might be closed until app. 25th of April. Opening date depends on the winter rains that cause falling stones.
The nearest airport is Chania. There are direct flights from many European countries to Chania, as well as domestic flights from Athens. From Chania Airport to Vamos Paleochora is possible by public bus with a stop over at Chania bus station. Latest bus at 4 pm. Duration of the trip 1.30 hours. Heraklion airport has direct connections with many European airports. From the bus station in Heraklion city (6km from the airport, accessible by bus or taxi) there are direct buses to Chania (duration trip 2 hours). Here you have to change and take the bus to Paleochora. Total duration trip 4.30 hours. In case of arrival after 12 noon, an extra night in Heraklion or Chania is necessary. You may travel via Athens Airport and take the night ferry from Piraeus to Chania, leaving daily around 9 pm and arriving in Chania at 6 am the next morning. Private transfers from/to Chania/Heraklion - please check details with us.
7 nights accommodation on B&B basis (en-suite rooms), 2x in Paleochora, 1x in Sougia, 1x in Omalos, 1x in Agia Roumeli and 2x in Loutro. The overnights are on bed & breakfast basis. Items for lunch are available in the local shops; at Omalos you may ask for a packed lunch at the accommodation. In the evening you have a wide choice of seaside taverns at all locations. In Omalos there is a limited choice, but the restaurant of the hotel itself offers good, local dishes.

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