Crete is one of those islands we keep returning to because it has everything. From gorgeous beaches and warm water for swimming, to some of Greece’s most spectacular walking and hiking trails.
This island – which is made up of valleys that cut through six different mountain ranges – is home to breathtaking gorges, dramatic peaks, and gushing waterfalls. Because of that, hiking and walking in Crete is one of our favourite activities when we visit.
Here we share some of the best trails in Crete so you can enjoy hiking and walking on the island as much as we do. We’ve split them up into short, middle, and long distance, so there should be a route that suits everybody.
Walking and hiking in Crete: Short distance trails
This 5.5 mile (9km) walk can be a little difficult in places, but is highly rewarding as you’ll find yourself at a large waterfall which has a pool perfect for swimming!
The trail itself is a bit overgrown in places – but that provides lots of shade – and has the feel of an Indiana Jones movie. Although that adds to the fun! Just make sure you have good walking shoes. Look out for all the small waterfalls on the way too.
It’s probably best to hike up the gorge by starting at Richtis Beach as the trail here tends to be better than at the trailhead at Exo Mouliana. Both will get you to the 20 meter high waterfall, but be careful of slippery rocks and some deep pools of water on the way. This hike should last around four hours, or longer if you decide to stay at the waterfall for a while.
This lagoon is often described by locals as the ‘Caribbean in Crete’ and you will see exactly why when you visit. The different colours of blue, coupled with the gorgeous soft sand, makes this one of Crete’s prettiest beaches.
There’s a car park at Balos, and then it’s a one mile walk down to the shallow lagoon which is perfect for swimming. The lagoon is situated in a nature reserve so make sure you stick to the path.
Moni Katholiko to Stavros
This trek of moderate difficulty is just under 6 miles (9.5km) in length and will start at the entrance to Katholiko Monastery – believed to be the oldest monastery in Crete.
The walk from the monastery takes you down to Stavros – a lovely quaint village that sits in a cove. You will pass an ancient bridge, destroyed villages, and other archaic religious sites as you make your way towards the sea. It’s beautiful and probably our favourite Crete hiking trail.
You can then get a taxi from Stavros up to the monastery, or make the hike back up (another six miles), although it is steep in places.
This short walk is popular with locals and starts at Chania’s old harbour. From there, make your way around the harbour counter-clockwise and go past the marina and mosque.
It shouldn’t take longer than an hour to get to the 200-year-old lighthouse, and the walk is pretty easy – although watch your step as the path can be uneven in places.
The view back towards Chania from the lighthouse is great, plus the Nautical Museum of Chania is on the walk – so it’s possible to pop in on your way to the lighthouse!
Walking and hiking in Crete: Middle distance trails
Gorge of the Dead
The name of this hike might not be appealing, but we promise it’s far better than it sounds! The gorge actually has this name because the huge caves that are found here were used as tombs by the Minoan people – a civilization that lived from 3000 BC – 1000 BC.
There are a couple of trailheads just before the village of Zakros, and the 7.5 mile (10km) trek will take you through a pretty gorge which has cliffs that tower 350m above in places.
But bring your swimming shorts and bikini! Why? Well this gorge hike takes you to a breathtaking beach with turquoise hues and warm water for swimming. It’s the perfect place for a picnic. The trek through the gorge and back, could take around 5 hours.
Sougia to Tripiti
This walk is regarded as the best hiking trail on the southern coast and will take you from the pretty beach village of Sougia to Tripiti gorge and beach.
The hike hugs the coastline, exposing you to spectacular views and bays. On the way you will come across an old Venetian fortress, the ancient town of Pikilassos, an atmospheric chapel, and Tripiti gorge.
It will take around four hours one way, so eight hours at least to go there and back. Rather than walk both ways, we recommend getting a boat to Tripiti (which will usually land beside the gorge), and then walking to Sougia. The Sougia website has more about this walk, which you can see here.
This ten mile (16km) lovely hike combines wildlife, natural wonders and ancient history, which is why this hike is one of the busiest Crete hiking trails. You can find the trailhead 2.5 miles south of the village of Omalos and it ends at Agia Roumeli.
You’ll be walking along the gorge floor so the trail is only open from May-October, and will be closed on rainy days for safety reasons. Particularly as around 7-8 miles in, you come to a part named the ‘Gates’ which is where the sides are only around 5 meters apart, but rise to 500m high!
Expect to see wild goats and keep an eye out for the rare bearded vulture. The now abandoned 14th century village of Samaria can be found around the five-mile mark. You can see a map of the trail here.
Walking and hiking in Crete: Long distance trails
This mountain is the highest in Crete at 2456m, but thankfully it’s not too difficult to hike and can be done in one day. While the trail is not long distance (around 5-7 miles there and back depending on the route you choose), this walk can take 8-10 hours.
There are several different trails to reach the top, but the trailhead at Migeros Plataeu or Nida Plateau are two of the easiest. Both will take around 4-5 hours to reach the peak, where you will have spectacular panoramic views of Crete and out across the ocean.
Like all walks in Crete, make sure you take plenty of water, food and sun protection.
The E4 trail
The E4 trail is a European long distance path that starts in Spain and ends in Cyprus, but makes it way through Crete!
The beginning of Crete’s longest hiking trail is Kastelli Kissamou. It will then split off at Sougia into two paths: one northern, and one southern. We recommend taking the southern route which is easier, albeit it’s still around 200 miles (320km) in length!
This trek will take 3 weeks in total, and will require camping or sorting out accommodation on the way. (Related: Camping in Greece).
You could also choose to hike one of the 91 segments that make up the Crete E4 trail – you can see those segments, and information regarding each, here.
Recommended for your walking and hiking in Crete adventure
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