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Samaria Gorge picture in Crete
Panagiotis Karapanagiotis / Getty Images

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  • Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
3.9
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  • Value
    4.0
  • Facilities
    3.5
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

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Stretching for about 10 miles through southern Chania Prefecture's White Mountains, Samaria Gorge is thought to be one of the longest canyons in Europe. The gorge trail begins on the Omalos plateau at Xyloskalo, perched high among the mountains. It then winds its way 10 miles between some 1,600-foot vertical walls to Agia Roumeli, a small seaside village. Speedy hikers can usually make the journey in four and a half hours, while more leisurely paced walkers can spend up to eight hours in the gorge. Fast or slow, you're going to want to get an early start to beat the heat and the crowds (about 1,000 people make the hike every day during high season).

Recent visitors strongly advise bringing plenty of water and sunscreen, wearing sturdy shoes and really assessing your fitness level before embarking on this long walk. Although not a hike, travelers reported very few areas where the surface is completely flat. Since it is a gorge, rocks are everywhere and traversing them for hours may be too much for those who aren't regularly active. Despite the challenge, many fawned over the beauty of the gorge. Make sure to observe the greenery, as there are hundreds of different plant species that populate the park. Also keep an eye out for the rare and endangered kri-kri, Crete's native goat.

Park entrance costs €5 EUR. Visitors are welcome from May through October 15th each year between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. You can drive yourself to the gorge, but that means you'll need to retrieve your car at the trailhead at Omalos — a daunting prospect after a long hike. Another option is taking a public bus (KTEL) from Chania to the trail; after your hike, you can catch a ferry from Agia Roumeli to Hora Sfakion, where you can take the bus back to Chania. For more information about ferry pricing and timetables, visit the ANENDYK website. Perhaps the easiest way to see the gorge is to take a guided tour, which will provide transportation to and from your hotel. You can book tours through Magical Journeys or Tourline.

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#1 Rethymnon Old Town If you're in Rethymnon, then you shouldn't miss the opportunity to wander the narrow alleys of Old Town, a seaside neighborhood that dates back to the 11th century ... Read more » Romtomtom / Flickr

#2 Vai Beach (Palm Beach) Also known as Palm Beach, Vai Beach is mainly known for its stunning landscape. The beach is home to the largest palm grove in Europe with 4,500 palm trees ... Read more » Paul Mannix / Flickr

#3 Elafonissi Located in the southwest corner of Crete, Elafonissi beach sparkles with pink-tinted sand and crystal-clear Mediterranean waters. If you're feeling adventurous, you can wade across Elafonissi's shallow lagoon ... Read more » George Tsartsianidis / Getty Images

#4 The Palace of Knossos A labyrinth of massive columns and beautiful frescoes, the Palace of Knossos is a testament to the sophistication of the Minoan civilization that disappeared sometime in the 14th century. According ... Read more » Banet12 / Getty Images

#5 Samaria Gorge National Park Stretching for about 10 miles through southern Chania Prefecture's White Mountains, Samaria Gorge is thought to be one of the longest canyons in Europe. The gorge trail begins ... Read more » Panagiotis Karapanagiotis / Getty Images

#6 Historical Museum of Crete The Historical Museum of Crete, located in the capital city of Heraklion, chronicles Cretan life from early Byzantine times to the Modern period. If you're interested in the older ... Read more » tedbassman / Flickr

#7 Venetian Fortezza Built atop a hill in Rethymnon Old Town, the Fortezza (for-TED-za) stands as a symbol of Crete's tempestuous past. The Venetian ruling class, who oversaw the construction of the ... Read more » StockThings / Shutterstock

#8 Heraklion Archaeological Museum The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a must-see in Crete — and all of Greece, even — for its extensive collection of Minoan art. Highlights include a mini-statue of a Snake ... Read more » Narisa&James / Flickr

#9 Cretaquarium Located approximately 9 miles east of Heraklion, the Cretaquarium is home to 2,000 sea animals and 200 different Mediterranean species. If you're an animal lover, traveling with kids ... Read more » Lourakis / Wikimedia

Rethymnon Old Town picture in Crete
Vai Beach picture in Crete
Elafonissi picture in Crete
Knossos picture in Crete
Samaria Gorge picture in Crete
Artifacts from Historical Museum of Crete picture in Crete
Venetian Fortezza picture in Crete
Heraklion Archaeological Museum picture in Crete
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Rethymnon Old Town picture in Crete
Vai Beach picture in Crete
Elafonissi picture in Crete
Knossos picture in Crete
Samaria Gorge picture in Crete
Artifacts from Historical Museum of Crete picture in Crete
Venetian Fortezza picture in Crete
Heraklion Archaeological Museum picture in Crete
Cretaquarium picture in Crete

Rethymnon Old Town is filled with Venetian and Turkish architecture, beckoning to be observed and explored. Romtomtom / Flickr

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At 10 miles long, Crete's Samaria Gorge is thought to be the longest canyon in Europe. Panagiotis Karapanagiotis / Getty Images

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The Venetian Fortezza, which towers over Rethymnon Old Town, was built in the late 16th century to protect Crete from Ottoman invasion (it failed). StockThings / Shutterstock

This museum is renowned for its extensive collection of Minoan art and it features a tablet whose symbols have yet to be deciphered. Narisa&James / Flickr

The Cretaquarium, about 11 miles east of Heraklion, displays thousands of underwater species. Lourakis / Wikimedia

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