How To Get To Samaria Gorge By Bus, Car or Guided Hike Tour: Crete Hiking Guide

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a man standing on a rock looking upwards on the samaria gorge hiking trail in crete greece
The most beautiful hike in Crete – Samaria Gorge

Experience the most beautiful hike on the Greek island of Crete! Find out how to get to Samaria Gorge by bus, car, ferry, or guided hike tour and how much each option costs.

There’s no doubt that Samaria Gorge is THE most beautiful hike in Crete and one of the most spectacular hikes in Europe. But the one question that keeps coming up is ‘How exactly do you get there?’.

It’s a good question, by the way! You see, Samaria Gorge is a point-to-point hike. This means that the hiking trail starts in one location and ends at a different location (i.e. not the trailhead).

On this hike, the trail starts near the top of the White Mountains 1,800 meters above sea level, and ends 16km (10 miles) later at Agia Roumeli Beach.

It’s a breathtaking hike alright. But the logistics of getting to and back from the hike is tricky. Especially if you’re taking public transport or planning to drive there yourself.

We spent hours researching the best way to get to Samaria Gorge. From taking the public bus, and joining a guided tour, to getting there by car. So why let all those hours go to waste? Sharing is caring, right?

That’s why we’ve written this Crete travel guide! We’re sharing the 3 ways you can take to get to Samaria Gorge from easiest to most difficult, how much each option costs, and which one will suit your travel itinerary best.

We’ve also included a bonus option for those of you who want to do the easy (short) version of the hike.

Make sure you bookmark, share, or pin this Crete travel guide so you can refer back to it later.

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Getting To Samaria Gorge

There are 4 ways (including the bonus) to get to Samaria Gorge. The most difficult but most convenient option is getting yourself there by car.

The second option is getting there by bus (i.e. public transport). It’s the cheapest way to get to the hiking trail but takes the longest time.

The easiest but more expensive way of getting to Samaria Gorge is via a guided hike tour. And the last option for those who want to do the easy or short version of the hike, is to take the ferry.

the northern entrance to the samaria gorge hiking trail with the famous white mountains in the backdrop
There are 4 ways to get to Samaria Gorge

We’ll explain each option in detail, including how much it costs, so you can decide what’s the best option for you.

Related Guide: First time in Crete? Find out how to get around Crete with or without a car. Whether that’s by public transport, guided bus tours, ferries, taxis, or renting a car, scooter, or quadbike – we’ve got you covered!

Best Place or Town To Stay For The Hike

Whether you’re getting to Samaria Gorge by car, bus, or guided tour, the best place to stay for the hike is in Chania.

Chania is the closest main town to the start of the hiking trail. It has easy access to the highway, bus stations, as well as pick-up and drop-off points for guided tours. 

Not only does this mean shorter travel time, but you’ll also have the benefit of arriving earlier and having more time to enjoy the hike before other hikers arrive.

Places To Stay in Chania

There are many hotel and accommodation options in Chania from budget-friendly to luxury. Here are some recommendations to get you started:

Looking for more? Compare hotel prices in Chania on Booking.com or check out hotel reviews on TripAdvisor before deciding.

Related Guide: Samaria Gorge is a gorgeous but grueling hike. Make sure you’re prepared for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure by reading our Samaria Gorge Hike guide. We share what hiking gear or fitness level is required, what to pack, safety tips to know, as well as how long it really takes it finish this hike.

How To Get To Samaria Gorge by Car

We’re not going to lie – getting to Samaria Gorge by car is challenging. We know because that’s what we did and we don’t recommend it.

Not only will you have to prepare yourself to navigate around plenty of holes and hairpin turns. But also dodge cats, shrews, mountain goats, and other wildlife crossing the road in the dark with nothing but your headlights to guide you. Plus, you’ll need to take the bus and ferry for a portion of the trip anyway.

Samaria Gorge is a point-to-point hike, starting in the mountains and ending on the beach. This means that even if you drive to Samaria Gorge by yourself, you’ll need to take public transport to get back to the car.

It’s tricky alright – but not impossible. And we’ll show you exactly how you can get there by car if that’s what you wish. Don’t say we didn’t warn you though!

a man arriving at the entrance of samaria gorge hiking trail by car
We got to Samaria Gorge by car and don’t recommend it

The only upside of driving is that you can stay wherever you want in Crete as long as you budget enough time to catch the bus to the trailhead in the morning.

We stayed in Platanias, a small coastal town around 20 minutes drive from Chania.

Bonus Tip: If you plan to drive, we’d recommend booking a car before your trip for cheaper car rental prices. You can compare prices for renting a car in Crete on DiscoverCars.com or RentalCars.com.

Getting There by Car

The best way to get to Samaria Gorge by car is to drive to the small coastal town of Sougia. From here, you’ll take the bus to the start of the hike.

If you’re driving from Chania, it takes around 90 minutes to get to the Sougia bus station. There are only 2 to 3 buses per day, so make sure you’re not late.

a small kiosk on the side of the road in sougia selling ferry and bus tickets to samaria gorge
What the bus station in Sougia to Omalos (Samaria) looks like

We’d recommend taking the 07:00 or earlier bus. You can check the bus schedule and book your tickets on the KTEL website. Alternatively, you can also buy your bus tickets at Roxani coffee shop when you’re in Sougia. The bus ticket costs €4.80.

You’ll only need a one-way ticket from Sougia to Omalos (Samaria Gorge). After the hike, you’ll take the ferry back to Sougia where your car is parked.

a screenshot of which bus ticket to buy when you're getting to samaria gorge by car
Buy a one-way ticket from Sougia to Omalos

We’d recommend arriving at the bus station 10 minutes beforehand (just in case). The bus sign is small. But you’ll know you’re in the right place because other hikers will be waiting for the bus too.

The bus ride from Sougia to the start of the Samaria Gorge hike takes another 90 minutes. Enjoy the mountain views or simply take a nap before the long hike.

a white ktel bus in crete that is taking hikers from sougia to samaria gorge at dawn
Park your car and take the bus from Sougia to the start of the Samaria Gorge hike

Make sure to get off at the Omalos/Samaria bus station. From there, you can go to the cafe for some coffee and food. Otherwise, you can head to the entrance, buy your entry ticket and start the hike.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against injury, illness, theft and even trip cancellation. It’s comprehensive cover in case anything goes wrong. We never go on a trip without it as we’ve had to use it many times in the past. Here are our favourite companies that offer the best value and service:

How To Get Back From Samaria Gorge by Car

Getting back from Samaria Gorge to your car is easy. All you need is a ferry ticket from Agia Roumeli to Sougia.

It’s possible to buy ferry tickets inside the cafe at the entrance of the Samaria Gorge hike. But we don’t recommend it because they only sell ferry tickets that depart Agia Roumeli at 17:00.

a small coffee shop in xyloskalo at the trailhead of the samaria gorge hiking trail in crete
The cafe at the entrance of the Samaria Gorge hike

We made that mistake when we hiked Samaria Gorge. The guy at the cafe told us that people take an average of 5 hours to hike Samaria Gorge. So the 17:00 ferry should give us more than sufficient time to finish the hike and have time to explore Agia Roumeli.

Big mistake! We’re both relatively fit and ended up taking 7 hours to complete the Samaria Gorge hike and walk another 3km to catch the ferry.

We would have missed the ferry if we didn’t jog the last 3km (on very sore feet). We were super rushed and were disappointed that we had no time to enjoy the town or the beach.

Five hours is probably doable if you’re hiking with few stops in between. But if you’re stopping to soak up the gorgeous views, taking photos along the way, and enjoying a lunch break admiring kri-kris (Cretan mountain goats), then 7 hours is more realistic.

Instead, we’d recommend buying tickets for the 17:30 or later ferry. You can buy the tickets once you arrive at Agia Roumeli. Or if you’re confident you’ll finish in time, you can also buy your ferry tickets online on the Anendyk website.

a view of the coastal town agia roumeli in south crete with its black sand beach
The town of Agia Roumeli at the end of the Samaria Gorge hiking trail

The ferry tickets cost €15 and the ride from Agia Roumeli to Sougia takes only 30 minutes.

Alternatively, you can stay overnight at Agia Roumeli. That way you can use the opportunity to explore the beautiful towns and beaches in the area that are only accessible by boat (i.e. can’t get there by car).

How Much It Costs by Car

Getting to Samaria Gorge by car is not the cheapest option unless you’re sharing the cost amongst 4 or more friends. In our opinion, it only makes sense to drive to Samaria Gorge if you’re staying in Crete for more than 5 days and you’re renting a car anyway.

But do make sure that you’re confident driving. Greece is known for having some of the highest accident rates in Europe, and unfortunately, Crete is no exception.

If you’re unsure about whether you should rent a car, make sure you read our Driving in Crete guide. It explains the essential road and traffic rules you should know, as well as what the car hire requirements are.

a red vw car rental parked on the side of the road in crete with a backdrop of the ocean
Our car rental in Crete

Car rental can cost anywhere between €40 to €80 per day depending on the type of car you’re renting, whether it’s high or low peak season, and how long you’re renting a car for. This excludes fuel costs, parking fees, one-way fees, and sometimes even car insurance, by the way!

We spent two weeks in Crete and our average cost was €41 per day (including comprehensive car insurance as well as one-way fees).

To get to Samaria Gorge by car, you’ll still need to factor in additional costs like:

  • A one-way bus ticket from Sougia to Omalos (Samaria): €4.80
  • Ferry ticket from Agia Roumeli to Sougia: €15
  • Parking at Sougia: Free
  • Fuel costs

How To Get To Samaria Gorge by Bus

Another way to get to Samaria Gorge by yourself (without a tour) is to get there by public bus. This is the cheapest way to get to the hike but takes the longest time.

Chania To Samaria Gorge by Bus

You can get to Samaria Gorge by bus from Chania, Heraklion, or Rethymno, but the best option is from Chania. This is the shortest and most direct bus route. Plus, there are 4 buses from Chania to Samaria Gorge every day.

a white public bus in crete that goes from chania to samaria gorge
The bus from Chania to Samaria Gorge

We’d recommend taking the 5:00 AM or 6:15 AM bus. The bus ride takes around 60 to 90 minutes so you should arrive just after Samaria Gorge opens at 07:00.

You can buy your bus tickets online on the KTEL website. Just buy a one-way bus ticket from Chania to Omalos (Samaria Gorge trailhead). You’ll get back from Samaria to Chania on a different bus route. We’ll explain how later in this guide.

We’d suggest getting to the Chania bus station 10 minutes earlier than your departure time. That way you don’t miss the bus and ruin your day trip to Samaria Gorge. The bus will take you straight to the entrance so just relax or take a nap before the long hike ahead.

How To Get To Samaria Gorge From Heraklion by Bus

It is possible to get to Samaria Gorge from Heraklion by bus, but it will be a very long journey (4.5 hours or more).

a view of the port at herkalion with boats floating on the sea
Getting to Samaria Gorge from Heraklion

You’ll need to take two buses. The first bus from Heraklion to Chania will take around 3 hours. Once you arrive in Chania, you’ll take another bus from there to Omalos where the Samaria Gorge hike starts.

The only problem with this is that you won’t be able to take these two buses on the same day. By the time you arrive in Chania from Heraklion, you would have missed the last bus from Chania to Samaria Gorge (Omalos).

The only way around this is to stay overnight in Chania so you can take the bus there the next day.

There are lots of hotels and accommodation options in Chania. We’d recommend comparing hotel prices and booking early to get the best deal.

compare hotels prices in chania
Compare hotel prices in Chania to find what best suits your budget and needs

Alternatively, if you don’t want to stay overnight in Chania, then the best option is to take a guided tour from Heraklion to Samaria Gorge.

Bonus Tip: Skip the queue and book your bus tickets online. You can buy the ticket from Heraklion to Chania with KTEL Herlas. For the second bus to Samaria Gorge, you’ll need to buy it on the KTEL website.

Bus From Rethymno To Samaria Gorge

You can take the bus from Rethymno to Samaria Gorge, but keep in mind that you might feel a bit pressed for time.

a view of the old venetian harbor in rethymno in crete greece
Getting to Samaria Gorge from Rethymno

You’ll need to take two buses. The first bus from Rethymno to Chania will take around 1 hour and 15 minutes. We’d recommend taking the 06:00 AM bus. That way you can arrive in Chania in time to catch the 07:45 AM bus from Chania to Samaria Gorge (Omalos).

You should arrive in Samaria Gorge just after 09:00 AM. If you’re not staying overnight in Agia Roumeli, make sure you budget enough time to finish the hike and catch the 17:30 ferry to get back to Rethymno.

Otherwise, you can take this guided tour from Rethymno to Samaria Gorge to avoid the rush and stress of finishing the hike in time.

How To Get Back From Samaria Gorge by Bus

You’ve managed to get to Samaria Gorge by bus and completed the unforgettable hike, but how do you get back? Whether you’re heading to Chania, Rethymno, or Heraklion, you’ll need to take the ferry to get back to civilization.

We’d recommend taking the 17:00 or 17:30 ferry from Agia Roumeli to Sougia. You can buy the tickets once you arrive at Agia Roumeli.

Otherwise, if you’re confident you’ll finish in time, you can also buy your ferry tickets online on the Anendyk website. The ferry tickets cost €15 and the ride from Agia Roumeli to Sougia takes only 30 minutes.

sitting in a public bus in crete with a view of the road and bus driver
What it’s like to take the public bus in Crete

Once you arrive in Sougia, you’ll take the last bus back from Sougia to Chania at 18:15. The journey takes under 2 hours.

From Chania, you can either stay overnight or take the next bus back to Rethymno, Heraklion, Hersonissos, or whichever town you’re staying in north Crete.

How Much Is The Bus to Samaria Gorge

This is how much it costs to take the public bus to Samaria Gorge:

  • From Chania: €6.90
  • From Rethymno: €13.10 (€6.20 + €6.90)
  • From Heraklion: €20.70 (€13.80 + €6.90)

To get back from Samaria Gorge, it will cost another €15 for the ferry and €7.10 for the bus from Sougia to Chania.

In total, you can expect to pay between €29 to €43 for a return trip to and from Samaria Gorge by bus.

Related Guide: How much will a trip to Crete island cost? Get the exact cost breakdown for flights, hotels, eating out, car rental, and more, in our How Expensive Is Crete guide.

Getting To Samaria Gorge By Hike Tour

The easiest way to get to Samaria Gorge without a car (or the stress of planning) is by hike tour. It’s a bit more expensive (€35 to €50) compared to taking the public bus or driving yourself, but there are benefits to getting there with a guided tour.

two women walking on a rocky trail at samaria gorge close to the narrowest section called the iron gates
Getting to Samaria Gorge by hiking tour

Firstly, all the logistics of getting to and back from Samaria Gorge are taken care of. All you have to do is show up on time and enjoy the hike.

Secondly, you’ll be joined by a professional guide on the hike. Not only are they there to make sure that everyone is doing okay along the trail. But they’ll make sure you maintain a good, comfortable pace to finish the hike and catch the ferry back.

And last, but not least, it’s a great way to learn about the history of Samaria Gorge, its myths and legends, as well as its unique topography, flora, and fauna.

On the hiking tour, you can choose to hike with the larger group, or go off on your own and hike at your own speed. The guide will usually follow the last hiker to make sure that the entire group completes the trail on time.

a solo traveler hiking samaria gorge by himself
The beautiful landscapes at Samaria Gorge

So whether you want to hike in solitude or prefer some company, joining a hiking tour is a good option.

Bonus Tip: Most tours include pick-up and drop-off, but don’t include the entrance to Samaria Gorge (€5) or the ferry ticket (€13). Make sure you read the details before booking.

Samaria Gorge Tour

Hikers travel to Crete from all over the world just to hike Samaria Gorge. Make sure you book your guided tour in advance so you don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

From Heraklion

Take this guided hiking tour to Samaria Gorge if you staying in Heraklion or surrounding areas.

It includes pick-up and drop-off from Sisi, Malia, Stalis, Hersonissos, Anissaras, Agkisaras, Gouves, Gournes, Kokkini Hani, Karteros, Amoudara, Agia Pelagia, and from centrally located points in Heraklion town.

The guides speak French, German, English, Dutch, and Polish.

Tour from Rethymno

If you’re staying in and around Rethymno, we’d recommend taking this guided tour from Rethymno. It includes pick-up and drop-off from the towns of Panormo, Scaleta, Adele, Platanias, Missiria, Rethymno, Atsipopoulo, Kavros, and Georgioupoli.

Their guides speak English, French, and German.

Guided Tour from Chania

Take this guided tour from Chania to Samaria Gorge.

It includes pick-up and drop-off from the towns Perivolia, Halepa, Akrotiri, Halidon Street Alpha Bank, Kladissos, Nea Chora, Agioi Apostoloi, Xrysi Akti, Daratso, Galatas, Kalamaki, Stalos, Agia Marina, Platanias, Gerani, Kontomari, Pyrgos, Psyionfrou, Maleme, Tavronitis, Kolymvari, Minothiana, Paraniana, Kamisiana, and Chania.

Alternatively, if you’re a group of 7, the best way to get to Chania from Samaria Gorge and get a more personalized experience is to take this private hiking tour.

How To Get To Samaria Gorge by Ferry

The last option is to get there by ferry. This option is perfect for those who want to hike Samaria Gorge the easy way. This shortcut is great for those who can’t physically walk that far or if you’re traveling with young children.

a ferry docked at the port at agia roumeli near the southern entrance of the samaria gorge hiking trail
Take the ferry to hike Samaria Gorge the easy (i.e. short) way

You won’t feel the same satisfaction of experiencing the changing landscapes descending from the top of the White Mountains to Agia Roumeli Beach. But you’ll be able to see the most famous section of the hike – the Iron Gates.

This is the narrowest part of the gorge where its over 500 meters high (1,640ft) but only 4 meters (13ft) wide.

the narrowest part of samaria gorge is one of the highlights of the hiking trail
The famous ‘Iron Gates’

To hike Samaria Gorge the easy way, you’ll need to take the ferry. You can get there by ferry from Sougia or Chora Sfakia. Simply buy your ferry tickets from the Anendyk website and make sure you arrive for the departure on time.

Once you arrive in Agia Roumeli, head to the Samaria Gorge south entrance, buy your entrance ticket, and walk 1.5km to see the Iron Gates.

the exit or southern entrance of samaria gorge national park in crete
The southern entrance of Samaria Gorge National Park

Hotels Near Samaria Gorge, Crete

Whether you’re getting to Samaria Gorge by car, bus, or ferry, we’d highly recommend staying at least one night at Agia Roumeli. That way you can explore the picturesque coastal villages and stunning beaches nearby that you can only get to by ferry (inaccessible by car).

the beautiful coastal town of agia roumeli in south crete with mountains in the background
The beautiful town of Agia Roumeli

Make sure you visit the gorgeous fishing village of Loutro with its postcard-perfect white houses. If you have time, we’d also recommend seeing Gavdos. It’s a small island south of Crete that’s not only known for its breathtaking beauty but also as the southernmost tip of Europe.

This part of Crete is an absolute hidden gem. If you’re looking to get away from the tourist crowds and go off the beaten track, then staying overnight is a must.

Places to Stay in Agia Roumeli

All of these hotels and vacation apartments are on the beachfront or within 100 meters of the beach.

Related Guide: Looking for other places to stay in Crete? Read our Where To Stay in Crete guide. It shares insider tips on where to stay in Crete with kids, for a romantic couples getaway, to the best hotels for beautiful beaches and epic nightlife, with or without renting a car.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the easiest way to get to Samaria Gorge hike?

The easiest way to get to the Samaria Gorge hike without a car is with a guided tour. These tours include pick-up and drop-off and will take care of all the logistics for you to complete the long, but magnificent hike.

How to do Samaria Gorge by yourself?

You can hike Samaria Gorge by yourself (without a tour) by getting there by car or bus. As long as you budget enough time to complete the hike and get to the ferry at Agia Roumeli on time, it’s perfectly safe to do the Samaria Gorge hike by yourself.

Can you visit Samaria Gorge by car?

Yes, you can but you’ll need to take the public bus and ferry to get back to your car after the hike. If you plan to visit Samaria Gorge by car, we’d recommend driving to Sougia and catching the bus from there. Alternatively, you can drive to Xyloskalo and hike a portion of the trail before turning back and heading back to the car.

Can you get to Samaria Gorge by bus?

Yes – absolutely! The easiest way to get to Samaria Gorge by bus is from Chania. There are 3 direct buses that go from Chania to Omalos (Samaria Gorge entrance) every day.

What time does Samaria Gorge open?

Samaria Gorge is open every day from 1 May until 31 October from 07:00 to 16:00. But bear in mind that if you want to hike the entire trail, you’ll have to enter before 13:00. If you arrive after that, you’ll only be allowed to hike the first 2 kilometers of the trail before turning back.

Wrapping Things Up

Samaria Gorge is hands-down THE most beautiful hike in Crete but getting to and back from the hiking trail is a challenge.

The easiest way to get there is with a guided tour. Not only will the guide accompany you throughout the hike. But they’ll also take care of all the logistics for you so you can just arrive and enjoy the hike without the stress of planning.

Joining a hiking tour is nice, but not absolutely necessary. You can also hike Samaria Gorge by yourself. As long as you plan well and make sure you arrive in time to catch the public bus and ferry, you can easily do the hike without a guide.

We hope our guide has saved you time and money planning your vacation in Crete. For more tips and inspiration for things to do on the island, check out our Crete Travel Guides.

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