Crete
National Parks

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Our most recommended Crete National Parks

The Samariá Gorge Hike from Chania or Rethymno

1. The Samariá Gorge Hike from Chania or Rethymno

Samariá Gorge is the longest gorge in Europe. An area of stunning natural beauty, it is rich with many flowers and herbs and the crystal-clear spring waters that flow from the mountains. Following an early morning pick-up (between 05:30 and 06:30) from the nearest point to your accommodation in Rethymno or Chania, travel through the mountains passing the plateau of Omalos. You will arrive at some wooden stairs at the start of Samariá Gorge. You can opt to start the walk straight away or get some breakfast at the taverna before you begin. Hike for approximately 6-7 hours and experience the magnificent landscape on a 16-kilometer walk. Once you have finished the hike, there will be ample time for a swim and lunch at a taverna in Agia Roumeli. Indicative Timetable: 5:20 AM ‐ 6:10 AM: Pickup 7:30 AM: First stop at Omalos Plateau 8:00 AM: Begin the Xyloskalo hike 2:00 PM: End the hike at Agia Roumeli Village Please note that this timetable depends on how fast you walk and how much free time you take to eat.

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Heraklion & Mallia: Bus Road Trip to Samaria Gorge

2. Heraklion & Mallia: Bus Road Trip to Samaria Gorge

Your full-day excursion to Samaria Gorge begins with pickup in Heraklion and a drive to Omalos, in the heart of the White Mountains, where you can enjoy breakfast before you begin your hike. The trek will take you over rocks and stones, through a forest of thousand-year-old trees and along a river by fresh-water springs. Along the way, you’ll have spectacular views of Crete’s most beautiful mountain range, and you are also likely to see mountain goats roaming in the wild. You will be accompanied by a professional mountain escort who speaks English, German and Greek. Your escort will be there to explain all the necessary information about your hike and provide you with the tickets for the entrance and ferry. After your breakfast you will enter the Samaria Gorge, where you can walk at your own pace as your guide waits at the end of the group to help you out if you need them. At the end of the trek you’ll visit the village of Agia Roumeli, where you’ll find a number of taverns, bars, and shops. You can enjoy some free time to take a swim or have some lunch. Late in the afternoon you’ll board a boat that will take you from Agia Roumeli to Sfakia, where your bus will be waiting to transfer you back to the starting point.

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From Rethymno: South Crete Private Tour with Lunch

3. From Rethymno: South Crete Private Tour with Lunch

Start your day at the breathtaking Kourtaliotiko Gorge. Walk through the rising rock walls and admire the incredible natural scenery, before you reach the lonely chapel in Agios Nikolaos. Listen to the ethereal sound of the wind, created by its movement through the gorge. Reach the springs of Kourtaliotis, where you can purchase rare herbs, which only grow in the mountains, from the locals. Arrive at the exotic coastal resort of Kalypso, an old pirate shelter. Relax on Karavos beach, which has recently become a national park. Clamber across the towering rocks and dive into the turquoise water of the Libyan Sea. Travel to the village of Mariou and enjoy a delicious local lunch, complimented with their traditional drink, raki. Finish your adventure at the stunning village of Spili, carved into the heart of the mountains. Escape the sun as you relax under the trees and view the famous Lion Fountain. 

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From Heraklion Area: Day Trip to Gramvousa Island and Balos

4. From Heraklion Area: Day Trip to Gramvousa Island and Balos

Start your day with pick-up from the nearest point to your hotel. Drive towards the west side of Crete in a bus to reach the port of Kissamos Kasteli. After your escort gives you all the necessary information about the cruise, arrive at the port to board the ferry boat to Gramvousa. Your escort will collect the money for the boat tickets from you so you can skip the lines at the ticket offices. At about 10:30 AM, set off for the island of Gramvousa on the ferry, which has a restaurant with self-service meals and snacks. Sit back on a deck chair or in the lounge for the journey of approximately 45 minutes. During the cruise, marvel at the cliff edges of the wildest part of Crete and learn about the history of the island with the onboard commentary played through the speakers in various languages. Upon arrival in Gramvousa, either have a swim or take a hike to the top of the island to the Venetian fortress. Enjoy 2.5 hours on Gramvousa before you continue to the lagoon of Balos, which is 20 minutes away. As soon as you arrive at the lagoon, you'll have a little less than 3 hours to enjoy the area. You may go back to the boat at any time for food or also hire umbrellas if the heat is too intense. In the early evening, board the boat to head back to the port of Kissamos, where a bus will be waiting to return you to your hotel area.

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From Georgioupolis: Roundtrip Transfer to Samaria Gorge

5. From Georgioupolis: Roundtrip Transfer to Samaria Gorge

Explore the famous Samaria Gorge on a trip along the northern coastline of Crete and through the White Mountains up to the Omalos Plateau. Samaria Gorge became a National Park in 1962 and today, it is the last natural refuge for the Cretan goat species known as Kri-Kri. Depart early in the morning and board a coach which will pick you up from your hotel. After a comfortable drive, arrive at the plateau of Omalos for a small break before heading to the entrance of the gorge. The start of the hiking trail through the gorge is at a height of 1200m. On the route, pass by rich vegetation and through the tall rock walls known as the "Iron Gates". Fill up your water bottle at one of the springs in the gorge. At the end of the 17km walk, reach the Libyan Sea. There, at the beach of Ayia Roumeli, enjoy a refreshing swim or sit at one of the taverns until a ferry takes the group to Chora Sfakion where the bus will be waiting for you to return you back to your hotel. 

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From Kissamos Port: Balos and Gramvousa Private RIB Cruise

6. From Kissamos Port: Balos and Gramvousa Private RIB Cruise

Book a private rigid inflatable boat (RIB) vessel and an experienced skipper to explore the western parts of Crete with your family or friends. Departing from Kissamos Port, board your boat and ride the waves to the famous Balos Lagoon and to the historic Gamvousa Island. The skipper will take you on an adventurous or relaxed ride (according to your preferences) and provide drinks and snacks on the way.   At your first stop, Balos, you’ll anchor and explore the area’s white sand beaches and vivid turquoise waters for 1.5 hours. You’ll then head to Gramvousa, an island with a medieval fortress at the top of the hill. There, you can sunbathe, snorkel, and swim for another 1.5 hours before returning to Kissamos.

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Samariá Gorge Hike: Day Excursion from Chania

7. Samariá Gorge Hike: Day Excursion from Chania

From its jaw-dropping villages to its healthy Mediterranean cuisine, Crete is a feast for the senses. The stunning beauty of Samariá Gorge National Park is an important part of the island’s attraction. On this full-day excursion you’ll be picked up in Chania and travel by comfortable bus to the park. Get ready to be wowed by the gorge, as high limestone cliffs and quaint village create the background for a great hike. The walking tour from one end of Samaria gorge to the other is a challenging 18 kilometers. The terrain in the gorge is rough, rocky, and uneven and the hike is not suitable for anyone who has heart problems or is unfit, or for pregnant women. There are a number of stopping points along the route, where you’ll find toilets and drinking water. At some points the gorge is only 3 meters wide and you may have to climb over boulders. You’ll reach the end of the gorge at Agia Roumeli, and stop for a break and a bite to eat (the price of the food is not included). You’ll return by boat to Sougia where you’ll be picked up by the coach.

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From Heraklion Area: Bus Trip to Samaria Gorge

8. From Heraklion Area: Bus Trip to Samaria Gorge

You will arrive early in the morning to the traditional village of Sfakia, from where you will take a boat to the beautiful beach of Agia Roumeli. Once there you can choose to walk to the opposite side within the majestic gorge, with most people choosing to walk as far as the famous Iron Gates. This is the narrowest point of the gorge, and offers those inside it the best chance to get a glimpse of the wild beauty and serenity of the area. You will soon return to head to the sandy beach of Agia Roumeli, a superb place nestled between breathtakingly high mountains. There you will have the chance to spend the rest of your day swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Libyan Sea, sunbathing, or strolling along the fine-pebbled beach. You can also choose to enjoy your meal in one of the many seaside taverns. At the end of your stress-relieving day you will board your boat once again to get to the hospitable and quaint village of Sfakia, where you will take a bus back to your hotel. This is an ideal excursion for people who want to experience some of the magic of the Samaria Gorge, or for families with children.

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From Agios Nikolaos: Day Tour to Zeus Cave & Lasithi Plateau

9. From Agios Nikolaos: Day Tour to Zeus Cave & Lasithi Plateau

After pickup from your hotel, the first stop on your tour is Kritsa, a historical village rich in legends. Here you'll discover picturesque gorges and several ancient archaeological and religious sites. From Kritsa, drive higher into the mountains through the pine forest and past Katharo Plateau (altitude 1250m). This plateau is famous for the Cretan dwarf hippopotamus fossils found in the area and features a magnificent landscape surrounded that is home to many legends dating back to the Ottoman era. Next you'll visit the impressive Lassithi Plateau (altitude 1150m). More than 10,000 traditional windmills operated in the area until just a few decades ago. In the 1950s and 1960s, the plateau was actually one of the first wind farms in Europe. If you're lucky, you'll also have a chance to see some native wildlife. From here you'll continue on to the Diktaean Cave, that is, the birthplace of Zeus, which is located at the village of Psychro (altitude 840m). Finally, explore the village of Krasi and take photos of the famous Cretan author Nikos Kazantzakis’ beloved plane tree. This particular plane tree’s circumference is approximately 24 metres and it is estimated that it is 2400 years old.

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Heraklion: Samaria Gorge Easy Way Short Hike Day Trip

10. Heraklion: Samaria Gorge Easy Way Short Hike Day Trip

Be picked up at your accommodation and head to Sfakia. Board a ferry to Agia Roumeli, where you’ll begin your hike to Samaria Gorge. Walk for 3km until you reach the national park entrance. Continue your walk to Samaria Gorge. Once at Samaria Gorge, you can choose where you want to explore and for how long. After the walk to Samaria Gorge, walk back to Agia Roumeli. In Agia Roumeli, you can go for a swim, enjoy some coffee or try some local food. Catch the ferry back to Sfakia at the end of the day. Once in Sfakia, take the bus back to your accommodation.

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What people are saying about Crete

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 308 reviews

The tour is well organized, you don't lose a lot of time anywhere (e.g. ticket issue) and can therefore enjoy the hike and nature. However, there is a lot of rush in the gorge, you tend to hike in single file. The gorge is still spectacular. Don't forget your swimming trunks when you arrive at Agia Roumeli.

Such an amazing tour with a personal touch. You get to visit a hidden gem in Crete which was the most beautiful place we visited on the whole holiday, and no other tours include this. Not to be missed!! You also do not take up too much time travelling.

Everything worked out great. From the punctual pick-up in the morning, a pleasant drive to the gorge, the Central organized maps for the hike and the ship, the tour guide and the return trip. We can only recommend Get Your Guide

Ingenious gorge with great impressions. Not to be underestimated and not recommended for knee problems - sometimes it goes down steeply.

Our guide, Orestes, was excellent by providing tips on how to walk down the gourge.