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Hiking Samaria Gorge from Chania

One of the more open parts of hike

If there is one thing that people really should do when visiting Crete, it is hiking the Samaria Gorge. The hike through the gorge is 16km, 13km for the hike in the gorge itself and a further 3km from the exit of the park to Agia Roumeli on the southern coast of Crete. For me, the best way to do this hike is on a day trip via the capital city of the island, Chania. This trip can be done using just public transport and you don’t need to book tickets in advance. Read on to discover how hiking Samaria Gorge from Chania is simple and easy to do.

Getting to the Gorge

The start of the gorge is a place called Xyloskalo. From the main bus station in Chania, you need to take a bus to Omalos. There are two buses each morning making this route, one at 0745 and one at 0845. Which one you take depends on your personnel preference but I decided to take the early bus to get to the gorge as early as possible. The advantage of this is that it gives you more time to do the hike rather than having to hurry for your ferry at the other end. It takes approximately one hour for the bus to leave Chania to arrive in Xyloskalo and the costs is €16 for a return ticket.

Where the bus drops you at the start of the hike

Where the bus drops you at the start of the hike

 

Small shop and cafe for supplies

Small shop and cafe for supplies

 

The usual rules and regulations!

The usual rules and regulations!

 

Hiking the Gorge

The ticket to enter the park costs €5 (children under 15 get in for free) and you can only enter between 1st May and 15th October. The visiting hours for the park are 0700 – 1500. After this time, you will only be able to travel 2km before you have to go back, so make sure you are there with plenty of time and not disappointed! You should be able to do the hike in 4 hours at a minimum. Add in some time for rest stops and photo taking and you are probably looking at closer to 6 hours total time.

The hike itself was not exactly difficult (apart from the later heat) but the start is probably the most ‘difficult’ i.e. the part where you need to be careful. It is basically a series of corkscrews descending down from the top of the park to the gorge itself.

The start of the hike, a lot of walking downhill

The start of the hike, a lot of walking downhill

 

At the bottom of the gorge

At the bottom of the gorge

 

While the start of the hike is mostly over loose stones/rocks, there are also large sections which resemble more of a mountain bike trail. The scenery is stunning!

One of the easier parts of the hike

One of the easier parts of the hike

 

Great scenery!

Great scenery!

 

The path through Samaria Gorge contains many old buildings which are perfect for exploring and taken some snaps of as well as resting the feet for a little!

The chapel of Ayios Nikolaos

The chapel of Ayios Nikolaos

 

Scenery on the hike

As I said before the scenery on the hike is beautiful. It’s hard to beat blue skies, trees and being in nature!

Lots of trees

Lots of trees

 

One of the more open parts of hike

One of the more open parts of hike

 

Little lizard

Little lizard

 

You can't beat a day spent like this

You can’t beat a day spent like this

 

Further on in the hike, the sides of the gorge come closer and closer together. These are some of the most popular photo opportunities, as well as offering some much needed shade from the 33 degrees sun!

The sides of the gorge get closer

The sides of the gorge get closer

 

Walking between two sides of the gorge

Walking between two sides of the gorge

 

A little stream runs in the gorge

A little stream runs in the gorge

 

Enjoying a little break from the sun in the shade

Enjoying a little break from the sun in the shade

 

The gorge!

The gorge!

 

The end of the hike

On the last section of the hike, the path starts to widen again until you finally come to the exit of the park. You can treat yourself with another 3km walk to the village of Agia Roumeli or you can do as I did, and wait for the minivan to take you to the village. The advantage of the minivan was getting to the well deserved ice cold beer on the coast even faster!

Wide open space

Wide open space

 

Almost at the finish line

Almost at the finish line

 

Waiting for the minivan and a well earned beer!

Waiting for the minivan and a well earned beer!

 

The village of Agia Roumeli

The village of Agia Roumeli

 

Enjoying the view with a beer

Enjoying the view with a beer

 

Returning to Chania

At the end of the gorge hike is the village of Agia Roumeli, right on the coast. If you take the first bus from Chania you can spend a couple of hours here relaxing before the journey back to Chania. There are two possible ferry trips running, one to Sougia and another to Chora Sfakion. You want to take the ferry to Chora Sfakion which leaves Agia Roumeli at 1730.

In Chora Sfakion, there will be a bus at 1830 that will take you back to Chania. This bus will wait for the ferry to arrive, so you don’t need to worry about missing the bus!

Things to bring on the hike:

A water bottle (this can be refilled in the park)

Sun cream (the end of the hike is quite open. When I was there in August, it was over 30C)

Good shoes. You don’t need hiking shoes/boots as such but the start of the hike is very rocky downhill.

Food and snacks. There is a small shop at the start of the hike but there is no food options on the hike itself.

Extra Reading:

Public Buses in Crete

Ferry Information

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