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Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

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Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

I am trying to gather as much information on the best walks so that we don't miss the most impressive if you like, photo opportunities, dramatic, walks of interest to try and narrow down where we stay and for how long and of course what not to miss.

I have walks if based in Loutro and Sougia and the coastal walks. I have 3 gorges, Samaria, Irini and Imbros.

What else should we not be missing?


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1. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

You should add the Aradena Gorge, from Loutro or Finix, if you want spectacular. Aradena has no rivals, gorge-wise, for spectacularity, except for Samaria. I like the Agia Irini gorge a lot, too, and Imbros. I've done all these walks many times, but if I had to prioritise them it would be Samaria, Aradena, Agia Irini, Imbros. In other words, if I had to omit one, it would be Imbros.

An early start makes light of the long 650 metre ascent to Anopolis. It also enables you to spend a little time in Anopolis before walking on to the start of the gorge at Aradena. It's untouched by tourism: the only people who stay there are walkers. It is one of the very few places in Crete where traditional Cretan life continues. It would be a good place to stay if you want to do any serious high mountain walking.


From Aradena you descend into the gorge on a beautiful ancient kalderimi (paved path). The walk down the gorge takes about three hours, and you emerge at Marmara beach for a well-deserved swim before returning to home base.

Here is a description of the walk:


It's described in the opposite direction from what I've just told you, and I agree that it's better to walk up it than down it (I think that's true of all gorges: you see more!) But walking up Aradena leaves you with the long descent from Anopolis at the end of the day, and my knees don't like that any more. The descent of the gorge is quite different: it alternates between almost-level stretches, and long clambers down boulders.

Depending on your walking pace, and on how much time you need for your photo opportunities, the whole walk can take anything from 6 hours to 12 hours. I always reckon on 10: it's an all day trip.

Edited: 16 August 2013, 23:02
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2. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

Another long walk - one of my favourites - that you can do from Loutro, or Finix, is up to Anopolis, across the ridge, down to Livaniana on the old path, then down to Finix and Loutro. There are stunning views along the ridge - first of the Lefka Ori, then down onto the coast.

In Anopolis, the people at Kopasis on the plateia can direct you to the start of the path to Livaniana.

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3. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

While not in the south if you get to Chania you might want to consider walking in Ancient Aptera just 18 KM east of Chania. it has 1800 years of civilization spread out over the mountain top with views over Suda bay.

The vaulted Roman cisterns are not to be missed.



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4. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

I would agree with Alabastron on the Aradena, I walked it just the once back in 2007 and hope to get another walk it in soon.

Would also agree on her recommendation about direction but for a different reason. I walked up it and then back to Loutro via Anopolis and do remember finding that the most interesting part of the days walking, the gorge itself, was done and there was still half of the distance to cover. While I did enjoy the sharp descent from Anopolis I now look forward to viewing the sea from as I exit the gorge mouth and finish with the coastal walk back to Loutro on the next visit.

I do remember trying to find information on the Aradena gorge walk back in 2007 was a bit more difficult and the information a bit thin on the ground, now there is a plethora of articles available on the internet.

I also enjoy the walk from Paleochora to Sougia, taking in Lissos

It makes for a full day if you are based in either of these places and I would recommend it from West to East for the same reason as the Aradena walk, this direction save the best for last. I presume that this is one of the "coastal walks" you refer to but thought I would mention it just in case.

Edited: 20 August 2013, 01:28
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5. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret


Re the Paleochora-Sougia walk. It must be done in that direction if you want to do it in a day, because if you do it in the other direction, Sougia to Paleochora, there is no late afternoon ferry to get you back to Sougia. If you are staying in Sougia and want to walk to Paleochora, you'll have to stay the night in Paleochora (no hardship, if that's what you want to do) and return the next day.

I didn't say that I recommend walking down rather than up the Aradena gorge, only that that's the way I now do it, because my knees no longer tolerate the descent from Anopolis. It can be done with great pleasure either way, but my recommendation, for anyone with younger knees than mine, would always be to walk up it. It's easier, and the views in the gorge are better. It avoids the long, long zigzag ascent to Anopolis first thing in the morning (in the gorge you hardly notice that you are ascending, because so much of it is almost level, and the "Up" parts are all steep bounder-climbs). The walk from Aradena to Anopolis is beautiful on the old path, and the coastal views, on the descent from Anopolis to Loutro, are staggering. Above all, it's safer to go up the gorge than to go down it: as the article I referred to in post 1 says, less sure-footedness is required, and there is less risk of a fall.

But I'm sure you'll enjoy doing it "down"! (For me, the great thing about doing it "down" is the swim at Marmara beach after a long hot walk.)

Edited: 20 August 2013, 07:33
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6. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

>the "Up" parts are all steep bounder climbs<

Boulder, not "bounder"!

Edited: 20 August 2013, 07:35
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7. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

Sightseeings in Chania area (copy pasted from my site, hope its not considered as spam)

There are many places to visit both in Crete and in Chania, depending on your interests. Many visitors prefer to explore the nature and different places in Crete. Others are more interested in culture and want to visit museums and archaeological sites. Most tourists though prefer to relax under the sun, on a sandy beach with crystal blue waters. In the following sections I try to describe what to see and how to get to the attractions.

For your trips out of Chania, you can take the public or the travel agency bus for the main destinations. For public bus check timetable: www.bus-service-crete-ktel.com/timetable.php. The difference between the public or the travel agency bus is in the price (public bus is 3-5 € cheaper) and location pick up (travel agencies bus pick up are closer to the hotels). Many public busses depart really early in the morning, which means getting to the Chania central bus station might need taking a taxi. Renting a car might be cheaper if you are 3 persons or above, but always add 15-20 € extra each day for the extra cost of gas. The best time to visit the beaches by car is before 11:00am and after 16:00pm because it’s the time before the tourist busses come and after they leave.


The first and most obvious place to explore is Chania itself. Chania is a very beautiful and interesting town to visit, with its old town, museums, attractions and restaurants. It is very close from the hotel, only 15 minutes by bus. It’s always pleasant to wander in the small alleys of the old town, which was built by the Venetians. All around Chania the visitor can find many shops where he can buy souvenirs, traditional products, fashion items or food. In the old town there are also many restaurants to choose from, with delightfully relaxing views of the old port and lighthouse.

Most sightseeings in Chanea are within walking distance. You can visit the old market which is built in the shape of a cross. There are also three major museums: the archaeological museum, the naval museum, and the foclore museum.


The Old Town (stroll in the narrow alleys, smell and taste real Chania).

Faros (the lighthouse, landmark of Chania).

The museums (Naval, Archaeological, Cretan Culture, in Chania old town, only the Military is 5 minutes out of old town). The museums close around 15:00, its 3 € to get in.

Halidon street and Trimartiry cathedral.

The hill at Kasteli, particularly Prytania (the headquarters of the University of Crete, with the best view of the old port).

Splantzia square and St Nicolaos church with the minaret and bell tower.

Agora (the indoor market in the shape of cross).

Tabakaria (an area east of Chania, by the sea, close to Halepa, where the old tanneries used to be, spooky like going back in time, full of old buildings and factories).

Halepa (an area east of Chania, close to Tabakaria, used to be aristocratic, with the houses of Venizelos, the ex-French school and other old mansions).

Platanias and Agia Marina

Platanias and Agia Marina are located west of Chania, along the beach. There are plenty of hotels, shops, sun loungers on the beach, small bars and restaurants. They are the place to go for the younger generation as there are plenty of clubs and bars during summer.

Young Greeks hang out in Agia Marina beach bars, namely at Ilios ke Ammos, Costa Costa, Okeanos, and Big Apple. These beach bars are a combination of bar, café, restaurant, sometimes with swimming pool, beach volley and water sport facilities. They are trendy and attract mainly young Greeks, between 10-19:00. In July and August Djs are invited and mini parties last between 18-23:00, free entrance.

The biggest open air club in Chania is Villa Mercedes and is located among the above beach bars. Greeks usually go there after 1:00am, the music is mainstream and entrance is 8 euro with a drink. To get there take bus, taxi or drive west of Chania, along the old national road. By bus its 30 minutes, 2.50 €, you buy the ticket on the bus, take one of the green long distance busses from Chania central bus station. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday there are night busses departing on the hour from Chania and returning on the half hour.

South- Western Crete

There are many picturesque villages doting the rugged coastline of southern Crete. If you are adventurous, want pristine crystal clear beaches and want to avoid the masses of tourists, this is the place to be.

Along the coastline there are many small shallow bays and beaches. Most of them are accessible by car, for others, you have to walk for a while. The most well known places and bases for excursions in south-western Crete are Paleohora, Sougia, Sfakia and Plakias, where you can find hotels and restaurants. They are around 2 hours from Chania by public bus and its 15 € return. Along these villages and the southern coastline lies the European path E4. There is no direct road connecting them, and takes around 45 minutes by car, no bus connections, only by boat (7-9 € per ticket). There you can hike, swim, go fishing, dive, or enjoy the tranquil atmosphere they offer, with splendid restaurants offering fresh fish. In the south Loutro and Agia Roumeli are also located (the exit of Samaria gorge) villages, which are accessible only by boat.

Hiking and other activities in south-western Crete:

At Paleohora there are nice beaches east and west of the village. The beach of Grammeno on the west, is quiet and filled with old small cedar trees. On the west there are more beaches but with small pebbles. Also hike to Anydri village, for 1 hour, east of Paliohora. Gyaliskari beach on the far east of Paliohora is ideal for nudists or those who want peace and quiet.

Sougia is a quiet hippy village, has a nice pebble beach. If you like hiking go to Agia Irini gorge, 2.5 hours long. Leave your car in the entrance, hike until you reach Sougia and take the afternoon bus (which takes the Samaria gorge hikers) to Chania and ask to make a stop at the entrance of Agia Irini, to return and pick up your car. Alternatively, drive to Sougia and hike 45 minutes westwards, to Lissos archaeological place. In Sougia you can find Captain George, who can take you with his water taxi to nice beaches for around 3 euros, depending on weather and a minimum number of people. Just ask there how to find him.

At Agia Roumeli is the exit of Samaria gorge with a pebble beach, you can hike the easy way to Portes, the narrowest part of Samaria. Alternatively hike eastwards, to Agios Pavlos beach, one of the best and most quiet beaches of southern Crete.

At Loutro you can relax on the pebble beach or walk along many small hiking paths. It’s a small village inaccessible by car.

At Sfakia there are very few small beaches. You can hike Imbros, Asfentou and Kalikratis gorges, around two hours one way. Imbros is the easiest to access. From Sfakia you can drive to Frangocastelo or other beaches eastward such as Kato Rodakino, Plakias or Preveli.


Elafonisi is located in the south western tip of Crete. It’s a small island which is connected with Crete by a strip of sand and forms a shallow lagoon, ideal for kids (safe) and adults (just lying on the crystal clear water). The whole area is a protected natural environment. One kilometer to the east is Kedrodassos, a nice idyllic beach filled with cedar trees. It is quieter than Elafonisi and popular with nudists and free campers.

Visit Elafonisi by car or bus, 1.5 and 2.5 hours respectively from Chania. By public bus its 20 € return, with a travel agency its 24 euro. Take the new national road from Chania towards Kasteli or Kissamos (it’s the same place) and before you reach this village follow the signs on the left that go south.

On the way don’t miss Agia Sofia cave, with the church inside, which is located in Topolia gorge, and Chrisoskalitisa monastery before you reach Elafonisi. Both are on the way to Elafonisi and take 15 and 30 minutes respectively to visit.

At Elafonisi there are 3 restaurants, and small cantines on the beach for snacks and water. The best time to go to Elafonisi by car is before 11:00am and after 16:00pm because it’s the time before the tourist busses come and after they leave.

If you want to taste original Cretan food cooked in a wood oven, and not touristic, go to Gialites restaurant at Livadia, 20 minutes away from Elafonisi.

Gramvousa and Balos

Gramvousa area is at the north-western tip of Crete. Like Elafonisi, Balos is a small island which is connected with Crete by a strip of sand and forms a shallow lagoon, with Gramvousa island and castle opposite it. Gramvousa can be reached only by a boat from Kissamos port, while Balos by boat or car. Both places are of pristine beauty with rugged cliffs rising around the area. Balos is ideal for kids (safe) and adults (just lying on the crystal clear water). The whole area is a protected natural environment.

Visit Balos by car or bus until Kissamos port, 45 minutes from Chania. By bus it’s 10 euro return, and from there you have two options: Either take boat, departs 10:00-12:00am, costs 22 € return. You can buy the boat tickets from a kiosk at the port. The bus always waits for the boat to return and then departs, around 16:00pm. Or drive along a dirt road, 40 minutes (8km) from Kaliviani village, and then hike for 30 minutes (1.5km) to Balos. This option might be cheaper but has advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that if you have an accident on a dirt road, it’s not covered by insurance, and the hike might be tiring. The advantage is that it’s a cheaper option and enjoy spectacular views of the sunset around 19:00pm.

At Balos there is only one canteen, for a restaurant, you can eat at Gramvousa restaurant at Kaliviani or at the fish restaurants in front of the sea at Kasteli.

The best time to go to Balos by car is before 11:00am and after 16:00pm because it’s the time before the boats come and after they leave.


Falassarna is a 6km long beach on the western coast, with crystal clear and deep waters.

It’s easy to reach by car or bus along the national road. Its 45 minutes by car or 1 hour by bus. There are frequent busses between 8:30am and 13:00am, last bus to return is at 21:00pm, costs 10 euro return.

It’s an easy and quick option for a clean and pristine sandy beach. There are restaurants on the hill before you reach Falassarna, where you can enjoy an amazing sunset.

If you have a car, you can visit the ancient port of Falassarna, where you can see traces of the Minoan village which is located by the side of the mountain. Alternatively, on the way you can visit the old beautiful village of Polyrinia, and the Roman fort nearby with amazing views on the bay of Kissamos.

Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge is the most popular destination for nature lovers in Crete. It’s a well organised national park located in south-west Crete. The gorge is 9 km long and takes about 6 hours to cross it. In Samaria the visitor can see the terrain, the fauna and flora of Crete. You can drink the water from small springs in the rest areas or from the river that flows year round. You will need sport shoes and the hike is along a well marked path. Go as early as possible, so you can walk in the shade and have plenty of time.

Public busses depart at 6:00am and 7:45am, is 1 hour ride, and cost 14 euro return ticket. Travel agency busses cost 24 euro but have the advantage to pick you up at 6:00am close to your hotel. At 6:00 there are no busses to Chania and the only other option is to wait for the 7:00am bus to Chania and then catch the 7:45am bus to Samaria. There is a 5 euro entrance to the national park.

After hiking for 6 hours you will reach the village of Agia Roumeli, by the sea, where you can eat in one of the restaurants, swim and buy the 8-9 euro boat ticket from the small kiosk. The boat will pick you up around 16:00pm and take you to village of Sfakia, where the busses wait for the boat to arrive, and will take you back to Chania.

In Chania prefecture, there are many large and small gorges. Nevertheless, few are accessible without private transport or guide.

By bicycle to Agia lake

Crete is very mountainous and due to the summers’ high temperatures cycling is not recommended.

From Agii Apostoli though there is one easy and beautiful route you can take. You can rent a bicycle for 10 euro for one day, 8 euro per day if you rent for 3 days or more. Cycle to Galatas village, then to Stalos and finally to Agia lake. It’s a small rural road away from traffic, where you can see the original Crete with stone houses and fields filled with olive and orange trees. Agia lake is a popular spot for bird watchers, especially in April-May and September-October, as it is a passing ground for migrating birds. This should take you 1-1.5 hours cycling and can make small diversions depending on what draws your attention.

On the way back you have two options. Either return along the same way, or take the road next to the river that flows to Gerani village. Before you reach Gerani and the old national road turn right and try to return along the secondary small farm roads. In any case avoid riding along the old national road, as it is filled with traffic, hotels, it’s noisy and not a pleasant ride.

For the stronger cyclers, continue from Agia towards Omalos and the village of Zourva 700m high, and then descent towards Therisso village and gorge. You will see unique mountain nature and life with panoramic views of Chania. In total its 5-6 hours of continued cycling without stops (including 1.5 hours downhill ride), and many steep difficult curves up to Zourva.

Akrotiri peninsula

Akrotiri is the peninsula north west of Chania, where the airport is located. At Akrotiri there are certain places of interest which you can visit mainly by car.

Two historic monasteries are worth to visit, Tsagarolon (Agia Triada) and Gouverneto. To reach them you need a car. The monasteries were built around the 16th century and are located in beautiful countryside filled with olive trees. From Gouverneto monastery there is a 40 minute easy well marked path towards the old monastery of Katholiko and Saint John cave.

Alternatively you can drive or catch a bus to the beautiful beach of Stavros, where Zorba the Greek was filmed. There are frequent busses from Chania and cost 7 € return.

On the way to Chania stop at Eleftherios Venizelos graves to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Chania, especially during sunset. The Venizelos graves is like a big park with 2 graves of the famous Greek politicians, a small church built by the Russian Tsar in 1900 and a statue of Kagiales, a symbol of Cretan resistance and the quest for freedom. Nearby there are cafes to sit, the best is Koukouvagia café.

Therisso gorge, mountain villages and archaeology

Another nice route is to drive towards Therisso village through its beautiful gorge. Then go left towards Drakona village where is Dounias restaurant, the best in the area. Continue east to Stilos with its springs and then to Aptera. In Aptera there is a Turkish fort and an ancient Roman town with huge cisterns and spectacular views over Suda bay. Then either go east to Kalives for a swim, or drive along the mountain road to Malaxa on the west and enjoy the scenic route and return to Chania. Its one full day excursion.

Agia Irini gorge, Sougia and Lissos

The following route is nice if you want to combine a small gorge, sea and alternatively, antiquities.

Take the early first bus from Chania or drive to Sougia and stop at Agia Irini gorge entrance. Hike 2.5 hours through Agia Irini gorge until you reach the main road to Sougia and follow it. Bring your own water and snacks, or eat at Sougia. We recommend Polifimos restaurant on Sougias’ main road before you reach the beach.

Alternatively you can hike 45 minutes to Lissos, where there was an Asklepion (ancient medical healing centre), a spring, a small temple with nice mosaic and two nice old churches. To return you can take a water taxi after you contact Captain George from Sougia, who is easy to reach, just ask around Sougia.

To return to your car at Agia Irini, take the bus which departs at 18:00 from Sougia port, after the boat arrival and ask to be dropped off at the entrance to the gorge.


Sfakia is a region with high mountains, rugged coastline and deep gorges. The area is best explored by car.

You can visit 3 beautiful small gorges, Aradena, Imbros and Kalikratis gorges. You need around 3-2 hour hike one way. Many other hikes are possible in this area. Take water with you.

Sfakia is dotted with small beaches, but the best is eastwards, Fragocastelo with the old Venetian fort.


Paleohora is a small village with plenty of beaches to choose from. East and west of the village has nice beaches.

Further to the east is the hippy beach of Gyaliskari. If you drive 10 minutes to the west is Krios beach covered by cedar trees.

For small hike, walk through Anidri gorge.

Lefka Ori

Lefka Ori, or White Mountains, is the main mountainous landmass of western Crete. For the adventurous traveler who has its own transport, it’s the ideal area for discovering the genuine Cretan way of living, following centuries of traditions. Every village and every villager has a story to tell. It’s up to you to discover it!

Knossos and Heraklio

The archaeological site of Knossos is well known as it marked the beginning of the Greek (and European) civilization. Chania to Knossos is 2.5 hours by car. By public bus its 2.5 hour to Heraklio, depart every hour and cost 22 €, then change busses and pay an extra 2.50 €, 20 minute ride to Knossos.

In Heraklio you could also visit the archaeological museum, which has many of Knossos artifacts and walk along the pedestrianised street where the main Venetian buildings are located. Don’t miss the Lions’ square and fountain.

Rethymno Prefecture and beaches

Rethymnon is a nice small city which many people would describe as a ‘miniature’ of Chania. There are busses from Chania every hour and cost 10 euro return. To venture further south for the day is possible only by car.

South of Rethymno, on the mainland, the most beautiful villages are Argyroupoli and Spili, both famous for their springs and archaeological ruins.

If you wish to visit beaches, Rethymno offers many options. South of Rethymno is Preveli monastery and nearby Kourtaliotis river flows, filled with palm trees. If you drive west, you will come across Plakias, Kato Rodakino and Frangocastello villages. All have gorgeous sandy beaches and restaurants. If you want to be more isolated though, go east to Agia Fotini, Triopetra and Agios Pavlos beaches. There are many smaller beaches between the above places that is hard to describe how to get there as you have to drive along dirt roads.

Agii Apostoli...
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8. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

Just a quick note, these 3 hikes are the best summer hikes. In winter there is much more, but trails are not so clear and need a guide. Also check the local mountaineering club, here is the list of excursions: www.eoshanion.gr/en/index.php…

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9. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

I'd like to add a couple of small caveats to your information, George.

The Aradena gorge is very beautiful, spectacular, in fact, but it isn't a "small" gorge except in length. It's not a walk, either: it consists largely of climbing down (or up) rock falls, requiring good balance and the use of hands. There is a steel ladder to negotiate the largest group of boulders, which is not for anyone with vertigo; the alternative is a path cut out of the gorge wall which is even worse for vertigo sufferers. In short, the Aradena is for experienced, fit walkers, not for everyone. (Rach, the OP, who is an experienced walker, will have no problems: I write this for the information of other readers who may want to do it.) Imbros is a more suitable gorge for most walkers.

The estimates of timing for the walk to Lissos and the Agia Irini Gorge are much too low. The walk to Lissos takes a good 1.5 hours, even for fast walkers who don't stop to take photos, look around, or have a picnic. For Agia Irini I'd suggest allowing at least 3.5 hours. You'd have to run to do it in 2.5. From the gorge exit, you need another hour to walk back to Sougia along the road. To do this walk in a day, at any time other than in high summer, you have to check the bus timetables: the 18.00 bus is not a 365-day affair. A taxi would cost (at a guess) around 30-40 euros.

Edited: 23 August 2013, 13:07
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10. Re: Not to be missed walks in South West Crete? (maybe West Cret

thanks all for the information, all will be added to the file.

The Aradena gorge I am not sure I would be able to do. Do not suffer with virtigo but not overly keen on the sound of climbing large bolders if there are steep drops either side, that would be a no no. When I said we walk a lot with our Springers I meant as in distance wise, hills, and a mountain this week in Wales but I am not a climber or scrambler!

Thanks again