The Samaria Keys attracted us irresistibly from the first moment we learned about them, which is why we immediately made room for them in our vacation schedule. We were looking forward to walking them, and although the route was not exactly easy, it was well worth it, because the landscapes are extraordinarily beautiful, and this kind of experience completed our overall picture of the island of Crete.

The Samaria Gorge is the largest gorge in the White Mountains (the main mountain range of Crete), which you can walk from May to October, on your own or in organized groups.

Although we like to organize on our own, for the Samaria Gorge we called on a local agency to provide us with transportation (by coach), because we found it more complicated to go by car.

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The route through the gorge is not a circular one, the entry point is different from the exit point, therefore, returning to the car is more difficult. So we did our research and chose an agency to provide transport directly from the accommodation, then booked our seats online before we left for Crete.

Later I also met people who went on their own, so if you want to do the same, I leave some information at the end of the article to help you.

What do you need to know about this route?

Samaria Gorge route

The route through the Samaria Gorge basically consists of a descent from the altitude of 1230 meters to sea level. The entrance to the route is from Omalos, and the closest village to the exit from the quay is Agia Roumeli.

The complete route is 16 km long, it is the only way to cross the keys (there are no other routes or shortcuts), and I found it medium in difficulty.

The actual route through the gorge is 13 km, but from the exit, there is still 3 km to Agia Roumeli. You don't have to do these on foot. For 2 euros you can take the minibus that transports tourists to the village.

The route through the Samaria Gorge is very well laid out. Each km you travel is marked on the side of the path so you always know where you are and how far you have to go.

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Along it, you will find 10 hydration points (spring water) and several resting places equipped with benches, trash cans, and toilets. Basically, for hydration, you will only need a small bottle that you will refill every time you need it. You will have to take food with you because you will not find places where you can buy it on the route.

If you go on an organized trip, you will have 8 hours to cover the keys.

Half of the route is marked by the ruins of the former village of Samaria, the place from which it is important to leave on time. Of course, if you miss the last ferry that leaves Agia Roumeli at 17:30, you will have to stay overnight in the village. Agia Roumeli is an isolated settlement, and there are no other means of transport to go further.

We arrived in Agia Roumeli after 6 hours and a bit, so we had time for a bath and a gyros, which we thought was the best on the face of the earth, after 16 km of effort.

In terms of equipment, I recommend mountain shoes or at least one with a grippy sole. Although I saw quite a lot of people in sneakers, it seems dangerous to me, because the path is mostly stony, at some point, you walk through the bed of evil, and the stones are sharp and very slippery.

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If you go to the Samaria Gorge in the summer, you must also have something to cover your head with because you will cross quite a lot of sunny areas, especially in the second part of the route.

And although I hope it won't be necessary, you should also know that in case of injuries you can call the rangers on the route, who can transport you to the exit with the help of a horse if needed. The terrain is so rugged that all-terrain vehicles cannot enter. Only the helicopter intervenes in case of emergencies. One more reason why I say, you'd better equip yourself properly.

What are the costs of an organized trip to the Samaria Gorge?

Samaria Gorge National Park
Samaria Gorge National Park

For a one-day trip to the Samaria Gorge, I paid 28 euros/per person, the amount covering transport and the presence of the guide.

Entrance to the reserve and ferry ticket was not included. I paid separately for them: 5 euros/per person for the entrance to the quays and 11 euros/per person for the ferry ticket. In total – 44 euros.

The day before we received an email informing us of the time and meeting point. The riding conditions were very good and although the road is full of twists and turns and narrower in places, we felt safe throughout the journey.

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On the way back from the route, the coach picked us up from Sfakia (where we arrived by ferry) and dropped us off separately at our accommodation. It was a 14-hour trip where we left in the morning at 7 and returned in the evening at 9 pm.

And so that the information is complete, I will also say that the agency we went with is called Platanos Tour and we chose it because it has good reviews, we found it easy to make the reservations online and they picked us up from Kavros, the resort where we were staying at the time.

How to get to the Samaria Gorge on your own?

Samaria Gorge

You can get to the Samaria Gorge on your own in two ways: by car or by public transport.

From Chania, there are buses that leave every morning to Omalos, and to get back you will need to take the ferry from Agia Roumeli and get off in Sfakia (second stop), from where you will take the bus back to Chania.

If you go by car, you should know that it is about 40 km from Chania to Omalos, and 90 km from Rethymno.

At the entrance to the quay you will find a parking lot where you can leave your car, and to return to the point from which you left you will have to take the ferry from Agia Roumeli to Sougia (the first stop), and from there, the bus back to Omalos.

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So much for the Samaria Keys. I hope you find the information useful, and if you have any questions about the organization or the route, you can leave them in the comments.

If you've been to the Samaria Gorge and want to tell us what you thought of it, we'd love to hear about your experience.

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