E4 European Walking Path
The Cretan Way
The epic E4 European Walking Path is one of the continent’s truly great walking trails. Beginning in Andalusia, it passes through ten countries, before finishing in Cyprus.
At 10,000 miles long, there might not be many people who are completing the entire route, but there are some excellent sections to explore along the way. One of the best sections is on the Greek island of Crete, which is famous for its beautiful beaches, relaxed villages and breathtaking mountain ranges.
E4 Paleochora - Lissos - Sougia
A really beautiful route about 16 km long in which you will need about 5 to 6 hours to complete it. The trail all the way is well marked with the classic black and yellow signs of the European trail E4.
The route crosses the archeological site of Lissos, where you will find a spring whose water is drinkable. At the end of the route and after the gorge of Lissos, the path ends in the beautiful Sougia. The route is not very difficult, but you will need plenty of water, stable shoes and sun protection.
E4 Elafonisi - Paleochora
Perhaps the most impressive route of E4 in Crete is the one that connects the lagoon of Elafonissi with Paleochora.
The route is 18 km long and to complete it you will need 3 to 4 hours. This part of the trail is not particularly difficult and passes along the coast, so you can make stops to cool off in the waters of the Libyan Sea. As a starting point you can have Elafonisi, where after your breakfast you will head east to Paleochora.
We would suggest that you have Paleochora as your starting point, so that at the end of the route you will be rewarded by the turquoise waters of the exotic beach of Elafonisi or the adjacent beach of the cedar forest (Kedrodasos).
The Cretan section
The E4 long-distance path passes through Crete, where it goes through some of the route’s most idyllic landscapes. Taking around 28 days in total, the section is 320km long, and begins in the west at Kastelli-Kimanos and ends in the east at Kato Zakros. It offers a choice of coastal or alpine routes and heads through some of the island’s most beautiful landscapes.
The path heads south from Kastelli-Kimanos, through Elafonisi, Palaiochora and Sougia. The path then splits off. The alpine route heads inland to the Lefka Ori mountains, and the Omalos Plateau. This upland route can be hard going, and there are mountain refuges along the way for you to rest and recuperate before pressing on. The coastal path is easier going, but no less beautiful as it continues along the southern coast of Chania region. From Sougia it skirts the coast to Agia Roumeli, before heading to Loutro and onto Chora Sfakion.
Eventually, the coastal and mountain routes will cross briefly at Agios Konstantinos, before the mountain route heads up to the Psiloritis Range, on to Anogia and Mount Ida, the highest mountain in Crete. Beyond this lies the Nida Plateau, and the stunning Zeus cave. It’s here, according to Greek mythology, that the god Zeus was born, and then hidden by his mother to prevent him from being eaten by father, as had happened to all of his siblings!
Descending from the Nida, the route heads through the Rouvas Gorge, to the mountain village of Zaros in the Heraklion region. This area is rich in history, with monasteries, old mills and ancient sites to explore. From Archanes, the route passes through rich farming country, passing up the Lasithi Plataeua Agios Giorgios. The Dikti Mountains are up next, near Dikti Cave, then edges the mountains to the Selekano Forest before on to Ano Zakros, and the Zakros Gorge. This stunning gorge is known locally as ‘The Valley Of The Dead’.
Finally, the route ends at Kato Zakros, a lovely seaside village located on the south-east coast of Crete. Here you can finally put your feet up, relax on the beach and take time to recuperate from all that effort.
An epic trail
With its changing landscapes, challenging mountains, history and ancient myths, the E4 European Walking Trail through Crete is a truly epic adventure. Best tackled as part of a guided party, it’s a walk that will challenge, inspire and invigorate in equal measure. Tackling the whole route is a real achievement and gives you a unique insight into this fascinating island, its diverse landscapes and rich history.