The White Mountains of Crete

A superb Mediterranean walking holiday on the island of Crete




From $1,300 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Descend to the sea through the spectacular Samaria Gorge
  • Trek to Pachnes the highest peak in the White Mountains
  • Discover hidden beaches on the coastal walk from Agia Roumeli
  • Traditional accommodation and excellent Cretan food

A stunning Mediterranean island walking holiday adventure trekking the delights of the White Mountains of Crete. Our trekking holiday to the White Mountains of Crete savours a special blend of the high mountain scenery of Crete, picturesque coastal walking, traditional villages and legendary Greek hospitality. From the mountain hamlet of Omalos, our first objective is walking to the summit of Gingilos (1980m), a rocky peak which provides spectacular views across the White Mountains and a bird's eye perspective of our next day's route, which takes us down to the Mediterranean via the famous Samaria Gorge. We then spend 2 nights at Agia Roumeli, a pretty collection of tavernas accessible only by walking or by boat, with the option of a rest day on the beach or a variety of day trekking excursions. Following sun-kissed shoreline and cliff-side pathway, our next day's walking in Crete takes us to Marmara beach and the charming, white painted seaside hamlet of Finix. From a hotel base here, the trekking leads us up to Pachnes (2453m), the highest peak in the 'Lefka Ori' and then completes the circular hike via the impressive Aradena Gorge and the pretty village of Anopolis. Fall under the spell of the White Mountains on this walking holiday on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Crete!

Is this holiday for you?

The whole point of this walking holiday is to escape from the tourist traps of northern Crete and to enjoy the magic and tranquility of the southern coastline. Although we are sure to get plenty of sun, experience isolated beaches and sample superb Greek cooking, this is first and foremost a holiday for walkers. Many tourists each year manage to walk the Samaria Gorge. But, we are also going to climb the rocky peak of Gingilos, as well as Pachnes, the highest mountain in the area. We average 5 to 7 hours walking each day, with average ascents and descents of around 700 metres per day. The underfoot conditions are generally good, following tracks and trails and long sections of well-maintained pathway. During the ascents of Gingilos and Pachnes, however, we will also encounter open scree and cross rocky terrain with no discernable track. This holiday is suitable for the average weekend hiker, looking for tranquility and sun. Be prepared for a unique Greek experience.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Omalos. Afternoon and evening transfers from Chania Airport are provided.
  • From the head of the Samaria Gorge, walk to the top of rocky Gingilos (1980m). Return to Omalos.
  • Descend through the Samaria Gorge to the isolated seaside settlement of Agia Roumeli.
  • Free day at Agia Roumeli. Optional walks to a number of ancient Turkish forts.
  • Coastal walk through pine forest and by way of the chapel of Agios Pavlos. Overnight in Finix Bay.
  • Drive up into the White Mountains and walk to the top of Pachnes (2453m) before returning to Finix.
  • Walk via Marmara Beach and the Aradena Gorge to the shepherds village of Anopolis. Return to Finix
  • Departure day. Boat ride to Hora Sfakion and transfer back to Chania Airport.
Sat 17 Oct - Sat 24 Oct Code CRE /06/15/ Adult$1,300 Status Limited Availability Call Us
Sat 30 Apr - Sat 07 May Code CRE /01/16/ Adult$1,220 Status Available Book now
Sat 28 May - Sat 04 Jun Code CRE /02/16/ Adult$1,220 Status Guaranteed Book now
Sat 11 Jun - Sat 18 Jun Code CRE /03/16/ Adult$1,220 Status Available Book now
Sat 10 Sep - Sat 17 Sep Code CRE /04/16/ Adult$1,220 Status Guaranteed Book now
Sat 01 Oct - Sat 08 Oct Code CRE /05/16/ Adult$1,220 Status Guaranteed Book now
Sat 15 Oct - Sat 22 Oct Code CRE /06/16/ Adult$1,220 Status Available Book now
Sat 29 Apr - Sat 06 May Code CRE /01/17/ Adult$1,220 Status Available Book now
Sat 27 May - Sat 03 Jun Code CRE /02/17/ Adult$1,220 Status Available Book now
Sat 10 Jun - Sat 17 Jun Code CRE /03/17/ Adult$1,220 Status Available Book now
We sell this holiday on a Land Only basis and recommend that you book your flights to Chania Airport, which is closest to the first night's accommodation in Omalos. Please refer to the 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' section of the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

If flying from the UK, there are a number of low cost airlines to Chania. Ryanair have flights from Manchester and from Leeds Bradford and EasyJet have a service from London, Gatwick.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to book a 'Flight Inclusive' package using scheduled airlines from the UK, please contact our flights department for a quote. Whilst flight prices are likely to be more expensive, you will benefit from full financial protection.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • peaks
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Omalos. Afternoon and evening transfers from Chania Airport are provided.

    Meet at the group hotel in Omalos. Afternoon and evening transfers from Chania Airport are provided. The first transfer will be at around 1400 hrs and the second at 2200 hrs. KE Land Only package services start with this transfer. The local guide will meet the first of the transfers and accompany the group on the one hour transfer to the former summer settlement of Omalos. This is a spectacular drive along narrow winding roads that take us up into the foothills of the White Mountains. The few tavernas which make up the settlement of Omalos are situated on a level and fertile grazing area amongst rocky limestone peaks. We spend the next 2 nights at the Hotel Exari, a friendly family-run establishment with comfortable rooms and an excellent restaurant, which is popular with Chania residents at weekends.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • From the head of the Samaria Gorge, walk to the top of rocky Gingilos (1980m). Return to Omalos.

    After breakfast a 10 minute transfer takes us to the end of the road and the start of the famous trek down the Samaria Gorge. But, we will save the gorge walk for tomorrow. Today, we will climb Gingilos (1980m) the impressive mountain which towers above the start of the gorge. Following a rough, but way-marked footpath, it's a steady climb for an hour and a half to a year-round spring. After an obligatory stop to top-up our water bottles, a zig-zag path leads in 45 minutes to a rocky col, which affords views of the Libyan Sea to the south. Above the col the path becomes slightly more challenging, with some short and easy sections of scrambling. Less than an hour from the col takes us to a rounded summit, complete with prominent cairn. From here, there are superb views right across the whole of the White Mountains massif to distant Pachnes, the highest mountain in the range and our goal in a few days time. Nearer to hand is a rocky crest which is the true summit of Gingilos, just 5 metres higher than the cairned summit. It is an optional 15 minute scramble across to this point. Returning by the same route, this is a classic day out in the mountains. We stay a second night at the Hotel Exari in Omalos.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 830m

    • Distance 9km

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 830m

    • Time 5 to 6 hours walking

  • Descend through the Samaria Gorge to the isolated seaside settlement of Agia Roumeli.

    We don't want too early a start this morning, as we are keen to miss the crowds of tourists who arrive early morning by bus from the resorts of the northern coast to walk down the extremely popular Samaria Gorge. This is the longest ravine in Europe and arguably the most spectacular. Our baggage is taken down to Sougia and by ferry from there to Agia Roumeli, whilst we take the short transfer to Xiloskala (1250m) a viewpoint overlooking the start of the gorge. Here, we chill out in a cafe bar which overlooks the descent path and then, in the late morning, after a final cup of coffee, we set off on our walk. By this time, the area is usually deserted. For the first 2 kilometres of the walk, we descend dramatically via a path that leads to the bottom of the upper gorge. The peaks of Gingilos and Volakias tower above us, as gigantic walls of rock, whilst on our left-hand side the White Mountains extend vividly to the east. The small chapel of Agios Nikolaos, nestling among pines and cypresses, signals the start of a more gentle descent and soon we reach the old hamlet of Samaria which marks the half way stage. From here, the path twists and turns in places, passing Saint Mary's Church, which has the date 1379 over the doorway. We soon reach the narrowest part of the gorge, the famous 'Portes' (Gates). Here, the rock architecture is amazing, with the walls soaring vertically upwards for 500 metres on either side of the path. The final few kilometres bring us to the welcome sight of the remote seaside village of Agia Roumeli and the Libyan Sea. Arriving in the late afternoon, we find that the vast majority of the people who have walked the gorge have already departed from Agia Roumeli on a succession of ferries, which sail either westwards to Sougia or eastwards to Hora Sfakion. Once they have gone, Agia Roumeli returns to its tranquil self, nestling between wild mountains and the deep blue sea. This is the hidden Crete that most tourists never experience. Whilst in Agia Roumeli, we stay at a comfortable hotel and take our evening meals at the quite excellent Artemis Restaurant.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 16km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1250m

    • Time 5 to 7 hours walking

  • Free day at Agia Roumeli. Optional walks to a number of ancient Turkish forts.

    Until the first of the day’s walkers make their way down the gorge, which is usually not until mid afternoon, Agia Roumeli is the perfect Cretan hideaway and the perfect spot to relax for the day. A small clean pebbly beach lies in front of the village and is an excellent spot for swimming. Alternatively, a short walk to the east leads to an even quieter beach that stretches for miles. For those who are keen to do some exercise, there is a choice of possible walks from Agia Roumeli. The clearly visible Turkish fort above the village can be reached in 45 minutes and a decent path to the north leads to the old settlement of Agia Roumeli, providing an easy 2 hour circuit. Longer walking options include the ascent to Papoura, a beautiful spot 900 metres (3000 feet) above the village. It is a steep climb of 3 to 4 hours to reach Papoura, but the rewards are great views of the coast, the mountains and the Samaria Gorge from above. There are also a couple of ruined Turkish forts on the 600 metre high spur to the east of the valley. These can be accessed by ascending a ridge above the old part of Agia Roumeli or (more easily) from the Eligas Gorge to the east. After the day’s tourists have departed, we will enjoy a peaceful night at our hotel and have another opportunity to sample the famous Cretan food at the Artemis Restaurant.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

  • Coastal walk through pine forest and by way of the chapel of Agios Pavlos. Overnight in Finix Bay.

    The walk from Agia Roumeli to Finix starts along a delightful coastal path. Leaving Agia Roumeli in the cool of the early morning we walk on a way-marked path, crossing beaches, wandering through pine trees and along stunning sea cliffs. A pleasant spot for a break and a swim is at the small Byzantine church of Saint Paul. This is the spot where Saint Paul is said to have landed on Crete on his voyage to Greece. Decorated with murals, this historic church by the sea is engaged in a continual battle against the waves. Beyond this remote church the path climbs above the beach and eventually leaves the pine forest, continuing through a more barren area between the Libyan sea and a barrier of cliffs until it descends to the beach of Marmara at the entrance to the Aradena Gorge. We have another opportunity for a swim (and for a drink in the simple beach cafe) before continuing towards the Finix peninsula. We stop on the western side in the bay of Finix, just short of the village of Loutro, and stay at the Old Phoenix Hotel, a small family-run hotel overlooking the sea.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 200m

    • Distance 15km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 200m

    • Time 5 to 6 hours walking

  • Drive up into the White Mountains and walk to the top of Pachnes (2453m) before returning to Finix.

    Today we will hike to the top of Pachnes (2453m) the highest summit in the White Mountains. By a height of just 4 metres, Pachnes is not the highest mountain in Crete. Timios Stavros in the Ida Mountains is slightly higher. However, this is arguably, the best mountain walk in Crete. Although Pachnes is not a technically difficult mountain, it is rarely climbed, since the walk to its summit involves a long day. There are also logistical transport problems associated with the ascent and this means it is almost never offered as a guided route. We start out by driving up to the mountain village of Anopolis and onwards for around 20 kilometres in the back of a pickup truck, following a rough and remote track to an altitude of 1950 metres. Then, starting our walk through the weird lunar landscape of Crete’s high desert region, we reach the summit after 2 hours. On a clear day, the summit views extend over half the island. With a bit of luck we may be accompanied by griffon and bearded vultures and even golden eagles. After signing the summit book, we will make a decision about our route back to the drop-off point. The prevailing weather conditions, as well as the aspirations of the group, will dictate whether we return by the same route or go off to do some exploring of this high desert area and then wind our way back through sinkholes and other smaller summits. We return to Finix by pickup truck after a brilliant day out, with simply unforgettable views.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 500m

    • Distance 10km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 500m

    • Time 5 hours walking

  • Walk via Marmara Beach and the Aradena Gorge to the shepherds village of Anopolis. Return to Finix

    Our final day’s trekking is a circular route, starting with a short backtrack of the coastal route to the beach at Marmara. From here, we head inland into the impressive depths of the Aradena Gorge. Although this is not as big as the Samaria Gorge, it is just as spectacular and much quieter. If anything, the underfoot conditions are slightly harder, with a series of easy scrambles across several rockfalls. It will take us 3 hours to reach the ancient village of Aradena, the last part of the walk involving an interesting (and ancient) paved pathway that zig-zags out of the gorge. We will be able to look around the ruined village and hopefully get a coca cola at the kiosk cafe at this spectacular gorge viewpoint. Here, the gorge is just 30 metres wide and has been spanned by a metal bridge. The view from the bridge into the depths of the gorge is breathtaking. From here, we hike across country, following an old, cobbled road through the rough fields of an impressive limestone plateau, to reach the pretty village of Anopolis, where we stop to take lunch at a taverna. After lunch, we stroll across to the clifftop chapel of Agia Katarini, which is an excellent place to watch griffon vultures as they soar along the edge of the plateau. We then drop down on a rough track back to Finix. We enjoy a celebratory meal in the evening to end a special holiday.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 700m

    • Distance 10km

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 700m

    • Time 5 hours walking

  • Departure day. Boat ride to Hora Sfakion and transfer back to Chania Airport.

    After breakfast in the morning, we take a private boat along the coast to Hora Sfakion, with great views of the White Mountains from the boat. Disembarking, we meet our transport and set off on the 2-hour minibus transfer back to the north coast and Chania Airport. KE Land Only package services end on arrival at Chania Airport. Clients on the evening flight to London, Gatwick will be able to leave their bags in left luggage at the central bus station and spend the afternoon in Chania, before catching the bus to the airport in the early evening.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • An experienced English-speaking local KE guide
  • Up to 2 Chania Airport transfers on Day 1 and 1 on Day 8
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • All accommodation as detailed in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • Samaria National Park fee
  • Baggage transfers between overnight stops - by road or by ferry

  • Travel insurance
  • Airport transfers (other than the 2 transfers on Day 1 and 1 on Day 8)
  • Tips for local staff
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc.

During this trip the group will spend 7 nights in small local hotels and tavernas. The accommodation will be based on twin room sharing. For the 7 nights, single rooms are available for a supplementary cost. Additional hotel nights in Chania are also available. For hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website. Hotels are subject to availability and prices may vary.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

All meals are included from dinner on Day 1 through to breakfast on Day 8.

Breakfasts are taken at the overnight hotel and consist of tea and coffee, cereals, bread, jam and the Greek speciality of yoghurt and honey. For lunch, the group will carry a few items to make up a picnic. This will usually be bread, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, ham or other dried meats, fruit and biscuits. It is generally too warm to carry chocolate, but we can make an exception on the high-level hike to Pachnes which is cooler. Dinner is again served at our overnight taverna and this is always local Cretan fare, with all produce sourced locally and usually some choice of meal. Lamb, moussaka, fresh vegetables, wonderful salads etc.. The dinners are a highlight of the trip. All meals are included.

Two transfers will be provided on Day 1 to take clients from Chania Airport to the first night's accommodation at Omalos. The first transfer will be in the early afternoon, coordinated with the arrival of the Ryanair flights from the north of England, Manchester and Leeds Bradford airports. The second transfer will meet the evening arrival of the Easyjet flight from London, Gatwick. On Day 8, there will be a single group transfer back to Chania Airport in the late morning, coordinated with the departure of the Ryanair flights. Clients on the evening flight to London, Gatwick will be able to leave their bags in left luggage at the central bus station and spend the afternoon in Chania, before catching the bus to the airport in the early evening. The KE local guide or a representative of our local agent will assist with airport transfers. All clients should aim to meet the appropriate transfer at Chania Airport on Day 1. Please check the timing of the transfers with the KE office within 14 days of departure. If neither transfer works with your flights, you will need to make your own way to the first night's accommodation at Omalos. Independent transfers from Chania to Omalos can be arranged at an additional cost. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be sent to you with our acknowledgement of your booking.

A support vehicle or ferry will transport the group’s personal equipment to our next overnight stop. During the day’s walk, we will carry a daysack which is large enough to pack a light weight fleece, towel and swimwear, water bottle, packed lunch and other extras such as cameras and film. We usually make a fairly early start (breakfast at around 8 am) and make the best of the cool morning air. We will walk for between 5 and 7 hours each day, stopping off en-route for a picnic lunch. On arrival at our hotel, there will always be plenty of time to rest, shower and enjoy a drink on the terrasse, before we sit down to a full 3 course evening meal.

The group will be led by an experienced, English-speaking local guide. A support vehicle and driver will be used as required.

Approximately £100 (or the equivalent in dollars or euros) should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses, drinks and souvenir purchases. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of euros currency, since there are not many money changing facilities once you leave Chania Airport. If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly. Also, if you expect to buy considerable quantities of soft drinks, wine or beer, you should make an allowance for this. Credit cards can be used in some places on this trip.

Your main baggage will be transported to the next hotel either by road or by way of the small ferries which serve this part of the southern coast. There is no weight limit, other than that imposed by your airline, but we do ask you to restrict your luggage to one main item of baggage one 25 or 30 litre daysack. We recognise that for some of our holidays and for some of our travellers, the KE Trek Bag (see below) may not provide the best solution when packing for your trip. A bag with fitted wheels or a holdall with more than one compartment and more than one access zip can, in some circumstances, be more appropriate. Although it can be useful for our tour leaders when all members of the group have similar, identifying baggage, we have no problem if you choose to use an alternative bag.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday does not involve any significant ascent to altitude and we would not expect any altitude issues with this trip.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots
  • Gaiters (may be required on pre-summer trips)
  • Socks
  • Trekking trousers / pants
  • Lightweight waterproof overtrousers / rainpants
  • Underwear
  • Baselayer shirts
  • T-shirts and/or casual shirts
  • Midlayer fleece top
  • Warm fleece jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Lightweight thermal gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Sunhat
  • Eyewear - sunglasses
  • Daypack c. 25 to 30 litres capacity
  • Sun protection (including for lips)
  • Water bottles 1 Litre / 2 pint (x2)
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)
  • Headtorch / headlamp (in case of power cuts)
  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters (band-aids) and blister treatment, insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

The following items are optional:

  • Trainers or sandals
  • Shorts
  • Towel (for swimming)
  • Swimwear
  • Trekking poles
  • Camera and batteries
  • Spare laces
  • Penknife (for picnic lunches)


For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Visa Europe

UK and USA passport holders do not require a visa.

You should contact your GP or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations. UK residents should obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles you to state provided medical treatment, but is not a substitute for medical travel insurance which is still vital when travelling overseas.

The unit of currency in Europe is the Euro.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a trekking or climbing trip getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. We would suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime leading up to your trip. Jogging and swimming are good for developing better stamina. Before departure, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

The best time of year for hiking on Crete is in May, early June, September and October - when we have planned our trips. We can expect daytime temperatures to range between 20 and 30 degrees centigrade, dropping at night to 10 degrees centigrade in the mountains and 15 degrees centigrade on the coast. We are unlikely to experience any rain, as Crete enjoys one of the most favourable climates in the Mediterranean. It really is too hot to complete this itinerary comfortably during July and August.

  • Crete – The White Mountains – Cicerone Guide by Lorraine Wilson
  • The Rough Guide to Crete
  • Lonely Planet. Crete
  • Landscapes of Western Crete – Sunflower Guide

Topografische Bergwanderkarte - Anavasi. Samaria - Sougia. 11-13 Greece. 1:25,000

Great hiking map published by Anavasi. Covers the first part of the walk. 1:25,000 scale.

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