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Crete

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Captivating, mysterious and achingly beautiful; these are only a few words that could be used to describe the former home of King Minos, the birthplace of Zeus and the land where Zorba the Greek once danced his way into the hearts of readers everywhere. Rising like two broad shoulders from the sea, Crete is the largest Aegean island spanning a vast surface area of 8,700 square kilometres. Criss-crossed by mountain ranges, gorges, caves and spectacular summits the island is a hauntingly beautiful reminder of the area’s tumultuous geological past. With its own regional dialect as well as native music, poetry, dance, clothing and customs fiercely maintained by the inhabitants of the island Crete is unlike anywhere else in Greece and often feels as though it’s a country unto itself. The island is divided into four distinct regions (known as ‘prefectures’ to the Greeks), those of Hania, Rethymnon, Heraklion and Lasithi, providing thousands of possibilities linked to ecotourism and alternative tourism.

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Agia Sofia Cave (Saint Sophia)

Once a sacred spot of Minoan worship the cave of Agia Sofia is now famous for its mammoth stalactites and stalagmites. A steep climb up the stone staircase and into the mouth of the cave visitors will first see a small chapel where they may light a candle or offer a prayer. Once inside it is fairly easy to make one’s way around (although the back of the cave is too slippery and dark to explore). Some of the stalagmites and stalactites are up to five or six meters in length with unique, almost otherworldly formations.

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Ha Gorge

Definitely one in the category “do not try alone”, the Ha gorge is spectacularly set on the western side of Mt. Thripti, before depositing its walker east of the village of Vassiliki, Whilst only 1.5 Kms long, it is very narrow in places and has walls towering up to 300 metres above ones head.It is the perfect gorge for abseiling, but only the very experienced should try this, and even then, with a guide.

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Ierapetra

Ierapetra has a sandy town beach, and the coast stretching east is suitable for swimming.

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Kamares Cave

This is one for those who like their caves at a high elevation. Situated 1,700 metres above sea level, Kamares, also known as Kamaraiko, is accessable by a trail leading north, and upwards from the village of Kamares. Beware, it’s quite a hike to the cave from the village, and be of more interest to those with a penchant for archaeology than speleology, as this was an important site in Minoan times, with votive offerings having been found here.

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Klados Gorge

Just west of its more famous sister, Samaria, the Klados gorge awaits. Offering up breathtaking scenery with its imposing jagged rockface and waterfalls, the Klados gorge is a remote and little traveled terrain. Its northern entrance begins from the Linosseli pass west of the Gigilos peak and is marked only by a few piles of rocks. This path, as with others along much of its route, is often blocked by bushes which only contribute to the danger by hiding its steep drops. Just before the entrance there is a very dangerous spot with loose gravel on a steep slope. Navigating the Klados gorge does require descending by rope in various areas. There are cascading waterfalls along the way and at the end a gorgeous beach called Tripiti.

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Lake Kournas

Set amongst a stunning backdrop of mountains Lake Kournas is the only natural freshwater lake in all of Crete and covers an area of approximately 579,000 square meters and is only 22.5 meters at its deepest point. Home to different species including Herons, Cormorants, Ducks, and Warblers. As one of only two freshwater lakes on the island, Lake Kournas is a wonderful spot to take a rented kayak and while away the day atop its calm waters. On site visitors can rent a pedal boat or canoe to travel around the area.

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Neraidospilios Cave

It is found some 25 km from Herakleion, not far from the village of Myrtia. Situated by a river, with highly mythological associations, for the ancients, who believed this to be the dwelling place of nymphs and fairies.

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The Central Market in Hania

If you want to see a city’s soul go to the market (also known as Dimotiki Agora). Hania’s Municipal market or ‘Agora’ is a bustling, lively center where tourists can rub shoulders with locals while meandering through the 76 small shops, restaurants, bakeries and stalls selling their fresh local products. A variety of bakeries and small restaurants serve up some of the freshest fare in the city. The restaurants may not be fancy but if it’s genuine Cretan cuisine you’re after, this is one of the best places to find it.

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Vai

There’s no doubt that this a lovely spot. During the 1970s a British advert featured Vai as the place where one could experience “the taste of paradise”, if one were to bite into a coconut sweet, covered in chocolate. Palm trees (phoenix theophrastii) can be found here, and they are endemic to Crete; it was rumoured that they grew as a result of Saracen occupation in the 9th and 10th centuries), but this is equally untrue! The beach and environs are owned by the monastery of Toplou, and one has to pay to get onto the beach. One can hire pedalos (pedal boats) and water-skiing is available if that floats your particular boat.

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Georgioupolis Lake

Just south of the town of Georgioupolis is the lake of Georgioupolis which is home to a number of different species of birds such as Herons, the Black-winged Stilt, Waders, various species of Ducks and Geese, as well as Coots and the Great Reed Warbler.

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Imbros Gorge

Easily one of the most beautiful gorges in all of Crete, the Imbros gorge is often overlooked by hikers who choose Samaria instead, but this gorge is impressive in its own right. Again regarded specifically as a hiking site, the Imbros Gorge is a fantastic natural habitat for a variety of birds including the Raven, the Griffon Vulture, the Falcon and the Alpine Swift.

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Lake Agia

One of only two freshwater lakes on the entire island, Lake Agia is a manmade lake in the Northwest of Crete. Initially built as a water supply for the island, no-one anticipated the ecosystem that would one day flourish here. Today, this tranquil setting is home to over 200 different varieties of birds. Species that can be found here include Ducks, Geese, Wood Sandpiper, Swallow, Black-winged stilt, Reed Warbler, Pelican and Little Crake to name just a few.

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Lake Kournas

Set amongst a stunning backdrop of mountains Lake Kournas is the only natural freshwater lake in all of Crete and covers an area of approximately 579,000 square meters and is only 22.5 meters at its deepest point. Home to different species including Herons, Cormorants, Ducks, and Warblers. As one of only two freshwater lakes on the island, Lake Kournas is a wonderful spot to take a rented kayak and while away the day atop its calm waters. On site visitors can rent a pedal boat or canoe to travel around the area.

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Lefka Ori (White Mountains)

A UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves site, the White Mountains offer an incredible opportunity for the hiker in both winter and summer. Generally regarded for its fantastic hiking, the White Mountains provide an ideal habitat for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts looking for species of large birds like Eagles and Vultures, the Golden Eagle and the Red-Billed Chough.

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Lake Kournas

Set amongst a stunning backdrop of mountains Lake Kournas is the only natural freshwater lake in all of Crete and covers an area of approximately 579,000 square meters and is only 22.5 meters at its deepest point. Home to different species including Herons, Cormorants, Ducks, and Warblers. As one of only two freshwater lakes on the island, Lake Kournas is a wonderful spot to take a rented kayak and while away the day atop its calm waters. On site visitors can rent a pedal boat or canoe to travel around the area.

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Aradena Gorge

Just less than 20 km west of Sfakia lies the Aradena gorge which begins on the softer southern hills of the White Mountains and ends at the cobalt coloured waters of the Libyan Sea. Pictures of the gorge’s dramatic sloping edges falling into the sea are unforgettable and it is easily one of the most picturesque in the Hania region. The gorge is approximately 7km long and takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to hike. There is an area where hikers must descend a metal ladder attached to the cliff, although there is an alternate route with a handrail. The descent itself is difficult but manageable but hikers should be forewarned about falling stones. At the end of the hike there are paths to Marmara, Loutro and Sfakia.

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Eligia Gorge

Just east of Samaria is the very narrow, verdant Eligia gorge with its steep drop and abundant foliage. The path to its entrance begins at the Katsiveli mountain shelter. It is more walkable than either Tripiti or Klados, marked with small piles of rocks along the way, but there are a number of secondary paths that can lead visitors to become easily lost so a guide is recommended. At the end of the gorge the isolated village of Agia Roumeli with its pebble beach and breathtaking views of the Libyan sea is approximately a one hour hike away. Agia Roumeli is only accessible by boat or on foot and well worth the hike

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Ha Gorge

Definitely one in the category “do not try alone”, the Ha gorge is spectacularly set on the western side of Mt. Thripti, before depositing its walker east of the village of Vassiliki, Whilst only 1.5 Kms long, it is very narrow in places and has walls towering up to 300 metres above ones head.It is the perfect gorge for abseiling, but only the very experienced should try this, and even then, with a guide.

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Hametoulo Gorge

A straightforward enough hike this, from the village of Hametoulo, to Xerokambos, on the south east coast. A number of gates have to passed through en-route (make sure you close them, as they’re there to keep sheep in). When you arrive at Hametoulo, make sure you don’t stray to far north or west of the village or the gorge, as the hill behind you is a military base.

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Imbros Gorge

Easily one of the most beautiful gorges in all of Crete, the Imbros gorge is often overlooked by hikers who choose Samaria instead, but this gorge is impressive in its own right. Again regarded specifically as a hiking site, the Imbros Gorge is a fantastic natural habitat for a variety of birds including the Raven, the Griffon Vulture, the Falcon and the Alpine Swift.

Find Out More

Kapsa Gorge

This is a tough gorge to crack and should only be walked by experienced hikers, and never alone, as it can be dangerous in places. The waymarking is good, thankfully, but at one stage there’s a 10 metre climb, over practically sheer rock, to negotiate, with the aid of a piece of rope, which should be checked before use. Alternatively one can scramble across the scree which covers the hill surrounding the drop. An alternative name for the gorge is Perivolakia, as this is where it ends, some three to four hours after setting off.

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Klados Gorge

Just west of its more famous sister, Samaria, the Klados gorge awaits. Offering up breathtaking scenery with its imposing jagged rockface and waterfalls, the Klados gorge is a remote and little traveled terrain. Its northern entrance begins from the Linosseli pass west of the Gigilos peak and is marked only by a few piles of rocks. This path, as with others along much of its route, is often blocked by bushes which only contribute to the danger by hiding its steep drops. Just before the entrance there is a very dangerous spot with loose gravel on a steep slope. Navigating the Klados gorge does require descending by rope in various areas. There are cascading waterfalls along the way and at the end a gorgeous beach called Tripiti.

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Kritsa Gorge

Kritsa is a beautiful village, located some 9 Kms west of Aghios Nikolaos. Also known as the “Havga” gorge, it stretches for 13 Kms before depositing walkers at the village of Tapes. The descent is some 300 metres.

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Lissos Gorge

To reach the Lissos Gorge visitors can take a small boat from neighbouring Sougia (about 20 minutes), or can arrive by foot which is about a 2 hour walk. The entrance begins at the harbour of Sougia and a good deal of the pathway is uphill. The entrance begins at the harbour of Sougia and a good deal of the pathway is uphill. There is beautiful vegetation throughout the gorge and towards the end of the path a gorgeous pine forest offering up a view of Lissos below. At the bottom of the hill lies ancient Lissos including the temple which can be explored on foot. (See Lissos in the archaeology section).

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Milonas Gorge

Seven Kilometres east of Ierapetra, the gorge of Milonas starts at an elevation of around 500 metres and ends on the south coast. Waterfalls form pools, along the gorge’s course, enabling the hiker to become swimmer.

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Pefki Gorge

A lovely place is Pefki, and its gorge compliments it perfectly. A walk of about a kilometre on a path from the village, brings one into the pine-strewn (pefki is the Greek word for pine) gorge itself. It’s approximately six KMs from here to the coast, where the gorge deposits one at Makriyialos There are even a couple of stone benches en-route, for those who need a rest, or prefer just to savour the rarified atmosphere.

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Rokka Gorge

Located in the small, aptly named village of Rokka this gorge is a big departure from Samaria and some of the other’s with rougher terrain but it is just as beautiful and has just as much flora and fauna to keep visitors preoccupied. Nearly vertical rock faces loom overhead and at less than 5 meters wide and 200 meters deep the gorge is extremely imposing. A remarkable view of Kissamos awaits hikers who reach the plateau and the steep hill known as Trouli above the village is the site of the ancient Venetian castle (see archaeology section).

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Samaria Gorge National Park

More famous with each passing year, the Samarian Gorge is synonymous with Crete. Each year thousands of tourists flock to the Omalos plateau to begin their descent into the mouth of this stunning exploit.

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Sirikari Gorge (Polyrinia Gorge)

Compared to many of its sister’s, the Sirikari gorge (also known as Polyrinia gorge) is an easy alternative for those looking to get out into nature but not suffer too much the next day. A protected habitat, the gorge descends into a beautiful river bed with abundant, flowering vegetation. From the village of Sirikari the pathway ascends to the ancient settlement of Polyrinia with its glorious view of the bay of Kissamos. Altogether the hike is approximately three hours (and 11 km long). Visitors should beware however, that along the pathway there are areas not well marked by signposts and it can become easy to get turned around.

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The Gorge of Agia Irini

Just over an hour’s drive southwest of the city of Hania is the gorge of Agia Irini. Easily accessible from the village of Agia Irini the entire hike is approximately three hours and stretches out over 7.5km. At its most narrow point it closes in at just 10 meters while its walls climb to a height of 500 meters. Most of the pathway is easily navigated and the trail itself well cared for although there are both uphill and downhill areas and along the riverbed visitors have to traverse the rocky terrain. There are a couple of picnic spots along the way and washroom facilities. Lush vegetation, flowering herbs and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and abundant pine and cypress trees await travelers here. At the end of the pathway there is a main road that leads to the charming village of Sougia.

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Theriso gorge

Found close to the city of Hania, the Theriso gorge is approximately 6km long and can also be visited by car. Easily navigated with a well laid pathway this is a good opportunity for people with families to take to the outdoors and do some hiking. The Theriso gorge sits amongst the foothills of the White Mountains; a small stream runs through part of the gorge and adds to the abundant plant life which makes for fantastic natural scenery and an abundance of greenery everywhere.

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Topolia Gorge

A delightful surprise to walk or drive through, many visitors to western Crete remember the Topolia gorge not from hiking it but rather from driving along the winding road that cuts through it (and part of a mountain where a tunnel was dug to allow the road continue). Known to locals as the ‘Gorge of Caves’ because of the many that are found along its route, this majestic gorge is located just south of Kissamos and is rich with vegetation. Its path begins just after the village of Topolia and extends for approximately 1.5 km. One of its most impressive features is the shadows that fall onto its rock faces mid-afternoon – a stunning sight to behold.

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Tripiti Gorge

West of Samaria this gorge can be accessed from the same pathway as Klados gorge, beginning in Linosseli. Breathtaking views of its steep rock walls, climbers will be delighted its nature and wildlife. Dangerous in spots and not for the novice. Beware of loose rocks and plan well.

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Zakros Gorge (The Valley of the Dead)

A wonderful, relatively easy, walking experience greets the hiker, which ever direction one chooses to walk the Zakros gorge. There are at least three entry/exit points, at, or close to the village of Ano (Upper) Zakros, and the route down is spectacular in the extreme, depositing one at Kato (Lower) Zakros,replete with its own Minoan “palace”, lovely beaches, and accommodation aplenty. If one chooses to walk east to west, Ano Zakros has a nice, rather old-fashioned hotel, so there should be no problem with where to lay ones head for the evening, though in the height of summer, do book-up in advance. Interesting features along the gorge, include a Roman aqueduct, and if one looks up, caves where the bodies of humans dating back to Neolithic times were discovered.

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Aghios Antonios

An interesting cave as it also doubles-up as a church. It lies in the village of Patsos, north-west of Spili and was used during Minoan through Roman times as a place of worship. Minoan finds from this cave are displayed in both the Herakleion museum and in Oxford’s Ashmolean.

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Agia Sofia Cave (Saint Sophia)

Once a sacred spot of Minoan worship the cave of Agia Sofia is now famous for its mammoth stalactites and stalagmites. A steep climb up the stone staircase and into the mouth of the cave visitors will first see a small chapel where they may light a candle or offer a prayer. Once inside it is fairly easy to make one’s way around (although the back of the cave is too slippery and dark to explore). Some of the stalagmites and stalactites are up to five or six meters in length with unique, almost otherworldly formations.

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Cave of the Holy Fathers

Located approximately 6 km northwest of Paleochora near a small village called Azogires, the Cave of the Holy Fathers is an impressive cave system with a moving spiritual history. Over 20 meters high and more than 100 meters long the cave is accessed by ascending through its mouth which is approximately 10 by 5 meters. Once inside there are steel ladders leading you down into the cave which houses a number of wondrous dripstone formations. The Cave of the Holy Fathers has still not been fully investigated and it is relatively difficult terrain – a flashlight and sturdy hiking shoes are an absolute necessity. Any questions can be directed to the friendly locals at the nearby Alfa Cafe and Information Center.

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Gourgouthakas Cave

Also known to many Greeks as the ‘deepest cave’ Gourgouthakas is located in an area of the White Mountains (Ta Lefka Ori) known as Atzinolakos. Sitting at an altitude of 1500 meters it is 1208 meters in depth and 900 meters in length making it one of the deepest caves in the entire world. Initially discovered in the early nineties, Greek speleologists were the first to investigate the cave; a couple short years later a team of climbers triumphantly conquered it. The area around Gourgouthakas Cave is extremely beautiful and worth exploring on its own. Only those who are the most qualified and experienced climbers should consider this expedition.

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Kamares Cave

This is one for those who like their caves at a high elevation. Situated 1,700 metres above sea level, Kamares, also known as Kamaraiko, is accessable by a trail leading north, and upwards from the village of Kamares. Beware, it’s quite a hike to the cave from the village, and be of more interest to those with a penchant for archaeology than speleology, as this was an important site in Minoan times, with votive offerings having been found here.

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Matala Caves

Located on the south coast, and were most likely used as dwelling places from neolithic times, before being converted into burial chambers during the Roman and early Byzantine era. Nowadays they are better known for the annual festival, with latter day hippies descending upon its beach, in the footsteps as such luminaries as Joni Mitchell (whose song ‘Carey’ was written in deference to Matala), Bob Dylan (allegedly) and Joan Baez, who all came here in the 1960s.

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Neraidospilios Cave

It is found some 25 km from Herakleion, not far from the village of Myrtia. Situated by a river, with highly mythological associations, for the ancients, who believed this to be the dwelling place of nymphs and fairies.

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Sfendoni

The cave at Sfendoni – reached via Zoniana – is 3,000 square metres, and has a path of 270 metres. There is a charge to enter, as visitors are no allowed to enter alone for reasons of safety.

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The Central Market in Hania

If you want to see a city’s soul go to the market (also known as Dimotiki Agora). Hania’s Municipal market or ‘Agora’ is a bustling, lively center where tourists can rub shoulders with locals while meandering through the 76 small shops, restaurants, bakeries and stalls selling their fresh local products. A variety of bakeries and small restaurants serve up some of the freshest fare in the city. The restaurants may not be fancy but if it’s genuine Cretan cuisine you’re after, this is one of the best places to find it.

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Ha Gorge

Definitely one in the category “do not try alone”, the Ha gorge is spectacularly set on the western side of Mt. Thripti, before depositing its walker east of the village of Vassiliki, Whilst only 1.5 Kms long, it is very narrow in places and has walls towering up to 300 metres above ones head.It is the perfect gorge for abseiling, but only the very experienced should try this, and even then, with a guide.

Find Out More

Hametoulo Gorge

A straightforward enough hike this, from the village of Hametoulo, to Xerokambos, on the south east coast. A number of gates have to passed through en-route (make sure you close them, as they’re there to keep sheep in). When you arrive at Hametoulo, make sure you don’t stray to far north or west of the village or the gorge, as the hill behind you is a military base.

Find Out More

Kapsa Gorge

This is a tough gorge to crack and should only be walked by experienced hikers, and never alone, as it can be dangerous in places. The waymarking is good, thankfully, but at one stage there’s a 10 metre climb, over practically sheer rock, to negotiate, with the aid of a piece of rope, which should be checked before use. Alternatively one can scramble across the scree which covers the hill surrounding the drop. An alternative name for the gorge is Perivolakia, as this is where it ends, some three to four hours after setting off.

Find Out More

Kritsa Gorge

Kritsa is a beautiful village, located some 9 Kms west of Aghios Nikolaos. Also known as the “Havga” gorge, it stretches for 13 Kms before depositing walkers at the village of Tapes. The descent is some 300 metres.

Find Out More

Lefka Ori (White Mountains)

A UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves site, the White Mountains offer an incredible opportunity for the hiker in both winter and summer. Generally regarded for its fantastic hiking, the White Mountains provide an ideal habitat for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts looking for species of large birds like Eagles and Vultures, the Golden Eagle and the Red-Billed Chough.

Find Out More

Milonas Gorge

Seven Kilometres east of Ierapetra, the gorge of Milonas starts at an elevation of around 500 metres and ends on the south coast. Waterfalls form pools, along the gorge’s course, enabling the hiker to become swimmer.

Find Out More

Pefki Gorge

A lovely place is Pefki, and its gorge compliments it perfectly. A walk of about a kilometre on a path from the village, brings one into the pine-strewn (pefki is the Greek word for pine) gorge itself. It’s approximately six KMs from here to the coast, where the gorge deposits one at Makriyialos There are even a couple of stone benches en-route, for those who need a rest, or prefer just to savour the rarified atmosphere.

Find Out More

Zakros Gorge (The Valley of the Dead)

A wonderful, relatively easy, walking experience greets the hiker, which ever direction one chooses to walk the Zakros gorge. There are at least three entry/exit points, at, or close to the village of Ano (Upper) Zakros, and the route down is spectacular in the extreme, depositing one at Kato (Lower) Zakros,replete with its own Minoan “palace”, lovely beaches, and accommodation aplenty. If one chooses to walk east to west, Ano Zakros has a nice, rather old-fashioned hotel, so there should be no problem with where to lay ones head for the evening, though in the height of summer, do book-up in advance. Interesting features along the gorge, include a Roman aqueduct, and if one looks up, caves where the bodies of humans dating back to Neolithic times were discovered.

Find Out More

Lefka Ori (White Mountains)

A UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves site, the White Mountains offer an incredible opportunity for the hiker in both winter and summer. Generally regarded for its fantastic hiking, the White Mountains provide an ideal habitat for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts looking for species of large birds like Eagles and Vultures, the Golden Eagle and the Red-Billed Chough.

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Verekinthos Arts and Crafts Village

Nestled between Souda and Tsikalaria is this exquisite little village that has grown into a model for artists everywhere.

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Aghios Nikolaos

Several beaches can be found here and hereabouts, including the following:

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Chrissi Island

About an hour’s boat trip from Ierapetra, there are a number of beaches here for those with a sense of adventure. There are only two boats per day so be prepared to be out in the open for a minimum of six hours. The water here is exceptionally clear.

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Ierapetra

Ierapetra has a sandy town beach, and the coast stretching east is suitable for swimming.

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Itanos (Erimoupolis)

Two beaches can be found here, and if you’re interested in history, the Dorian town of Itanos and a Venetian/Turkish castle straddles the hill which separates Itanos’ two beaches. A lovely spot for a swim.

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Makriyialos

There are a couple of beaches here, one of which is sandy, the other pebbles and shingles. The sandy beach is especially popular in the summer, and as its waters are quite shallow, it makes an ideal destination for those with young children.

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Milatos

There’s a nice, sandy beach just west of Milatos itself, which lies some 35 Kms north west of Aghios Nikolaos, close to Sissi.

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Mochlos

Mochlos beach is situated some 50 Kms east of Aghios Nikolaos, or 35 Kms west of Siteia, is a sand and rock beach, ideal for snorkelling. A few amenities can be found here, and 400 metres to the west is another sandy beach, named Limenaria.

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Myrtos

A lovely destination with sand and pebble beach, and close to two archaeological sites. To the west of the village, swimming is also possible, and its rocky nature makes this an ideal place for snorkelling.

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Pachaia Ammos

One can find a nice, sandy beach with facilities such as sunbeds here.

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Sissi

A fishing village boasting its own sandy beach, with that of Boufos close enough to be a viable alternative, and easily reached by foot.

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Siteia

There’s a sandy beach to the east of the town, on the road leading to Vai.

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Vai

There’s no doubt that this a lovely spot. During the 1970s a British advert featured Vai as the place where one could experience “the taste of paradise”, if one were to bite into a coconut sweet, covered in chocolate. Palm trees (phoenix theophrastii) can be found here, and they are endemic to Crete; it was rumoured that they grew as a result of Saracen occupation in the 9th and 10th centuries), but this is equally untrue! The beach and environs are owned by the monastery of Toplou, and one has to pay to get onto the beach. One can hire pedalos (pedal boats) and water-skiing is available if that floats your particular boat.

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Zakros

Kato Zakros is a wonderful place to stay, and is a fine destination for those who like to spend time by the sea. As well as the beaches one can take a walk up the “valley of the dead” (Zakros gorge), to Ano (Upper) Zakros, which also has accommodation.

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Agia Sofia Cave (Saint Sophia)

Once a sacred spot of Minoan worship the cave of Agia Sofia is now famous for its mammoth stalactites and stalagmites. A steep climb up the stone staircase and into the mouth of the cave visitors will first see a small chapel where they may light a candle or offer a prayer. Once inside it is fairly easy to make one’s way around (although the back of the cave is too slippery and dark to explore). Some of the stalagmites and stalactites are up to five or six meters in length with unique, almost otherworldly formations.

Find Out More

Ha Gorge

Definitely one in the category “do not try alone”, the Ha gorge is spectacularly set on the western side of Mt. Thripti, before depositing its walker east of the village of Vassiliki, Whilst only 1.5 Kms long, it is very narrow in places and has walls towering up to 300 metres above ones head.It is the perfect gorge for abseiling, but only the very experienced should try this, and even then, with a guide.

Find Out More

Ierapetra

Ierapetra has a sandy town beach, and the coast stretching east is suitable for swimming.

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Kamares Cave

This is one for those who like their caves at a high elevation. Situated 1,700 metres above sea level, Kamares, also known as Kamaraiko, is accessable by a trail leading north, and upwards from the village of Kamares. Beware, it’s quite a hike to the cave from the village, and be of more interest to those with a penchant for archaeology than speleology, as this was an important site in Minoan times, with votive offerings having been found here.

Find Out More

Klados Gorge

Just west of its more famous sister, Samaria, the Klados gorge awaits. Offering up breathtaking scenery with its imposing jagged rockface and waterfalls, the Klados gorge is a remote and little traveled terrain. Its northern entrance begins from the Linosseli pass west of the Gigilos peak and is marked only by a few piles of rocks. This path, as with others along much of its route, is often blocked by bushes which only contribute to the danger by hiding its steep drops. Just before the entrance there is a very dangerous spot with loose gravel on a steep slope. Navigating the Klados gorge does require descending by rope in various areas. There are cascading waterfalls along the way and at the end a gorgeous beach called Tripiti.

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Lake Kournas

Set amongst a stunning backdrop of mountains Lake Kournas is the only natural freshwater lake in all of Crete and covers an area of approximately 579,000 square meters and is only 22.5 meters at its deepest point. Home to different species including Herons, Cormorants, Ducks, and Warblers. As one of only two freshwater lakes on the island, Lake Kournas is a wonderful spot to take a rented kayak and while away the day atop its calm waters. On site visitors can rent a pedal boat or canoe to travel around the area.

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Neraidospilios Cave

It is found some 25 km from Herakleion, not far from the village of Myrtia. Situated by a river, with highly mythological associations, for the ancients, who believed this to be the dwelling place of nymphs and fairies.

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The Central Market in Hania

If you want to see a city’s soul go to the market (also known as Dimotiki Agora). Hania’s Municipal market or ‘Agora’ is a bustling, lively center where tourists can rub shoulders with locals while meandering through the 76 small shops, restaurants, bakeries and stalls selling their fresh local products. A variety of bakeries and small restaurants serve up some of the freshest fare in the city. The restaurants may not be fancy but if it’s genuine Cretan cuisine you’re after, this is one of the best places to find it.

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Vai

There’s no doubt that this a lovely spot. During the 1970s a British advert featured Vai as the place where one could experience “the taste of paradise”, if one were to bite into a coconut sweet, covered in chocolate. Palm trees (phoenix theophrastii) can be found here, and they are endemic to Crete; it was rumoured that they grew as a result of Saracen occupation in the 9th and 10th centuries), but this is equally untrue! The beach and environs are owned by the monastery of Toplou, and one has to pay to get onto the beach. One can hire pedalos (pedal boats) and water-skiing is available if that floats your particular boat.

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Aptera

Crete / Hania
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Arsani monastery

Crete / Rethymnon
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Bramiana Lake

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Castel Nuovo

Crete / Herakleion
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Eleutherna

Crete / Rethymnon
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Ideon Andron

Crete / Rethymnon
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Ierapetra (Kales) Castle

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Knossos

Crete / Herakleion
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Melidoni

Crete / Rethymnon
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Melidoni Cave

Crete / Rethymnon
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Panaghia Kera at Kritsa

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Phaistos

Crete / Herakleion
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Spinalonga

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Toplou Monastery

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Castel Nuovo

Crete / Herakleion
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Charakas Castle

Crete / Herakleion
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Gramvousa

Crete / Hania
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Ierapetra (Kales) Castle

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Palaiokastro

Crete / Herakleion
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Profitis Ilias

Crete / Herakleion
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Castle of Siteia

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Spinalonga

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Arkadi monastery

Crete / Rethymnon
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Arsani monastery

Crete / Rethymnon
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Keramos Monastery

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Monastery of Areti

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Panaghia Kera at Kritsa

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Toplou Monastery

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Vigliotissa

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Aptera

Crete / Hania
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Arsani monastery

Crete / Rethymnon
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Bramiana Lake

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Castel Nuovo

Crete / Herakleion
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Eleutherna

Crete / Rethymnon
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Ideon Andron

Crete / Rethymnon
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Ierapetra (Kales) Castle

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Knossos

Crete / Herakleion
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Melidoni

Crete / Rethymnon
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Melidoni Cave

Crete / Rethymnon
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Panaghia Kera at Kritsa

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Phaistos

Crete / Herakleion
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Spinalonga

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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Toplou Monastery

Crete / Lasithi (Sitia)
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No Wildlife & Fauna found in this destination. Please check other destinations or attraction types.

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Subdestinations For Crete