What do you need for walking in Crete?
What you need is entirely dependent of the type of walk you do and at what time of the year and beyond the scope of a short article (I will probably go into these details at a later time) so for now I have only one piece of advice: bring good shoes and preferably walking boots. Almost everybody walking in Crete for the first time (including very experienced walkers) remarks on how rough the ground is. The paths are also not as clearly marked and defined as in many other countries and most people find the walking quite a bit tougher than they expected. This has nothing to do with distances. steepness etc…but is related to the type of terrain.
The huge attraction of Crete is its variety. With its 8500 km² Crete has 4 main climate zones (from alpine to southern Mediterranean), yearly rainfall that ranges between 200 and 3000mm depending on where you are, there is something for everyone.
Crete has over 1000km of coastline, four mountain ranges with over 40 peaks higher than 2000m. If has three times as many native plant species as the whole of Great Britain. Gorges are too numerous to list but the district of Chania alone has about 50 of them besides the famous Samaria gorge. Add to this the fact that half of the population of Crete (about 600.000) resides in 4 towns on the North coast, leaving a population density of 30 inhabitants per km² in the rest of the country and you have all the ingredients for a walking paradise.
As you can imagine given such variety there are good walks everywhere and the rest is down to personal choice and maybe proximity to where you are staying. If you need inspirations check my list of books about walking in Crete.
Given the variety of landscape and climate the walking season is pretty long. Here is what you will find:
- January to March: wettest, coldest months. It might be good time for ski touring but I would not recommend coming to Crete for walking at this time.
- April: best time for spring flowers. Not too hot but you still have some risks of rain at times. There may still be too much snow for normal walking in the higher mountains and the sea will still be a little too clod to swim in.
- May: the most popular time for walking in Crete. There are still plenty of flowers around, the weather is warm but not too hot and the risk of rain i minimal.
- June: getting too hot for comfortable walking at sea level but a very good time for walking higher up with plenty of wonderful flowers in the hills and on the mountains.
- July and August: dry and generally to hot for walking comfortably at sea level unless you have no problems with heat. The sea is warm but still wonderfully refreshing. The summer months are perfect for walks in the high mountains (where you might still encounter the odd patch of snow).
- September and October: the summer heat is over and the sea temperature has reached its warmest point. Nice time for walking but the nature is very parched so not a good time if you like flowers.
- November and December: cooler with some risks of rain but otherwise it is a very nice time for walks. Beware that most of the tourist places will have shut down so you won’t be able to rely on some of the infrastructure (small hotels and restaurants in villages for example) that you would have between early April and late October.
Finally, if you are thinking of walking in Crete, take a look at Walking safely in Crete. It takes 5 minutes to read and could save you lots of trouble.