Are you planning to do some hiking during your holiday in Crete? Or do you like to explore the area more by car and have a little walk? There are many possibilities and different levels of difficulty.
I love hiking and the nature of the Psiloritis / Ida Mountains with the high peaks, beautiful mountain ranges, fountains, and rivers, Abundant water, forests, and canyons full of life with cave shelters of wild animals give me so much joy that I walk almost as often as possible.
All of my tours combine a hike and good local food, for me they belong together! After each excursion, you will find a tavern or kafenion where you can try the local specialties.
Here are the walks, hiking tours in the nature park of Mount Psiloritis, which I like most. Depending on your destination the drives to the start points are usually not very long, the mountain is only about 15km from the coast. You can reach them with any rental car, if not, I will point it out for you and offer options.
1 . Rouvas Gorge
One of the most famous hikes in the area is through the Rouvas gorge. It is part of the European route E4 and connects Zaros with the church of Agios Ioannis in the heart of the Rouvas forest and up the Nida plateau.
The best place to start is at the lake in Zaros, from where you walk about 2.5 / 3 hours up to St. John’s Church (950 m). Enjoy the variety of the gorge and its plants, especially in late spring when some water still flows over the river bed. When you reach the clearing with spring water, wooden benches, and huge plane trees, it’s time for a picnic before descending back to Zaros.
The tour is not very difficult, but some parts are steep and during the summertime, it can get quite hot on the open part. If you like to hike a bit longer, you can also go further towards the Nida Plateau, about an extra hour.
Back down you can stroll through the village of Zaros, see the local handicrafts, or just find a place to get great food. My tips are the Veggera tavern in Zaros, where Vivi greets her guests with traditional food and fresh trout from the fish farms above, or visit the Eleonas, which are in a green setting and offer very tasty Cretan cuisine.
TIPs: wear sport or hiking shoes, take water (you can refill at the picnic place), take sun protection/ sun had.
2. Platania – the Gorge of Vultures
The More about the Rouvas Gorge in the Amari Valley is a unique path with impressive cliffs and vertical limestone cliffs with caves, some of which are home to many vultures.
The entrance is a bit hidden in the curve, you will see a sign behind the fence. Most of the path leads uphill over stone steps, some parts are very slippery, sturdy shoes and physical fitness are required. Partly a steep ascent on the slope, therefore not recommended for people with a fear of heights.
From the St. Antonios chapel, you have a great view of the landscape, which stretches up to the top of the Psiloriti (but that’s still a long way!). The way back leads over a flat surface to the street and back to the village.
TIPS: Good shoes, plenty of water, binoculars to get a better view of the birds.
There is a kafenion in the village, they sell drinks, coffee, and baguettes. Nice for a break but after the hike I want some real good food and to get that I recommend driving about 10 minutes to Vizari village. The “Η Στροφή της Γεύσης” is, as the name suggests, right on the curve and is still a little insider tip and is ran by a pastor with his family.
3. Kamares cave
The path to the Kamares cave is not for beginners, the path is quite steep for the entire hiking time, only the section through the forest is a little easier. But it’s worth it, the view from the cave is amazing!
The trail starts in the village of Kamares, just opposite the Zacharia Kafenion. Actually, you just have to orientate yourself on the gorge that leads you into the cave. But there are also many E4 signs because this tour is also part of the European hiking trail.
The ascent takes about 3.5 to 4 hours for experienced hikers and, in addition to the great view, offers many beautiful impressions of the mountain nature. I am always particularly fascinated by the trees and bushes that the wind has formed and the variety of small plants and flowers. In addition to the usual herbs, you will also find wild dictamnus here (please do not pick!).
Once you reach the cave at 1780 meters, you will see Messara and the south coast of Crete. From here you either go back down or continue to the Nida plateau with the Idean grotto, where the mythology according to Zeus grew up.
I recommend to start a hike up to the Kamaris Cave with a coffee at Zacharias and to ask him, what kind of food he can prepare for our return. You will be very hungry and happy, that the perfect food is waiting for you!
4. Voriza Gorge
Cheese, Dionises, Zeus park
6. Jeeps tour Psilorits
I love doing off-road trips with my friends, brothers Antonis & Kostas, and one of my favorite off-road trip is from Magarikari to the Kolita plateau. Here we make the first stop and visit Kostas and his family. They are shepherds and goat herders and produce one of the best cheeses in the region, which is stored in the Mitato. We’ll look at that, of course, before we go to the Skaronero, the highest spring of the Psiloritos. After we continue by car to the Nida plateau, and the Idean cave where Zeus was born. Most of the tour is by car, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the changing landscape of the mountains.
In the end, there is an exellent meal in the “highest tavern in Crete”, at Kostas Stonehouse on the Kolita plateau, bevor we drive back down to Magarikari And once again enjoy the view over the Messara and the south coast of Crete.