Walking holiday in West Crete

Walking holiday in West Crete

HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS WALKING HOLIDAY IN WEST CRETE

Explore ancient paths that lead through incredible landscapes with ravines, natural springs, gorges, canyons, forests, unique flora & fauna to the stunning Libyan sea beaches and the southernmost area in Europe…

KEY INFORMATION

Tour Duration: 7 or 10 days
Group Size: Small groups
Season: May – October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
7-day Price Per Person: 864 Euro (check our offers)
10-day Price Per Person: 1,224 Euro (check our offers)

PICTURE THIS!

During our walking holiday in West Crete you’ll experience incredible landscapes, beaches, culture and delicate ecosystems, mainly plants, birds and butterflies. Together with our expert naturalist, you will explore the beautiful Cretan coast & mountains, three spectacular gorges, picturesque remote villages and incredible beaches.

The prefecture of Chania is the greenest part of the island as the range of the White Mountains ensures the highest rainfall in Crete. You’ll stay at the picturesque old town of Chania and then continue to the coastal villages of Palaiochora and Loutro, at the Sfakia region where you’ll enjoy incredible views to the Libyan sea. All walks end at Crete’s spectacular beaches.

By joining our walking holiday in West Crete, Greece, you’ll get introduced by a local to a side of Crete that few people know about.

10-DAY WALKING HOLIDAY in west crete ITINERARY

Day 1: Welcome & historical walk around Chania
Meeting at Chania. Transfer to your accommodation at the historical part of town. We’ll walk around the Old Town to explore the traditional architecture, lively market, monuments and the picturesque Venetian harbour with its distinctive lighthouse. Opportunity to swim at one of the nearby beaches. Supper at one of our favourite local taverns.

Day 2: Explore the wild and remote Rodopos peninsula
Today we’ll explore the remote Rodopos peninsula, a place of wild beauty. The barren, rocky Peninsula with the exception of a few small villages at its base, such as Afrata, Astratigos, Aspra Nera and Ravdoucha with stone-built houses, traditional ‘kafeneia’ where elderly Cretans with the traditional black headband gather, the rest is uninhabited. A paved road goes as far as Afrata village where we’ll start our walk towards the cave of Ellinospilos and the ruins of Diktynna Sanctuary, dedicated to the daughter of Zeus. The myth tells that in order to escape from King Minos she jumped into the sea and fishermen picked her up in their nets. The people of Crete called her Diktynna (which means “net”) and used to walk barefoot to the sanctuary with their offerings.

There are many options for short and long walks walks and the length of our walk will be determined by the wishes of the group. Expect to see many wild flowers in spring, many migratory & resident birds (such as white-tailed eagle) and enjoy excellent views to the Aegean Sea.

Walking distance: 10km, 3 hours. Actual walking time: 5-6 hours. The path is considered easy.

Day 3: WALK & SWIM AT THE TURQUOISE WATERS OF BALOS BEACH & GRAMVOUSA

At the northwestern tip of Crete, there’s a wild, almost inhospitable peninsula, ending in one of the most exotic beaches. We’ll drive up to a point and then walk for 40 minutes. The steep and rocky slopes of the mountain Geroskinos end up in a golden white sand beach and then into a huge round rock which traps the sea water forming a large lagoon, where the water has a depth of just a few centimeters.

On the right-hand side of the bay the water deepens enough so that you can enjoy swimming surrounded by the exotic islets of sand. The scenery is completed with the two isolated islets of Imeri and wild Gramvousa. We’ll walk to the Venetian castle built on top of Imeri which was the starting point for excursions of Cretans rebels against the Turks.

Gramvousa and Balos are biotopes, areas of oustanding natural beauty, part of the European NATURA 2000 programme. Whether you’re seeking to reproduce your own version of the iconic image above or simply wish to dip your toes in the pristine waters of Balos, it promises to be a breathtaking experience.

Walking distance: 6km, 2 hours. Actual walking time: 3-4 hours with stops for observations and rest. The path is considered easy.

Day 4: Walk the Samaria gorge, rich in plant & animal life

The famous gorge of Samaria, the 2nd longest in Europe, is situated in the National park of Samaria, at the White Mountains. We’ll start the hike from the village of Omalos, from an altitude of 1230m and hike 16km down to the Libyan sea shore and the picturesque village of Agia Roumeli.

In the gorge you will find around 450 unique plant species, protected under international law, in order to safeguard this delicate ecosystem. You’ll walk past huge pine and cypress trees and you may meet its famous inhabitant, the endemic wild goat of Crete or “Kri-kri”. The walk through the Samaria Gorge takes 4-8 hours depending on your pace and it is totally worth it! Six hours is the normal time including stops to rest and appreciate the natural landscape and wildlife.

We’ll end the day with a swim and then we’ll take the boat to Palaiochora where we’ll spend the night.

Walking distance: 16km, 5 hours. Actual walking time: 6-8 hours with stops for observations and rest. The path is considered easy to moderate.

Day 5: WALK ALONG THE E4 path TO THE INCREDIBLE ELAFONISI
Today we’ll start early in the morning from Palaiochora and walk along the European hiking route E4 towards the cedar forest and the stunning Elafonisi. Elafonisi is a peninsula of exceptional natural beauty, part of the Natura 2000 Protection Program. You’ll walk through the sea to reach its small islet, lie at its small coves and sandy beaches and admire its interesting rock formations as the island stretches out into the sea and into the sunset. You’ll return by boat to Palaiochora in the evening.

Walking distance: 10 km, 3.1 hours. Actual walking time: 4-5 hours with stops for observations and rest. The path is considered easy.

Day 6: FREE DAY

Day 7: WALK TO THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF LISSOS & SOUGIA VILLAGE
Another amazing coastal hike that crosses beautiful beaches and coves as well as the archaeological site of Lissos. We’ll explore Lissos and soak up its incredibly peaceful atmosphere, its Asklepeio temple, the Roman necropolis and the two chapels with interesting frescoes. You’ll enjoy a swim and continue walking to the laid back village of Sougia. Lunch and rest before taking the boat back to Palaiochora.

Walking distance: Option for 9km or 16km, 3-5 hours. Actual walking time: 4-6 hours with stops to swim, visit Lissos and rest. The path is considered easy.

Day 8: COASTAL WALK ALONG THE INCREDIBLE SHORES OF THE LIBYAN SEA

From Agia Roumeli starts the easy and incredibly beautiful coastal walk which is part of the European E4 hiking trail that leads to Loutro and Chora Sfakion. You’ll enjoy a relaxed walk towards Agios Pavlos beach where you’ll swim, snorkel and enjoy the turquoise colours, vastness and remoteness of the south beaches of Crete. We’ll continue towards Marmara beach where we’ll stop for lunch. We’ll eventually end our walk at the picturesque port of Loutro where we’ll spend the night.

Walking distance: 13km, 4 hours. Actual walking time: 5-6 hours. The path is considered easy.

Day 9: VISIT TO HISTORICAL ANOPOLIS & DESCEND ARADHENA GORGE

Today we’ll ascend the ancient path to the historical Anopolis village, the centre of revolutionary activities against the Venetians and the Turks. Traces of the ancient city are still visible. Time to have lunch and a break and experience the authentic village culture of Crete. From Anopolis we will walk to the abandoned Aradhena village before descending through the Aradhena gorge back to Marmara beach. Several pairs of griffon vultures nest in the cliffs of the gorge and we look forward to spot them for you. After a swim in the crystal waters of Marmara beach we’ll return to Loutro.

Walking distance: 11km, 5 hours. Actual walking time: 7-8 hours. The path is considered moderate.

Day 10: Walk through the imposing Imbros Gorge

We’ll start from the picturesque village of Imbros built at an altitude of 780m which is inhabited mainly from spring till autumn as in the winter it is covered with snow. The gorge will fascinate you with its fig trees, almond tress and cypresses and its wild flowers. It is an easy downhill 8km walk till you reach the village of Komitades.

Imbros gorge became a refuge for Christians during the Turkish occupation and a base for revolutionaries. For Australians, New Zealanders and some British, walking through the gorge of Imbros is almost a pilgrimage. Many Allied troops walked through the gorge in May 1941 in order to escape the island to Egypt. We’ll end the day with a swim and a beautiful meal by the sea.

Walking distance: 8km, 2.5 hours. Actual walking time: 4-5 hours with stops for observations and rest. The path is considered easy.

Day 11: Return to Chania in the morning

 

The above itinerary can be combined with our walking holiday in Santorini!

The walks during our walking holiday in West Crete, Greece are graded as easy to moderate. We will walk mainly on paths of moderate gradient with ascents of up to 500m in a day. We will walk up to 5-6 hours including stops to rest and for lunch.

Flexible itineraries are available based on the needs of our guests. We can organise a more challenging or a more relaxed-pace itinerary offering you more time to relax and enjoy the sea and sun of the Libyan sea.

Solo travellers are welcome. It’s always more fun to walk with a group of like-minded travellers.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

We organise our walking holidays in West Crete, Greece all year round apart from July and August when it can be quite warm. Spring and autumn are the best times of year for walking. In spring nature is at its most abundant. The island is covered with a blanket of wild flowers. During the walks you can also discover rare orchids. The colorful butterflies are a feast for the eyes; you smell herbs like thyme, oregano and sage. In the summer, it is a little drier but in autumn the first rains bring a new shower of flowers and amazing autumn colors.

We have reserved for you lovely authentic family-run guesthouses. The owners are very hospitable and helpful and are known to provide the most delicious breakfasts.

The combination of natural beauty, culture but also the hospitality of her residents will make this walking holiday in West Crete, Greece, unforgettable for you.

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