The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete’s White Mountains are one of the few places on the planet where dramatic high mountains – 30+ at over 2000 m (6562 ft) meet the sea. No wonder that Crete is at the top of many hiker’s bucket lists. It’s also home to over 50 gorges, fabulous beaches, crystalline sea with warm and dry summers and mild winters.
You’ll love knowing that after a day of hiking your efforts will be rewarded with a dip in the crystal blue waters and world-renown Cretan cuisine. And be sure to look for signs of Zeus, Crete was the birthplace of the sky and thunder god.
Your trip starts in Chania, probably the most charming city in all of Crete. Depending on when you arrive, you’ll have time to explore on your own – be sure to check out the Venetian Harbor, a highlight not to be missed. From there we’ll arrange a transfer to take you to the White Mountains (Lefka Ori), named for their shining bleached limestone in summer and snow-covered peaks in winter.
You’ll spend the rest of your time hiking a network of ancient paths and shepherd trails. You’ll follow the southern coastline, climb to summits, and explore some of the prettiest gorges in Crete including the most famous one, Samaria.
HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR WHITE MOUNTAINS SELF-GUIDED HIKING TOUR IN CRETE
✔ Explore the historical city of Chania, one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the world
✔ Hike through Samaria, the longest gorge in Europe and a UNESCO designated biosphere reserve. It’s a ‘must-do’ experience when in Crete
✔ Enjoy awe-inspiring views of the dramatic, rocky White Mountains as they meet the Aegan Sea seas while breathing in the fresh, salty air
✔ Cool off after hiking with a dip in the sea and rejuvenate on remote and unspoiled beaches in Crete
✔ Hike up to Mt. Gigilos, the legendary peak with its 2080m high summit offering stunning views of the Aegean Sea
✔Your choice of either standard accommodation or upgraded accommodation on 4 of the nights when it’s available
3-DAY HIKING CRETE MOUNTAINS ITINERARY
Day 1: Arrival in Chania
You’ll love exploring Chania which dates back to 3650-3000 BC. Be sure to check out the Old Venetian Harbor, historical remains and the fabulous nearby beaches of Balos, Elafonissi, and Falassarna. The White Mountains are in the background giving you a preview of what’s to come.
Our local representative will meet at your hotel and give you a briefing on the hikes you’ll be doing accompanied by your booklet and maps. We’ll answer any questions that you may have so that you feel confident setting out on your self-guided hiking tour.
- Accommodation: Hotel in Chania
Day 2: From Chania to Agia Irini Gorge and Omalos Plateau
Today you’ll head to the White Mountains and enter through the narrow gorge of Agia Irini. The combination of shade and humidity sustains a variety of plants. About halfway up you’ll find gigantic ancient plane trees. Your hike ends at the village of Agia Irini. From there you’ll be transferred to Omalos Plateau. At an altitude of more than 1000m, enjoy the evening breeze listening to the jingling of the occasional goat’s bell with a view of the Lefka Ori (White Mountains)
- Accommodation: Hotel in Omalos
- Hiking: 7km, duration: 3h 30min
- Transfers Included: Chania to the entrance of Agia Irini Gorge 70km (1:30 hr) and at the end of your Agia Irini hike to Omalos 40km (1 hr)
Day 3: Hike to Mt. Gigilos Summit
Today is your highest ascent as you hike up Mt. Gigolos, the legendary peak overlooking Samaria at 2080m. Its north face, a near-vertical slope of solid rock looks intimidating, but fortunately, you’ll take a path around the back to reach the summit with only a little scrambling. Along the way, your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking views and from the summit, you can see both the Aegean and Libyan Seas, along with a stunning view of Samaria Gorge which you’ll hike tomorrow. Keep an eye out for Lammergeiers (bearded vultures), the biggest birds in Europe. They’re known to soar above the cliffs at midday as they look for their next meal.
- Accommodation: Hotel in Omalos
- Hiking: 9km / Duration: 6 Hours