Hiking on Crete
Many guests love to hike. The best time of year for hiking on Crete is probably in the spring (April to June) or autumn as of the end of September. In the spring you will see many wonderful wild flowers blooming.
The quality of the hiking trails on Crete can be varied and in terms of signposting the standard is more "relaxed Greek" than "German hiking association". The trails along Crete's southern coast and in the high mountain regions (in the Lefka Ori Mountains or Lefkaon) are the most popular. The highest mountains in Crete are around 2500 metres high and have a very alpine character.
Long distance path E4
The European long distance path E4 is well sign-posted and will take you trough the whole of Crete from east to west over the course of several 100 kilometres. The sections in the Lefka Ori Mountains are especially popular with hikers. The trail is marked with yellow signposts.
Trails on the southern coast
The 17 km long coastal trail from Sougia to Paleochora takes you past the archaeological site of Lissos, along jagged mountains and beautiful beaches.
Sougia and the Agia Irini gorge
Many tired hikers from the Samaria gorge arrive here by boat. For organised travellers there will be buses waiting to take them back to their accommodation. If you want to spend the night the empty beach and small taverns create a unique experience. Experienced hikers can do a day-long hike to Paleochora. If you have time you should take a bus or taxi to the starting point of the Agia Irini gorge and walk through the gorge. It is very impressive.
Measuring 18 km in length this is the longest gorge in Europe and lies in the Lefka Ori Mountains. The gorge boasts many different types of landscape but only opens in good weather, i.e. from the beginning of May to the end of September. Once the first rains start in autumn the gorge is closed due to the increased danger of slipping. We recommend you book the hike as a day trip. The bus takes you to the Omalos plateau and from there you start the 36 km hike down to Agia Roumeli. A boat then brings the guests back to Sfakia or Sougia, where the bus is waiting. This trip is not recommended for children under 10, as a day trip from Matala may last from 5 o'clock in the morning to 11 o'clock at night and you will be walking for around 7 hours!
One of the most beautiful roads in Crete is the connection between Vrisses (at the level of Georgioupolis) to Chora Sfakion on the southern coast. You will drive through pine forests, gorges, steep passes up to the plateau surrounded by high mountains. This is where you start your descent into the Imbros gorge. This hike is suitable for children aged 7 and older. The Askifou plateau is also a popular destination for mountain bikers as it provides breathtaking descents to the south coast. If you suffer from vertigo and don't like winding roads you should avoid this trip.
Scenic road from Frangokastello to Plakias
This road takes you past imposingly high mountains. It winds through secluded villages where the locals pursue their traditional activities. Livestock farming and handicrafts. Every second village could be used for a postcard. The seclusion and simplicity of this life can seem more than a little strange to us urbanites.
A monastery high over the Libyan sea built in the 17th century. The old, nowadays deserted monastery Kato Preveli is also worth a visit. You should also walk down the palm gorge.
This smart model village in the south of the island near Mount Ida is worth a visit. The biggest attraction is the Venetian fountain with 19 lion heads. But even the small winding allays with some very nice shady taverns are inviting.
In contrast to the most well-known Minoan excavation site Knossos, the palace at Festos (or Phaistos) has been restored very carefully. It might not be as showy as Knossos, but is therefore even more authentic and allows your imagination to run wild. You absolutely have to buy the small guide book at the entrance, as it provides a lovely explanation of the individual colonnades. Simply the view towards the Messara plain makes the trip here worthwhile - if you like things a bit more cosy, drive 3 km further to Agia Triada, which is maybe even prettier than Festos. For all Knossos, Festos and Agia Triada visitors the book "Wohin der Stier Europa trug" (Where the bull took Europe) written by a geologist provides a very interesting ALTERNATIVE analysis of the history of these palaces.
Agia Galini is a smaller but very lively village on Crete's southern coast. Some streets are pedestrian zones and a small port rounds the whole thing off. The pretty beach is only a few minutes' walk from the village. In the summer it can get very hot.
The small village Lentas is a destination for individualists. Your arrival alone will impress you. A handful of houses lie at the foot of a steep mountain on the southern coast. You are on your own. Just west of the village is a lovely sandy beach with a few taverns. Since the times of Ancient Greece Lentas has been known for its drinking water. It is supposed to have healing properties.
Scenic route Matala to Mirtos
Pictures like these will accompany you along one of the most impressive roads on Crete's southern coast. If you have the time and money for a motorcycle, you should take it for a spin along this road. You will find a new natural wonder waiting after every curve. Seclusion, isolation, melancholy - there is no better way to describe the countryside. The fertile Messara plain stretches over barren, stony countryside and the view is always pulled towards the deep blue Libyan sea.
Ierapetra is the most southern city in Europe. It is surrounded by countless vegetable fields. A lot of our fruit is planted here. The temperatures are as hot as Africa in the summer and wonderfully mild in the winter. The city's signature feature is the shore promenade. The actual city is not that attractive. A citadel reminds you of the Venetian and a mosque in the old city centre (in what used to be the Turkish quarters) reminds you of the Turkish rule. There is a long sandy beach in the middle of the city. The beach mainly consists of grey sand and small pebbles. In the evening the city starts to come into itself. The lovely promenade and taverns of all types invite you to linger.
This village lies at the foot of the Rouwas gorge is especially well known due to its water reserves and the only trout farm on Crete. The outlet lake lies over the village and has a nice promenade; this lake provides fresh water to the trout pools. The fresh mountain water is also used commercially and bottled as drinking water (with a fantastic taste). The hike through the Rouwas gorge takes you past many wild herbs (you can even find incense). The hike to the monastery is easy to do with children,
People with limited mobility, the blind and wheelchair users
Southern Crete is probably not the easiest place for people with limited mobility and sight to visit. Pavements are an exception, there are many holes in the ground and you are always walking either up or down hill. Getting to the pool often involves climbing down steps or stairs without any railings.
Walking on the beach shouldn't be a problem, as there are long sandy beaches (Komos). Taxis will usually be happy to drive you the short way (not necessarily during the height of summer, but definitely in the low season).
The public transport system has relatively regular buses to all sights in the surrounding area; otherwise Matala has the MONZA, which offers organised tours.
The back country of Pitsidia and Matala can be mastered with a mild walking disability, as there are many trails through beautiful countryside (especially in the spring when the wild flowers are in bloom).