Samaria Gorge

Crete

Hiking One of the Longest Gorges in Europe

One of the greatest experiences on Crete is to walk the Samaria Gorge, which is one of the longest gorges in Europe. In fact it is the second-best thing to do on Crete, if visitor numbers are a guide, as almost half a million people walk its length every year, a number exceeded only by visitors to Knossos.

Read our personal account of Hiking the Samaria Gorge

You don't need to be a mathematician of the caliber of Pythagoras to work out that at the height of the summer this means that there are a few thousand people walking down the Gorge every day. If you can possibly make your visit in the late spring or early autumn, there is more chance that you will be able to appreciate the grandeur and solitude a little more, but even if you have to make the walk in the company of many other visitors, it is still a walk worth making.

The length of the walk is about 18km (11.25 miles) in total, and most people take about 5-7 hours to do it. It is a demanding walk over sometimes rough terrain, but as it is downhill most of the way it is perfectly achievable by the reasonably-fit plodding walker, provided you take it easy. You should also wear suitable tough walking shoes and take a plentiful supply of both food and water, but you can replenish your water supply at the fountains along the route.

Starting the Samaria Gorge Walk

The walk begins south of the village of Omalos, where there is accommodation available if you book ahead and want to beat the crowds by making an early start: the gorge, which was declared a National Park in 1962, opens at 6am. The walk begins along the road south out of Omalos, where there is a large car park. From here you head straight down the marked xyloskalon, which means a wooden stairway. It is in fact a steep zigzag path cut out of the rock but with wooden rails for support and protection. It is one of the most spectacular parts of the walk, dropping down by almost 1000m (3281ft) in just 2km (1.25 miles), and at the bottom is the tiny chapel of Agios Nikolaos. There are also benches if you wish to have a rest from the challenging descent. 

The path from here widens and levels out for a time, and crosses back and forth over the stream that runs down the gorge. In winter and early spring when the snows melt this can turn into a torrent, which is why the gorge is only open from May onwards. During the summer months it turns into a pleasant and cooling trickle of water. A few kilometers further on, to the left of the track, you pass the abandoned village of Samaria, whose inhabitants were resettled on the creation of the National Park.

Approaching the Iron Gates

Photo by Mike Gerrard

The Iron Gates

Entering the most dramatic section of the Samaria Gorge walk, the walls of the gorge narrow till you reach the Iron Gates, a mere 3m (9.8ft) wide but with the walls towering 300m (984ft) above you. Then the walls widen out again and you enter a broader valley and another abandoned village, Agia Roumeli, where the safety procedures require you to hand in your ticket to show that you have left the gorge. Twenty minutes further on is the modern village of Agia Roumeli, and the cooling waters into which you may well be ready to plunge your tired feet. There are rooms here, and boats to take you to other coastal villages from where there are transport connections by road.

Be sure to watch our YouTube video of our own hike along the Samaria Gorge




You might like these other Crete pages...

  • 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.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge

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

  • Best Beaches on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets chooses ten of the best beaches on Crete including the beautiful beaches at Vai and Elafonisi.

  • Hiking in Southwest Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.

  • Eco-Tourism Accommodation on Crete

    The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.

  • 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.

  • 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,

  • Airbnb near Chania

    This Airbnb in the quiet village of Malaxa, a 30-minute drive into the hills above Chania, is a peaceful retreat with a delightful and thoughtful artist owner, with wonderful views and amenities.

  • 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 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.

  • 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 Crete

    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.

  • 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.

Latest Posts

  1. Greece Extends Second Lockdown Until December 7

    Greece will extend its second nationwide lockdown until 6am on Monday, December 7, in efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) and limit the rising number of intubations and fatalit…

    Read More

  2. New Archaeological Museum to Open in Ermionida, Greece

    The Greek Culture Ministry recently announced plans to open a new archaeological museum in Ermionida, a municipality located in eastern Peloponnese.

    Read More

  3. Greece Among Top 3 Booking Choices for US Travelers

    Greece is among the top three international destinations that American travelers are booking, according to a survey on tourism recovery in the post-coronavirus era released by the United States Tour O…

    Read More

  4. Greece’s Air Traffic Controllers Call Off Strike, AEGEAN Reinstates Flights

    Unions representing air traffic controllers, electronic security engineers and aeronautical telecommunication officers in Greece announced that they were calling off strike action to take place during…

    Read More

  5. General Strike in Greece on Thursday to Affect Transport

    A 24-hour strike called by Greece’s main public sector umbrella union ADEDY for Thursday, November 26, will affect public transport in Athens and ferry travel.

    Read More

  6. Greece to Remain in Lockdown, Efforts Made to ‘Save Christmas’

    Greece’s government and health authorities expect the country’s second lockdown to continue into December, adding that it was too early to lift containment measures as Covid-19 is still spreading fast…

    Read More

  7. Qantas to Require Covid-19 Vaccination on All Int’l Flights

    Passengers wishing to fly internationally with Qantas will be required to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination, the airline’s CEO Alan Joyce said this week. The head of Australia’s flag carrier said…

    Read More

  8. Strike in Greece Causes Changes to AEGEAN, Olympic Air Flights

    AEGEAN and Olympic Air have announced flight cancellations and reschedules during November 25-27 due to industrial action announced by Greece’s air traffic control personnel and electronic security en…

    Read More

  9. Air Travel in Greece to Face Disruption Nov 25-26 Due to Strike Action

    Greece’s air traffic control personnel and electronic engineers have announced work stoppages on Wednesday, November 25 and a 24-hour strike on Thursday, November 26, which are expected to impact air…

    Read More

  10. Covid-19: Greece will Not Close Airports During Second Lockdown, Rules will Apply for Travel

    Greek borders are not closing as a result of the second lockdown the country will enter on Saturday to halt a second wave of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. Greece’s airports will remain open to domesti…

    Read More