Omalos is located 38km south of the city of Chania and lies 1100m above sea level. It is the biggest and highest plateau on Crete and is surrounded by the peaks of the White Mountains. Every winter, the surrounding area is covered in snow and makes it look like a winter wonderland. In the past, the plateau was an area of local shelter during the Turkish occupation. Nowadays, it is the starting point for a number of different walks and hikes.
In the centre of Omalos you will find a few family run tavernas where you can enjoy some locally cooked food. During the winter, Omalos plateau can be covered in snow, so its an ideal location for families and children to play in the snow and make snowmen.
By far the most famous hike in Crete starts in Omalos – Samaria Gorge. Open only in the summer time, it is an 18km hike down. Starting at Omalos and continuing down to Agios Roumeli in the south of Crete. It is the second longest gorge in Europe. Passing through the ‘Iron Gate’ at the lower part of the gorge is very impressive with stone walls on either side that are 300m high and the pass is only 4m wide. Excursions for Samaria gorge can be arranged and normally include a bus from Chania to Omalos, return ferry and bus from Agios Roumeli back to Chania. The hike takes roughly 6-8 hours depending on your fitness level. It’s a long day with travel, but well-worth it for the exceptional views of this famous gorge has to offer.
Another beautiful walk is climbing Gigilos which takes roughly 2.5 hours and has breath taking views of the White Mountains (Lefka Ori).
From Omalos, there is a mountain road leading to a mountain shelter of Kallergis which is located at 1680m. The views are phonemical at the top and you can see the northern and southern side of Crete on a clear day. The mountain shelter is open to the public to stay on weekends, but it is best to call ahead to make sure there is availability. The road up to the shelter in winter can be inaccessible in winter due to snow so it is only reachable by foot.