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9-day hiking trip in Crete: Knossos to Aradena

Crete island
Crete island
Crete island
Crete island

Pavlos, an aspirant IFMGA mountain guide, has prepared a 9-day hiking itinerary in the island of Crete that includes visiting Knossos archaeological site and Aradena gorge.

9 Days

May, Sep




Lying in the Mediterranean Sea, the island of Crete is the largest in Greece. In this 9-day hiking trip we'll visit some of its most significant places, from Knossos palace to Aradena gorge.

Crete is an amazing destination for adventurous travelers. It was the center of the Minoan civilization and therefore, has a rich cultural and historical heritage. Besides, it's surrounded by impressive gorges, valleys and mountains, and has a perfect climate due to its proximity to the sea.

I propose to start our trip at Heraklion, the largest and most populated city in the island. There, we'll visit Knossos palace and archaeological site, a must-see attraction in Crete, which is considered Europe's oldest city.

After this, we'll visit a local vineyard and learn about wine production in the island. Finally, we'll head towards Rethymnon and spend a couple of days there.

From there, we'll make a hiking trip around Ancient Eleftherna, another major archaeological site in Crete.

On day 4, a horse trek and a cooking class will be part of the journey. Then, we'll head to the south of the island and hike to Imbros gorge and then to the village of Agios Ioannis.

Our trip will continue between mountains, delicious cuisine and the most beautiful rural landscapes of Crete.

A challenging hike to the slopes of the White Mountains will lead us to another of the highlights of this trip: the fascinating Aradena gorge.

Our last stop will be the lively city of Chania.

This is a great opportunity to explore the culture of Crete island. For more details, you'll find the itinerary below this description.

Would you like to join this 9-day trip in this unique Greek island? Send a request to book this trip! I'll be happy to be your guide.

You can also check this 7-day hiking trip in the White Mountains of Crete, for a different itinerary in this beautiful Mediterranean destination.

Price includes

- Accommodation included

- Guiding fee

- Breakfast

- Lunch

- Dinner

- Transport during the trip

- Luggage transfer

- Permit and entrance fees


Day 1: Heraklion

Heraklion is the fifth largest city of Greece. In order to experience it you have to penetrate the modern façade of the city and you will discover its attractive features. After all, it is the birthplace of El Greco and Nikos Kazantzakis and Heraklion province hosts some of the most fascinating Minoan sites in all of Crete.

Today we will meet at our hotel for an introductory talk and afterwards we will wander the streets and have our first dinner together in a traditional restaurant.

Overnight in Heraklion, Lato Hotel  (D)

Day 2: Palace of Knossos / Rethymnon

Crete’s natural beauty is equaled only by the richness of its history. Once here, grab the opportunity to start your day visiting the Archaeological museum of Heraklion. The museum houses the most important collection of Minoan art in the world.  It’s a great introduction to our visit in Knossos, Crete’s must-see historical attraction, which will follow. The Minoans were ruling big parts of the Aegean from their palace in Knossos some 4000 years ago, giving the area a great strategic and cultural importance.
From culture to cultivation we will head towards the wine country of Heraklion. More than twenty wineries are embedded in a harmonious landscape of shapely hills and lush valleys. Wine has been produced here since Minoan time. The owners of the vineyard will share with us their secrets of successful wine making and present us with some local varieties. After enjoying local wine we will drive towards the Mediterranean pearl, city of Rethymnon, to settle in our hotel.

Overnight in Rethymnon, Pepi Studios (B,L,D)
Driving distance: 
Heraklion to Knossos 5km / 15min
Knossos to Winery 15km / 25min
Winery to Rethymnon 100km / 2 hours

Day 3: Ancient Eleftherna / Rethymnon

Ancient Eleftherna, a Dorian built settlement, lies in the foothills of Psiloritis, the highest mountain of Crete  and the Archaeological Institute of America included it, in its top discoveries of 2009. We start our hike from the ancient Acropolis of the town, and on our way we will pass the remarkable Roman cisterns, which are carved into the hill’s west side, the Necropolis and a 3rd century BC ancient bridge.
Our tour finishes in the tiny village of Margarites, known for its pottery. Learn about the traditional techniques from a local potter who derives inspiration for his ceramics from Minoan and Byzantine originals.
In the afternoon we will have time to explore the labyrinthine lanes of the historic quarter of Rethymnon which still preserves much of its Venetian and Turkish appearance.

Overnight in Rethymnon, Pepi Studios (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 8km / Hiking Duration: 3 hours
Driving distance: 
Rethymnon to Ancient Eleftherna 30km / 45min
Margarites to Rethymnon 30km / 40min

Day 4: Rethymnon

After a hearty breakfast we will set out for our 1,5-hour trek on horseback. We will have an introductory lesson and then ride gently up and downhill, crossing a shallow river, through the bamboo jungle, along gardens and olive groves, towards the picturesque harbor and the famous eucalyptus alley of the village of Georgioupolis while we immerse ourselves in rural Crete.
Later on we will drive toward the quaint village of Vamos for a cooking class which takes place in an old olive press dating from 1846 with Venetian arches and large millstones in the centre. This unique setting will enliven your “journey” into the aromas and tastes of traditional Cretan Cuisine.  Of course we will eat what we have cooked!

Overnight in Rethymnon, Pepi Studios (B,L,D)
Driving distance: 
Rethymnon to Georgioupolis  25km / 30min
Georgioupolis to Vamos  7km / 15min
Vamos to Rethymnon  33km / 40min

Day 5: Imbros gorge / Agios Ioannis

Today we will head towards Imbros gorge at the south side of the island, driving by the rugged interior, which is largely untouched by mass tourism. A dreamy mosaic of sleepy villages and fertile valleys, dotted with Byzantine churches.
The pine tree-lined Imbros gorge was part of the route that linked the city of Chania with the Chora Sfakion village. Here, you’ll set off on your three-hour hike, following footpaths through wildflower meadows. Keep watch for Crete’s ‘kri-kri’ wild goats as you go. And reach for your camera at the most spectacular section, where everything narrows into a 2-meter passageway twisting steep, 300-foot walls.

Overnight in Agios Ioannis, Hotel Alonia (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 8km / Hiking Duration: 3 hours
Driving distance: 
Rethymno to Entrance of the gorge 50km, 1h 30min
Exit of the gorge to Agios Ioannis 25km, 40min

Day 6: Papakefala summit / Agios Ioannis

Today wake up to the quietness our mountain hideaway offers, blocking out the rest of the world affording a feeling of tremendous peace and tranquility, and savor a few moments over a steaming cup of coffee as the dew dries and the mist evaporates in the morning sun.
After breakfast we will follow a path delightfully free of crowds, lined with holm oaks and pine trees. As we head towards the Papakefala summit, it opens out onto a long ridge that traverses the mountainside, offering breathtaking views of the bright blue sea below.

Overnight in Agios Ioannis, Hotel Alonia (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 5.5km / Hiking Duration: 3 hours
Driving distance: 
Rethymno to Agios Ioannis 85km / 2hours

Day 7: Aradena gorge / Chania

In the southern slopes of White Mountains there is one of the most fascinating gorges in Crete. Aradena gorge is not as famous as Samaria gorge but in physical terms as impressive and much less crowded. Moreover, the hike itself is challenging and the sense of achievement is immense. Start from the abandoned -due to a vendetta in 1950’s- village of Aradena and descend all the way down to the Libyan sea with the beach of Marmara at the end as reward.
An opportunity for a quick swim and lunch, and later leaving Marmara we’ll follow the coastal path towards the peaceful harbor of Loutro. After a short ferry ride to Chora Sfakion, tired but fulfilled, say farewell to the mountains and head back to the civilization, this time the lively Chania town.

Overnight in Chania, Kydon Hotel (B,L,D)
Hiking distance: 12km / Hiking Duration: 5 hours
Driving distance: 
Agios Ioannis to the start of Aradena gorge 5km / 10min
Sfakia to Chania 70km / 2 hours

Day 8: Chania

Chania is Crete’s most beautiful town. It’s perfect setting with the White Mountains as background, lively harbor, historical remains, busy market, and nearby beaches make it the ideal spot.The winding old streets conceal charming boutique hotels and some of the island’s best dining options.
There will be time for some independent sightseeing before tonight’s farewell dinner.

Overnight in Chania, Kydon Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 9: Return

The trip will conclude after breakfast. You can return home or continue your explorations of this marvelous region of Greece.



About the guide

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Mountain Guide

I am a mountain guide of the Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing (HFMC) and an IFMGA mountain guide. I live in Greece, a unique country with some of the least explored landscapes in Europe.

I discovered my passion for mountaineering when I was 17. What started as a hobby soon turned into an exciting profession that has taken me on many expeditions around the world over the last two decades. One of my biggest achievements was reaching the summit of Mt Everest in 2004, as the Deputy Leader of the first successful Greek expedition.

Besides, I studied Mass Media Communication and I'm a Film Director. Producing documentaries is another way of unfolding my love for nature and travel.

I really like designing new itineraries and taking clients off the beaten tracks, allowing them to enjoy authentic experiences in my country.


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What people are saying about Pavlos



I can't put into words how great our experience was. Pavlos made us feel like family. The climb was a life changing and humbling experience. The mountain was beautiful!



Best guide I have had ever! Always helping and easy to adapt to needs and changes. Really impressed!...and great talker. Interesting and great knowledge of the area, the local restaurants, the history, etc. First class service!



This was an awesome experience! Thansk to Pavlos, who is a perfect guide (and not a luxury at all when you want to climb Mytikas, we had 2 meter of snow in April). We did not reach the top due to heavy snowfall, but made a couple of other hikes while Pavlos told us the complete history of the Olympos mountain range. The breathtaking views from the refuge Giosos Apostolidis with the ever smiling ward Lazaros: it made it all a highly recommended journey! Thanks to all for making this happen!

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