Overview for Crete North to South Coast
Discover unspoilt Crete while walking from the north to the south coast through beautiful areas that few tourists get to see. This tour will take you from the fertile green agricultural area of Apokoronas via the Lefka Ora (White Mountains) to the pristine beaches of the astonishing south coast, where you will walk through two of its most beautiful gorges: the Sfakia Gorge and the Aradhena Gorge.
- Traditional village of Vamos with its cobbled alleys
- Walking through stunning gorges and along secluded beaches
- Stunning views over the Askifou plain
- Experience life in a seaside town only accessible by boat or by foot
- Abundant flora, especially in springtime
Itinerary for Crete North to South CoastGo to top of page
Day 1: Arrival in Vamos
Arrival in Vamos by taxi (it can be arranged in advance) or by public transport from Chania or Heraklion Airport. Afternoon stroll through the picturesque village of Vamos.
- Accommodation: Vamos Traditional Village
Day 2: Georgioupolis to Vamos
A pleasant walk through the agricultural landscapes of Apokoronas. After a short transfer, you will walk along several villages to the seaside town of Georgioupolis and then back to Vamos. Great views, a monastery, scattered churches and the oldest olive press of Western Crete will please you in this first walking day of the tour.
- Walking for the day: 12 km, approx. 4 hrs, ↑100m ↓325m
- Accommodation: Vamos Traditional Village
Day 3: Circular walk from Nippos and travel to Askifou
You will make a round walk from the village of Nippos, embedded in the lush green area of Apokoronas. Cypresses and olive groves cover this hilly area. On the background will be the Lefka Ori, covered with snow in winter and spring, making you feel like walking in a painting. After the walk, you will travel comfortably by taxi to your next accommodation on the Askifou plain, in the Lefka Ori (White Mountains).
- Walking for the day: 14 km, approx. 4.5 hrs, ↑400m ↓400m
- Accommodation: Lefkoritis Resort
Day 4: Lefka Ori Mountain Walk
Today a challenging walk in the mountains is planned. You will walk up to 1,300m and admire 2,000m peaks, covered with snow in spring. There are no villages in this area; you may occasionally bump into a shepherd with his goats or sheep. The way back down to Askifou is via a beautiful old path through dense forest. Now and then you will have great views to the Askifou plain. In case you prefer a less strenuous walk, you can take the coastal walking route to Loutro, with the option to go for a swim at the Fresh Water Beach.
- Walking for the day – option 1: 16 km, approx. 6-7 hrs, ↑600m ↓600m; option 2: 7km, approx. 4.5 hrs, ↑180m ↓240m
- Accommodation: Lefkoritis Resort
Day 5: Walking the Imbros and Sfakia Gorges
A short transfer from the hotel brings you to the village of Imbros where you can get some supplies in the mini market, before entering the second famous gorge of Crete: the Imbros gorge. You will be walking for about two hours along a rocky riverbed with loose stones and rocks alternated with easier sections. The landscapes here are other-worldly; at its narrowest point, the Imbros gorge is only 1.60m wide! When you sit and have your picnic lunch and listen to the silence it will be hard to imagine the immense forces that created this impressive landscape.
At the end of the gorge, you come to Komitades where you may relax and have lunch in one of the taverns. Then you continue your walk through agricultural fields and across the Sfakia gorge until you reach Chora Sfakion, located on the Libyan Sea coast. You may end you day with a refreshing swim.
- Walking for the day: 16 km, approx. 6.5 hrs, ↑400m ↓1,200m
- Accommodation: Xenia Hotel
Day 6: Chora Sfakion to Loutro
From Chora Sfakion you climb through the Ilinga Gorge to the authentic village of Anopolis. Here you meet locals in the kafeneion and you may try one of those excellent Sfakiana pittas yourself: a sort of pancake with cream cheese and honey. This will give you energy for the rest of the walk. You will descend along a terrific path to the village of Loutro, hidden in a tiny, perfectly round, bay. Loutro is only accessible by ferry or walking and there are no cars. Throughout the walk you will have splendid views of the sea and Loutro. You spend the last two nights of this tour in Loutro.
- Walking for the day: 10 km, approx. 4-5 hrs, ↑600m ↓670m
- Accommodation: Protopapas Rooms
Day 7: Loutro Circular Walk and Aradhena Gorge
Via a steep zig-zag path you climb up to the village Anopolis. From here you walk further onto Ancient Aradhena, located on the edge of the impressive Aradhena Gorge. A spectacular path takes you down into the Aradhena Gorge which you follow until you reach the coast. During the last part of today’s walk you will follow a path along the coast back to Loutro. It is possible to make a shorter walk of 4 hrs. today via Livaniana (a tiny village) and then descend via the Aradhena Gorge to the sea. It may be necessary, depending on your departure flight tomorrow, to travel today back to Chora Sfakion by ferry and on to Chania or to Heraklion.
- Walking for the day: 16 km, approx. 6-7 hrs, ↑840m ↓840m (standard option) or 9 km, approx. 4 hrs, ↑460m ↓460m (easy option)
- Accommodation: Protopapas Rooms
Day 8 Departure or Onward Travel
Today you travel back to Chora Sfakion by ferry in the morning and, from there, by public transport or pre-booked transfer to Chania or Heraklion Airport.
Hotels for Crete North to South CoastGo to top of page
In this part of Crete the choice of accommodation is limited. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. All rooms have private facilities and almost always a balcony or a terrace.
- Vamos Village consists of wonderful restored houses in the old village centre of Vamos. The houses are usually separated into smaller independent units. In the houses you will find characteristic features in the building, sometimes you find traditional sofa beds. Furniture is all in traditional style, but meets today’s demands for comfort. Hand made traditional embroideries make that you can really feel like a local Cretan citizen of a rural village. Every house is unique; there is always a kitchen or kitchenette and a comfortable bath room, a TV and a terrace or garden. Some houses also have fire places.
- Lefkoritis is a recently-built apartment complex in traditional style. The owner made use of stone from the surroundings. The hotel is located at the side of the big Askifou plain and the views from the balconies are breathtaking. There are 2- and 3-room apartments with respectively 1 and 2 bedrooms. The furniture is warm, traditional style with comfortable beds and a nice bathroom. The swimming pool with panoramic views, makes the Lefkoritis Resort the ideal place to stay after a walking day.
- In Chora Sfakion you stay in Hotel Xenia, located on the best location in town. The tidy rooms are equipped with shower/toilet, a fridge, TV and air-conditioning. From the balcony you can enjoy the great view over the bay of Chora Sfakion and the surrounding mountains. The hotel is on the quay, close to the beach, the port and the seaside taverns. The hotel also offers a restaurant for evening dinners. The restaurant uses local ingredients, such as fish, meat and vegetables, to prepare local specialities.
- Loutro: car free and splendid views on the scenic bay. You stay in Protopapas Rooms in basic but well-maintained en-suite rooms.
*In most cases you will stay in the default accommodations as listed above. Occasionally an alternative accommodation will be confirmed to you. This may happen especially in the busy village of Chora Sfakion. When an alternative accommodation is necessary, we always try to maintain the same standards and quality. When staying in an alternative accommodation, the walks are never affected. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days. Products for lunch are available in the local shops; at Askifou the shop is 1.5 km from the accommodation and you may ask for a packed lunch or shop in Imbros during the walk. In the evening you have a wide choice of taverns at all locations, except in Askifou where you can only dine at the hotel itself.
Travel for Crete North to South CoastGo to top of page
Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Chania. An alternative airport is Heraklion. Please insert your preferred airport in the “To” field below to see the available flights from your location.
Transfer from Chania Airport to Vamos is possible by public bus, but it is not a good connection. You are advised to take a taxi from the airport to Vamos. The distance is about 30 km, so a taxi is not too expensive.
If you land in Heraklion, from the bus station in Heraklion city (6 km from the airport, accessible by bus or taxi) there are direct buses to Chania (2 hours). The bus also stops in the village Vrysses, near Vamos, and a taxi transfer from Vrysses to Vamos is included in this package.
You may also travel via Athens Airport and take the night ferry from Piraeus to Chania, leaving daily around 9 pm and arriving in Chania at 6 am the next morning. There are cabins with comfortable berths on board and all cabins are en-suite.
From the last overnight location, Loutro, you travel by ferry to Chora Sfakion (20 minutes) and continue by public bus to Chania or Heraklion. In case your flight departs in the morning you have to either book an extra night in Chania or Heraklion or book a private taxi transfer from Chora Sfakion to the airport as to be on time. You can also take the daily overnight ferry from Chania back to Piraeus.
Please note that flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.
Baggage transfers during all walks are included and your bags will be transferred by your current hotel (or by private transfer) to your next hotel. All belongings must be clearly marked with your name. Ask the accommodation owner where and at what time the bags should be left in the morning. During this trip the luggage transfer from Chora Sfakion to Loutro is done per ferry and the hoteliers take care of luggage transportation to and from the ferries. This is quite common in this part of Crete and completely safe. Please have in mind that luggage is not always handled gently, so pack accordingly. When you travel with public transport or on a ferry you always take your luggage with you.
Timezone: GMT +2
Language: Greek. In big cities, many people speak English, but in remote areas, this might not be the case. However, most of the hotel personnel where we stay speak English and are ready to help you. Road signs/markers are normally in both Greek and Latin alphabet – and you can always call our 24/7 helpline if there are any problems.
Electric supply and plugs: 220V, 50Hz, two-pin round plugs.
Currency: Euro (€). We strongly advise taking adequate cash for your daily requirements. Banks and ATMs are not available outside of big towns but credit/debit card payments are accepted in most places.
Cost of living: in Greece it is cheaper than in the UK. Some sample prices follow:
- A 3-course meal in a standard restaurant: 12€
- A litre of mineral water from a street shop: 1€
- A cup of coffee: 2.5€
Up-to-date travel advice on Greece is available here.
Detailed up-to-date travel information and hints will be provided in your holiday information pack.
Trip Info for Crete North to South CoastGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Moderate to Strenuous
This holiday is appropriate for experienced walkers and requires a very good level of fitness, sure footedness and a head for heights (read more about difficulty grades).
We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to Go
This trip is available between late March and late October. During summer months it can get too hot for hiking. Best month to visit are either spring time (when nature is at its best) or in the autumn (when sea water is still warm). The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking.
Crete has a Mediterranean climate, with mild and rainy winters, and hot and sunny summers. The bulk of the rain falls from October to March; in summer it almost never rains. During winter, but also in spring, it can snow in the mountains. In the fine season, from mid-May to mid-September, the Meltemi (or Etesian) blows from the northwest. The southern coasts are more sheltered from this wind, especially in the coastal stretches that are located south of the mountains. The Meltemi, together with the lighter breezes which in any case blow on summer afternoons, has the merit of making the heat more bearable.
During summer, heat waves from Africa can occasionally occur, with peaks of 35 °C on the coast, and 40 °C in the interior. The hottest areas in these cases are the hills of the interior. The sea is warm enough for swimming from July to September, while it is a bit cool, but still acceptable, in June and October. Spring and autumn are preferable to avoid the summer heat, especially April and May, and from mid-September to mid-October; spring is preferable because it is milder and nature is in bloom, although in the mountains it can still be cool.
What to Bring
We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing not more than 20 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.
- Good hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Several t-shirts (cotton or preferably breathable/fast drying)
- Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
- Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
- Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
- Hat/Baseball cap
- Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)
Included for Crete North to South CoastGo to top of page
- Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, route notes and maps. Please note that the info pack is emailed to you prior to departure and no printed documents are provided on site.
- 7 nights in small hotels or guesthouses (private rooms with en-suite facilities)
- 7 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel during walks
- All car transfers on walking days where necessary: on day 1 (bus stop Vrysses-Vamos), 2, 3 and 5
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office / representative
Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements
- Where individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable.
- This holiday is available for solo travellers. As costs are not shared, a supplement is payable on the standard trip cost.
Please click the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above to see the price of the holiday and the different options, extras and supplements for your desired dates.
- Flights and airport transfers
- Public transport transfers including ferry tickets
- Travel insurance
- Lunches and dinners
- Local tourism taxes (EUR 0.5 – 1.5 per room per night), payable on site
- Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Mountain rescue / emergency assistance
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the program
Extensions and Optional Extras
- Private airport transfers
- Extra nights