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Home / Things to do / Sports and Leisure / Outdoor / Adventure
Outdoor / Adventure

Off the beaten track
For anyone with an adventurous soul and a basic physical fitness level, a gentle stroll or a challenging hike or bike through rugged landscapes are the ideal ways to explore the fascinating area of Malia’s countryside.

Walking / hiking
Walk through imposing gorges, discover ancient paths that run through the countryside, explore valleys and climb rugged mountains. The walks lead over (un-)even paths, dirt roads, mule tracks and rocky footpaths and sometimes pass through gorges that have rocks, pebbles and tree stumps along the way.

Mountain biking
Challenging mountain bike tours lead along off road tracks and pathways through the mountainous region of Lassithi with breathtaking scenery, combined with passages through small villages.

Rock climbing
Rock climbing builds team spirit and self confidence: Impressive, vast surroundings with a combination of mountain crags, cliffs and traverses are serious rock material!

Either for one day or as a course, with guidance or tuition, paragliding provides the ultimate feeling of freedom: flying high in the sky spreading your wings like a bird while the air carries you over breathtaking landscape sceneries (special flying knowledge is not required).

Closely linked to Cretan mythology, caves always impress with magical mineral formations; descending, a short climb leads you to the inner part of the earth with its clammy, gripping atmosphere.

Crete’s rich geological morphology and its many underground waters, combined with the tectonic activity over millions of years, has resulted in an amazing underground cave wonderland. So far the Cretan department of the Hellenic Speleological Society has discovered over 5,000 (!) caves on the island and it is estimated that the real number lies far over that. The longest cave discovered until now has a length of 6.5km and the deepest one a depth of 1,200m. Since Neolithic times in sporadic use by man, either as dwelling place or burial place, as sanctuary or hiding place – as was the case during Ottoman rule and World War II – it is only fair to state that the caves of Crete add yet another dimension to the island’s rich and diverse natural treasures.

The area of Malia, Mohos and Krassi counts over 25 caves, most of which unfortunately are not accessible as they are protected natural monuments. Supervised and suitable to visit without special equipment is the Dhikteon Andron cave in Lassithi. Caves to explore on your own and at your own risk are the cave of Milatos and the cave of Ayia Paraskevi, some 20km west of Malia.

To do so however, you have to keep some basic safety rules in mind:

  • In caves there is complete and utter darkness. Be sure to bring a torch with you, with new batteries, and preferably a spare torch as well. Some candles and a lighter would come handy too. A head torch fitted over your helmet would be the best of all, so you have your hands free for climbing.
  • Never visit a cave on your own. Always go in company and let somebody outside know where you are and for how long you’ll be gone (a friend, hotel staff).
  • Be sure to wear a helmet, as caves are full of hard, sharp and pointy stalactites. A bicycle helmet would be fine, or improvise by using a cap stuffed with a T-shirt or a towel.
  • Take a safety rope with you (5-6m) to help you climbing or descending slippery parts.
  • Wear sturdy, rough-soled shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Watch where you put your hands, especially at the cave’s entrance, as there may be little scorpions or snakes under the stones.

Respect the caves and their environment.

The special climatic conditions make it a mini-biotope for animals like bats, scorpions, some birds and harmless crawling creatures, many of which are blind. Try not to disturb or scare them. Caves are the result of millions of years of evolution; do not destroy anything, don’t take anything (apart from photographs) and don’t leave anything behind (other than your footprints).

Ayia Paraskevi cave

Located in the plain of Gouves, about 20km. west of Malia, it is one of the largest and most spectacular caves on the island, at a 30min. walk north-west of Skotino village. A sacred cave, used as a sanctuary by the ancient Greeks and later by the Christians, it has a depth of 160metres, spread over 4 levels. Finds include fragments of pottery and bone needles from as early as the Neolithic period to the Roman period, as well as late-Minoan bronze figurines.

The two biggest chambers are the Great Temple (L96 – W36 – H46m) with right behind it the Altar (L25 – W8 – H10m). (Easy access, torch required, free entrance).

Dhikteon Andron cave

This cave, situated on the upland plateau of Lassithi at an altitude of 1025m, covers a surface of 2,200sq.m. It consists of 2 compartments: the upper cave and the lower cave, which is divided into 5 chambers. At the far end of the cave is a small lake, surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites that make the most beautiful formations.

An important sanctuary since Minoan times, the cave is mostly known for being the alleged birthplace of Zeus. It was discovered in 1883, but its main exploration was carried out in 1899 by English archeologist David Hogarth.

The finds in the upper cave consist mainly of a stone altar, pottery, cult figurines and some tablets with Linear A inscriptions, while in the lower cave mostly offering objects, jewellery, metal objects, double axes, seal stones, statues as well as bronze shields have been unearthed. Most of the finds are from the middle-Minoan (around 1800 BC) until the archaic period (around 700 BC) and are on display partly in the Archeological Museum of Iraklio and partly in the Ashmolean museum of Oxford. (Open daily from 8am-5pm; Adm. 4 euro; with electric light).

Milatos cave

More a series of caverns than a cave, it is situated in Milatos, 3km east of the village and has 8 entrances. Inside the cave there is a built-in chapel. A gruesome event during Ottoman rule took place here in 1823, which has turned the cave into a kind of commemoration site. (Easy access, torch required, free entrance).