The best landmarks of the Cretan Nature

crete | April 27, 2017

The Cretan Nature is a work of art as depicted by famous painters and artists through the centuries. A gorgeous mosaic with pieces from this blessed land, rivers and gorges, lakes and mountains, lights and shadows, colors and fragrances that harmoniously come together to create a masterpiece on earth.

Let's take a closer look at this astonishing mosaic, marveling up close one by one the best landmarks in Crete.

Samaria Gorge
Encircled by wild and steep mountains and high vertical cliffs, the Samaria Gorge is the longest gorge in Europe starting from the area of Xyloskalo at an altitude of 1230 meters and ending at Agia Roumeli by the Libyan sea. Stony and steep, the Samaria gorge is no easy hike as it is 16 km long but it definitely worth your 3-5 hour long journey amidst the wild, the forests with pine trees and ancient cypresses.

Botanical park
One of the greatest natural landmarks of Chania, a natural paradise filled with fruit trees and plants, herbs and animals, local flora and fauna, tropical and wild species from around the world scattered around 20 hectares of land. Lose yourself in a dramatic, yet vivid and colorful landscape on the shadows of the White Mountains home of more than 150 species or rare animals and plants and make your way to the lake with the ducks, the geese and the water birds. Situated only 18 km from the city of Chania this eden on earth is definitely worth the visit. Follow the sign after Fournes village, slightly before you reach the area of Lakkoi-Skordalou and get ready to escape in a beautiful oasis near the city. The park also features a restaurant where you can enjoy your lunch while surrounded by nature.

Kedrodassos Beach
A jewel hidden by the road in the prefecture of Chania. A cedar grove by the sea ideal for a day on the beach away from the crowds. Situated only 74 km south west from the town of Chania and 1 km away from Elafonissi, this secluded beach is a favorite spot for campers and naturists as its all natural with no tourist facilities whatsoever. It is well protected from the winds and hidden from the world with no signs or directions showing you the way. In order to reach the beach of Kedrodassos you either follow the E4 road from Elafonissi towards the east and keep your eyes open, take a boat from Elafonissi or simply ask the locals for directions.

Elafonissi Beach
A stunningly beautiful beach, an island, a lagoon or a peninsula? That's the question that will come to mind when you walk through the sea to reach the other side of Elafonissi. A gorgeous pinkish beach of exceptional natural beauty with shallow emerald waters and thousands of tiny seashells forming small natural pools every step of the way. The beach of Elafonissi in the southwest of the Chania prefecture is situated approximately 70 km from the city of Chania.

Balos Lagoon
The bright turquoise waters, the pinkish sand and the dream like setting make the exotic Balos Lagoon a must visit destination on the west coast of Crete. A gorgeous lagoon with warm shallow waters perfect for swimmers of all ages. Balos Lagoon can be reached either by car or by boat. There are daily cruises from the port of Kissamos that are worth taking as the boat also stops for a few hours at the uninhabited island of Gramvoussa famous for its crystalline waters and Venetian castle. If you are travelling by car keep in mind that Balos Lagoon is situated 60 km from the city of Chania and approximately 10 km from Kalyviani. As soon as you arrive to Kalyviani, follow the signs to Balos through a bumpy road and at the end of the road get ready to hike for at least 30 minutes to make it to the beach. You'll know for yourself as soon as you reach the shore if it was worth your while.

The famous island of Spinalonga has made its mark through history as its strategic location made it the ultimate place to control and defend the Elounda harbor. It was also used as a place of quarantine for the lepers of Crete and all kinds of human suffering. Today its considered one of the most important archeological sites in all of Crete. You can reach Spinalonga by boat from Agios Nikoalos, Elounda or Plaka. The journey lasts from 10-30 minutes and on your way there you can arrange to enjoy your lunch on the boat and also swim at some of the more secluded beaches nearby.

Lake Voulismeni
In the heart of St. Nicholas you will find a beautiful lagoon also known as Lake Voulismeni. A lake of great historical significance with no bottom as the legend suggests as it is so deep that it swallows everything dropped in it including weapons that the German's tried to hide in 1944. Other than that the picturesque setting is worth your visit. Spend some time walking around and later on enjoy your lunch or coffee at the nearby taverns and cafes.

Lake Kournas
Situated only 4 km away from Georgioupolis, on the northern end of the White Mountains, Lake Kournas is the only natural fresh water lake in all of Crete. It is a habitat of migratory birds and endemic species forming one of the most important ecosystems and natural landmarks in Crete worth exploring.

Cave of Zeus-Diktaion Cave
This is a cave of historical and geological importance. According to the Greek mythology, this is the cave where Rhea hid the newborn Zeus and during the Minoan period the same cave was used for religious sacrifices. Today it is a great natural wonder with stalactites and stalagmites and a reminder of the island's turbulent past. If you dare, follow one of the two slippery and dangerous paths to reach the entrance of the cave. Situated on Mount Dicte on the Lassithi Plateau, the Cave of Zeus can be reached by car through a winding an uphill road leading to the village of Psychro.

White Mountains-Lefka Ori
Known throughout the world the White Mountains of Crete will take your breath away as they offer a unique feature, an all-white scenery. Covered in snow from the winter months to the beginning of spring and lit by the summer sun reflecting on their Limestone surface, the White Mountains seem to preserve their White appearance all year long. Also known as Lefka Ori, the White Mountains form a symphonic mountain chain from the one side of Crete to the other.

The Cretan Nature hides in the majesty of its land, above sea level and beyond the mountains. Begin your quest with the island's 10 best natural landmarks and seek the rest on your way there...prepare to be mesmerized!