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walking holidays in crete, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes, samaria gorge, crete west coast, mount pachnes

The Natural Adventure Company | Walking Holidays in Europe

Self Guided Walking Holidays in Europe

Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes


walking holidays in crete, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes, samaria gorge, crete west coast, mount pachnes
Average rating:   5,  2 reviews
Activity type
Self Guided Walking
8 days & 7 nights
Moderate to Strenuous
May - October


Day 1: Chania
Day 2: Omalos
Day 3: Agia Roumeli
Day 4: Ai Giannis
Day 5: Ai Giannis
Day 6: Loutro
Day 7: Chania
Day 8: Departure

Overview for Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

Our Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes walking holiday includes a unique combination of hiking trails in the White Mountains that partially follow the E4 trail and will enable you to explore in comfort the most beautiful and versatile landscapes of the island of Crete. The summits of Ginglios (1,980 m) and Pachnes (2,453 m) are the highlights, while the gorges of Samaria and Aradena offer some of the most impressive walking routes in Europe.

The White Mountains or Lefka Ori occupy a large part of the centre of West Crete and are the main feature of the region. They consist mainly of limestone, from light grey to bluish or black colour. They have got their name from the perpetual white colour of their peaks as the white of limestone during the summer and fall interchanges with the snow that covers the peaks until late in spring.

Our Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes walking holiday is addressed to those who are looking to explore the authentic and unspoilt nature of Western Crete. This is a journey that combines hiking in nature and along the geo-trails of the Natural Park of Samaria, enjoying the secluded beaches in the remote areas of Western Crete and acquainting with the traditional Cretan way of life.

Itinerary for Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

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Day 1: Chania

Arrive at the airport of Chania and you are transferred by taxi to the hotel (included, 14 km). If arriving at Heraklion airport, you can reach Chania either by public transport or book a private transfer with us.

Meet our representative who will give you the route notes and brief you on the following days’ walks. Depending on arrival time, enjoy some sightseeing in the beautiful old town of Chania.

  • Accommodation: a family-run 3-star hotel close to the historic centre of Chania

Day 2: Omalos Plateau and Ginglios Summit

Breakfast. Take the public bus early in the morning (40 km / 1 hour) and you will arrive at the Plateau of Omalos, the heart of the protected area of the Samaria National Park (bus fare not included). The bus leaves you at the hotel. Check in and take a private transfer (included) to the trailhead of the path that will lead you up to the amazing Gingilos summit (1,980 m).

The views along the walk and from the summit are superb, embracing both the Aegean sea, the North coast of the island and the Libyan sea to the South. You also get a good bird’s eye view of the Samaria gorge and can see the summits of the central White Mountains to the East. Walk back down. Overnight in Omalos.

  • Walking for the day: 5-6 hours (elevation gain 800 m)
  • Accommodation: a 2-star hotel in Omalos

Day 3: The Majestic Gorge of Samaria

Early wakeup call and breakfast. A short transfer to Xiloskalo (5 km / 10 minutes). You leave your luggage in the car and it will be transferred to the next hotel. Start descending the gorge. The gorge is a Protected Monument of Nature and it is one of the most important National Parks in Greece.

Having a total length of sixteen kilometres, the gorge trail (part of the famous E4 route) is one of the longest of this type in Europe and certainly the most famous and visited among the many gorges of Crete. After 5-6 hours of hiking from Omalos (Xiloskalo), you arrive at the coastal village of Agia Roumeli and its stunning beach. Check-in and enjoy the seascapes from your room.

Note that the Samaria gorge is open from 1st May until the autumn rains start (usually end of October). It is also possible for the gorge to be closed at any time by authorities in case of flash flood alerts, in such case an alternative route will be provided.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 6-7 hours
  • Accommodation: a 2-star hotel in Agia Roumeli

Day 4: The Coastal Mountains: Agia Roumeli to Ai Giannis

After breakfast, you leave your luggage to be transferred and start walking towards the high mountain village of Ai Giannis. You pass by the beautiful beach of Agios Pavlos with the legendary chapel and you arrive at a little hidden paradise, the Alonia guesthouse. Breakfast prepared from the owners’ own products (honey, cheese, pies, milk).

Day 5: Pachnes Peak

Today you have the option to either make a circular walk in the area, or hike to Pachnes (from Greek πάχνη which means morning dew but also in Cretan it can mean fog) with 2,453 m is the second tallest peak in Crete. You will be transferred by an off-road vehicle to the trailhead (1.5 hours). Climb the peak, take in the amazing views and walk back down to the trailhead for a return transfer to Alonia Guesthouse.

  • Walking for the day: 3-6 hours depending on the route chosen
  • Accommodation: Alonia Guesthouse

Day 6: The Gorge of Aradena

You leave your luggage to be transferred to the next hotel, while you will be transferred to the trailhead (20 km / 30 minutes). You will then descend the stunning gorge of Aradena. Its entrance is located in the deserted village of Aradena. Near its entrance, there is an iron Bailey bridge, the tallest bridge in Greece and the second tallest in Europe, a popular place for bungee jumping.

The gorge of Aradena is 7 kilometres long and its impressive walls rise vertically for many tens of metres. The walk down the gorge takes 3 hours, a trekking route of medium difficulty. Numerous trees and endemic plants grow in the watercourse and on the high walls, and one can spot wild goats, other small mammals and many endangered bird species nesting in the cliffs. Exit the gorge to reach the Marble beach with its beautiful sea caverns and continue eastwards until you arrive at Loutro coastal village.

  • Walking for the day:  5-6 hours
  • Accommodation: a 2-star hotel in Loutro village

Day 7: Chora Sfakion

Today you will walk (or take the boat) to Chora Sfakion following the E4 coastal path that takes you from the stunning beach of Glyka Nera. You arrive at the end of the beach and from there by taxi (included, 15 minutes) you are transferred to Chora Sfakion and then you should collect your luggage and take the public bus to Chania city (1 hour). Your luggage will be waiting for you at Chora Sfakion.

  • Walking for the day: 2-3 hours
  • Accommodation: a family-run 3-star hotel close to the historic centre of Chania (same hotel as on Day 1)

Day 8: Departure or Onward Travel

Breakfast. Private transfer to Chania airport included. Optional private transfer to Heraklion airport at an extra cost, or take the public bus.

Hotels for Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

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Family-run 2 and 3-star hotels and guesthouses. 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.

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.


Breakfast is included on all days, as well as five dinners in the mountains (at Agios Ioannis and Agia Roumeli). When no restaurant location is available on route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before.

Travel for Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

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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.

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.

Transfers to/from Airports

If your arrival and departure airport is Chania, the airport transfers are included in the trip cost. If you use Heraklion airport, you can either book a private transfer with us, or take the local bus to Chania (4 hours, c. £15 pp).

Baggage Transfers

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.

Country Info

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 West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

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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).

Route Navigation

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 May and October. Best month to visit are May, early June, late September and October.

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 West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

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  • Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, route notes and maps
  • 7 nights in small hotels or guesthouses (private rooms with en-suite facilities)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 5 dinners
  • Airport transfers from/to Chania airport
  • 4×4 transfer for the Pachnes Peak climb
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel during walks
  • All car transfers on walking days where necessary
  • 24/7 assistance by phone

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 to/from airports other than Chania
  • Public transport transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunches and 2 dinners
  • Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the program

Extensions and Optional Extras

  • Private transfers from/to Heraklion airport

Gallery for Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

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Reviews for Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

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Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes
Average rating:  
 2 reviews
by Catherine E on Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

Probably the most spectacular walk was the Aradena Gorge, that was also the most exciting although not necessarily in the best way! The accommodation was all good, the best place we stayed was Alonia Guesthouse. The hospitality was outstanding, the food was wonderful, so much made or grown onsite, and the rooms had amazing views. We had a brilliant holiday, it was wonderful to be back in Crete after so many years away. I hope that we have the opportunity to travel with you again.

by Jennifer on Crete West Coast, Samaria Gorge and Mount Pachnes

The trip was great, smooth logistics, comfy hotels. Book the half-board option and you won't regret.

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