Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands and is a top destination for tourists. Whilst Crete’s famous beaches and warm temperatures might not immediately bring hiking to mind, the island supports a range of environments, meaning that those who like to explore on foot can easily get away from the crowds. It’s also only a short hop from the UK, with flights taking around four hours.
Crete’s geography is hilly across the island, with a rocky landscape and several large mountains, including the White Mountain range, which has over 52 peaks. As a result, it also has multiple gorges, such as Samaria Gorge, which suit those who prefer to walk in Crete at a lower altitude.
Any hiker in Crete should come prepared for a range of weather conditions, as it can be both very hot, but also windy and cool up on the mountain peaks.
Here, we take a look at some of the best hiking trails in Crete for confident hikers.
The Mountains of Dikti
The Dikti range, in eastern Crete, consists of several peaks. The highest is Spathi, sometimes just called Dikti, which stands at 2148m. There are several options for hiking, depending on how much time you have to complete the route, and whether or not you want to spend the night on the mountain. If you do want to do a two day hike, then you can either camp outside the chapel of Agio Pnevma, at around 1200m, or there is a hut belonging to the Alpine Club of Lassithi.
If you’d rather take the shorter route, then you can drive up to Limnakarou Plateau, rather than walk there, and start at 1100m. This is the highest point you can start for the Dikti range, so make sure you allow plenty of time to complete your hike. From here, the hike primarily follows the E4 trail.
At the split between Spathi and its sister mountain Afentis Christos, make sure that you take the marked path to the Spathi summit, as the Afentis Christos route is much harder and involves scrambling.
Although the path is marked in places, you’ll need a map to complete this hike. This route is also best for those who are confident hiking on rocky, steep terrain.
Mount Ida (otherwise known by its local name, Psiloritis) is part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, and it stands at 2456m, making it the highest mountain in Crete. Like all mountain hiking in Greece, the terrain is rocky, so make sure that you have supportive shoes.
If you’re starting at the Mygero refuge, the trail is around 9km to the summit and back, so is easily do-able in a day, but just be aware that there is not much shade cover at points and it can be quite windy and cold at the summit, even in summer. The elevation gain for the route is around 900m, so it is quite steep, which can primarily be more challenging on the way down due to small rocks moving underfoot.
However, at the summit you will be able to see across the northern and southern coasts of Crete, so your hard work will be rewarded. There is also a small chapel, called the Church of the Holy Cross. The chapel has its own special day on September 14th, where locals hike up the night before and hold a celebration at dawn.
The Cretan Way
This hike is not one for the faint-hearted, but is a great choice for those who have a long time and want to see as much of Crete by foot as possible. The Cretan Way is a 500km hike from Kato Zakros in Eastern Crete to Chrisoskalitisa in Western Crete, and takes approximately 28 days, depending on walking speed and rest days.
It is important to plan this hike carefully according to your ability and make sure that you know where there are food and water stops, and ensure that you are properly protected from the sun.
It primarily uses the E4 hiking path, but if you choose to follow the specific 28-day guidebook, then there are few diversions to points of interest. The route goes both up mountains and along coasts, meaning that you truly get to experience all the nature that Crete has to offer.
You might find this guide useful on your hiking trip to Crete.
Hiking in Crete Summary
Crete is a popular destination with tourists due to its beautiful beaches and warm temperatures. However Crete has a lot more to offer visitors, especially those interested in mountainous or coastal hikes.
On the east of the island enjoy a hike on the mountains of Dikti or to bag the highest mountain in Crete head to the central region and hike Mount Ida. For the ultimate multi-day hike in Crete, set aside a month and take on the Cretan Way challenge.
Whichever hike you choose, you’re sure to have an enjoyable time on this beautiful Greek island.