As of the writing of this post, I am still in Crete – enjoying the sun!
The large waterfall in the Kourtaliotiko gorge is one of the most beautiful places that one can visit in Crete. It is formed just below the church of Agios Nikolaos Kourtaliotis, at the point where the five large springs gush. According to local myths, the springs were created by a miracle when the local saint Nicholas Kourtaliotis touched the rock with his five fingers.
Travelling to Crete
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I flew with British Airways as I have reward flights with them thanks to my AMEX. You can also check out my post Top 10 Best Trip Planning Tips for more travelling tips!
The Koutaliotiko Gorge’s Waterfall
This waterfall has the largest and almost constant flow of all falls in Crete. While a few meters above the gorge is dry in summer, suddenly the springs create a rushing river, which ends at the famous beach Preveli.
The waterfall is located in the darkest and narrowest part of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge with water running on the side walls reminding curtains. However, in order to reach the impressively dark spot of Kourtaliotis, one must swim upside in the very cold water for a few meters. One can also see the waterfall above a bridge, next to the church of Agios Nikolaos, but the view from there is not comparable to the awe one feels from below.
Fauna and Flora of the Kourtaliotiko Gorge
You can literally smell the thyme and sage around the gorge. Full of traditional Cretan spices, you can definitely take some home with you. As for the animals living around – some water snakes live in the river, while dozens of pigeons nest on the side walls.
How to get to Kourtaliotiko Gorge by bus
Although I tried to find a way to get from Rethymno to Kourtaliotiko Gorge by bus – there is no way. You’d have to get a taxi, but due to the no signal in the area, you won’t be able to get one back.
The best option is to rent a car or a bike from Rethymno. However, if that is not an option, you can go to Koxare village by bus and walk from there, but it would be at least a 1-hour walk to the entrance of the waterfall.
How to get to Kourtaliotiko Gorge by car
The easiest way is a rental car and I’d recommend Discover Cars to save time and money. It searches through 500 rental services and finds the cheapest. Highly recommend it for good savings!
Depending on where you are staying in Crete it might be up to a 3-hour trip to Kourtaliotiko Gorge by car. I’d combine the visit with a shopping spree in one of the big cities of Crete – like Rethymno which is 20 minutes away from the gorge or Heraklion which is an hour and a half away.
I was staying in Ierapetra which is almost 3 hours away, so I had two stops – one in Agios Nikolaos for breakfast and one in Rethymno to check out the city as it’s famous for looking like a small Miami.
How to get down to Kourtaliotiko Gorge’s waterfall
The impressive waterfall of Kourtaliotis can be accessed easily if you follow the instructions here. Save yourself all the time I lost looking for it! First, you should leave the car in the parking lot above the gorge next to the Kantina. They say you can drink from the springs, but I wouldn’t drink as I don’t trust springs and people that visit them upstream. Be mindful that it is forbidden to use sunscreen which destroys the flora and fauna of the river.
From the kantina you can see a little church, from where you go down the steps that lead to a crossroad. If you turn left it leads to the church of Agios Nikolaos. There you can see the Kourtaliotiko Gorge waterfalls from above and enjoy the spring and take some nice pictures of the surrounding areas and do some hiking if you enjoy that.
To get to the waterfall, you take the right path and reach a pumping station on the river. From there you carry on down until you reach the metal grid floor followed by a wooden plank with rope support. You should be careful getting down from there. At this point, small waterfalls run from the sides and a pond is created. Once you get to the waterfalls you can already see on the left the narrow dark spot, where you have to swim just 10 meters to reach the waterfall.
Be mindful to bring something to carry your phone or camera in that is waterproof as you will be swimming upstream and you need both your hands. The water is also freezing and unless it’s hot weather I wouldn’t recommend going in.
I didn’t manage to do the swim personally as I had no signal and wasn’t sure if my phone was waterproof. Turns out iPhone 13 Pro Max IS waterproof up to 6 meters and 30 minutes underwater!
Regardless we did take some nice pictures on the rocks around and had a lot of fun getting there!
If you have a GoPro make sure you take it with you! I made the mistake of not to. I would have shot some amazing content with it…
If you want me to add anything, have questions, or like my post, please leave a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe!