Samaria Gorge trailhead is a fantastic hike in Chania Crete that definitely worth’s the hype! You’ve probably heard about this famous place from blogs, YouTube videos and travel guides over the years, as it is the longest trekking gorge in Europe. In fact, it reaches up to 16km in total! However, the beautiful hike rewards you at the end point in Agia Roumeli, a tiny fishing village surrounded by refreshing waters, lovely traditional tavernas and guesthouses that make your day trip even more unique. So, if you love hiking and plan to visit Crete during summer, make sure to check out this major tourist attraction.
About Samaria Gorge in Crete
The National Park of Samaria is Chania’s treasure and locals are highly proud of it. Specifically, it is located in the southwest part of the county, in the area of Omalos, which is up in the mountains. The famous hiking trail was created by a small river that run between the White Mountains and Mt. Volakias. Another interesting fact about Samaria is its width, which ranges from 150 meters to just 3 meters. The narrowest point of the gorge are the imposing “Iron Gates”, standing at about 500m in height each. Mother Nature truly did her magic with this place.
Back in the 1940s during war time, the gorge was a secure shelter for Cretans who sought protection from their conquerors. It was also the perfect base where Cretans made their plans to fight for their freedom. Legends and stories link those rough times to Samaria Gorge trailhead. You can find many remnants of the past during your hike, such as the remote village situated at about 7km into the gorge. The latter stands beautifully within the raw wilderness and was inhabited up until 1962. However, once Samaria was declared as a national park, locals had to abandon the village.
Samaria Gorge offers protection to over 450 species of both animals and plants. Among these species, about 70 are endemic to Crete. If you are lucky enough, you will probably meet the rare and unique Kri-Kri, the wild Cretan goat which is under UNESCO’s protection. This goat is an excellent hiker, but also shy, so don’t feel disheartened if it keeps a distance from you (it’s not personal).
How to get to Samaria Gorge
Can you drive to Samaria Gorge in Crete? Absolutely! It is about 2 hours away from Villa Marevista, around 66km in total. The gorge’s entrance is beside Xyloskalo restaurant, where you can leave your vehicle at the parking area. Ideally, you should start your hike as early as possible, as the walk might take between 4-8 hours, depending on your fitness level. Finally, there is a booth by the entrance where you can get a ticket at the price of 5€.
As you descend the long hiking trail, you will appreciate the fresh air of the mountains and the surrounding beauty. After crossing the first 13km, you can either take a minibus to reach the fishing village of Agia Roumeli, or continue on foot to complete the mighty hiking challenge.
In order to get back to the starting point, you have to take a ferry from the harbor in Agia Roumeli, and then a bus (KTEL) back to the parking lot. And if you’re not sure what to do, you can always ask the drivers or the locals that are happy to be of service. You can find the schedule of the ferry here and the bus’s here.
When to go
No one can deny the fact that Samaria Gorge trailhead is the ideal place for hiking lovers. Thousands of people visit it daily from 1st May until 31st October, between 6AM to 4PM to admire the masterpiece of Mother Nature. It gets extremely crowded during high season (July and August), as it truly is an exciting experience. You will often feel compelled to stop and enjoy the scenic views, just be mindful of the path in front of you as the rocks can be slippery at times.
Keep in mind that the national park is greatly organized, so you won’t have to worry about water or toilets. Along your way, you can find several natural springs where you can fill your water bottle as well as washrooms.
Crossing Samaria Gorge might not be a walk in the park, but it is extremely satisfying and rewarding. By fully exploring it, you will be able to admire everything it has to offer. Let’s see some interesting sights that you’ll come across during your hike.
- Church of Agios Nikolaos: a small chapel where you can relax for a few minutes, light a candle and enjoy the views
- Byzantine Church of Osia Maria from Egypt, which dates back to the 14th century
- A remote village halfway into the gorge which had inhabitants up until 1962
- Iron Gates: tall rocks standing at about 500m each that form an entrance
- Freshwater springs, rare fauna and flora protected by UNESCO
And of course, let’s not forget about our timid little friend: the Cretan goat Kri-Kri!
Samaria Gorge Tips
Would you like to cross off this great adventure from your to-do list? Great! For this purpose, we prepared a set of important tips to keep in mind during your hike in Samaria Gorge trailhead.
Hiking shoes: A good pair of hiking boots is extremely important. Having the corresponding equipment and a good level of fitness is necessary, as it will make the long walk easier.
Snacks & Water Bottles: The path to reach the end will take several hours, so you definitely need water and food. You have to be hydrated, especially during summertime where the heat is quite intense.
Start as early as possible: Reaching this beautiful location early is the best practice. The hike down to Agia Roumeli village takes about 4-8 hours in total and we highly advise you to exit Samaria when the sun is still up.
So, what do you think? Does the challenge of crossing Samaria Gorge in Crete seem appealing to you? If so, grab some of your friends and get ready for a truly unforgettable long hike! If you wish, we can take care of all the necessary preparations for a great day trip to Samaria Gorge trailhead! Do no hesitate to contact us if you need further information.