Samaria National Park

Samaria National Park, also known as Samariá Gorge National Park, located in western Crete, is one of the most interesting national parks in Greece. It features the longest gorge in Europe and one of the narrowest, with a length of 16 km and, at some points, less than 2.5 meters wide. The entrance is at an altitude of 1,250 meters, descending to sea level.

Open from May to October, from 6 AM to 3 PM, the park offers marked trails for visitors. Those wishing to explore other areas must obtain a permit from the park authorities. Due to the distance and difficulty of the terrain, visiting with children under 9 years old is discouraged, although pets are welcome.

Information about Samaria National Park


Samaria National Park was established in 1962 with the aim of preserving its rich biodiversity and the Samaria Gorge, one of the longest in Europe. Located in Crete, Greece, this park is a symbol of conservation and a point of interest for tourists and scientists. Its history is deeply tied to the culture and traditions of the island, being a space where nature and human heritage coexist harmoniously.

Samaria National Park


The geography of Samaria in Crete is notable for its gorge, one of the longest in Europe, which cuts through the White Mountains and offers mighty landscapes and biodiversity. With hiking routes that descend from high mountains to sea level, the park features narrow areas like the "Iron Gates," where the rocky walls create towering passages. This unique natural environment offers an unforgettable experience of Crete’s rich geography, with the steep walls of the park being one of the most sought-after tourist attractions. It also hosts the ancient ruins of Samaria, archaeological remains somewhat less known than those of the greek Mount Olympus National Park.

Entrance Fee

The entrance fee to the Samaria Gorge is 5 euros per person. Children under 15 years old have free entry. This fee is the same whether you plan to hike only a few kilometers of the gorge or complete the entire route. It is crucial to keep your entrance ticket to show it upon exiting. This is done for safety reasons, as it allows park rangers to keep an accurate record of how many people have entered and exited the gorge.

How to Get to Samaria National Park

By Car

Choosing to rent a car according to your preference or budget makes life easier and provides flexibility. This allows you to decide when to start the hike and return comfortably with friends or family.

If you decide to go by car, the only option for the return is to take the ferry from Agia Roumeli to Sougia and then board the public buses waiting for passengers to return from Sougia to the entrance of the Samaria Gorge, where you can pick up your car. The estimated arrival time is around 7:30 PM.

You can purchase your tickets for the ferry and the return bus at the café located at the entrance of the gorge.

There are two parking lots at the entrance of the gorge that charge 5 euros per day and have staff to watch over your vehicle.

Upon returning by bus from Sougia, you will still find the café open to use the restroom or buy drinks and snacks.

As an alternative to the ferry and public bus, you can opt for the boat-taxi and corresponding taxi, or any combination with the boat and public buses.

Public Transport

Public transport schedules from Chania – Sougia – Paleochora to Samaria Gorge – Xyloskalo:

Chania – Xyloskalo

  • Every day: 05:00 AM and 07:45 AM

Sougia – Xyloskalo

  • Every day: 07:00 AM
  • Sougia – Xyloskalo – Chania: Every day at 4:15 PM (Departure after the arrival of the ferry from Agia Roumeli)

If you plan to walk through the Samaria Gorge and use the public bus, you have two options available. After the hike, in the village of Agia Roumeli, you can either take the boat to Sougia, which is cheaper and faster, or take the boat to Chora Sfakion. For both options, you can check the prices in the Ticket Prices and Ways to Return section below.

What to See and Do in Samaria National Park

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Samaria Gorge: A Symbol of Crete

Samaria Gorge is the most emblematic natural site on the island of Crete. Its importance transcends local borders, being recognized in the history of Crete, Greece, and the Mediterranean as a refuge of life and freedom over the centuries.

Samaria Gorge

Surrounded by the White Mountains, about 1,200 meters above sea level in the Chania region, lies the Samaria Gorge, famous for its unique beauty and geological value.

The Samaria Gorge separates most of the White Mountains, with Volakia as a prominent peak on its western side. This mighty gorge has two natural accesses: one to the north, about 42 kilometers from Chania, on the Omalos plateau, at an altitude of 1,227 meters. The access has been improved with stone steps and a protective parapet to facilitate the route.

An Impressive Trail

The main trail of the gorge is almost 13 kilometers long to the southern entrance, 14.3 kilometers to the Forest Service outpost (National Forest boundary), and 16.7 kilometers to the coast. It is considered the second longest gorge in Europe after the Verdon Gorge in France.

The Gates of Samaria

At the impressive Gates, or Iron Gates, is the narrowest point of the gorge, barely 3 meters wide. Here, the walls reach heights that exceed 100 meters, rising up to 300 and 700 meters. This passage is the highlight of the route, although it can be dangerous, especially in summer, due to landslides caused by abrupt temperature changes and the presence of local fauna. It marks the end of the geological phenomenon of the path from Xyloskalos, and often, the stream that crosses the gorge covers the entire width of the passage.

Ancient Ruins of Samaria

Ancient Ruins of Samaria

It is a historical site within the park, including the Byzantine church of Osia Maria, which showcases past life through its preserved ruins. They provide a glimpse into the life and spirituality of the ancient inhabitants of the region with the remains of buildings and the Byzantine church, offering a tangible connection to the ancient past of the region.

Port of Agia Roumeli

Port of Agia Roumeli, Greece

Located at the end of the Samaria Gorge, this tranquil port is an oasis of relaxation. Visitors can enjoy its beautiful crystal-clear beaches and sample the local cuisine at nearby restaurants.

White Mountains (Lefka Ori)

White Mountains (Lefka Ori), Greece

This impressive mountain range stands out for its snow-capped peaks and rugged landscape. It is a paradise for hikers, offering challenging routes and panoramic views of the island of Crete.

Fauna of Samaria

The fauna of Samaria National Park is notable for its diversity, including approximately 200 species of birds and 32 mammals. Among them, the Cretan wild goat (Capra aegagrus cretica), locally known as "Kri-Kri," is a symbolic emblem of the park. This unique environment has allowed the preservation of endemic and rare species, making Samaria a focal point of interest for conservationists and nature enthusiasts.

Flora of Samaria

Samaria National Park hosts a rich variety of flora, with nearly a third of Crete’s 1,800 plant species and subspecies, including 174 endemic Greek taxa. Among these, Anthemis samariensis, discovered in 2007, stands out for its rarity and beauty. This diverse plant tapestry forms a unique landscape, offering an exceptional showcase of Mediterranean island biodiversity and ecology.

Best Time to Visit Samaria

Samaria Gorge is accessible for hiking only in late spring and throughout the summer, coinciding with the peak tourist season. Typically, the trail is open from May 1st to October 30th, subject to weather conditions.

Spring is considered the best time to visit. During this period, wildflowers are in full bloom and temperatures are cooler compared to the hot summer months. However, it is crucial to be aware of the weather conditions before embarking on the journey, as the gorge can be closed for safety reasons on rainy days. Additionally, it is important to note that it is dangerous to be in the gorge during a summer storm, as sudden river floods can occur.

Where to Rest: The Best Spot

The best place to rest and swim during a hike in Samaria National Park is Agia Roumeli. This picturesque coastal village offers hikers the opportunity to recharge and refresh before continuing their journey. Additionally, Agia Roumeli has beautiful beaches where visitors can enjoy a revitalizing swim after their hike. From Agia Roumeli, hikers can take a boat to Chora Sfakion and return to the city of Chania by bus, making it a convenient point to end the adventure in Samaria Gorge.

Nearby Places to Stay Near Samaria National Park

To stay close to Samaria National Park and fully enjoy the experience, you can consider several nearby locations that offer amenities and convenient access to the park:


A vibrant city with a mix of Venetian, Turkish, and Greek architecture, Chania is relatively close to the park, offering a wide range of accommodations.


A quiet coastal village to the south, ideal for those seeking peace after exploring the park. It offers serene beaches and comfortable lodging options.

Agia Roumeli

Located at the southern exit of Samaria Gorge, it is perfect for relaxing on its beaches after a long hike. Accessible only on foot or by sea, it provides a unique experience of disconnection.

These locations offer different perspectives and amenities to enhance your visit.