Hiking in Southwest Crete

It's hard to know where to look when you're in full hiking gear, following a path, and find yourself crossing a nudist beach. The path we were following was part of the E4 European long-distance footpath, where it goes along the coast of southern Crete. The landscape of this part of Crete is incredibly varied, but we'd gone from stony scrub to bare bums in just a few seconds.

It may have been October but the temperatures on Crete were still in the 80-90F (26-32C) range, making for hot hiking, even before our unexpected encounter. Averting our gaze, we plodded on along the E4, following the signs up and over another headland or two, where we found deserted beaches and private coves, the perfect place for a picnic lunch and cooling swim. For those who still had energy left it was only a little further to the beach at Elafonissi, one of the biggest and most stunning on Crete.

Elafonissi Beach in Southwest CreteElafonissi Beach in Southwest Crete

This southern coast of Crete is far more rugged than the north. In some places the mountains come so close to the Libyan Sea that there's no room for a road inbetween, and a few villages are only accessible by boat or footpath, or by one road in and out. From Elafonissi we could have returned on foot but there was also a convenient boat to take us back to our base at the Hotel Pal Beach, right on the seafront in Paleohora. Another day we hiked the Samaria Gorge, where a boat also took us back to Paleohora, providing an end-of-day bonus of great views of those coastal cliffs.

The Samaria Gorge on CreteThe Samaria Gorge on Crete

On the first day our guide, Samzie, who leads walking groups all over the world, was on virtually home territory as she broke us in gently with a walk from Paleohora to the village of Anidri, where her father has a house and which she's been visiting since she was a child. We walked through olive groves and past horse pastures, then along goat tracks that zig-zagged us up to a little white chapel, Agios Giorgios, overlooking Anidri on one side and the Libyan Sea on the other.

Blackboard and diners at Sto Scholeio Taverna in Anidri, CreteLunch at Sto Scholeio Taverna in Anidri, Crete

There were views of the sea from the amazing Sto Scholeio taverna, where we had lunch. We were early and had to patiently wait for food, as every dish is prepared fresh each morning and they don't start till everything's ready. Inside the chefs were chopping, outside our stomachs were rumbling as we gazed longingly at the menu's treats: bacon, date and almond rolls, fennel pie, octopus with walnut and garlic dip, baked sea bream, pork with leek and orange... peach tart, cheesecake, orange pie and chocolate brownies. Thankfully it was downhill all the way after lunch, as we picked our path down through the Anidri Gorge to the local beach, then eventually back along the coast road to Paleohora.

On our final day we got Lucky, literally, as Lucky's the owner of a taverna in the mountain village of Azogires. After serving us a tasty lunch of Greek salad, chips, souvlaki, tzatziki, dolmades, pork chops, assorted pies and more wine than it's safe for a walking group to drink before a walk, Lucky turned to another of his jobs and became a walking guide as he took us on a ramble round Azogires, with tales of its history that were alternately hilarious and moving, and always fascinating.

Lucky Brings the Food

As Lucky led us down to the gorge that would take us back to Anidri, he took us into a church that had been carved out of the rock face alongside the path. There, after regaling us with more stories, he blessed us all with holy water. It was one of those simple gestures you can only get away with by being absolutely sincere. We did indeed feel blessed to have met Lucky, and lucky to have spent a week walking in this part of Crete.

Meet Lucky on our YouTube Channel

More Information
Greece Travel Secrets hiked on Crete’s Southwest coast with Ramblers Walking Holidays in the UK (www.ramblersholidays.co.uk). The one-week holiday price includes flights, half-board accommodation with dinners at local tavernas, the services of a dedicated leader and all local transport.

See also: Walking on Crete's Southwest Coast.

Other Ramblers walking holidays in Greece include:
Cretan Trails and Tavernas
Wild Crete


Some other Crete pages

  • Crete

    Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.

  • Zacharioudakis Winery

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.

  • Touring the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.

  • The Icon Painter

    Icon painting is a centuries-old tradition in Crete and the rest of Greece, and Greece Travel Secrets meets a modern-day icon painter in Elounda on Crete.

  • The Herb Man of Kouses

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.

  • The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • The Snails House on Crete

    The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.

  • Sir Arthur Evans, archaeologist at Knossos on Crete

    Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

  • Samaria Gorge

    The Samaria Gorge is one the longest gorges in Europe and doing the hike is one of the best and most popular things to do on Crete.

  • Rethymnon in Western Crete

    Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

  • Phaistos Minoan Palace on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.

  • Paleohora and the South-West Coast

    The area east from Paleohora along the south-west coast of Crete includes resorts like Agia Galini, gorges like the Imbros Gorge and quieter towns like Sfakia.

  • Our Hire Car in Crete

    The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

  • Matala Beach

    Matala Beach on Crete is a guest blog for Greece Travel Secrets from the We Love Crete website, inviting you to Awaken Your Inner Hippy in Matala, Crete.

  • Margarites

    Margarites is known on Crete for its pottery, with ceramics shops and workshops lining the streets of this charming small town not far from Rethymnon.

  • Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

  • Malia and its Minoan Palace on Crete

    Malia on the north coast of Crete is renowned for its nightlife and beaches but also has the Minoan Palace of Malia, one of Crete's many archaeological sites.

  • Maleme and the German War Cemetery on Crete

    Maleme near Chania is where the people who died during the battle of Crete are buried, in the German War Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Cemetery nearby.

  • Making Rakomelo on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.

  • Lonely Planet Crete

    Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

  • Knossos

    Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.

  • Irakleio

    Crete's capital and largest city is Irakleio, also called Iraklion or Heraklion, a large and busy place with good restaurants, museums and historical buildings.

  • How to Make Petimezi

    How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge

    Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.

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