Samaria Gorge | Chania Crete | The Iron Gates to a World UNESCO Biosphere
Updated: Sep 18
George Papadellis | SG Head
The Samaria Gorge, the second longest gorge in Europe after the Verdon Gorge in France, is one of the most important experiences in Crete and Greece in total, attracting thousands of tourists each year on its unique route. In 1962, it was nominated a National Park of Greece (the Samaria Gorge National Park) and later a UNESCO World Biosphere Park.
The Samaria Gorge Greece is situated in the southern part of the Regional Unit of Chania (western Crete), between the main volume of the White Mountains and Mount Volakias. Most of it belongs to the Municipality of Sfakia and a smaller part to the Municipality of Platanias. The Samaria Gorge has taken its name from the village of Samaria (abandoned today). It used to be a hideout for revolutionaries during the Turkish domination.
The gorge has two natural entrances. The northern Samaria Gorge Entrance is at an altitude of 1,227 meters on the plateau Omalos (the distance from Chania to Samaria Gorge is 40 km). The southern Samaria Gorge Entrance is at sea level, in a dry valley before the village of Agia Roumeli. But how long is Samaria Gorge? From the north to the south entrance, the Samaria Gorge distance is 13 km, while the coast is met by walkers at 16.7 km. The most impressive part of the route is the "Doors" or "Iron Doors" location. It is the narrowest point (width only 3 meters), with the height of the walls of the gorge varying from 100 to 700 meters.
The site is very dangerous throughout the winter but also in the early morning and late afternoon hours in the summer due to landslides due to sudden changes in temperature and the passage of crickets in search of food.
Samaria Gorge Geology
The Gorge was developed during the Quaternary period, when glacial action and karstic phenomena created the dolomite beds of the rock formations.
The Samaria Gorge Crete - Photo by: in the public domain (according to Wikimedia Commons)
The habitat of the gorge hosts many species of flora and fauna, with the most famous being the Cretan chamois (kri-kri).
Samaria Gorge Hike Crete
A must for the visitors of Crete is to complete the walk down the gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, from where tourists either sail to the nearby village of Sougia or Hora Sfakion (where they can spend a night) or catch a bus back to Chania. The walk takes five to seven hours and can be strenuous, especially at the peak of summer.
The Samaria Gorge hike difficulty is generally low. The trail is not difficult, but it is very long, with some tricky sections and a short uphill part. Most of the Samaria Gorge Trail is manageable but get prepared for a long hike!
Hotels near Samaria Gorge
Proposed hotels near Samaria Gorge Crete are:
Visit Trip Advisor to read Samaria Gorge Reviews on the Samaria Gorge difficulty.
Samaria Gorge Entrance Fee
The Samaria Gorge price is five (5) euro and visitors must keep the ticket because it is being checked at the trail’s end.
Samaria Gorge Opening Times
According to the regulation of the Park, the Gorge is open from 1st May to 15th October, and from 6 am until 4 pm. If weather permits, the period can be prolonged until 31st October.
The correct Samaria Gorge Footwear is hiking boots or trainers, not flip flops.
Samaria Gorge weather is generally very good and similar to the weather of Chania. During April, May and October it is most likely for a visitor to experience pleasant average temperatures falling between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F). The warmest months of Samaria Gorge Chania are June, July (the warmest and driest month) and August. Dry periods can be experienced in May, June, August and September. The coldest and most wet month is January (Samaria Gorge winter is difficult).
Where is Samaria Gorge in Crete?
Samaria Gorge Map - Source: Google Maps
Samaria Gorge Tour