Samaria Gorge in Crete: a hike for the soul

I have seen many beautiful places in the world, but the Samaria Gorge on the Greek island of Crete is definitely one of the most impressive. The 17 km hike took me through a breathtaking landscape full of high cliffs, deep gorges and crystal clear rivers. I can’t wait to share my experience of the hike with you.

Before we get started, here’s a checklist for a beautiful and safe hike in Crete:

– Comfortable clothes and (broken-in) shoes.

– Sufficient water and snacks (there are restaurants in Agia Roumeli)

– Sunglasses and sun cream

– Map and compass

– Rain jacket (in case of emergency)

– First aid kit

– Camera or smartphone (to capture your memories)

Data on the hike itself:

– approx. 17 km from Omalos to Agia Roumeli

– elevation: 520 metres uphill

– 1720 metres of altitude downhill

– Walking time approx. 3.5 to 4.5 hours depending on fitness level

Getting to the Samaria Gorge

It is best to take a public bus or book an organised tour. Take a bus from Chania to Omalos/Xyloskalo. This is the entrance to the national park.

If you arrive by rental car, you have the problem that you have to return to the car park. This can be logistically difficult.

A hike for the soul in the longest gorge in Europe

I set off early in the morning and was immediately fascinated by the beauty of the landscape. The sun was just breaking through the cliffs and bathed the surroundings in a warm, golden light. The air was fresh and cool and it was a perfect day for walking.

I can’t describe how calming it was to walk through the gorge and hear the sound of the river. Nature had an incredibly relaxing effect on me and I was able to forget all the stress and hustle and bustle of everyday life. It was almost as if I had entered a new, peaceful world.

I was struck by the size and beauty of the cliffs and gorges that surrounded me. I couldn’t help but keep stopping to admire the view. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to experience this wonderful place. In 1962, the last inhabitants left the now abandoned village of Samaria, which was too remote to live in.

The Samaria Gorge is unique and it is no wonder that it has become one of the most popular destinations for hiking in Crete. The beauty and solitude of the place touched me deeply and I will never forget the experience. When I arrived at the end of the hike, I felt refreshed and invigorated. The landscape had changed me and I carried a sense of peace and tranquillity in my heart.

How difficult is Samaria Gorge?

The hike in Crete’s only national park is quite demanding and you will have to put in some effort depending on your fitness level. There are some steep climbs, descents, uneven spots and some risky places where caution is advised along the trail.

But I want to be honest: I booked this hike as an excursion through TUI on site. Call me lazy, but I wanted to save myself the walk up from the coast to the starting point in the Omalos plateau and so benefited from a transfer by boat and bus back to the starting point of the hike or to the hotel.

view of loutro
Transfer by boat to the village of Loutro

How do you get back from the Samaria Gorge?

1. by boat: the beach of the coastal village Agia Roumeli is the end of the walk through the gorge. From there you can take a boat to Chora Sfakion or Paleochora. The boat schedules vary depending on the season. You should arrive in Agia Roumeli before 5.30 pm to be sure of getting a boat. You can pass the time waiting in one of the restaurants in Agia Roumeli or dip your feet in the Libyan Sea (it’s really called that) at the black-sand beach. Plan for the fact that you will not be at your destination after the boat trip and take this into account when planning your time.

2. by bus: There are also bus connections from Omalos/Xyloskalo to the town of Chania that run throughout the day. From Chania you can reach almost all places in Crete.

3. by car: If you have driven to Samaria Gorge by car, you will have to walk back to the car park. agia roumeli beach crete

agia roumeli beach crete
Beach of Agia Roumeli

Here are some of the most famous gorges in Crete besides Samaria Gorge:

  • Imbros Gorge: Imbros Gorge is a long, narrow gorge in western Crete known for its stunning scenery and challenging hike.
  • Elafonisi Gorge: Elafonisi Gorge is a short but stunning gorge in western Crete known for its colourful rocks and crystal clear waters.
  • Kourtaliotiko Gorge: Kourtaliotiko Gorge is a stunning gorge in southern Crete known for its rugged cliffs and remote location.
  • Aradena Gorge: Aradena Gorge is a spectacular gorge in southwest Crete, known for its breathtaking views and historical remains.

These gorges offer a unique opportunity to experience the nature of Crete and enjoy an unforgettable hike. Probably with fewer other hikers along the trail too, as they are usually in Samaria Gorge in high season. If you’re lucky you will get to see a Cretan goat (they call them “kri kri” in Crete).

-> Here are more things to see and do in Crete.

Conclusion Samaria Gorge on Crete

I can only recommend everyone to do a hike through the Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete. It is an unforgettable experience and a must for anyone who wants to enjoy the beauty of nature. Get ready for a breathtaking journey through one of the most spectacular landscapes and longest gorges in Europe!

τα λέμε στην Κρήτη – See you in Crete.

Questions and answers about the Samaria Gorge hike

When is the best time to visit Samaria Gorge?

Avoid the height of summer, when up to 4000 people a day visit the national park. August is peak season. Go as early as possible to get there before the crowds. May or September/October are the best times, also in terms of temperature.

Which gorge in Crete is the most beautiful?

The most beautiful gorge on Crete is the Samaria Gorge. Immediately after that are the Imbros Gorge and the Elafonisi Gorge. All very spectacular!

How long does it take to hike the Samaria Gorge?

The hike through the Samaria Gorge takes about 4-6 hours.

How much is the entrance fee to Samaria Gorge?

The entrance fee for Samaria Gorge or Samaria National Park is normally 5 euros per person. However, there are certain discounts for students, pupils and families. The price of the ticket varies depending on the season and other factors. The entrance fee for the Samaria Gorge is usually for one day only. If you wish to camp in the gorge, this will cost additional fees. They check the ticket when you leave the national park, so keep it until the end!

Is Samaria Gorge dangerous?

Samaria Gorge can be dangerous if hikers are not prepared enough or are careless. There are some risky spots in the gorge that require abrupt descents or difficult climbs. In the past, some people have been injured. It is important to bring enough water, appropriate footwear and sufficient provisions and to walk carefully. During heavy rainfall, flash floods can occur in the riverbed.

Can you do Samaria Gorge on your own?

Yes, you can do it on your own. But an organised tour might even be cheaper and save you time and hassle. especially in the peak season it might be hard to get a ticket for the boat if you don’t book in advance. If you’re not an experienced hiker you might want to go with a guide.

Can kids hike Samaria Gorge?

Can your kid walk for 4 to 6 hours? If yes, then the Samaria Gorge can be a great experience for kids of 5 years and above, as long as they are fit and prepared. The hike is mostly downhill, but there are some sections that can be difficult for young children. It’s important to bring plenty of water and snacks, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and have a plan for the day. With these simple tips in mind, you can enjoy an amazing day out with your family in Samaria Gorge! The entrance for children under 15 is free.

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