Every year many walkers discover the beautiful island of Crete on foot. Especially in spring and autumn you see many people ‘armed’ with walking shoes, sticks and backpacks exploring this beautiful island. Many hikers walk a part of the E4 trail, especially in south Crete. Others enjoy daily walks from a comfortable hotel. You see guided walking groups or individual walkers with descriptions or walking guidebooks.
Most of these hikers are well prepared with good shoes and comfortable walking clothes. But, often the Cretan walking conditions are underestimated or walking shoes fall apart under the harsh conditions like heat and sharp edged stones. In this blog I give you a few tips to help you get well- prepared for the walking season. And in case you need to do some ‘outdoor shopping’, I give you some tips where you can purchase new gear!
Walking in Crete, get well prepared!
The walking conditions and landscape in Crete is often underestimated. Many don’t expected it but basically you need to be prepared for all types of weather conditions, especially in spring and autumn, which is the walking season on Crete! It can be very hot with very intense and strong sun but also cloudy with cold showers. Especially in the mountains, it can be very windy. Warm clothes are necessary there.
I often had the experience, for example on the Omalos plateau, that I started a walk in the morning (after frost in the night) with just a few degrees. After an hour of walking the sun got stronger, often having to walk in T-shirt!
Although the weather condition on Crete is often so that walking in shorts and a T-shirt is very comfortable, it can be handy to bring also long trousers or a zip-off trouser. Quite some paths are overgrown, often with spiky shrubs and plants like spiny broom and thistles.
Terrain and surface on Crete
The landscape in Crete is in many areas harsh. You can say: Crete is sunny, stony and spiky! Many paths have often many loose stones and very sharp-edged rocks. This sharp stony surface is a real ‘shoe killer’! So, especially in the mountain areas, but also in the coastal tracks, good hiking shoes with a good profile and high shoes are a must!
The problem with older shoes is, that often the soles break or even fall apart and disintegrate. The reason is usually storage in a moisty place of in a too dry place! When you walk in Crete in the heat and on sharp stony surfaces the sole falls apart quickly!
Shoe sole falls apart
Same shoe old and new
So..what to bring with you?
- Clothing and shoes: Breathable wind and waterproof jacket, T-shirts, long-sleeved tops, sunhat, long trousers, shorts (if you prefer to walk in them), swimwear and towel, mid layer fleece/pullover, walking socks, insulated jacket, walking boots with ankle support.
- Equipment: Sunglasses, sun cream, small torch, camera, walking poles (if you usually use them), personal first-aid kit (compeed plasters, aspirin and other essentials), insect repellent, small waterproof dry bag (for items such as your mobile phone), re-usable water bottle (minimum 1 litre), superglue and tie rips and extra laces (in case you need to repair your walking shoes).
Where to buy walking shoes and clothes on Crete?
Especially in northern Europe you find many well-equipped outdoor shops! In Greece and Crete the selection is much less but still there are some good shops where you can find your gear! Don't expect the prices to be lower, they are not! It's about the same and sometimes even a bit more expensive! Below are listed the outdoor shops for the cities of Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion.
Tip! If you or not near to one of those cities you can always look for hunting shops which you also find often in smaller towns. They always have a (small) selection of hiking shoes and clothes, socks etc.
Outdoor shops in Chania
- Tactical Corner. A small but very well equipped shop with outdoor and hunting gear. You find it in Skalidi Street 30. tactical-corner.gr
- Karistianis Lifestyle Co. Quite a big shop with a combination of hiking clothes/shoes but also with more daily clothes. Opposite the shop of Tactical corner. Skalidi Street 7-11 lifestylebrands.gr
- Leonidas Bouchlis (Oreivatika.gr). Outdoor and hunting gear. Also a nice small shop with quite a good selection. You find it in Peridou Street 13. oreivatika.gr
- Intersport Chania. The well know sports shop with a small selection of walking gear. 2km from the old centre along the Old Road Chania, Kissamou. www.intersport.gr
Outdoor shops Rethymno
- Enydrio Pet shop (and outdoor). This shop has a small but good selection of walking shoes/backbacks etc. Iliakaki Street 3
- Intersport Rethymno. Like in Chania more or less the same stock. Koundourioti Street 158 &, Hortatzi.
- Psarros Iosif. Shop with camping, hiking and fishing gear. Arkadiou Street. 58
Outdoor shops Heraklion
- Mountain Club. Outdoor shop with a very good selection of shoes, clothes and equipment. Averof Georgiou Street 21. www.mountainclub.gr
- Two Intersports in Heraklion. The one a bit outside the centre has a bigger selection.
- Kavos Sport. Camping and water sports. Has also walking shoes and back backs and clothes. Leof. 62 Martiron Street 11. www.kavossport.gr
If you know another good shop on Crete for hiking shoes and clothes, or you would like to share your experience of purchasing something in one of those shops, or have other tips and ideas, please feel free to leave a comment or share this article!