Psiloritis, Crete’s Highest Peak, is Located in the Ida Mountains
by / Juhani

The Ida Mountain was known as a holy place already during the Minoan period. During the Christian period there has been the Timios Stavros (The Holy Cross) chapel on top of the mountain, which is also the name of the very peak of the mountain. On September 14th of each year a ceremony is held in the chapel. The day before many Cretans walk and follow a priest to the chapel and stay there overnight for the ceremony.

The E4 hiking trail goes by the Ida Mountain and has several different trails in the mountain area.
There are five high peaks on Ida Mountain:
Timios Stavros (Holy Cross): 2456 meters (35°13’32.11″N 24°46’8.96″E),
Agathias: 2424 meters,
Stolistra: 2325 meters,
Voulomenou 2267 meters and
Koussakas: 2209 meters.

Panorama photo from upper slopes (about 2000 meters height) to the south. The two peaks are the same, you can see from the minoan Festos (Phaistos) hills in the Messara plateau.

Panorama photo to the north. In the left  side in the panorama you can see the Akrotiri (Chania) peninsula. Behind the left mountain slope can be seen the eastern parts of Rethymnon.

Timetable for the hike

Whichever route you choose, you should head out early. The hike up to the highest peak and back down takes about 8 hours, 3-6 hours up and 2-4 hours down depending on speed and condition. In addition the drive to the mountain and back will take at least a few hours.


The weather, temperature and your personal preparedness for the hike must also be accounted for. The final decision about the hike should be made according to the weather forecast, as it is easy to get lost on the cloud covered mountains. There are also hidden pits and holes and steep cliffs outside the marked trail, which are possible causes of problems for careless hikers. In many places the cell phone will be out of field and thus useless. For these reasons a local guide is recommended. If you go alone or with a group, someone should know about your whereabouts and plans. In the mountains thunderstorms are dangerous.

There are snowy areas on the upper slopes of the mountain as late as in May-June

You can keep the hike easy by just walking a couple of kilometers up the slopes and by enjoying the views available this way. The hike turns demanding only if you choose to go for the peaks. In order to reach the highest peaks you need a good condition and a realistic conception about your performance and abilities – for example about your knees which will be heavily burdened especially during the descent back from mountain. Additionally you need to carry sufficient amount of water or fluids (2-3 liters per person) and something to eat. Your shoes must be good, and you need to have sufficiently warm clothes with you as the wind may feel cold in higher altitudes, even if the weather feels hot at the starting point of the hike. In case of accidents or problems you should have something in reserve as no quick help is available in the mountains. You should never leave anyone alone and always move as a group.

Timios Tavros in the background. Altitude in this point is about 2200 meters

The city of Heraklion can be seen from upper slopes of Ida -mountain

Additional Information:

Help finding a local guide for the hike: 

Happy Walkers also organizes guided hikes:
Coordinates for Psiloritis peak (Timios Stavros): 35°13’32.11″N 24°46’8.96″E map of the area