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The most beautiful hikes to do in Crete

Written on : 01 March 2019

The land of stories and mythologies, Crete is a must-see destination where nature is particularly prolific. From the coves on the shores of the Mediterranean to the rocky cliffs, to the sumptuous valleys and traditional villages where folk festivities take place regularly, Crete will offer you a real escape. If you want to play sports during your vacation, this Greek island, once dubbed the "Island of the Gods", is also a fantastic destination for hiking. Here is our selection of the most beautiful hikes to do in Crete.

1- Balos lagoon

1- Balos lagoon

Only 40 kilometres from Chania, in the extreme Northwest of Crete, is the magnificent lagoon of Balos. Deserted, this site is perfect for an incredible hike with family or friends. Surrounded by mountainous terrain, the lagoon of Balos is located at the end of the peninsula of Gramvoussa. To access this little wonder of nature, you will have to take paths in the middle of wild and desert-like landscapes. Allow about two hours from Kaliviani. Upon arrival, discover this magical place that resembles the Seychelles or Maldives. In the midst of transparent waters and an exceptional natural environment, enjoy breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. Before leaving, take a dip in these turquoise waters to cool off!

2- The Gorges of Samaria

2- The Gorges of Samaria

In the west of Crete, surrounded by the White Mountains, Samaria Gorge is one of the 10 things to do on your trip to Crete. Open from mid-April to mid-October, Samaria Gorge is at times crowded but worth a visit. The hike starts at the entrance of the national park in Xyloskalo, which means "wooden staircase". The trail stretches for 16 kilometres, during which you will be able to observe exceptional landscapes. During your hike, which will last between four and six hours, you will discover exceptional flora and fauna: plane trees with cypresses and also Cretan goats. Impressive and majestic, the Samaria Gorge is a must if you want to hike during your stay in Crete.

3- The Valley of the Dead in Zakros

3- The Valley of the Dead in Zakros

Without much difficulty, hiking the Valley of the Dead can be achieved with your children. Located on the East coast of Crete, the Valley of the Dead joins the village of Zakros and Kato Zakros. Travel along this path that winds through lush vegetation. During this walk, which can be done all year, you can take a breath of fresh air and admire the surrounding landscape. In particular, it is possible to see ancient funerary caves where the Minoans used to lay their dead. A true historical walk, the Valley of the Dead extends for 7 kilometres. It is also possible to reach the halfway point from the coastal hamlet of Kato Zakros. Be careful, do not leave too late because the sun tends to set fast in this area.

4- Pachnes and the White Mountains

4- Pachnes and the White Mountains

Reserved for the more adventurous, this hike will allow you to breathe the fresh air of the Cretan mountains. Pachnes is the highest point of the White Mountains. Culminating at 2453 metres, this site will offer fabulous views of the Island of the Gods. Leave Skafia-Anopoli or Agio Ioannis to discover this unspoiled and authentic region. From the beginning of the hike, you will take a path that winds through cypress forests of incredible beauty. In the heart of nature, you can stroll and enjoy the natural landscapes that have remained intact throughout time. The ascent to the top of Pachnes lasts about a day. Seen from above, the show is breathtaking and overlooks the Libyan Sea. Do not forget to take your camera! If you have time, make a detour to the white village of Loutró.

5- From Lassithi plateau to Mount Dikti

5- From Lassithi plateau to Mount Dikti

The Lassithi Plateau and Mount Dikti are some of the most fertile regions of Crete. This is why it is a must to organise beautiful hikes around the area. Nicknamed the "valley of mills", the Lassithi plateau is home to thousands of mills that blend harmoniously into the landscape. Located 850 metres above sea level, this plain offers spectacular panoramic views. The Lassithi plateau can be reached by bus from Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos or Malia. On this plateau, surrounded by lush vegetation, you can reach Mount Dikti. Mystical, this magical mount is said to be the birthplace of Zeus. Culminating at 2148 metres above sea level, Mount Dikti is composed of eight peaks that together form the Lassithi Plateau. This is one of the most breathtaking hikes on Crete.

6- The summit of Gingilos

6- The summit of Gingilos

Culminating at an altitude of 1,980 metres, the summit of Gingilos is one of the most spectacular in Crete. To begin your ascent, head to Xyloskalo, at the gates of Samaria Gorge. Start the climb on the right where you will have panoramic views of the Omalos plateau and the White Mountains. On the way, look out for forests of cypress, deformed by the wind. Continue your walk along Mount Psilafios where you will see amazing rock formations. Take a break at Linoseli Spring to regain your strength. Finally, end your getaway by following a path that will take you to the top of Gingilos. From there, you'll get an amazing view of the Tripiti Gorge and the Libyan Sea.

7- The lagoon of Elafonissi

7- The lagoon of Elafonissi

During your stay in Crete, do not miss the famous lagoon of Elafonissi. Located in the southwest of Crete, a few kilometres from Chania, Elafonissi is a little piece of paradise. This complex of beaches with pink sands and crystal clear waters will make you dream. Ideal for a trip with your children, the lagoon of Elafonissi is utterly breathtaking. From the lagoon, start along a marked path on which it is possible to begin a hike. The bravest can walk to the small village of Chora Sfakion. All along the way, you will find a diverse and varied landscapes: from dirt tracks to fine sand, pebbles and rocks. A place of real enchantment!

8- The Gorges of Aradena

8- The Gorges of Aradena

This is a perfect alternative to Samaria Gorge. Less popular and thus less crowded, the Aradena Gorge is located in the region of Sfakia. Throughout your hike, you can admire the beautiful village of Liviana and impressive mountain flanks. A little further on, you can see the splendid hamlets of Finix and Lyxos. In the heart of nature, you can enjoy the scenery and take a breath of fresh air. Continuing the walk, you can reach the beach of Marmara and swim in the clear and warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It takes between six and seven hours to make the round trip. Be careful, these gorges are a little more difficult to access than the Gorges of Samaria and therefore require better physical conditions.

9- From Sougia to Lissos

9- From Sougia to Lissos

In the South of Crete, you can start a beautiful hike from Sougia. This little village, almost uninhabited, is a little piece of paradise on Earth. Away from tourists, Sougia is perfect to rest, even to meditate! After sharing moments of relaxation with your loved ones in this authentic village, you will be ready to leave for a beautiful hike to Lissos. Along the way, you will cross landscapes that are frozen in time. Lissos is indeed a traditional village where are mingled more arid and wild landscapes than in the West. In the distance, the White Mountains stand out for you to admire during your crossing.

10- The crossing of Crete by the E4 trail

10- The crossing of Crete by the E4 trail

The European E4 trail is the longest hiking trail in Europe. Stretching over a total length of more than 10 000 kilometres, it allows you to cross several European countries including Spain, Portugal and Switzerland, but also Greece and Crete. Indeed, the E4 trail allows you to cross the Island of the Gods from West to East. The hike starts in Kissamos and allows you to explore, among others, Elafonissi, Sougia, Agia Roumeli, but also Loutro and the plateau of Nida. All along the way, you will be able to contemplate magnificent views. Do not miss this exceptional opportunity to have an unusual experience in Crete!