Gorges de Samaria, Crète

Samaria gorge

INFORMATIONS

Location In western Crete, on the Omalos plateau and in the Samaria National Park, (see our map). Protected as a biosphere reserve by Unesco and the Natura 2000 Network.

Map of the Samaria Gorge, Crete
Map of the Samaria Gorge, Crete

Path marking: no need, just follow the riverbed.
LengthTotal distance: 16km. 13km of gorges + 3km after the exit of the gorges, on flat ground, to the sea, in Agia Roumeli.
GPS coordinates  Latitude: 35.30807 Longitude: 23.91836 

Elevation gain: 1 227m
DurationFrom 4 to 8 hours, depending on the pace chosen and the stops.
Difficulty: The route is not difficult, but it does require good physical condition and sure footedness, as in some places you walk on large pebbles in the river bed, which is dried up in summer. And it's still 16km! At the start, it's the descent into the gorges, with its 600 steps, although wide, it's still sporty. Children, to be avoided before 8-9 years old, otherwise, you risk having them on your shoulders...

Map of Chania Department
Map of Chania Department

Ticket price : 5€ (individual), free for EU citizens under 18, students (EU) and over 65 (EU). Family price 3€/person. Purchase at the entrance or on the website: https://samaria-tickets.necca.gov.gr/checkout

Equipment: You will need: good hiking boots or trainers in good condition, a bottle of water, provisions for a small picnic, bandages in case of blisters, sun cream and a swimming costume for a well-deserved swim at the exit of the gorges, at the beach of Agia Roumeli. The route is rather shady except for the last 3 km after the exit of the gorges. However, there is a shuttle service for the last few kilometers on the flat terrain.

Start point Omalos: Hamlet of Omalos (see map) on the homonymous plateau, 40km from Chania which is the main town of the county. The entrance to the gorge is called xyloskalo (wooden steps, in Greek, but in reality it is the wooden risers). The exit of the gorge leads to the village of Agia Roumeli (hiking downstream). You can also hike the other way, upstream. It is less exciting...

 Opening date : Normaly, opening on May 1st and closes on 31 October. To be confirmed, depending on the weather. Tel +30 2821067179 (Forestry Office) or 030 2821092943 (Chania Tourist Office). Otherwise call the hotel at the entrance to the gorge. Neos Omalos »

 Opening hours : 7am-4pm. You must leave the gorge before 6pm

 Best season : May, June, September, October

Instructions : Do not take anything (plants), do not smoke except in the designated areas, leave the gorge before 6pm, and keep the ticket to show at the exit control.
Somme figures: In 2022, an estimated 160,000 visitors passed through the Samaria Gorge for a revenue of €900,000. 

Tip : To avoid waking up too early to take the 6:00 bus from Chania, and especially to avoid the crowds in summer, one solution is to take the 14:00 bus the day before, spend the night in the hotel there, and the next morning start the hike among the first ones at 7:00 and enjoy the silence or rather the sounds of a generous nature. Another variant is to start the hike around noon, after the crowds have gone by, leave before the closing time of 18:00, and spend the night in Agia Roumeli. 

STEPS OF THE HIKE

How to get there: To get there, different options are available: bus, taxi or excursion organised by a Tourist Agency.

  1. The bus. To get to the Bus Station of Chania town, called " KTEL Sation», take the bus Chania=>Omalos, and an hour later, it drops you off at Xyloskalo, at the entrance to the Samaria Gorge. The first bus is at about 6am. A variant, already mentioned, is to arrive the day before and spend the night there, at the Neos Omalos hotel. Price of the bus ticket: 7,50€. It is advisable to book your tickets in advance on the KTEL website. " KTEL, bus tickets online« 
  2. Take a taxi. Price about 80€. From Chania, it will take you to the entrance of the gorge, in Omalos, in front of Xyloskalo. For the return trip you order a taxi from Sougia or Chora Sfakion to

Whether by bus or taxi, at the exit of the gorge, in Agia Roumeli, the only solution for your return to the starting point, is the boat of the Company Anendyk  which will take you to Chora Sfakion (1h30), Sougia (45min) or Paleochora (1h30). From there, you have to take the bus or the taxi. For the bus, check the KTEL timetable and book your ticket on their website.

  1. A more practical alternative is to contact a Travel agency, and join a group with a guide. A comfortable bus will leave early in the morning and take you to the entrance of the gorge, in Xyloskalo. It will pick you up at the end of the trip, usually in Sougia and sometimes in Chora Sfakion around 18:00. Price of the excursion, around 35€ and half price for children. Of course, you have to add the 5€ for the entrance to the gorge and the

A last solution, a little risky, is to go to the entrance of the gorge with your own car, cross the gorge, take the boat to Sougia, and from Sougia take either a taxi that you have previously booked, or the 18:00 bus to Chania that stops at the entrance of the gorge. And you have come full circle. You should, of course, check that this link is still available during your stay. (see our page Samaria in the Top 10 of Crete)

The article's editor: Nicolas Degeorges / Padadogeorgakis Nikos