One of the most beautiful must-see attractions of Crete, Samaria gorge is the island’s one and only Natural Park, offering a memorable hiking experience to thousands of visitors every year. If you want to cross it, you need to book a guided tour and wake up very early in the morning, as you will need about 5 to 7 hours to cross the 16km trail. However, the striking landscape and the lovely beach at the exit of the gorge will reward your efforts!
Samaria Gorge is situated at the White Mountains in Chania and starts from the scenic Plateau of Omalos 1,250 meters high. Throughout the route you will enjoy a wonderful landscape where rare endemic species of flora and fauna live, including the Cretan wild goat (Capra aegagrus cretica or “Kri-Kri”). The region of Samaria also hides several historical monuments, the remains of ancient settlements, Venetian fortresses and Byzantine temples. In about the middle of the route you will see the abandoned village of Samaria, which was deserted in 1962 when the area was declared a protected National Park. Near the old settlement you will find the temple of Agios Georgios and the Byzantine church of St. Mary of Egypt, as well as a rest area with fresh spring water, benches and tables. Towards the end of the trail you will cross the gorge’s most photographed attraction, the “Iron Gates”, a narrow passage between two steep cliffs. Shortly after, you will reach the modern settlement and beach of Agia Roumeli, where you will find taverns and rooms to rent. Make sure you arrive early enough to enjoy a refreshing swim at the crystal clear waters of the Libyan Sea and relax before you take the ferry to Chora Sfakion and the bus that will lead you back to your destination.
Crossing Samaria gorge can be a bit strenuous, but it is doable by most people with a relatively good physical condition. No special equipment is required except good shoes, comfortable clothes and a sun hat. Don’t forget to bring light snacks, an extra set of clothes, your sunblock, and your swimming suit. Along the way you will find several rest areas with toilets and water springs to fill your bottles. One thing is for sure, if you decide to take the challenge and cross Crete’s most famous gorge, you will never regret it and you will probably want to come back and explore more trails in this region of exceptional beauty!
*The gorge is open to the public from May 1st to October 31st, and opens daily at 7:00