I didn’t know much about Crete until recently when an Italian friend suggested I make a stop there during my trip to Greece. Once I started researching Crete, I knew I had to go. And one of the must-see spots for me was the Samaria Gorge. I thought I had read-up extensively on the gorge, but after hiking it, I discovered that none of the guides I read included several pieces of important information. Here’s what you should know before hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete, Greece:
What You Should Know Before Hiking the Samaria Gorge
Where to Stay & How to get to Samaria Gorge:
It’s best to stay in Chania (rather than Heraklion) if you want to get the earliest start in the gorge. You can find check rates, find a great deal and book your Chania hotel here. Many companies offer organized trips to the gorge, but the local buses are a much cheaper option. The local buses leave at about the same time as organized tours, arrive at the gorge about the same time as the organized tours, and are very clean. The early leave time is required to enable tourists to complete the gorge walk and catch a ferry back to the spot where they’ll catch their buses back to Chania. (I’ll explain more about this below).
What you should wear while hiking Samaria Gorge:
The gorge is about 14k long (about 9 miles). I knew this. The first 4k or so is all downhill. I knew this too. What I did not know is that the gorge floor is ENTIRELY rocks. Bring hiking shoes or boots. I wore tennis shoes, and my ankles and the bottoms of my feet ached terribly by the time I finished the hike. (On a side note, I run regularly and can easily walk 9 miles, so I know it was the rocks that caused the problem). So just be aware of the rockiness. And be aware that you need to be at least somewhat physically fit (a regular walker, hiker, or runner) to complete the entire hike.
The gorge is mostly shaded, but I’d recommend bringing a hat and wearing sunscreen as there are sunny parts. Unless you go in the middle of summer, bring a jacket as mornings in the gorge can be a little chilly. I hiked the gorge in mid-May and wore my jacket for the first hour or so. I then hiked in a t-shirt and running shorts and was very comfortable, though I did see others hiking in long pants. In my opinion, pants aren’t necessary to protect you from scratches or irritants as the gorge has a trail, and even with my bare legs, I didn’t get bitten by bugs or brush against any plants that caused itchiness or irritation.
What you should bring with you for hiking Samaria Gorge:
Most people complete the gorge hike in 5 to 6 hours. You’ll want to bring snacks for the hike—I’d recommend fruit, nuts, granola bars, and the like. If you don’t bring any food with you, you can pick some up at the market just outside the entrance to the gorge. Bring water as well, but you don’t need to bring enough for the entire day. A bottle will suffice as there are multiple stops in the gorge with potable water fountains. Make sure to drink water as you go—especially if you visit during the summer. The Greek sun is very hot, and it’s easy to get dehydrated.
How to get back to Chania from Samaria Gorge:
Once you leave the gorge, you’ll need to walk another 2k or so into the town of Agia Roumeli. This is where you’ll catch a 5:30 p.m. ferry (it’s the only afternoon ferry available, so if you miss it, you’ll be stuck in Agia Roumeli for the evening) to either Sougia or Chora Sfakion (both have buses that take you back to Chania). Very Important: You’ll need to buy your ferry ticket from the ticket office BEFORE you get on the ferry.
What to do after hiking Samaria Gorge:
Unless you’re a slow hiker, you should have a few hours left at the end of your hike to spend in Agia Roumeli. I recommend bringing a swimsuit or something comfortable to change into and flip flops (trust me on this one—you’ll want to take off your hiking shoes and let your feet breathe). Grab some food and a beer or wine at one of the local restaurants (most offer similar food options) then give yourself an hour or so to enjoy the black sand beach. (Unfortunately, I spent too much time eating and didn’t leave as much time as I would have liked to spend at the beach, where many exhausted hikers napped on the soft sand).
Samaria Gorge is a stunning hike I’d highly recommend and is a must-see if you visit Crete. What do you think about hiking Samaria Gorge?
This post was written by FWTG Contributor, Megan Boyd. You can read more about Megan here. The hotel link in this post is an affiliate link, which means that if you choose to book through it, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support to keep this site up and running! Pinterest image CC photo credit: Samaria Gorge V by Keltikee.
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