[Crete] Should I hike the Samaria Gorge?

Walking map of the Samarian Gorge.

I had to write a post specifically for the Samaria Gorge because it is one of the epic hikes throughout the world. I am so glad that I completed the hike and definitely one tick off my bucket list. I was lucky enough to enjoy the trail with wildflowers blooming and beautiful weather.

Hiking Europe’s longest gorge is considered to be one of the must-do experiences, however, this 16 km hike is physically demanding and a certain fitness level is required, therefore, I would like to share my experience to help you guys decide whether it is worth the walk.

The entrance is at Xyloskalo and it begins with a steep 2 km trail winding down the mountain into the gorge. People with knee problem may suffer this part of the trail, so it is recommend to walk with a hiking stick and hold on to wooden handrails. In case of injuries, there will be donkeys carrying you to the exit as they are the only transport allowed in the gorge.

The beginning of the trail at Xyloskalo.
Donkeys are the only transportation allowed in the gorge.

After the terrible downhill, you will soon reach Agios Nikolaos church where it was my first meet up point during the excursion. There are public toilets and fountain drinking water stations. Follow by that, a further 3 km hike across the ancient forest will take you to the start of the abandoned village of Samaria. This is the biggest resting point before the real start of the Samarian Gorge. Be sure to stop and enjoy the ancient scenery at the two check points before you being your journey into the gorge.

Flowers blooming in Agios Nikolas village.
Abandoned village of Samaria.

To carry on with the walk you need to cross the bridge and turn left. After 4km, you will see river bed and main spring. For the remaining of the journey, you will be walking on broken stones and river bed, which is quite tough on your legs.

The famour “Iron Gate” which is the narrowest point of the gorge. (3 km wide)
Magical lines on rocks.
Challenging walk on pebble stones for the last part of the trail.

Once you go through the iron gates, there will be a 2 km walk before you will be out of the National park and another 1 km walk before you reach the Agia Roumeli Village where you can finally have some food in local restaurants. During summer time, it will be boiling hot so I highly recommend you to pack your swimsuits and jump into the Libyan sea while waiting for the ferry!


How I got there

I joined local tours organised by travel agencies in Chania Old Town, and they will take you to the entrance by shuttle bus. I traveled on my own, so I think it was a good idea to join an organised tour to make sure I don’t get lost. The tour guide gave us a good explanation of the walking map and everyone can walk in their own pace so that nobody will feel pressured. I fully enjoyed the tour as I get to walk according to my own speed and take stops to enjoy the scenery. If you are going on your own, do check the ferry times because it is not too frequent and the transportation can be quite complicated.

What to pack

  • Comfortable hiking shoes is a must, prepare to get muddy. FLIP FLOPS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED.
  • Bring your camera with you as you would like to record special moments.
  • Bring enough snacks and energy bars as you will be hiking 13 km
  • Put on sunscreen as it gets really sunny during summer, but do bring a light jacket if you start your hike at 6 am, it is quite chilly early in the morning.
  • There will be water fountains, so you can minimize the weight of your backpack by bringing one bottle of water.


I am an active person and I do regular exercises so I feel that the hike was not too demanding for me. However, the last part of the walk was a bit of a challenge as you have to walk on riverbed with broken stones. My ankle felt really tired and a bit painful straight after the walk, but I recovered in two days. I went on the hike on my own but because it is a famous walking trail, you will rarely be without company so you don’t have to worry about getting lost inside. Just make sure you know the closing time, and don’t stop for too long in resting points as it takes quite a while to walk to the exit. My walking pace is slightly faster than normal pace and I completed the hike in 5 hours with a few stopping for beautiful photos. I highly recommend people who are physically capable to hike the gorge as you go through magnificent natural scenery. However, for people who have knee problems, it might be too demanding and there is no way out when you’re in the middle of the trail (Donkeys might be the only ambulance).


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A traveler who loves yoga and bunnies ★ Sharing all my travel tips and experiences!

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