The TOP 7 Gorges in Sitia

The wider area of Sitia, especially the southeastern part, is distinguished by the existence of gorges of astonishing beauty, with the orange and grey-green colours of their walls acting as entrances to worlds of breathtaking wild beauty.

Richtis Gorge

Photo Credits: Visit Sitia (

Richtis Gorge is a must-visit for those seeking a high waterfall rushing down a mossy rock surrounded by bright green trees, located near the village of Exo Mouliana. Commencing from the parking lot about a 100m before the village, there is a small street that leads to the entrance of the gorge with about 20 minutes walk. There you will find a little hut providing all the useful information. In order to experience the gorge in a sustainable way, there is an admission fee of 3 € for visitors older than 16 years. 

The geotour mapped by UNESCO [geotour 17] takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes until the waterfall. Following the red-white-yellow marks, the route passes under an old venetian bridge built in the 19th century and eventually walks down the last wooden stairs, revealing the waterfall! There are picnic tables provided, and to return, you just follow the same way backwards. It is recommended not to go into the gorge after 5pm in summer, and 3pm in spring/fall because the light fades away fast between the trees in the valley and the signs may be difficult to spot in the gorge. 

Lush green trees greet and create an atmosphere you barely can experience someplace else in Crete. It is fresh and full of life, almost like in a fairy tale. The fresh cool water is a wonderful refreshment after the hike. Hiking equipment (drinking water, hat, hiking/sports footwear) is needed.

Zakros Gorge / Gorge of the dead

Photo Credits: Ma Gro @ Instagram

The Gorge of Zakros, also known as the “Gorge of the Dead” is located near the settlement of Upper Zakros. Its name comes from excavations carried out on its walls, as Minoan tombs were found.

The geotour mapped by UNESCO [geotour 10] has a duration of 1 hour and 30 minutes. Starting from Upper Zakros, it crosses the Zakros Gorge with its final destination in Lower Zakros, passing by the Minoan cemetery and the archaeological site of the Kato Zakros palace. 

It is the southernmost and easternmost part of the European path E4 and includes coral fossils, springs and abundant water, rich vegetation with plane trees, prehistoric trees, wild olive trees, oleanders, laurels and rare plant species. The gorge is a great climbing destination for climbing enthusiasts, as it offers routes with fixed support and levels of difficulty. Hiking equipment (drinking water, hat, hiking/sports footwear) is needed.

Toplou Gorge

Photo Credits: Christina Chrysoula (hiking guide)

The Toplou Gorge is located about 200 meters from the monastery, and an alternative to the crowded Richtis Gorge. This beautiful gorge, although not as popular, offers fairly well marked routes (red yellow white), wonderful rock formations and caves, culminating in a unique view of the sea. 

The UNESCO geo-route [geo-route 15], has a duration of 1 hour and 10 minutes. It passes through the gorge, starting from the west of Toplou Monastery, making a circular route and returning to the starting point. All along its length the visitor can observe endemic plant species, fossils and unique erosive forms called “tafoni”. Furthermore, in the small lakes that form in the gorge it is worth observing the river turtle (Mauremys rivulata). 

The Toplou Monastery gorge is considered a suitable path for passionate hikers, with many rocks and sometimes steep slopes. Hiking equipment (drinking water, hat, hiking/sports footwear) is needed. The hike is definitely worth a visit to the grounds of Toplou Monastery, with its Museum of Ecclesiastical Relics and the winery!

Pefki Gorge

The Pefki Gorge (less known as the Anegyros Gorge) is one of the most beautiful gorges in Eastern Crete. It starts from the village of Pefki in Sitia. Although small, it is very beautiful with wonderful geological formations and dense growth, mainly covered with pine trees. 

The UNESCO certified geo-route [geo-route 25] lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes. There are also other hiking trails with the same starting point leading to the village of Aspros Potamos which provide well-maintained trails that are part of the European path E4. This hiking route covers almost the entire length of the riverbed and lasts approximately 2 hours. 

In several points, there are rest areas and stairs to make the descent easier. The circular route through and above the gorge is well worth the effort. Hiking equipment (drinking water, hat, hiking/athletic shoes) is essential and the overall route is compensatory.

Chochlakies Gorge

Photo Credits: Visit Sitia (

The Chochlakies Gorge is located just outside the village of Chochlakies. To enter the gorge, you have to go through the village of Chochlakies and then follow a narrow road that leads to the church of Agia Marina, an ideal parking spot and starting point for the hike. 

The route is relatively walkable, but it is recommended after April when the high flow of water in the creek bed stops. The crossing is particularly attractive due to the rich biodiversity and impressive geological formations. 

The UNESCO mapped geo route [geo-route 13] takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes. With blue markings, it begins just outside the village of Chochlakies, and ends at the beautiful beach of Karoumes passing through the beautiful gorge. In Karoumes there are equally important geosites, such as coral limestone and small caves. The return is usually a circular route through the gorge back to the starting point. The boldest can extend the route by continuing towards Kato Zakros via UNESCO geo-route 12. 

The trail head is surrounded by olive trees, followed by rocks next to the river bank, and hiking equipment (drinking water, hat, hiking/athletic shoes) is recommended. The reward at the end is priceless with the deep blue and virgin Karoumes beach offering ultimate relaxation before heading back!

Agii Pantes Gorge

Photo Credits: Christina Chrysoula (hiking guide)

The Agii Pantes Gorge is located near the area of Skopi, west of Sitia and ends at the beach of Agii Pantes, next to the monastery of Faneromeni. The route is rich in nature, with plane trees providing shade in the summer months and abundant water from the small river Skafidara during the winter. A wetland is formed in the gorge exit by the waters of the stream. The impressive rock formations along the route were formed as a result of the erosion of the Miocene limestone by climatic conditions. The impressive scenery is complemented by fossilised marine species of dithers and sea urchins.


The UNESCO-mapped geo-route [geo-route 16] has a duration of 2 hours and 20 minutes. The route starts in the east from the area of Sfakidia, Skopi area and ends at Faneromeni gulf. 

Within the gorge there are two remarkable small springs in one of which the great poet Vincenzo Kornaros wrote part of Erotokritos. The gorge impresses both for its biotope and its beautiful geological formations and the forms that the neogene rocks acquire.

Perivolakia Gorge

Photo Credits: Christina Chrysoula (hiking guide)

The Perivolakia Gorge is located in the area of Makry Gialos. An extremely beautiful gorge, easily accessible almost all along its length. It is easily approached although there are points that are slightly steep and require caution. There are route options available to choose from those that run along (red arrows) and those that lead directly to the stream bed, but marking is difficult at times. The entry point is before the monastery (starting point from the Makry Gialos), indicated by markings. As an alternative, the hike also starts from the village bearing the same name, and after a route of up to 2 hours, it leads to the Libyan Sea. There is no market, but there are facilities for hygiene (toilets and sink/water point) near the chapel/church. 

The geo-route mapped by UNESCO [geo-route 26] takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Starting from the Perivolakia village, it goes through the village of Pezoulas, reaches the amazing gorge and ends at the wonderful private beach of Moni Kapsas with a fantastic view of the sea. 

It is recommended for people experienced in hiking and climbing as equipment (drinking water, hat, climbing/athletic shoes) is necessary and it is not a child-friendly route.