Overview for West Coast and Mountains of Crete
Our West Coast and Mountains of Crete walking holiday includes a combination of hiking trails in the White Mountains that partially follow the E4 trail and will enable you to explore the most beautiful and versatile landscapes of the island of Crete. The summits of Ginglios (1,980 m) and Pachnes (2,453 m, optional) are 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 West Coast and Mountains of Crete walking holiday in Crete 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 West Coast and Mountains of CreteGo to top of page
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.
- 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).
- Walking for the day: 5-6 hours
- Accommodation: Alonia Guesthouse
Day 5: Lefka Ori Circular Walks / 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 offroad vehicle to the trailhead (1.5 hours, transfer not included as the walk is optional). 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 Sakion
Today you will walk (or take the boat) to Chora Sakion 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 West Coast and Mountains of CreteGo to top of page
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 dinners on Days 3, 4 and 5. 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 West Coast and Mountains of CreteGo 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.
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 during all walks are included and your bags will be transferred by your current hotel (or by private transfer) to your next hotel.
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 Ioannina but credit/debit card payments are accepted in most places.
Cost of living: in Greece 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 West Coast and Mountains of CreteGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Moderate
This holiday is appropriate for experienced walkers (no high mountain experience required) and requires a good level of fitness (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 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 West Coast and Mountains of CreteGo to top of page
- Detailed pre-departure 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
- 3 dinners
- Airport transfers from/to Chania airport
- 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 solo travellers or individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable as costs are not shared
- Flights and airport transfers to/from airports other than Chania
- Public transport transfers
- Travel insurance
- Lunches and 3 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
- 4×4 transfer for the optional Pachnes Peak climb
- Dinners pack (5 dinners in the mountains)