Chania is an amazing destination for all seasons not only for its picturesque well-preserved harbor or the stunning beaches in the wider region. Chania has in close distance the magnificent White Mountains with their captivating landscapes, the traditional villages and many options for day trips that offer authentic Cretan experiences. Discover four different routes you can make in these magical mountains and experience the gorgeous nature of Crete within the region. It is advised that you contact an experienced hiking tour operator, for some of the more advanced hikes, our Concierge will be glad to recommend.
HIKE 1: Chania – Agia Irini Gorge – Omalos Plateau
From Chania, you can go to the village of Vatolakkos, which has tradition in wine-making process, and you can taste excellent wines in the local winery. Palia Roumata is a nearby village, which is renowned for its Cretan cuisine specializing in small meze dishes. Around the surrounding area, there are scattered important Byzantine churches.
From Anisaraki, you can reach the Omalos plateau by taking a route that passes through Temenia, the highest mountain village in the region. Down the road, the Agia Irini area features a gorge with the same name. This gorge is the second most impressive gorge in Crete, after Samaria Gorge. It debouches at Sougia Beach.
HIKE 2: Chania – Topoliano Gorge – Milia
You can also take from Chania the seaside road to Kasteli Kissamou, turn for the village of Kaloudiana and then continue on the area of Potamida, which has a bizarre landscape of pyramid-shaped hills of soft clay known as Komolithi. Carrying on, pass through Topoliano Gorge. Agia Sofia Cave has a chapel, which is located just beyond the gorge. Next stop is the village of Vlatos. Its lofty old plane tree is a living landmark. Very interesting is the School and Folklore Museum there, which displays a collection of old manuscripts, maps, books and chemistry lab equipment. Not far away from Vlatos, Milia is a traditional electricity-free ecotourism unit, with a cosy restaurant and coffee place. South from Milia towards the large village of Voutas, the mountain road offers impressive views of the White Mountains.
HIKE 3: Chania – Theriso – Omalos
This route passes through the impressive Theriso Gorge and then reaches the historic village of Theriso, where in 1905 a revolution broke out against the government of Crete, which became then an autonomous state under Ottoman rule. The building that the leader, Eleftherios Venizelos, used as a base is now the Historical and Folklore Museum. The village is also home to the National Resistance Museum, which is dedicated to the partisan struggle during the Second World War. From here, you can head to the beautiful village of Zourva, then Mekla and in the end Lakkous, which is the last village before reaching Samaria Gorge. From there, a road through a chestnut forest leads to the Omalos plateau. This is an astonishing location with pastures, scattered livestock pens and plenty of snow in the winter. Alternatively, from Theriso, you can head east passing through the villages on the northern slopes of White Mountains, such as Drakonas, Thymia or Kampoi or explore the hiking path from Madaro to Volika, a dirt road that ends up in a mountain refuge.
HIKE 4: Vryses – Aradena Gorge – Sfakia
Vryses is the starting point of a stunning route that runs along the eastern slopes of White Mountains and ends up on the southern coastline of the regional unit of Chania, in the Sfakia area. The Askyfos plateau, at an elevation of 700 m, is the first stop on the route, surrounded by five villages. The road from Ammoudari to the Tavri plateau is one of the most scenic stretches in the mountain range. The History and War Museum in Kares hosts hundreds of artefacts from the Second World War. A spectacular route runs through wild landscape along a winding road that passes by the coastal area of Sfakia and then heads uphill towards one of Crete’s most unspoiled spots, framed by steep mountain peaks. Further along is Aradena, an abandoned village next to a gorge of unique beauty. A metal bridge there is used for bungee jumping in summer. The few surviving houses offer a glimpse of old-style Sfakia. It is advised that you get a guided hike for the Aradena Gorge.