Bucketlist Travels logo

Travel bucket list idea:

Hike Aradena Gorge

  • Crete, Greek Islands, Greece

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 23 April, 2024

There are dozens of gorges on Crete; so if you’re looking for a shorter (and less busy) alternative to Samaria, the Aradena gorge ticks all the boxes.

The 7.5-km trail takes you from the ghost village of Aradena (abandoned in the 1950s, after a bloody vendetta between two local families), along very old, cobbled mule tracks (called kalderimia), crisscrossing the riverbed and climbing up and down the sheer cliffs. The rock face is covered in tiny flowers in spring. (Be warned: you need a head for heights.)

The route ends at the pebble cove of Marmara on the Libyan Sea. This beautiful, hard-to-reach beach is also home to a fantastic taverna.

Don't miss

A narrow Bailey bridge spans the gorge by the abandoned village of Aradena. The bridge — which is also used for bungee jumping, a dizzying 138m drop – offers incredible views of the canyon.

A wooden hut by the bridge offers refreshments, including delicious Sfakian pies (Cretan-style pancakes drizzled in honey).

While you're there

Aradena village is a ghostly testament to a bygone Crete. The crumbling stone houses offer an insight into what life was like in this isolated spot: before the bridge was built, residents would have to go up and down the gorge to reach the nearest village.

The chapel of the Michael Archangelos Church is covered in amazing, fading frescoes; ask for the key at the refreshment hut.

Who to go with: tour operators

1

Dialeskari Taverna

  • Crete, Greek Islands, Greece

Dialeskari Taverna

Experience

With a terrace overlooking the sea, a wood-fired oven, and meat and cheese from the owner’s own flock of goats and sheep, this lovely taverna on Marmara beach is as authentically Cretan as it gets. Order braised lamb tsigaristo, boureki (baked, layered vegetables with feta), dakos, and loukoumades (honey-drenched donuts) for dessert.

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around
Duration: 2-3 hours

Getting there & doing it

Though it’s only 2½ to 3 hours of walking time, this hike requires strong legs and a head for heights. The descent is 600 metres, and you will have to negotiate several steep inclines and use ladders suspended into the cliff. Take plenty of water, as there is only one spring on route that is not easy to spot.

It’s possible to do this hike independently but that will require careful planning. The area is incredibly remote and the rugged terrain is unforgiving, so be mindful of safety.

Aradena is a winding 15km drive from Hora Sfakion, which is also the departure point for (fairly infrequent) boats and water taxis to Marmara beach.

Whichever way you decide to walk the route (up or down), you will need to take a boat and taxi to return to your car — unless you do a circular walk from Aradena to Marmara, stopping for a swim and lunch at Dialeskari taverna.

When to do it

The gorge is open all year round, but the best time to do it is in spring or autumn. Do not walk this trail during or after rain, as there is a risk of falling rocks.