Greece is an excellent holiday destination that brings images of a sunny climate, rich culture, stunning landscapes, picturesque villages, and Mediterranean islands. For walkers and hikers Greece offers a landscape full of mountains, spectacular gorges and ridges throughout the mainland and of course on the many Greek Islands.
Mount Olympus (Olympos) is one of Greece’s popular and well-known walking destinations. At a height of 2,917m, it is located only 100km from Thessaloniki, Greece’s 2nd city. However it is the Greek Islands that attract many of Greece’s visitors, where there are many mountains and spectacular gorges to walk through. This is especially true of Crete.
Crete is a great place for a walking holiday with high mountains close to the sea, numerous gorges, dramatic coastline and a large network of ancient paths and shepherds trails. Crete has a great history with many Minoan palaces, Byzantine churches and Venetian fortifications to visit, interspersed with attractive villages.
Mountains run across Crete with Mt Ida (also known as Mt Psiloritis) in the centre of the island being the highest point. Mt Ida actually consists of 5 summits, which are: Timios Stavros (Holy Cross) 2,456m: Agathias 2,424m: Stolistra 2,325m: Voulomenou: 2,267m: and Koussakas 2,209m.
The White Mountains are in the west of the island and consist of over 30 summits that are over 2,000m high, with highest point being 2,453m (Pachnes). These White Mountains cover a large part of western Crete and are wild with very few roads in and out. There is very little vegetation and the white limestone rock and the snow that lasts until the spring give this region its name.
In the east of Crete are Mt Dikti and the Lassithi Plateau. The Lassithi Plateau is remarkably flat and wide at an altitude of 800 to 850m with Mt Dikti to the south and Mt Selena to the north. In the foot of the mountains are 18 villages that surround the plateau and are connected by a 23km circular road.
The Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge in Europe and is located in the White Mountains, in a dedicated National Park. A popular hiking trail through the Samaria Gorge goes from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea. It is 16km long and passes through a stretch called the Iron Gates, where the gorge is only 4m wide and the cliffs are 1,100m high.
The Cretan Way is a long distance hiking route that goes from Kato Zakros in eastern Crete to Chrisoskalitisa in western Crete, and is around 500km long. This route takes you across the varied and spectacular landscapes of Crete, including its wild and rural mountains and its beautiful coastal regions. The original path goes through Mt Ida (Psiloritis) and the White Mountains and these sections are not to be underestimated. A good map is required as the route is not waymarked in these sections and there are few water springs. However there are many alternatives to the Cretan Way route that avoid the highest mountains and generally follow Crete’s beautiful southern coastline.
Large sections of the Cretan Way are waymarked, but not the entire route. Therefore good maps and a guidebook are essential for anyone who is planning on walking the entire route or just sections of it. The main guidebook is called “The Cretan Way – E4”, and it splits the route into 28-days. Each section includes maps, route descriptions, GPS tracking, and accommodation information. Buy the Cretan way Guidebook from our shop.
Anavasi also produce a number of excellent maps at a scale of 1:25,000 that show the Cretan way and its many alternatives. Currently there are 7 walking maps for Crete that can be bought from our shop, which are as follows:
The E4 Cretan Way Guidebook includes maps, route descriptions, GPS tracking, and accommodation information for the whole route.