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.

Our Pick of the Crete Guides

Lonely-Planet-Crete-2023.png

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

Other Crete pages

  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in western Crete, including both luxury and inexpensive hotels in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

    Where to Stay in Western Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in western Crete, including both luxury and inexpensive hotels in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Irakleio, the capital of Crete, including nearby beach resort hotels and accommodation in the city centre.

    Where to Stay in Irakleio

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Irakleio, the capital of Crete, including nearby beach resort hotels and accommodation in the city centre.

  • Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.

    Where to Stay in Eastern Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.

  • Keramos Studios in Zaros on Crete is an inexpensive two-star hotel/guesthouse with one of the best breakfasts on the island using food from the family’s farm.

    Keramos Studios in Zaros

    Keramos Studios in Zaros on Crete is an inexpensive two-star hotel/guesthouse with one of the best breakfasts on the island using food from the family’s farm.

  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Central Crete including hotels in Matala, Ayia Galini, and Zaros.

    Where to Stay in Central Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in Central Crete including hotels in Matala, Ayia Galini, and Zaros.

  • The best Crete hotels include 5-star luxury hotels, historic and romantic Venetian palaces, and several hotels in Hania and Iraklion.

    Best Crete Hotels

    The best Crete hotels include 5-star luxury hotels, historic and romantic Venetian palaces, and several hotels in Hania and Iraklion.

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

    Crete

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

  •  The Evros Delta National Park is one of the most important wetlands in the whole of Europe, and a magnet for birdwatchers, with nearby accommodation.

    Evros Delta National Park in Thrace, Greece

    The Evros Delta National Park is one of the most important wetlands in the whole of Europe, and a magnet for birdwatchers, with nearby accommodation.

  •  The Dadia Forest in eastern Greece is famous for wildlife, especially birds, with accommodation and information available at the Dadia Ecotourism Centre.

    Dadia Forest Reserve and Ecotourism Centre

    The Dadia Forest in eastern Greece is famous for wildlife, especially birds, with accommodation and information available at the Dadia Ecotourism Centre.

  • Greece Travel Secrets explores the best areas for Birdwatching in Greece including the Prespa Lakes, Evros River Delta, Dadia Forest and Mesolongi.

    Birdwatching in Greece

    Greece Travel Secrets explores the best areas for Birdwatching in Greece including the Prespa Lakes, Evros River Delta, Dadia Forest and Mesolongi.

  • The Greece Travel Secrets guide to Zaros in Central Crete, including what to do, where to stay, and where to eat.

    Zaros

    The Greece Travel Secrets guide to Zaros in Central Crete, including what to do, where to stay, and where to eat.

  • 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.

    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.

  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Western Crete with tavernas and restaurants in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

    Where to Eat in Western Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Western Crete with tavernas and restaurants in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Eastern Crete including restaurants and tavernas in Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, and Kato Zakros.

    Where to Eat in Eastern Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Eastern Crete including restaurants and tavernas in Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, and Kato Zakros.

  • Western Crete in five days allows time to visit Chania and Rethymnon, enjoy the beaches, hike the Samaria Gorge and see the monasteries at Arkadi and Preveli.

    Western Crete in Five Days

    Western Crete in five days allows time to visit Chania and Rethymnon, enjoy the beaches, hike the Samaria Gorge and see the monasteries at Arkadi and Preveli.

  • Western Crete has some wonderful golden sand beaches as well as mountain villages, monasteries, caves, and archaeological sites to discover.

    Western Crete Beaches and Villages

    Western Crete has some wonderful golden sand beaches as well as mountain villages, monasteries, caves, and archaeological sites to discover.

  • This drive along the west coast of Crete and inland from there will take a whole day and starts and ends in Kastélli Kissámou, west of Chania.

    West Coast of Crete Drive

    This drive along the west coast of Crete and inland from there will take a whole day and starts and ends in Kastélli Kissámou, west of Chania.

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

    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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

    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.

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

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

    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.

  • Greece Travel Secrets discovers Sitia, the main town in eastern Crete, with its relaxing waterfront, inexpensive hotels, good food, and nearby ancient sites.

    Sitia

    Greece Travel Secrets discovers Sitia, the main town in eastern Crete, with its relaxing waterfront, inexpensive hotels, good food, and nearby ancient sites.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Greece Bans Sunbeds, Umbrellas, Bars on 198 Beaches

    Sunbeds, umbrellas, and all sorts of constructions have been banned on 198 beaches across Greece according to a joint ministerial decision signed this week by Economy & Finance Minister Kostis Hatzida…

    Read More

  2. 4 Guesthouses in Zagori that Are Worth Visiting

    Amidst the mountains and spectacular scenery, these four traditional guesthouses in the heart of Zagori, Epirus, offer the very best in Greek hospitality.

    Read More

  3. Greece’s 10 Highest Mountains

    From myth-laden peaks to rugged alpine trails, we explore ten of Greece's highest mountains, where untamed beauty and boundless adventure meet.

    Read More

  4. Paris 2024 Olympic Flame Lit at Ancient Olympia, Countdown to Games Begins

    The Olympic flame that will be burning for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games this summer was lit in Ancient Olympia on Tuesday, April 16. Located in western Peloponnese, Ancient Olympia is one of the most…

    Read More

  5. April 17 Greece National Strike to Affect Public Transport, Ferry Travel

    Public transportation in Athens as well as ferry travel in Greece will be disrupted on Wednesday, April 17, due to a 24-hour strike called by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), the cou…

    Read More

  6. The Ikaria Way

    the-ikaria-way-front-and-back-cover-900.webp
    Greece Travel Secrets reviews the Greek cookbook, The Ikaria Way by Diane Kochilas, containing 100 delicious plant-based recipes.

    Read More

  7. Greece Announces Steep Fines for Beach Access Violations

    The Greek Finance Ministry announced this week that it would taking strict measures including fines of up to 60,000 euros to ensure that Greece’s beaches are always accessible to the public. Fines ran…

    Read More

  8. Cyprus-Greece Ferry Connection to Start on May 29

    For a third year in a row, the ferry service linking Cyprus with Greece is scheduled to resume operations on May 29. The Cypriot-flagged Daleela, which can transport 400 passengers and 200 vehicles, w…

    Read More

  9. Greece Aiming to Include Knossos on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

    The Region of Crete announced this week that all actions had been taken to include the world-famous archaeological site of Knossos on Crete on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

    Read More

  10. Two Top Floors of Athens Hotel Blocking Acropolis View Shut Down

    The Greek Tourism Ministry announced this week that it had sealed off the two top floors and the rooftop bar of a hotel in the center of Athens which were blocking views to the Acropolis.

    Read More