At the foothills of the White Mountains, the province of Sfakia is home to the most famous gorge in Europe, the imposing Gorge of Samaria. The trail is crossed by thousands of visitors every summer. It starts from the plateau of Omalos, descends through a magical dense forest of cypresses and pine trees, passes between very narrow passages with vertical walls of a height of up to 500m, before reaching the seaside village of Agia Roumeli. Other well-known hiking canyons of the region are the gorge of Imbros gorge that starts near the plateau Askyfou, the wild canyon of Aradena, the lush green Sfakiano Gorge, the Gorge Kallikratis, the rugged canyon of Tripiti and the famous gorge of Agia Irini which ends at the beach of Sougia. Some green hiking canyons are located at the region of Zourva and Karanou, while Chania also hosts the impressive gorges of Diktamos, Lissos, Topolia, Asfendou, Kambos, Sirikari, Sassalos and more.
The Samaria Gorge is the longest trekking gorge in Europe and also the most famous of all. Thousands of tourists flock here daily in the summer season to walk from the top to the bottom. For many visitors, it is the sole purpose of their visit to Crete. The length of the gorge reaches 18km and takes almost 4-7 hours to hike from Omalos to Agia Roumeli, depending on trekking speed.
Imbros Gorge is located in province Sfakia and is the third most visited gorge in Crete, following Samaria Gorge and Agia Irini by Sougia. The scenery is beautiful and the low difficulty make the descent of Imbros ideal for families with children. The length of the gorge is 11 km and the course lasts 2-3 hours.
The gorge of Agia Irini is on the west side of the White Mountains, with many vertical passes. It gets its name from the homonym village located near the entrance, 46 km from Chania. Its length is 7.5 km and its crossing takes three hours. The gorge ends up in the seaside village of Sougia.
One of the nicest gorges of Crete is that of Vrissi on the north side of the White Mountains, crossed by the river Vrissiotis which gathers water from Melidaou area and waters Zourva and Lakki. In the gorge there is the cave - underground river with water springs, while many waterfalls of exquisite beauty are met in several places. The trail to the spring of the cave starts from Lakki and ascends along the walls of the gorge. From the spring starts another downhill trail to Zourva.
The deepest gorge in Chania is the gorge of Aradaina. The 138 meter deep gorge is ideal not only for sightseeing or hiking but for bunjee jumping as well. The trekking inside the canyon till the exit on the majestic Marmara beach is an unforgettable experience for those who attempt the descent of the canyon.
The gorge of Topolia is located at West Crete and it runs along the road leading to Elafonissi. The canyon actually starts near the village Strovles at an altitude of 450m, and exits near the village Topolia, at an altitude of 150m.
Near village Meskla at the root of the White Mountains, we meet the small, but really impressive, gorge of Sarakina (don't confuse it with the other popular gorge named Sarakina in East Crete, by Mythi at Province Ierapetra). The name Sarakina comes from the faith of the locals that Saracenes used to hide in there.
The Gorge of Therisso (named also Eleftherios Venizelos) is located near the city of Chania. You can go there by car. The main gorge is six kilometers long. The vertical cliffs are impressive and the lush vegetation has nothing to envy of the other Chania Gorges. The place deserves a visit, even with a vehicle, cobined with a visit in the historical beautiful village of Therisso.