Time: 10h, 120km, Taxi 150€ , Minibus 200€
The gorge of Agia Irini is on the west side of the White Mountains, with many vertical passes. It gets its name from the homonym village located near the entrance, 46 km from Chania. Its length is 7.5 km and its crossing takes three hours. The gorge ends up in the seaside village of Sougia, where there is a clean and beautiful beach where you can enjoy a memorable swimming in the waters of the Libyan Sea. Once a day, the ferry runs from the port of Sougia, to connect the village with Chora Sfakion in the east and Paleochora in the west.
The gorge is part of the European path E4. It’s south entrance is located 5 kilometers north from Sougia. It is part of the NATURA 2000 program and has also been designated as a wildlife sanctuary by the Ministry of Agriculture. The gorge hosts the endangered Cretan wild goat, kri kri, and is characterized by a variety of microenvironments that habitat for many species of wildlife. The variety in flora is very important, from trees (cypress, pine, maple, plane, oak, holm oak) to shrubs, brushwoods and fine herbs such as dittany.
The importance of the gorge is great, not only for its high biodiversity or aesthetic value, but also for its historical and cultural identity. At "Polla Spitakia" area inside the gorge, rebels escaped Turks. In this point, the path of "Fygou" starts, which was the escape exit from the gorge to the area of Omalos. Apart from this, you will see the Byzantine Church of Christ (1358 AD) and the ruined church of St. George (1460 AD). Further south there are the ancient cities of Elyros, Yrtakina, Syia, Lissos and Poikilassos.