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Best hotels for walkers on Crete
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.
Best hotels for walkers on Crete
For great value
- Tucked away in the south-eastern corner of the island, in a small rocky canyon and surrounded by nature, Aspros Potamos offers a real back-to-nature vibe. This collection of 10 stone cottages is utterly traditional: whitewashed stone walls, open rafters, paraffin lamps and solar power. Walks start from your door.
- Across the other side of the island, there are more traditionally restored houses at Milia Village deep in mountain forests of the Selino region above Chania. Solar electricity, water from the stream and wood-burning stoves ensure a comfortably rustic atmosphere, with organic food at communal mealtimes. Six trails start from the doorstep, plus it’s an excellent base for bird-watching.
For Self Catering
- White River Cottages, a huddle of stone shepherds' cottages with white-washed interiors, stone-flagged floors and timbered ceilings surrounded by olive and citrus trees, offer a simple, self-catering option. Close to some stunning gorge-walking, this makes for a peaceful base with the added bonus of a pretty pool.
- Metohi Kindelis is a beautiful manor house dating back to 1650, which has been cleverly converted into three self catering units which can sleep up to four. It may be self catering, but the owners will stock your fridge every day with complimentary goodies for breakfast. It's perfectly placed for exploring the hiking trails of Western Crete.
For a pampering stay
- Elia Hotel and Spa is also ideally located (in the hills jiust outside Chania) for those wanting to explore the Western part of Crete on two feet. There's paths and trails for all abilities and when you get home you can pick from an array of soothing treatments to ease your weary limbs.
For fabulous views
- Eleonas Traditional Houses enjoy an off the beaten track location in the centre of Crete. There's hiking trails on the doorstep, loads of on site activities and with its hillside location, the views don't get much better!
- Kapsaliana Village Hotel is also situated atop a hill - and the views over the Med below are simply stunning. You're surrounded by gorgeous countryside (perfect for keen walkers) yet the beach is just a short drive. The rooms are beautiful and there's a lovely pool and restaurant serving modern Greek cuisine.
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.
Aspros Potamos 10 rooms from $43Lasithi, Crete
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.Eco break - They have restored the huts in a purely traditional fashion, using all natural materials and only renewable energy sources.Back to Nature - This stunning area of natural beauty combines beaches and mountains covered by lush greenery, pine, olive and citrus trees.Great walks - Explore the ancient settlement of Aspros Potamos on foot, terrain is ideal for hikers and mountaineersLocal markets - The local village with restaurants, bars and a market is only 1km away.
White River Cottages 13 rooms from $92Lasithi, 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.Romantic Break - The charmingly rustic self contained studios and apartments are ideal for couples looking for a bit of privacy and romance.Hideaway - Off the tourist track, this peaceful retreat is set in stunning natural landscape and only a 15 min walk to the beach.Great walks - Explore this stunnig landscape on foot, full of olive groves, citrus trees and stunning landscapes.Sights nearby - Walk down through the olive groves to Makriyialos, the prettiest town on this stretch of coast.
Milia Village 14 rooms from $84Chania, Crete
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.Hideaway - Surrounded by stunning landscapes and raw nature, with little connectivity and plenty of reasons to never want to leave!Eco break - Restored using natural materials, all organic produce, water from the stream, solar electricity, no plastic on site.Birdwatching - Pack a pair of binoculars, everything from vultures to pipits, wagtails, finches and herons hide in the riverine woods.Great walks - There are six trails from your doorstep, varying in lengh and difficulty so be sure to ask first!
Kapsaliana Village Hotel 10 rooms from $131Arkadi, Greece
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.Garden - Set in wonderful olive groves.WellbeingFamiliesSights nearby - 14th-century Eastern Orthodox monastery of Arkadi is 4km from the hotel.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
Elia Hotel & Spa 9 rooms from $113Ano 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.Spa breaks - Sauna and hammamSights nearby - Monastery of Chrissoskalitissa. Ancient Olive Tree Museum and world's oldest olive tree a short walk awayGreat walks - Easy-going walks on the doorstep, challenging treks nearbySpa - Spa treatments including mud massage and aromatherapy
Eleonas Traditional Houses 20 rooms from $119Crete
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.Active Holiday - Hiking trails passing through historical sites, archery, climbing or bikingFamilies - Special playground for children and a separate poolSights nearby - Several archaelogical sites and old monastries in the regionBirdwatching - The lakeside is home to a variety of birds
Metohi Kindelis 3 rooms from $202Chania (Crete)
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.Back to Nature - Situated in a secluded walled garden, brimming with flowers, palms and euclyptus trees and surrounded by lush organic orchards.Romantic Break - A wonderfully peaceful couples hideaway, with high walls surrounding private gardens with pool and al fresco dining, heaven!Cooking classes - Join the Tastes of Crete cooking class, on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, followed by a lavish wine filled lunch.Sights nearby - Explore Chania, with its lovely Venetian-era fishing harbour ringed with cafes and tavernas.