Crete Mountains - on this large island 260 x 60 km in the south of Greece, there are major mountain ranges and plenty of high country, rocky rough terrain and gorges to explore. Many of the mountain areas are inaccessible and difficult. Snow falls in winter and the mountains are cold and dangerous to pass.
The mountainous regions from west to east are:
• The White Mountains
• The Idi Range
• Mount Kedros
• The Dikti Range
• Mount Thripti
The White Mountains or Lefka Ori are formidable mountains in the west of Crete. Due to lack of vegetation, they are a ‘high desert’ and gleam white because of the reflection of sun on the white rocky mountainsides. In winter they are covered in snow and present a stunning scenic backdrop to life in the western side of Crete.
Samaria Gorge National Park is located here, with the large north-south running gorge drawing walkers from all over the world.
Above is the entrance to a steep rocky gorge in Sfakia, in the west of Crete. Many gorges make excellent walking, and can be walked from north to south, concluding on the inaccessible south coast of Crete.
See more about the Gorges of Crete here...
In the central Crete mountains is the Nida Plateau in the Ida Range, in central Crete, which sits just below Mount Ida or Psiloritis (the tall one), the highest mountain in Crete. In these forbidding lands the shepherds construct small huts for shelter, made from the local rock, the huts are named mitata (see above).
Above is the Lasithi Plateau as seen from the Dikti Mountains in the east of Crete. This lush plateau is perfect for sight-seeing, with caves, historical sites and good tavernas.
The sparkling Bay of Plakias in the south of Crete is ringed by mountains, the drive takes the visitor through wonderful scenery in the narrow gorge country, the rewards are crystal clear waters and this beautiful wide bay on the Libyan Sea.
Near Thripti in Lasithi you can find walking trails with gorges, narrow mountain paths, rivers, an 3500-year-old olive tree now a living monument, a castle, many miles of tracks to follow and explore, with beautiful mountain flora to discover. Only 50 km from Agios Nikolaos in the east of Crete, Thripti Gorge and its mountains are virtually unknown and locals enjoy its diversity.
The Olive Tree of Azorias - this very old olive tree is located near the village of Kavoussi and the ancient site of Azorias in eastern Crete, in Lasithi. This 3500-year-old tree is preserved as a national monument and leaves from it were used in ceremonies of the Greek Olympic Games in 2004. The diameter is said to be nearly 5 m.
Many of the most fascinating villages in Crete are located high up in the tough country, where villagers have stories to tell, fresh goat's cheese to serve and a tradition of welcoming strangers.
In the foothills of the Psiloritis range you will find Zaros Village, with organic food at the taverna and mountain fish farms ready to serve fish caught just 2 metres away.
In Lasithi Plateau in the east of Crete is Tzermiado, where local fresh food is top of the menu, because many vegetables are grown locally.
Also in the east is Kritsa village, known for its picture postcard architecture and great scenery.
The endless variety of flora in Crete will stop you in your tracks as you hike in the Crete mountains and gorges. This is Daucus carota or Wild Carrot which is endemic to Crete.
This is Scutellaria hirta, a small plant covered with velvety down which is also endemic to Crete and found in rock crevices, rubble and screes. Thanks to Andreas Loukakis of the walking club 'Pezoporia' for sharing his wonderful flora photos.