Crete is a breathtaking Mediterranean island home to mountain vistas, pristine beaches, fascinating wildlife, and lush landscapes. The crystal blue waters of the Libyan Sea hug the shores and lap against the White Mountains, creating a surreal sight.
This Greek island is home to the Imbros Gorge, which is an 11 km long canyon in southern Crete. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to cover the gorge on foot. After the Samaria Gorge, this mountain pathway in Crete is the second most popular gorge for hiking enthusiasts.
The gorge Imbros is in the vicinity of the Samaria gorge and Agia Irini. Together they make up an impressive network of hiking trails for tourists. Imbros Gorge is worth the visit, particularly for those who enjoy the great outdoors. This guide will help you experience the Imbros Gorge in all its glory.
Where is the Imbros Gorge?
The gorge Imbros is located in southern Crete along the countryside near Chora Sfakion. To the south of the gorge lies the village of Imbros or Nimbros. It is located approximately 780m above sea level and is close to the fertile plain of Askyfou. There was a time when the Imbros Gorge mule trail was the only connection from Chania to Hora Sfakion. Remnants of the trail can still be seen. Today, a road connects to these regions, making them easily accessible.
Many visit the Imbros Gorge for its less laborious canyons that are easier to cover than the Samaria Gorge. This makes it perfect for you if you’re traveling with children or in search of a low-difficulty trail to explore. The Imbros Gorge is open all year round, and you need only pay a small fee for an entrance ticket before taking up the 8 km hike trail.
Hiking Through the Imbros Gorge
Once you reach the starting point of the gorge, the widened section is called Porofarago. The walls on either side of the descent are low, and narrow passages punctuate the canyon.
From Stenada, you’ll pass the narrowest part of the canyon, which is 1.60m wide and 300m high. Along this stretch, you’ll see stunning rock formations that add to the Imbros Gorge’s rugged beauty.
Hikers will notice a lovely smattering of vegetation such as oaks, maples, and cypresses. You can explore the caves that dot the narrow part of the canyon and those that appear deeper within the Imbros Gorge. As the gorge widens further along the trek, it ultimately leads to the village Komitades.
How to Get to the Imbros Gorge
Getting to the Imbros Gorge by Car
The fastest way to get to the Imbros Gorge is by your car rental from Chania Airport.
You can book a car rental to take you to Imbros village, located 57 km to the southeast of Chania. Traveling by car is cheap and convenient if you plan to visit Crete’s neighboring area and villages. It will take about an hour to reach Imbros Gorge from Chania.
To make it easy to get back to your car, drive down to Komitades, where you’ll find a place to park your rental car. Then walk towards the gorge. After you’ve completed the trek, you can catch a public bus that is headed towards Hora Sfakion (be sure to check the schedule beforehand to plan the timing right) from Imbros village. Your car will be within walking distance of 10 minutes from the bus drop-off junction that connects to Komitades.
Getting to the Imbros Gorge by Bus
Several tour operators in Chania and Rethymno conduct guided tours to Imbros Gorge. If you’re going on your own, take a public bus towards Esperos and then switch to a local taxi from there before heading to the Imbros Gorge.
Getting to the Imbros Gorge by Taxi
You can take a taxi from where you’re staying to the Imbros Gorge. The downside of taking a local taxi from Chania or a neighboring town is that it’ll cost you more than a rental car. Considering price fluctuations, taking a taxi to get around is not the most economical way to get around.
History And Facts About the Imbros Gorge
The Imbros Gorge is a historical landmark with many stories that will leave you fascinated by its rich past. Legend has it that the gorge got its name when the two brothers exiled from Imbros, Turkey, settled in the gorge.
During World War II, British soldiers were evacuated to Egypt through the Imbros Gorge. When Turkish troops stormed the area, the Imbros Gorge was fiercely fought over to defend the takeover of Sfakia.
Best Things to Do Near the Imbros Gorge
There’s plenty to do around Imbros Gorge once you get here. Be sure to add these activities to your itinerary.
Sign up for guided gorge tours
Tour guides can help you navigate through the rugged ravine of Imbros Gorge and share interesting stories about this iconic trail. Stopping to explore the sights along the way will allow you to cover the gorge at a leisurely pace. Through the trail, you’ll be able to marvel at the fantastic topography under the shade of the imposing White Mountains.
You can pop into the Cretan mountain villages of Askifou, Vrisses, and Imbros during the hike. Enjoy a classic Cretan lunch from a local tavern, take a dip in the Libyan Sea, or explore the Venetian castle of Frangokastello while you’re here. Travel guides can help you get back to the designated tour bus or your car once the hike is done.
Stop at the Chora Sfakion Seaside Village
Getting here is easy since it’s only 5 km from the exit of Imbros Gorge. You can explore the seafood taverns that dot the small village and try the traditional Sfakian pies (filo pastry traditionally stuffed with spinach and feta).
A little further in, you’ll find immaculate beaches to sunbathe in before heading back up the trail. For a glimpse of the region’s rich history, be sure to visit the monument erected in remembrance of the Allied Evacuation of WWII.
Hop onto a ferry port
Several boats ply between the southeast coast of Chania and Gavdos island. Enjoy the scenic route to the other side and drink up the beauty of the limestone cliffs, azure waters, and fresh air. If you plan to travel to areas close to the Imbros Gorge, taking a ferry boat is a great way to enjoy the Mediterranean outdoors.
Where to Stay Near the Imbros Gorge
Experience the comfort and beauty of the stays that are located close to the Imbros Gorge for a memorable holiday. Here are the top picks of must-visit stays:
Sofia’s Lovely Rooms
Situated close to Chania town, Georgioupolis, and Chania Airport, this lovely hotel is a cozy place to stay in Sfakia. The minimally decorated, air-conditioned rooms, scenic balcony views, and Cretan hospitality make this stay idyllic for tourists. From here, the Imbros Gorge is located 16 km away.
Website +30 2825091462 / +30 6972299977
Feel at home in a stone-built property in the lap of nature surrounded by the White Mountains. The Greek architecture, fully equipped rooms, free WiFi, fireplace, and swimming pool make this villa an oasis of comfort. Sprawling gardens and a sun terrace add to the charm of this tastefully decorated 3-bedroom villa. The Imbros Gorge is only 7 km from the villa.
Website +30 28210 75411 / +30 697 4873408
Fagotto Art Residencies
Situated in the old town of Chania, this traditional yet chic guesthouse with a homely atmosphere. Fagotto is managed by a warm, inviting staff. The rooms have a balcony or terrace that provides some of the best views of Crete. Every boutique-style room includes essential amenities such as WiFi, a built-in shower, and free toiletries. The guesthouse is located 57 km from the village.
Website +30 2821181779 / +30 6936827894
Where to Eat Near Imbros Gorge
Treat your palate to the scintillating, local flavors of Mediterranean food and other continental delights at the following hotspots.
Yialos Wine Restaurant
Situated in the west in Rethymno, this local restaurant is a refurbished space with a gorgeous view of the sparkling sea. Experience the best Mediterranean gourmet food that infuses local spices with fresh produce and the day’s catch.
Diners get to choose their preferred extra virgin olive oil from a cool display bar. Taste and pair the olive oil with your meal for a burst of flavor that supersedes what commercial varieties offer.
Do check out the wine menu for a selection of old and new labels sourced from Greek vineyards.
Telephone: +30 2831 030476
Satiate your sweet tooth cravings at Despina, a local cafe that promises to awaken your senses. From flavorful charred crepes and rich mille-feuille to light-as-air cheesecakes and heartwarming coffee, Despina has garnered a reputation as one of the best eateries for snacks and pastries, and drinks.
The cafe’s outdoor seating provides a heavenly view of Crete’s untouched landscape. Be sure to have a cup of their infamous coffee while you’re here.
Telephone: +30 694 680 6610
Stop by this Cretan eatery to experience the finest in Greek food. The service here is prompt and friendly. Many tout the restaurant for serving comfort foods with a homely flair.
The dishes are made using locally sourced ingredients that pair well with the homemade tsikoudia. This pomace brandy is a distilled Cretan spirit with generous alcohol content. Koutelo has the perfect spot to stretch your legs after a long day at the village of Imbros Gorge.
Telephone: +30 697 665 7639
Guests can enjoy a feast of Mediterranean and European meals under one roof. The restaurant promises a memorable experience of good hospitality, artisanal coffee, and gourmet food from breakfast to dinner and everything in between. This contemporary, exquisitely decorated space is perfect for couples and families who enjoy great food and luxurious interiors.
Telephone: +30 2842 027900
Best Time to Visit Imbros Gorge
The best time to visit Imbros Gorge is during spring, but it can get fairly crowded around this time of the year. Since the Samaria gorge tends to be closed in April, tour guides take tourists to the Imbros Gorge instead. To skip the morning crowds, you should venture to the gorge in the late afternoon.
It’s ideal to avoid traveling between May and April when the weather is known to be unpredictable. Spring usually comes around April, which is when it’s quite pleasant. Walking through the gorge on rainy days can be dangerous since the rocks and walls can get quite slippery. While it’s comparatively safer to trek through the Imbros Gorge, it’s best to visit in May, June, September, or October when the weather is just right.
During the warmer months, you’ll get to see unique flora across the terrain. If you choose to visit in July or August, bear in mind that it can get pretty hot during the trek. Even if the gorge is mostly shaded by mountains, you’ll need to be prepared for the balmy atmosphere.
Carry plenty of water, wear appropriate trekking gear, and pack sunscreen before leaving for the Imbros Gorge. Tour operators usually advise guests in advance on which essentials to carry for the hike, but it’s best to go prepared.
This guide will help you tailor a fun itinerary that allows you to explore and enjoy the spectacles of the Imbros Gorge.