before completing this do a review olf the Keramos Hotel in Zaros

Rouvas Gorge Walk

This Rouvas Gorge walk starts and ends in Zaros in southern Crete and should take three to four hours with a distance of eight kilometres or five miles.

Google map showing location of Rouvas Gorge on CreteEntrance to the Rouvas Gorge on Crete
Map (c) Google Maps

This exhilarating walk takes you to a mountain monastery and up a rocky gorge, rich in flora and fauna and with beautiful views of central Crete’s Psilorítis range. If you want to make a full day of it, you can extend the walk to another mountain church. Start early to avoid the worst of the midday heat.

NOTE: These directions were correct at the time of writing but sometimes routes can change so check before setting off.

Zaros

The delightful village of Záros nestles at the southern foot of Mount Ída (Psilorítis). It is famous throughout Crete for its spring water, bottled by a local company on the edge of town. Drive west through town and park on the main road near the post office. (To shorten the walk, you could also drive to the lake).

Lake Votomos

Continue walking along the main road. Just past a modern fountain, you’ll see signs for the Idi Hotel and Lake Votomos. Turn right and follow the narrow road up the hill, past vegetable gardens and an old olive press to the Idi Hotel (see page 000), about 1 km from town. 

The road makes a sharp bend to the left. Continue uphill past the trout farm - its fish is a Záros speciality. The road is lined with morning glories, pomegranate and lime trees while the mountains rise up ahead. After 15 minutes you reach the small Lake Votomos, formed by the Záros springs. There’s a good taverna on the south side.

Around the Lake

Both the right- and left-hand paths lead round the shore of the lake and up stone steps. Go through the gate (and close it). Proceed along the dirt path that ascends gently above the olive groves, with views over the valley to the left and the mountain on your right. 

Monastery of Áyios Nikólaos

As you round a bend you can see the monastery of Áyios Nikólaos ahead on your left. Although the complex appears modern, its church has frescoes dating from the 14th century. It is home to a small community of monks. 

Chapel of Áyios Efthimios

Opposite a little wooden bridge beside the monastery, a set of rock steps on your right leads up to the tiny chapel of Áyios Efthimios, filled with icons.

Into the Rouvas Gorge

Cross the bridge. The path turns sharply to the right and zig-zags up and away from the monastery. Follow the yellow arrows and markings painted on the rocks to guide you through the boulders. You are now entering the Roúvas Gorge, which the locals also call Áyios Nikólaos gorge, after the monastery.

After a short, steep climb you come to a fence. Go right following the arrow as the path curves around the next hill. Take the stone steps up and through a gate. The 1.6 km (1 mile) path through the gorge alternates easy stretches along the herb-covered hillsides with steeper climbs up stone steps. The route is well marked with yellow arrows. 

Church of Áyios Ioannis. 

The path follows along the steep side of the gorge, then drops down through the ravine and doubles back on the far side. Here it becomes a wide track leading uphill to a signpost. To extend the walk, follow the trail up through the peaks for 2.7 km (1.7 miles) to the mountain church of Áyios Ioannis. 

Return to Zaros

To return, follow the sign for Votomos and Áyios Nikólaos. This dirt track is narrow and steep at first, so go slow. There are beautiful views down the gorge to Záros. When you reach some bee hives, walk quickly past and turn left onto a wide dirt road that leads downhill to the monastery. Follow the sign for Votomos that leads round behind it to the wooden bridge, and return to Záros the way you came.

Download a PDF of this walk to print out and take with you here:

Rouvas Gorge Walk

See our other Zaros pages about Keramos Studios and Dining at Vegera.

Where to Stay on Crete

Other Crete pages

  • This tour around central Crete lists some of the area’s highlights such as the traditional village of Arolithos, Minoan remains at Tilisos, and Agioi Deka.

    Around Central Crete

    This tour around central Crete lists some of the area’s highlights such as the traditional village of Arolithos, Minoan remains at Tilisos, and Agioi Deka.

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

    Lonely Planet Crete

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

  • Visiting the Arkadi Monastery near Rethymnon is one of the best things to do on Crete.

    Arkadi Monastery

    Visiting the Arkadi Monastery near Rethymnon is one of the best things to do on Crete.

  • Is someone from Crete a Greek or a Cretan? They are both, of course, but most will tell you that they are Cretan first and Greek second.

    Greek or Cretan?

    Is someone from Crete a Greek or a Cretan? They are both, of course, but most will tell you that they are Cretan first and Greek second.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • The Battle of Crete during World War 2 inspired several books and took place with an airborne invasion over Maleme on the north coast of the island.

    Battle of Crete

    The Battle of Crete during World War 2 inspired several books and took place with an airborne invasion over Maleme on the north coast of the island.

  • 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.

    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.

  •  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.

    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.

  • How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches and mountain and coastal scenery.

    Eastern Crete in Five Days

    How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches and mountain and coastal scenery.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by 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.

  • The Diktean or Diktaean Cave, also known as the Psychro Cave, near the village of Psychro in eastern Crete, is said to be the birthplace of Zeus.

    Diktean Cave, the Birthplace of Zeus near Psychro on Crete

    The Diktean or Diktaean Cave, also known as the Psychro Cave, near the village of Psychro in eastern Crete, is said to be the birthplace of Zeus.

  • 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.

  • This olive grove walk from Limnes to Vrises on Crete also takes you through orchards and gives close-up views of some of the island’s windmills.

    Olive Grove Walk

    This olive grove walk from Limnes to Vrises on Crete also takes you through orchards and gives close-up views of some of the island’s windmills.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.

    Ancient Gournia Minoan Site in Eastern Crete

    Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.

  • The Goules Taverna in Goulediana, south of Rethymnon, has been called one of the best tavernas on Crete and Greece Travel Secrets recently visited them.

    Goules Taverna Crete

    The Goules Taverna in Goulediana, south of Rethymnon, has been called one of the best tavernas on Crete and Greece Travel Secrets recently visited them.

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

    How to Make Petimezi

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

  • The Byzantine Church of Panagía Kerá near Kritsa and not far from Ayios Nikolaos is one of the most famous in Crete, and close by is the site of Ancient Lato.

    Kritsá, Lato, and Panagía Kerá

    The Byzantine Church of Panagía Kerá near Kritsa and not far from Ayios Nikolaos is one of the most famous in Crete, and close by is the site of Ancient Lato.

  • Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.

    Crete Festivals and Events

    Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.

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. Airlines from the US Boost Link to Greece with 56 Weekly Flights

    Tourist traffic from the US is expected to pick up in the coming months thanks to the launch of 56 direct flights a week to Athens, set to bring more than 1 million travelers to Greece and generate 1…

    Read More

  2. Crete’s New Heraklion Airport to Become Mediterranean Hub

    Works on the highly anticipated Kastelli Airport to handle initially 15 million passengers a year and create hundreds of jobs are moving ahead as scheduled, said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotak…

    Read More

  3. Greek Destinations Among The Telegraph’s Top 50 Hotspots for Family Holidays

    A number of Greek island and mainland destinations are among the travel hotspots that The Telegraph suggests on its “50 fabulous family holidays for 2023” list.

    Read More

  4. Greece’s Chiliadou Beach Nominated for Best Filming Location

    The European Film Commission Network (EUFCN) has included Chiliadou Beach on the island of Evia among the five finalists for the 6th edition of the Best Filming Location competition.

    Read More

  5. Exploring Olympus: Can the Ice Talk?

    We head to the “residence of the gods” with a team of scientists seeking to unravel the secrets of past climate change hidden in the mountain’s ice deposits and alpine soils.

    Read More

  6. Winter Destination for Foodies: Metsovo

    A winery and hotel, a traditional taverna, and a shop selling fine local products of Metsovo, in the Pindus mountains.

    Read More

  7. Keep Swimming: Where to Winter on the Beach

    7 great beaches where you can throw off your coat and join Athens’ winter swimmers

    Read More

  8. Greek Co-Production in the Running for 3 Oscars

    Ruben Östlund's film, “Triangle of Sadness,” shot on the Greek island of Evia, receives three nominations for this year’s Academy Awards.

    Read More

  9. 11 English Language Bookstores in Athens

    Before looking online for something engaging to read, stroll over to one of these places and check out what's on their shelves.

    Read More

  10. Greek Destinations in the Running for Best in Europe Title

    Athens, Rhodes and Milos are the three Greek destinations competing with popular cities in Europe for the title of “European Best Destination 2023”. The competition is being held for the 14th consecut…

    Read More