Wandering around Kournas Lake
Kournas Lake is one of the favourite destinations for all Crete visitors. It is the ideal place to relax while going for a nice walk. Walking all around the lake with the blue and green water takes less than an hour (3,5 km). You can enjoy a nice meal in one of the taverns or cafés. There are little beaches with white sand just in front of the taverns, where you can rest or take a swim. You could also rent a water bike and ride on the lake.
Around the lake there are many places to visit, giving you the opportunity either to walk or to make a day trip by car/ motorbike. While admiring the lake you can also see Lefka Ori on your right and if you drive to the other direction you will get to Georgioupolis with its beautiful bay or to the beaches of Kavros and Episkopi with big sandy hills and crystal clear water. You could also drive to the village Argyroupolis and refresh yourself by its wonderful water springs.
The village Kournas lies about 4 km from the lake. It is a traditional village, unaffected by tourism, with wonderful green nature. There is the Church of Agios Georgios, a church built in the Byzantine times with architectural features added later during the Venetian period. Between the village and the lake of Kournas is the Kournas Cave, a small but very pretty cave with impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
Not far from Kournas is the village Vryses, a big village with green nature also worth visiting.
If you drive further with direction to the south (Sfakia) you will have the chance to visit some more interesting places. First, the Krapi plateau and then the Askyfou plateau, where some very important battles of the Cretan folk have taken place during the Venetian period and the Turkish occupation. The way to the south is more than impressive: you can see gorges with big, sharp rocks, wild mountain landscape, but also olive groves, streams, gardens with vegetables and wine bowers. While approaching the south coast the view is enchanting. You can see the sea and the small islands Paximadia, as well as the village Fragokastelo. You can then take the road to Fragokastelo or to Chora Sfakion. From C there is a daily ferry to and from the Samaria Gorge. The ferry can also take you to other south coast beaches, such as Loutro, Agia Roumeli, Sougia and Paleochora or to the island Gavdos.
Excursions by car or motorbike
Starting from Kournas Lake, Crete’s sole natural freshwater lake, you can make an excursion to Rethymno – Moni Preveli – Arkadi – Heraklion.
The old town of Rethymno combines features of the Turkish period with Venetian architecture. You can wander in the small, picturesque streets; see the old minarets, the lighthouse and the Venetian castle, the famous Fortezza that was built in 1573.
From Rethymno you can drive south and visit wonderful beaches, some crowded and others hidden among the steep mountains (e.g. beaches Agios Pavlos, Triopetra, Ammoudi). Driving through the Kourtaliotiko gorge you reach Moni Preveli, in the middle of enchanting scenery, and then the popular summer resort Plakias.
On your way to Heraklion you can visit the monastery of Arkadi, a symbol in the struggle against the Turks.
Before reaching Heraklion you pass by Fodele cove and the beaches Paleokastro and Ammoudara.
The region of Chania combines mountains and the sea and is the ideal place for all fans of alternative tourism. On a mountain tour you will visit small traditional villages with guesthouses, where you can spend the night. That is the best way to discover Crete’s nature, but also be introduced to the Cretan way of life and taste local products.
Mountain climbing in Chania is a real challenge for all lovers of the kind. The mountain huts, warm and welcoming, lie like eagle nests on the high mountains.
Another challenge is mountain biking.
The lake's ecosystem
The mountains around Lake Kournas are at some places bare with little vegetation and at some others full of trees, bushes and olive groves. The area is protected by the Natura 2000, as it is a n important biotope hosting many different species, such as moorhens, water turtles, eels, grass snakes, as well as some rare endemic plants. The lake has fine sand and is ideal for swimming, but also a beautiful place to walk or read a book and relax. In the summer period the water of the lake is at its lowest level, as the water from the mountains is less, whereas in winter the water level is higher.