The Gorge of Irini
by / Juhani

Updated 30.03.2014

The Agia Irini Gorge is a verdant, beautiful and easy to pass. It is located north-east from the Paleochora village and the entrance to the gorge is from the northern side of the Agia Irini village. Irini means “peace” and it is a very appropriate and descriptive name for this gorge. 

The descent to the gorge is from either north or south side of the Agia Irini village. A good way to visit the gorge is to lodge and station in Paleochora or in the Sougia village at the southern end of the gorge. If you choose an organized trip you will be taken to the gorge by bus, but if you go on your own you can take a taxi too or the Chania-Sougia local bus. In Paleochora local agencies organize daytrips to the gorge on almost daily bases. At the southern end of the Irini gorge the route ends at a tavern a few kilometres before the sea shore, and you can walk to Sougia following the road, as the final part of the gorge after the tavern becomes much more difficult to walk than prior to reaching the tavern. On organized trips it is customary to take the participants from the tavern to the idyllic Sougia for a break by bus before returning to Paleochora. You may also board a boat to travel along the southern coast east and west from Sougia.

Enjoying the green and shady Irini Gorge

The Irini gorge is easy to pass and has beautiful and verdant nature, making it an extremely enjoyable hiking experience among Crete’s gorges. The whole hike takes about four hours all the way to Sougia, and about two hours if the part from the tavern to Sougia is travelled by bus. You can have lunch and rest in the tavern, making it unnecessary to carry food for the hike.

You can hike through the gorge almost all-year round, except if it has rained heavily the day before. The trail has been repaired a few years ago and is one of the best kept gorges we have seen. This stone mark is reached after two hours of hiking.

There aren’t many difficult places in the gorge, except for a few descents requiring some caution. Many shady places created by the verdant plantation and trees add to the enjoyment of the hiker. Panoramic view of a high cliff.

There are less shady places in the gorge after the tavern, and it takes 1-2 hours to pass it. There are water fountains on each resting places, but as they might dry out during hot season it is advisable to carry enough of drinking water for the whole way for each hiker.

There are taverns, accommodation and good beaches available in Sougia. You can get back to either Paleochora or Chania by bus. Paleochora and other coastal cities can also be reached by boat. If you take the boat remember to take notice of the last departure time.

The beach of Sougia.

Beautiful old forest.

Irini from south.

Sample schedule for a hike through the Irini Gorge:

Departure is from Paleochora at 7.00 in the morning and the hike begins at 8.15 from the beginning of the gorge.
Outside summertime the temperature in the beginning may be cool, even cold, but warms up soon.
There are four climbs and descents during the hike, and resting places with toilets and water fountain (dries up during dry season) at 2km and 4km points.
It takes about 2 hrs to reach the 4km point, and at that time the sun will shine even to the bottom of the gorge.
The bus is waiting by the tavern (picture above) which is located a few kilometres before the sea shore, and it takes less than 4 hrs to reach the tavern.

The bus leaves from tavern to Sougia at 12.15 and from Sougia to Paleochora at 14.45, and the trip ends to Paleochora at 16.00.
The Irini gorge can be seen behind.

Times presented here are approximate and may differ from actual timetable.

Additional Information:

Coordinates for Irini: 35°19’16.56″N 23°50’45.04″E map of the area