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Mountaineering or Canyoning to Astonishing Gorges and Incredible Peaks

One of the best ways to explore the unspoiled Greece is by hiking and mountaineering through the great variety of landscapes, following old walking paths through green valleys and fields with wildflowers. Discover ancient sites, watermills, and villages in the mountains just by walking. Get to know the locals, have a glass of wine with them and taste the local dishes in the taverns. 

Mountaineering and hiking in Greece 

Discover the ruins of ancient cities and explore remote coves in this hiker’s paradise with numbered routes and well organized trail systems. If you feel insecure in finding your way through the wild landscapes you can always find local guides who lead tours along ancient paths, sharing their knowledge on history, folklore, archaeology and botanicas.

Vikos Gorge, Zagori

Along the “spine” of Mainland Greece in the Pindus mountain range runs the European long-distance Walking Path E4 (- GR). It takes its start from Pyrinaia and via the Balkan peninsula it arrives in Greece at the Nikis guard-post in Florina. The E4 crosses the peninsula of Peloponnese, stops at Gythio port, and continues to Crete. Following this long-distance walking path through Greece the mountain-climber can explore the Greek nature and culture in depth. 

Hiking in Greece

Along the total route you will find the highest elevation at the peak of Olympou Skilio, 2,911 meters above sea level. The best season for hiking along the E4 in Greece is from medio May to primo October. Mountaineering and hiking during the winter months are more difficult since some of the villages along the route will be deserted during winter. This limits the possibilities for overnight stays. During summer, the Mediterranean climate is very dry with great difference in temperature between day and night. Some part of the route will encounter snow from November till June. 

In its southern part through Peloponnese and Crete the E4 is less challenging than in the northern part, and here you can hike throughout the year in a much milder climate. 
 
You can obtain all necessary information of all mountain routes and paths – about assess-ways, facilities, and local hiking and mountaineering at local mountain-climbing clubs in Greece and at the Greek Mountaineering & Rock-Climbing Association. 

Mountaineering – the challenging way of hiking 

Mountaineering in the Pindus mountains, Zagori, Greece - Photo by Jason Blackeye
Mountaineering in the Pindus mountains, Zagori, Greece – Photo by Jason Blackeye

Mountaineering or mountain climbing is when hiking gets tough. This is when the climber wants to conquer a peak. What the climber has in mind is the elevation covered per hour, the distance is not important. Around 300 m of elevation should be covered per hour, this means that a 1,000 m climb takes about four hours, including stops on the way. Usually a mountain climb lasts 7-10 hours (including the descent). 
You will find many regions suitable for free rock climbing in Greece, as well as schools offering technical or artificial climbing. 

The Greek Mountaineering & Rock-Climbing Association (E.O.O.A.) and local hiking and mountaineering clubs provide all necessary information on mountain routes and paths/trails, how to access them, facilities, mountain shelters, organized excursions and local conditions for hiking.  
Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing  

What is canyoning? 

Canyoning (or canyoneering) is an extreme sport, where you travel through canyons at all means, either walking, climbing, jumping, swimming, etc. In Greece you will find canyons at all difficulty levels from very easy to hard. Canyoning in Greece is for you who love adventures in nature and have a good health, since it is a challenging and rather risky extreme sport. 

The best canyoning gorges in Greece 

In Greece you will find many gorges and mountains suitable for canyoning. Among the most famous is Mount Olympus, which also happens to be the highest mountain in Greece. In Evritania in Central Greece you will find numerous gorges like the gorges of Vothonas and Viniani, in Epiros you can enjoy Vikos Gorge and in Crete you find the Samaria Gorge. In Thrace you will find Xiropotamos Gorge. These are the best canyoning spots in Greece. 

Canyoning clubs in Greece 

You will find many clubs in Greece arranging canyoning excursions, mainly at weekends since this extreme sport is also a favourite among Greeks. The excursions are normally moderately priced, and accommodation can be arranged if the trip lasts for more than a day. You will need to contact the clubs for more info about location, necessary equipment, cost, dates available and other details. 

Canyoning in Crete 

In Crete you can participate in organized excursions to the 16 km long Gorge of Samaria, the most imposing canyon in Europe, which was proclaimed National Park of the White Mountains of Crete in 1962. Here you hike along a rich ecosystem all the way down to the sea on the south coast of Crete. On the route you will discover rare morphological rock formations.

Following the long-distance path E4 in Crete 

Misty mountains in Crete

The European long-distance path E4 starts from the Pyrenees Mountains, crosses the mountain range of the Alps and trails its way down through the Balkan Peninsula from north to south – all the way to Greece and Crete where it finally ends. It passes through continental Greece down to Gytheio in southern Peloponnese and from there virtually reaches Kasteli Kissamou in Chania region in Crete. This is where the Cretan part of the E4 starts, travels approximately 320 km towards east and Zakros, where it ends. When it reaches Sougia, the path splits in two parts – the northern and the southern parts. If you choose the northern part, which is purely alpine, you will need experience in alpine hiking. The southern part which runs along the southern coast of Crete, is very rocky at many points. At some places, between Sougia and Chora Sfakion, the path is abandoned. 

Warning: Before each attempt to follow the path, it is advised to contact the Mountaineering Association of Heraklion. 

Hiking to hidden beaches in Kea  

Kea is truly a hiker’s dream with paths at a total length of 36 kilometres. With only two hours from Athens by bus and ferry, Kea is a popular destination featuring rocky landscapes and unspoiled beaches. Go find your own secluded beach in Kea (Tzia). 

Try following the trail: Ioulída, Agios Konstantinos, Mylopótamos, Fléa, Agia Marina, Plagiá, Pisses. It is a rather long hike through the valley of Mylopótamos, past the tower of Agia Marina and the trail from Plagiá. All together it is a hike of 2h25 without counting stops along the way before you hit your destination at Pisses. 

Hiking to the peak of the highest mountain in the Cyclades 

The path for the peak of Zas, the highest mountain in the Cyclades, starts from the chapel of Agia Marina, right before the village of Danakos in Naxos. Mount Zas (Zeus) raises to the height of 1004 meters. This hike will grant you panoramic views to Naxos and the neighboring islands. If you are in for adventures a branch of the initial path will lead you to the Cave of Zas through the northwest slopes of the mountain. Inside the Cave of Zas you will see interesting stalagmites.

Mountaineering in Mt. Taygetos, Laconia 

Meet the challenge and climb the steep forested slopes of Mt. Taygetos in Laconia, Peloponnese. You will find many trails and climbing routes leading to the peaks of the mountain as well as trekking routes along old animal trails. Mount Taygetos has been used for scenes in the videogame Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.  

Hiking on Mount Ypsario in Thassos

Mount Ypsario in Thassos is mainly covered by pine-tree forests and is perfect for hiking tours to the picturesque mountain villages on the island. In the northwest part of Thassos, you will find Kazaviti, and at the north-eastern part Panaghia and Theologos, all of which have beautiful traditional stone-built houses. 

Hiking on Paggaio Mountain in Kavala 

In the western part of Kavala prefecture, you find the lush green Mountain of Paggaio (on the route from Kavala, to Eleftheroupoli and Nikisiani). It is a mountain covered with chestnut, oak, pine, and beech trees. You can choose to stay overnight in one of the three mountain lodges; one is to be found in Kalithea, the second one is named Petalouda or Vlachika Kalyvia and a third one of Chatzigeorgiou. You will find a ski resort with a spacious ski slope at an altitude of 1,956 meters. At a lower altitude of Mount Paggaio you will come across the Paggaio Forest Village with accommodation and restaurants 

Mountaineering on Olympus, Mountain of the Gods 

The “Throne of Zeus (+2909 m)

Mount Olympus has a stunning nature rich in flora (more than 1700 species and 20 endemic) and fauna (more than 30 species of mammals, 100 species of birds, and 18 species of reptiles). This is the reason why already in 1938, the Greek state proclaimed Mount Olympus the first National Forest in Greece. 

You will find the mountain 263 north of Athens. The whole area is perfect for you who love nature and alternative activities like trekking, canyoning, rafting, climbing, mountain-biking or mayby paragliding or jeep safari. Even if you are not into extreme sports, you will enjoy mountaineering on Mount Olympus since there options covering all levels of difficulty and stamina. Find some of the most beautiful trails here, at different difficulty levels: 

Easy trails: 

  • Litóhoro – Golna – Castana source – Litóhoro 
  • Prionia – Aghio Spilleo – Monastery of St. Dionysus 
  • Krevatia Vrontous – Papa Aloni – Aghia Triada 

Trails of medium difficulty: 

  • Litóhoro – Prionia 
  • Gortsia – Petrostrouga – Plateau of the Muses 
  • Refuge Spilios Agapitos – Scala – Mytikas 

Difficult to dangerous trails: 

canyoning
  • Kserolakki – Naoum stream – Plateau of the Muses 
  • Plateau of the Muses – Peaks 

Hiking in the stunning nature of Mount Pelion 

Mount Pelion, the land of the Centaurs, is a stunning experience all year round. Hanging like a sleepless guardian above the city of Volos Mount Pelion is waiting for you to explore its rivers, secluded beaches, deep forests and stunning mountain villages with breath-taking views to the Aegean Sea. 

According to ancient Greek mythology here nymphs were bathing in the running waters and Centaurs were trotting the woods while warriors were crossing the arched bridges. 

At Mt Pelion you can take part in all kinds of activities like hiking, skiing, paragliding, swimming and exploring the local cuisine as well as medieval villages or just the suburb beauty of the mountain. There are dozens of hikes to choose from, all depending on your taste and stamina. 

Hiking the mountain trails of Mount Parnassos 

Discover the unspoiled nature of Greece following the paths through green valleys and wildflowers to the ancient sites and old pathways of Mount Parnassos. You can start your hike from one of the nearby villages and hit the natural trails that will take you to mountain peaks and stunning landscapes. Have a look at the hiking routes here: 

  • Aráhova – Mána Springs – Baindánis 
    This hiking route takes you to Mana Springs at an altitude of 1,500 m and a 300 m long gorge with pouring waters at the Tsarkórahi slope. At the Baindánis Plateau you can enjoy wildflowers and a stunning view. You can choose to continue one of various trails from this point. Climb the Baindánis rock at an altitude of 2,220 m and follow the mountain trails to Liákoura Peak (2,457 m) or other peaks like Tsárkos, Petritis, and Vlahólaka. Continue to the site of Akrinó Neró and the Monastery of Saint Jerusalem (Davlia), or follow the signs leading to Zemenó. 
  • Eptálofos – Delphi 
    This route is a part of the E4 international hiking trail, starting from Eptálofos. This is a hiker’s favourite since it crosses the most beautiful points of Mount Parnassos, leading the archaeological site of Delphi. The trail is rather easy, and the actual walking time is 7 hours. 
  • Tithoréa – Cave of Odysseus Androútsos 
    The trail starts at Platanákos, at the southernmost point of the village, next to the bust of Androútsos and it ends in the Cave of Odysseus Androútsos, which was used as a military base during the Greek War of Independence. A rather short and easy hiking route and the actual walking time is 1h15.