Hiking the 16km-long Samaria Gorge is considered one of Crete's must-do experiences, which is why you'll rarely be without company. Nevertheless, there’s an undeniable raw beauty to Samaria, where vertical walls soar up to 500m and are just 3m apart at the narrowest point (150m at the broadest). The hike begins at 1230m at Xyloskalo just south of Omalos and ends in the coastal village of Agia Roumeli. It’s especially scenic in April and May when wildflowers brighten the trail.
In peak season, up to 3000 people a day tackle the stony trail, and even in spring and autumn, there's rarely fewer than 1000 hikers. The vast majority arrive on organised coach excursions from the big northern resorts. You’ll encounter a mix of serious trekkers and less-experienced types attempting the trail in flip-flops.
Samaria is home to the kri-kri, a rarely seen endangered wild goat. The gorge was made a national park in 1962 to save the kri-kri from extinction. You are unlikely to see these shy animals, which show a marked aversion to hikers, but you might spot golden eagles overhead.