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.
- The 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
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Day 1: Arrival in Vamos
Arrival in Vamos by taxi (it can be arranged in advance) or public transport from Chania or Heraklion Airport. An afternoon stroll through the picturesque village of Vamos.
- Accommodation: Vamos Traditional Village
Day 2: Georgioupolis to Vamos | 12 km
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, ↑100 m ↓325 m
- Accommodation: Vamos Traditional Village
Day 3: Circular walk from Nippos and travel to Askifou | 14 km
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. 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, ↑400 m ↓400 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Panorama
Day 4: Lefka Ori Mountain Walk | 7-16 km
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 of 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, ↑600 m ↓600 m
- Walking for the day (Option 2): 7 km, approx. 4.5 hrs, ↑180 m ↓240 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Panorama
Day 5: Walking the Imbros Gorge | 13 km
A short transfer from the hotel brings you to Imbros’ village to 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 crossing the Sfakia gorge and reaching Chora Sfakion, located on the Libyan Sea coast. You may end your day with a refreshing swim.
- Walking for the day: 13 km, approx. 4 hrs, ↑350 m ↓1,100 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Livikon
Day 6: Chora Sfakion to Loutro | 10 km
From Chora Sfakion you climb through the Ilinga Gorge to the authentic village of Anopolis. Here you meet locals in the kafenion, 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, ↑600 m ↓670 m
- Accommodation: Kyma Hotel
Day 7: Loutro Circular Walk and Aradhena Gorge | 16 km
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. Depending on your departure flight tomorrow, it may be necessary to travel today back to Chora Sfakion by ferry and on to Chania or Heraklion.
- Walking for the day (standard option): 16 km, approx. 6-7 hrs, ↑840 m ↓840 m
- Walking for the day (easy option): 9 km, approx. 4 hrs, ↑460 m ↓460 m
- Accommodation: Kyma Hotel
Day 8: Departure
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.
What to expect
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.
Click to view default hotels
- Vamos Traditional Village consists of wonderfully 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 bathroom, a TV and a terrace or garden. Some houses also have fireplaces.
- At an altitude of 800 m in Askifou Village, Hotel Panorama features an outdoor pool and accommodation with White Mountains views. Its restaurant serves Cretan cuisine and local delicacies. Free WiFi is available in public areas. Bright and airy, all units at Panorama Askifou open out to a furnished balcony. Facilities include a mini-fridge, dining table and TV
- In Chora Sfakion you stay in Hotel Livikon. Located in the town of Sfakia, within a 5-minute drive from Iliggas and Ammoudi Beaches, Livikon by the Sea features a sea-view tavern. All rooms have a private balcony with Libyan Sea views and free Wi-Fi. The stone-paved units come with air conditioning and a TV. They also feature a private bathroom with free toiletries.
- Loutro: car-free and splendid views on the scenic bay. You stay in Kyma Hotel in 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 alternative accommodation is necessary, we always try to maintain the same standards and quality. When staying in 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.
Difficulty and terrain
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 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.
When to go
This trip is available between late March and late October. During summer months it can get too hot for hiking. The best month to visit are either springtime (when nature is at its best) or in the autumn (when seawater is still warm). 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 rarely 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 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. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
Click to view travel options
Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Chania (CHQ). An alternative airport is Heraklion (HER).
By train or bus
- 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.
- For more detailed information, use the Omio planner above.
- 7 nights en-suite accommodation
- 7 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers on walking days
- All car transfers on walking days where necessary: on day 1 (bus stop Vrysses-Vamos), 2, 3 and 5
- Detailed digital holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps. Please note that the info pack is emailed to you prior to departure and no printed documents are mailed or provided on-site
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare, public transportation and ferry tickets
- Airport arrival and departure transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras and supplements
- Single room supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights at any of the accommodations along the way as well as in Chania and Heraklion
- Private transfers from/to the airport