Walking and hiking in South Chania is by far one of the best activities to do when in Paleochora (and in Crete in general). There are numerous trails all over the area with a large variety, regarding both natural surroundings and level of difficulty.
Paleochora is in the center of the area, so it is the ideal place to stay in your walking and hiking holidays. The highlights of the area are the numerous gorges that have been carved in the mountains by the rivers and streams through the centuries. In fact, South Chania is also known as “the area of gorges”. In the whole area, there are plenty of picturesque gorges, with a variety so large, that can delight even the most experienced hikers.
Walking and hiking in South Chania: Samaria Gorge
Among the amazing collection of gorges around Paleochora, there is particularly one gorge in South Chania that is one of the prime destinations for walkers and hikers in Europe. A gorge that has a flora and fauna unique all over the world, and which has been featured in the travel guides as one of the top sights in Crete for decades: Welcome to Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe, and one of the most picturesque gorges in the world.
Samaria Gorge has a total length of about 16 kilometers. Its width varies greatly, from about 150 meters to only 3 meters (in the known “Iron Gates” location), and the height of its sides range between 300 and 600 meters. Samaria Gorge is closed from October to April, due to the possibility of dangerous streams forming after heavy rain.
The hike in Samaria Gorge starts in its entrance, Xyloskalo, the higher point of the gorge in an altitude of 1.200 meters. There is a regular bus service to Xyloskalo. The end of the gorge is in the picturesque coastal village of Agia Roumeli, where there is a regular boat service.
Walking and hiking in South Chania: Agia Irini Gorge
Agia Irini Gorge is one of the best gorges in South Chania and Crete to walk through, especially for not experienced hikers – although the beauty of the gorge makes it an excellent walk for the experienced, too. The gorge is not
too big in length (about 7 kilometers), with a trail in very good condition.
The gorge starts at an elevation of about 550 meters, at Agia Irini village, where there is a regular bus service, and descends towards the coastal village of Sougia. A pleasant surprise for the walkers and hikers is that a good part of the gorge is covered by trees, which provide ample shade.
Unlike Samaria Gorge, Agia Irini Gorge is open all year round. However, in autumn and winter you should avoid crossing the gorge during, or after, heavy rain, as the river inside the gorge gets bigger and it may make the hike difficult or even dangerous at times. If you are not sure about the gorge’s accessibility, you can ask the guards of the gorge, or simply a local.
Walking and hiking in South Chania: Magnificent mountain trails
You can find the excellent E4 long distance path that crosses Crete, in a small distance from Paleochora. The path is kept in excellent condition and is suitable for walking 12 months a year.
Generally, there are countless walking paths and trails in the area around Paleochora, from the ones in Paleochora itself and the neighboring coastal village of Sougia, to the ones in the picturesque coastal villages in the Sfakia region, like Hora Sfakion and Loutro.
Paleochora and South Chania are among the top destinations for walking and hiking in Europe. In the area you can find breathtaking gorges, picturesque trails, and untouched, unique nature, all in the same location.
In Aris Hotel, we specialize in walking, hiking and alternative tourism. It is our mission to help you as much as possible, in order to make your walking and hiking holidays in South Chania one of the best experiences of your life.