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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 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!
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.