Explore the White Mountains and the gorges of West Crete (self guided 8-day program)
Our 8-day self guided hiking trip in west Crete explores the south-west coast of Crete, with its spectacular White Mountains, the deep gorges and coastal trails, that lead us to charming fishing villages and quite beaches, accessible only by boat.
Starting from Chania with its picturesque Venetian port you will depart for the village of Agia Irini and enjoy a picnic lunch in its quite gorge before emerging at the crystal clear waters of Mediterranean Sea . Follow ancient paths to reach the second Roman city in Crete , visiting the temple of God Asklipios and exploring the ruins from Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine period.
Ascending well-maintained trails you will reach the summit of Mountain Gingilos (2080m), for stunning views to Omalos plateau, the White Mountains and the Samaria gorge - Europe's largest gorge, that offers one of the most rewarding walks through a spectacular botanic garden, the home of the wild goats (Kri-kri) and griffon vultures.
The superb coastal walk passes by the picturesque St Paul 's chapel and the azure blue waters of Marmara beach to end up at the white-blue washed houses of the charming village of Loutro.
Relax in Loutro or hike to Anopolis -one of the most "authentic" Cretan villages, cross the Aradena gorge with its pink oleanders and drink fresh water from the "Sweet water beach".
8-day self-guided hiking in West Crete - Itinerary
Highlights include: Samaria gorge (longest in Europe) Agia Irini gorge and Aradena gorge , the ancient city Lissos (Ruins from Hellenistic, Roman Byzantine period), ascent of Mt. Gigilos (2080m) with spectacular view, crystal-clear beaches to swim, coastal walks and picturesque fishing villages.
DAY 1: Arrive in Chania. Explore the old "Venetian style" city of Chania with its picturesque harbor. (Overnight in Chania)
DAY 2 (4-5hrs walk): After breakfast, you will be transferred to the entrance of Agia Irini gorge, for your first hike. Ag. Irini gorge provides a nice and quiet path next to a stream, full of pines and chestnut trees. Sougia is a beautiful village on the southern coast of Crete where you will have the opportunity to enjoy a swim in the crystal-clear waters of Mediterranean Sea. (Overnight in Sougia)
DAY 3 (3-4hrs walk): Cultural walk through the beautiful gorge of Selinou, thick with brilliant pink oleanders and carob trees, to the ancient city of Lissos. Lissos was an important center of hydrotherapy in ancient years, which flourished in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine era. Here you will visit a well-preserved temple with mosaic floor dedicated to the God of medicine Asklipios and you will have much to admire by making a small loop around the city. Refresh yourselves in the cove and return to Sougia. (Overnight in Sougia)
DAY 4 (5-6hrs walk): Leave your luggage at the hotel's lobby to be transferred by boat to Ag. Roumeli village, at the foot of Samaria gorge. Either by the local bus or by using a taxi you will reach the entrance of Samaria gorge at Omalos plateau, from where you will climb up mountain Gigilos. This is where the wild goats of Crete (Kri-kri) live as well as some of the most rare and highly threatened with extinction wild birds of Europe, such as the griffon vulture and the lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus). Towards the peak there are some points that you may use your hands to climb (easy scramble, nothing technical). The summit provides spectacular views in all directions. You descend by the same route and you spend the night at a family owned hotel in Omalos plateau. (Overnight in Omalos)
DAY 5 (6hrs walk): A short drive from the hotel will take you at the entrance of Samaria gorge. Samaria is the largest gorge in Europe and one of the most beautiful that nature can provide. You walk on a good path in shady pine forest and beside a melodic stream. This is where you may see the wild goats of Crete (Kri-kri). You reach the small village of Agia Roumeli, where you can relax and enjoy a swim. (Overnight in Agia Roumeli)
DAY 6 (6hrs walk): Leave your luggage at hotel's lobby to be transferred by boat to Loutro. A beautiful sea walk (coastal path) close the Mediterranean Sea. Today's walk alternates on sand and shingles next to the sea and about 50m above the sea level in pine forest and bushy areas. On the way to Loutro you pass the picturesque St Paul's chapel, which was built on the sand next to the sea. After a needed-refreshing break at "Marmara" beach, you arrive at the small port of Loutro with its magnificent village decorated with the blue and white houses. (Overnight in Loutro)
DAY 7 (6-7hrs walk): Ascend the ancient path until Anopolis village, a historic area from where the revolution against the Turks began in 1866. Here we see "authentic" Cretans with their traditional costumes that "take us back in time, to other centuries". From Agia Ekaterini's church, just over Anopolis, you have the chance to enjoy the wonderful view to the Libyan Sea and the south coast of Crete. Visit Anopoli's square, relax at the coffee shop with the locals and return the same way back.
For the strong hikers we propose to continue and cross Aradena's gorge that ends at "Marmara" beach and return back to Loutro by following the E4 path. This big loop may give an unforgettable picture that alternates between mountain trail, spectacular gorge and coastal path. (Overnight in Loutro)
DAY 8 (2hrs): For the last day there are two optional ways to reach the village of Hora Sfakion, from where you return back to Chania. Either 2 hours hike by taking the coastal path that crosses "Sweet water beach" (there are many fresh water springs, coming out of the pebble beach), or a 15 minutes boat-ride from Loutro to Sfakia. The trip ends at Chania where you will find really interesting a small walk in Chania's market.
If you choose to hike to Hora Sfakion, leave your luggage to the owners of the hotel to put them in the boat and start the hike early in order collect your luggage from the boat at Hora Sfakion.
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