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.
The canyon of Diktamos starts 21km east of Chania, next to the village Katochori at an altitude of 300m, and ends 8km eastern, at the village Faragi, at an altitude of 40m, next to the village of Stylos. Thus, it is also known as Katechori Gorge or Stylos Gorge.
Deliana – Mesavlia Gorge is located 37km west of Chania. Starting from the village Mesavlia it descends to the village Deliana after 5km. Walking in the gorge is very easy (takes about one hour) and is suggested even for children, as it runs along a dirt road.
Avlaki gorge is located near the monastery Gouverneto, 16km east of Chania city. It is one of the most important gorges in Crete with a particular religious value, as many monks and hermits found shelter in its caves. Inside the small canyon there is the deserted Katholiko monastery, perhaps the oldest monastery in Crete. Thus, the gorge is also called Katholiko Gorge.
Sirikari is located 55km west of Chania and 17km south of Kissamos, in a lush green area with canyons and water streams. The road to Sirikari is paved and runs through the dense vegetation, indicating the beauty of the area at the very first moment. From here begins the beautiful canyon of Sirikari leading to the settlement of Polirinia, where the ancient town of Polirinia was built.
Kallikratis is a relatively small gorge in the southeast region of Lefka Ori (White Mountains) in Chania Prefecture. The gorge connects the mountainous pasture lands with the lowland villages. It is a very pleasant walk, offering great views and rare flowers, but is not very popular to tourists. The Kallikratis’ Gorge together with the Asfendou Gorge can be a full day’s excursion.
Gorge Klados is one of the most dangerous and inaccessible gorges of Crete. The top (starting point) of the canyon is located at position Kokkinovari in a steep slope, 90-100 meters high. The very loose and steep terrain makes access impossible even with technical equipment.
The gorge of Rocca, Roka, Rocka or Rokka is located 32km west of Chania, in the area of Kolymbari. The 2km gorge starts from the village Deliana and ends at the village of Roka. In the settlement there is Trouli hill, where you can still see the ruins of a Byzantine fortress.
The gorge of Eligia is wild, long and impressive. The trail to reach the gorge's bed starts in Agios Ioannis village in Sfakia (780m altitude, 92km from Chania). After hiking for 3.5 hours in the gorge ou reach Agios Pavlos beach, which is full of pine trees, and then you need 1 more hour to the west to reach Agia Roumeli.
On the way to Elafonisi from the road running along the west coast of Crete, there is the beautiful village of Cambos belonging to Kissamos province. From there a short dirt road heads to the west which heads to the lush canyon of Kambos, the westernmost gorge of Crete.
Tripiti is the second large gorge parallel to Samaria gorge and, like Klados, the trail heading to its entrance also starts at Linosseli spring. In order to approach its entrance there is a dangerous passage where you risk getting stuck, so that you can neither walk on nor turn around and go back. Therefore, you should never attempt to cross this place it without the escort of an experienced hiker.
The Gorge Kydoni is a small lush green paradise near the village Karanou, which has been adorned with a beautiful trail and information signage. The trail starts from the fountain of the village and is very easy to walk and appropriate for children.
Through the gorge of Lissos passes the trail that connects Sougia to Ancient Lissos. It's a long canyon with imposing towering walls, but the path that leads to ancient Lissos covers only a small part of the route, taking only about 1 hour.