Crete is often referred to as Megalónisos - the Great Island, in Greek - and, at 160 miles from west to east, it is practically the size of a small country. Which means that, although most visitors keep to the beaches, it has a vast interior to be explored. For walkers, this represents a huge treasure waiting to be discovered. The limestone terrain varies from soft, rounded hills to the snow-capped White Mountains in the west where some 30 summits are higher than 2000 metres (6562 feet). To the first-time visitor, it can come as a shock to journey from blistering-hot beaches to the foothills of mountains still splashed with snow in late May. Indeed, the best time to come walking is late spring and early summer when temperatures are pleasant but not sweltering, and there will still be rooms to spare in the best hotels for walkers on Crete.
The other major features of Crete's interior are the deep gorges that cut through the mountains often ending at a cove on the coast. The most spectacular is the Samarian Gorge set in a national park of the same name. At 16 kilometres (10 miles) long it claims to be the longest in Europe, with cliff walls that reach up to 1000-feet high. It takes around five hours to descend.
Walkers will be rewarded by a rich wildlife: peregrine falcons, hoopoes and orioles - eagles if you're lucky - plus wild orchids and the scent of thyme and lavender. Hilltop villages may hide Byzantine chapels and frescoed churches.
Choose one of the best hotels for walkers on Crete and discover these treasures for yourself.
As they are often located in more remote areas, Crete’s best hotels for walkers offer a chance to experience the true Cretan way of life. If there's nothing on this list that appeals, check out all our other Crete recommendations.
A home-away-from-home deep in rural tranquility with beaches, bars and tavernas a walk away. Small collection of traditional stone cottages make perfect base for families. Self-catering and BBQ available for all. Return to simpler times at this beautiful hideaway on Crete.
A charming hamlet of 13 former shepherds cottages surrounded by olive groves and citrus trees. The self catering studios are rustic and quaint and with stunning views of the local area and sea. This authentic and secluded spot is a 15-minute walk from the beaches and local town.
A remote mountain stay in traditionally restored houses with stunning views of the mountains. This tranquil escape offers rustic comfortable rooms and communal dining for all. Relax and enjoy the delicious organic food, lovely walks and break from the modern world.
Beautiful olive groves and quaint villages surround this rustic farmhouse hotel. Lovely rooms and suites are renovated in creams with light woods and stones. Organic food in the restaurant and sun trapped swimming pool for lounging. A romantic but still family friendly choice.
Ano Vouves, Crete
This small, rustic spa retreat offers peace and quiet in the Cretan hills. With a pool and a good traditional restaurant, it's the kind of cosy cocoon that some guests won't want to leave, but for those who do the bright lights of Chania are a short drive away.
Stone cottages with classic furniture set amidst beautiful scenery. An on site restaurant and cafe serves local products. Cooking classes, archery lessons and wine tours available. Their sun terraces offer wonderful views, perfect to enjoy a sundowner drink.
Beautiful terracotta farmhouse dating from 1650, with central courtyard and lush gardens. Stunning self catering apartments marry old and new with admirable elegance. Fridges are daily stocked with wonderful organic produce from the hotels orchards. Privacy, style and a truly homely feel.