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If you are eager to conquer the highest mountain in Crete, Greece, then you have to go hiking Mount Ida or Psiloritis as the locals call it. Located in the Rethymno regional unit it is 2,456 m high. From the peak, you will be able to see the surrounding sea and other mountains. The hike is a refreshing change from the crowded beaches in Crete, and it is doable in regular sports sneakers, so why not try it?

In the mountain range, there are several prominent peaks: Holy Cross (2456m), Agathias (2424m), Stolistra (2325m), Voulomenou (2267m) and Kousakas (2209m). And there are several paths leading to the top of Mount Ida. In this post, I’ll tell you about the one that I partially hiked and would recommend to others.

Mount Ida is a part of a natural park that is a member of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network.

Prepare for the hike

Plan your hike beforehand. Check the map for the starting point and calculate, when you have to leave from your hotel to get there on time. It will take around 5 hours to get to the top, enjoy the view, and hike back at a normal pace.

The roads are quite spectacular in Crete, so renting a car gives freedom and adventure to your vacation. Check here different options from several car companies to choose the most convenient for you. If only two people will be traveling, it’s OK to take the smallest and cheapest car. However, if you will be four or five, I suggest choosing a bigger car, as it will go easier up in the mountains.

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There are some things that you need to take with you when you go:

  • Sunscreen
  • Cap/scarf to protect yourself from the sun
  • Hiking boots or sports sneakers
  • Drinking water, at least one liter
  • Snacks
  • Windbreaker, as it gets cold at the peak

I hiked this trail in the last days of April, and it was warm at the bottom, and a bit cold at the top because of the wind. The snow hadn’t melted in the shadows. The upside was that on the whole hike there were only 6 other people visible, so it was blissfully quiet.

In the summer it is always at least 10 degrees colder at the summit of Mount Ida than at the sea level. So even in the summer, it would be wise to take a jacket with you.

I would suggest dressing in layers so that you could gradually put on warmer clothes if the hike is taking place in spring or autumn. It is preferable to wear long pants because all of the plants on the mountain have thorns. The path is wide enough so that your legs wouldn’t be scratched, but if you wander off the path the pants will be your only hope against the painful plants.

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How to get to Mount Ida hike starting point

When we did our research for the trails leading to Mount Ida, there probably was some misleading information or miscalculation in GPS. Our starting point of the trail wasn’t really a trail, it was more fit for the surrounding mountain sheep.

If I were to do this hike again, I would follow this trail. It starts at Mygero refuge, which is easily accessible by car. There is free parking and a nice, paved trail leading up the mountain. A one-way trip is around 4.3 km long and the total climb is around 900 meters, so it is a bit challenging.

How to hike

The ascent is a bit steep, and it will take more time than the way down from the mountain. When you will just start out, the trail will be well defined. The higher you go, the smaller will the trail get, but it will always be visible.

At the top of the mountain, there is a small chapel of Timios Stavros and a big bell. It is fun to ring the bell of achievement when you are on the top of Crete and can see the panorama of mountains and see around you.

When climbing down, be careful, as the rocks on the path might be loose and slippery. That’s why it is important to have shoes with a good grip. Careful walking down might take more time than you have expected, but safety is first.

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History and mythology

Near from the Mount Ida is Ideon cave system, which is one of the alleged birthplaces of Zeus, the mythical king of the gods. It is located only around 15 kilometers from the Mygero refuge, which is the starting point of the hiking trail that I can recommend. Unfortunately, it takes around 40 minutes to get there due to all the hairpins on the mountain roads.

There is another cave-in Crete that is also an alleged birthplace of Zeus – Dictaean cave. I would suggest making a day-trip to this cave instead, as it will be easier to combine with other must-see places in Crete.

There is also a Christian church on the summit of Mount Ida. It is a tradition to go there the previous evening before September 14 and wait for the sunrise. Then a celebration is happening in the form of a ceremony in the church.

Where to stay nearby

If you don’t want to wake up early in order to get to the starting point of the trail, you can choose to stay closer to the mountains. Here are some apartments that you can choose from:

  • Annlexander – featuring a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, barbecue, and some hiking trails nearby.
  • Ktima Panakron – offering views of the surrounding mountains, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant.
  • Petrochori ApartHotel – a terrace, barbecue, and a mountain view.

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