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Crete Road Trip From The Mountains To The Sea

  • Off the beaten track
For anyone looking to discover the authentic, wilder side of Crete, this is the perfect tour for you. Over the course of eleven days, prepare to venture to the most significant Natural Parks and sites that this stunning country has to offer! From hiking across mountain and through nature, to the geo-trails of Samaria, swimming in the sea or relaxing on pristine beaches, an...

For anyone looking to discover the authentic, wilder side of Crete, this is the perfect tour for you. Over the course of eleven days, prepare to venture to the most significant Natural Parks and sites that this stunning country has to offer! From hiking across mountain and through nature, to the geo-trails of Samaria, swimming in the sea or relaxing on pristine beaches, and getting to grips with the wonderful Cretan way of life in the mainland of Chania, there's truly something for everyone, whether you choose to travel as a family, in a group of friends, or with your significant other! 

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Customisable trip itinerary

This tour idea is fully customisable

The itinerary has been created by our local agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Welcome To Crete!

Arrival at the airport of Heraklion where we will meet you, to assist with the car and to provide you with the maps and the printed material that we will have prepared for your trip. We will also talk you through your itinerary either at the café of the airport, or in our office (depending on your arrival time).

Start driving to Chania, the 'pearl of Crete.' Here, the Old Town and the Venetian Harbour have remained almost intact, giving the city a special Venetian character, unique in the Mediterranean. Thus, the visitors of Chania are attracted by the beauty of the scenic narrow streets, the imposing lighthouse at the entrance of the small harbour and all the amazing monuments that make up the transcendent magic of Chania. Settle into the hotel housed in a listed Venetian building dating back to 1540. It is located in one of the most beautiful and picturesque streets of Chania Old Town, within a few meters of the Venetian Harbour.

Travelling distance: 160km

Visited:
Heraklion Chania

Day 2: South Coasts And Elafonisi Lagoon

After breakfast, start heading south. Today, you will visit the monastery of Chryssoskalitissa, the Elafonisi Lagoon (a very important protected area for its bio-diversity and one of the most emblematic of the island, featured on countless postcards), as well as the beaches of Kedrodasos. Here, dunes of white sand and the ancient cedars cover the vicinity. The main beach is sandy and boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters; along the coastal path from Elafonisi to Kedrodasos are small deserted coves.

​All of them are exceptional in terms of beauty but also in terms of the interesting geological phenomena that have taken place (over hundreds of years, fault-lines have lifted the ancient coasts more than 8m above sea level). Departure for Paleohora. Walks along the coast of this cosmopolitan little town. Driving to the coastal village of Sougia, where you will spend the night. Settling into the rooms of the most luxurious hotel of this south-west part of Crete with the unforgettable views of the sparkling sea just 200 metres away.

Time or distance of trekking: Walks

Visited:
Elafonisi Paleochora Sougia

Day 3: Coastal Village Of Sougia 

Breakfast at the hotel. Today is the day not only of exploration by car but also on foot for those who love trekking, of the amazing beaches near Sougia. The small village in the south-west of Crete has managed to remain unspoiled by the growth of tourism in Crete. It is still a peaceful haven, with a long beach, plenty of simple, rather small, accommodation facilities with a family ambiance and excellent places to taste more cosmopolitan flavors and cuisines.

In Sougia, you can walk up to the famous ancient site of Lissos, on a fantastic walking trail. Lissos was famous for the Asclepion, where patients from all over the island arrived to be healed from the thermal baths. A walk in the valley of Lissos will impress you, as the area is dispersed with ancient ruins, such as pillars, building bases and pieces of marble.

Travelling distance: 0 km,
Time or distance of trekking: the hike to Lissos takes approx. 3hrs (return)

Visited:
Sougia

Day 4: The White Mountains

Breakfast. Departure from Sougia and driving along a wonderful route up to the scenic plateau of Omalos. The plateau is the heart of the protected area of the Samaria National Park. You reach Xiloskalo, the entrance of Samaria gorge. There starts a dirt road (and a path) that leads to Kalergis shelter, the most beautiful shelter of the White Mountains. You can either walk along the path that takes you to Kallergis, or go there on the 4X4 of our partner (the person responsible for the shelter). At the top you will be faced with a spectacular and picturesque setting!

Settle into the shelter for the night. The breath-taking wilderness of the White Mountains makes for superb walking terrain for numerous day hikes and extended mountaineering. Dinner in the communal dining room of the shelter. The meal is a simple traditional Cretan food prepared by the person in charge of the mountain shelter.

Travelling distance: 40 km Sougia – Omalos, Time or distance of trekking: 6km 'Ksiloskalo' - Kallergi shelter  (dirt road 4X4)

Visited:
Samarie

Day 5: Faragas: The Majestic Gorge Of Samaria

Early wake-up call and breakfast. Our partner will transfer you to Xiloskalo (by 4X4). At the parking area you park the car, you deliver your luggage to our partner who will organize their transfer to the next hotel, you buy your tickets and you start descending the gorge. You walk along the amazing gorge, the longest trekking gorge in Europe. It has been designated a Protected Monument of Nature, by the European Council, and it is one of the most important National Parks in Greece.

After almost 4-7 hours of hiking from Omalos (Xiloskalo) you arrive at the coastal village of Agia Roumeli and the stunning beach. You enjoy a relaxing swim in the deep blue waters and take the boat to go to the little picturesque port of Loutro. Settling into the rooms from where you will enjoy the deep blue sea view. Your luggage will be brought to your room.

Time or distance of trekking: 18km

Visited:
Samarie

Day 6: Loutro's Surro​undings

After breakfast, you can start discovering the beautiful Loutro. The village itself is a small picturesque fishing village in south-west Crete, surrounded by beautiful beaches with small pebbles and crystal green-blue water. The only access to this ancient port of the mountainous capital villages of Sfakia area is by boat or on foot! Here, there are no overcrowded streets, restaurants, beaches or cars!

Time or distance of trekking: For the most beautiful beach (the exit of Aradena gorge) you need to walk for around 1 hour + 1 more hour to return

Visited:
Loutro

Day 7: Boat Trip To Sfakia

After your breakfast, you take the boat to Sfakia where you will meet a person from the rental car company who will give you a new car (separate contract) in order to continue your trip. You drive to the village of Ai Giannis, the last mountainous village of this area. Just before arriving there, you pass from the legendary gorge of Aradena, one of the most impressive gorges of Crete. Its entrance is located at the deserted village of Aradena. Near its entrance there is an iron Bailey bridge, the tallest bridge in Greece and the second tallest in Europe, therefore ideal for bungee jumping.

Arrival at Ai Giannis. This is one of the smaller villages of Sfakia. Located at the end of a 20 km journey from Sfakia, it is well hidden in the forest at an altitude of 800m. The inhabitants are below 15, their principal occupation is stock farming. It is an ideal place for those who love nature and hiking. Yοu will be warmly welcomed by our partner who will help you settle into your rooms. Here, you will enjoy later a tasteful dinner, based on the local tastes, aromas and products of the family that owns the inn. – an amazing, cosy, and simply… beautiful hostel.

​Travelling distance: 20km

Visited:
Loutro Aradena Ágios Ioánnis

Day 8: The Ancient Aradena And The World Of Shepherds

Today you'll wake up… in the wild! Enjoy a delicious breakfast, typical of this area of Crete, and start discussing with the owner of the inn the various options for trekking. This forest village is the starting point of one of the most beautiful and well-marked trails of Chania prefecture, the trail of Kormokopos (which we highly recommend).

The path to Kormokopos has a very distinct starting point at the west edge of the village. It runs uphill through the dense forest for about an hour until you reach the highest point of the route. Here the view is stunning! You overlook the entire southern coastline of western Sfakia and the Libyan Sea. A little bit further, near a steep cliff there is a spacious oblong cave, the cave of Kormokopos, where the foot trail actually ends. Return to the apartments and dinner.

Visited:
Aradena

Day 9: Discover The Geological Phenomena That Created Crete

After having breakfast, you start driving to the east through the southern regional road. The route is really very impressive and passes along steep cliffs and slopes. This part of Crete is a true geological park! It would be a shame not to visit interesting sites, important for their biodiversity. The variable relief, the rich nature and the human traces that appear everywhere will definitely impress you!  The imposing fault of Plakias, the gorge of Kourtaliotis with the river, the small palm forest and the old monastery of Preveli are some of the highlights of your excursion. You continue to Triopetra where you will spend the night at a modern hotel with views of the Libyan Sea and the isles Gavdos, Gavdopoula, and Paximadia.

Travelling distance: 107 km (approximately 2.45 h.), Time or distance of trekking: To visit the fault of Plakias: 0.30 h. return / to visit Preveli beach and the forest: 1 hour (return) 

Visited:
Ai Yiannis Sfakia Plakias Preveli Tríopetra

Day 10: The Love Affair Between Crete And Africa: Sand Dunes Of Agios Pavlos

Breakfast, then drive to the coastal village of Agios Pavlos with the charming little bars and taverns. Agios Pavlos has a beautiful beach which is accessible by a narrow road. The beach, located in a secluded cove below, is lovely. One can admire the famous multi-coloured rock formations that reveal the incredible geological history of Crete and also the sand dunes which can be reached in a short but demanding hike. Return to Heraklion.

Travelling distance: 110 km (from Agios Pavlos to Heraklion), Time or distance of trekking: Short and easy walks

Visited:
Ágios Pávlos

Day 11: End Of The Trip

Flight home… We hope you've had an incredible trip!

Travelling distance: 4 km (Hotel in Heraklion – airport). You can leave your car at the airport

Visited:
Ágios Pávlos

Heraklion Chania Elafonisi Paleochora Sougia Samarie Loutro Aradena Ágios Ioánnis Ai Yiannis Sfakia Plakias Preveli Tríopetra Ágios Pávlos

Price details

This tour idea is fully customisable

The price reflects this specific tour itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. £790 / 11 days
Excluding international flights
2-3 Pax 4-7 pax 8-12 pax
Price per person £1,000 £790 £700

Included in price:

  • Assistance at the airport (delivering your car, providing the maps and printed material for your trip and talking thoroughly about the itinerary)
  • Renting a car for all the days except from the days 5 and 6 (category: medium car from a local company)
  • A detailed manual specially prepared for your trip (with references, texts, photos, maps etc.)
  • Breakfast in all the hotels and apartments
  • 2* and 3* hotels or traditional apts. with 2-3* facilities
  • Transfer of your luggage from Omalos to Loutro (day 5)
  • 2 dinners per person on the days you will be staying at Agios Ioannis (days 7, 8) and one dinner per person at the Kallergi shelter (day 4)
  • Phone support 24 hours a day

Not included in price:

  • International flights
  • Guided tours and entrance fees to museums and organised archaeological sites
  • Tickets for national parks and boats
  • Beverages (soft drinks), tips and personal expenses
  • Lunch and dinner, unless otherwise mentioned in the proposal above (be ready to pay about 12-17 euros per person in a standard tavern)
  • Rucksack, trekking poles and other technical equipment (unless  otherwise mentioned in itinerary)
  • Petrol
  • Personal insurance
  • Anything not mentioned above

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