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Der Kournas-See auf Kreta, Bild: Oksana Yermoshenko / shutterstock

The Blue Jewel of the Island of Crete: Lake Kournas

Lake Kournas is located near the north coast of the island of Crete, the largest Greek island and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica. The lake is the only natural freshwater lake in Crete. It is located near the village of Georgioupoli, where the outflow of the lake flows into the Mediterranean Sea, and about 47 km southeast of the well-known Cretan city of Chania. North of Lake Kournas, which borders on the forest area “Dasos Asfendou Kallikrati” in the southwest, lies the beautiful beach “Peristeras Beach”. In Greek, the body of water is spelled λίμνη κουρνά. Due to the calcareous rock of the Cretan mountains, the water there is alkaline and therefore feels alkaline to soapy. For photography enthusiasts, the lake’s many beautiful shades of blue and the impressive rocky hills of the surrounding White Mountains are a paradise to hunt for fantastic photo opportunities.

Flora and fauna at crystal clear Lake Kournas

The lake, which is one of the smaller bodies of water with a length of about 1080 meters, a width of up to 880 meters and a maximum depth of about 22 meters, offers habitat for many native animals. For example, many species of fish, snakes, turtles, birds, ducks, grouse, cormorants, herons, goats and many different species of dragonflies live here. The lake is an important ecosystem and is protected by Natura 2000. There are rare aquatic plants and trees to discover there.

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Activities and relaxation by the lake

For visitors to Crete, the lake is a wonderful place with crystal clear water, which has a lot to offer for both the active holidaymaker and the peace seeker. It shines with beautiful beaches with white sand. In the warmer months from spring to late autumn, Lake Kournas invites you to swim. It is particularly suitable for children and non-swimmers due to the calm and shallow water. There is also a pedal boat rental there.

Kayaks, paddle boats and other boats can also be rented. Hikers can explore the surroundings of the lake on foot and hike around it. The tour offers vegetation worth seeing, characterized by bluebells and oleanders. Divers and snorkelers can observe many different aquatic animals in the lake. Often there are also shoals of spikefish or river blennies, turtles or crabs. Even goldfish, which were probably released here by humans, can be found here. Near the lake there is also a horse dome where you can take a guided horseback ride.

Finally, not far from the lake, in the direction of the village of Georgioupolis, you can put your motor skills to the test on a mini-golf course.

The village of Kournas and the small Kournas cave

A few kilometers from the lake is the beautiful village of Kournas, a village in the traditional Greek style with old Cretan houses. From the village you have a fantastic view of the lake. The church of the village of Agios Giorgios dates back to the Byzantine period and was renovated during the Venetian period. On the way to the village, you will pass the small Kournas cave with beautiful speleological formations.

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Accommodation, food and drink

There are several accommodation options in the village of Kournas. There are also some small restaurants, cafes and taverns, some of which offer a very nice panoramic view of Lake Kournas. Delicious traditional Greek dishes, Mediterranean and vegetarian dishes, Greek wine, Cretan desserts and Greek coffee await you here.

The nearby village of Georgioupolis also offers many hotels, villas and apartments to stay overnight or to spend a longer stay there.

 

Facts about Lake Kournas

  • Location: Lake Kournas is located in the northwest of Crete, near Georgioupolis, between the cities of Chania and Rethymno.
  • Only freshwater lake: It is the only natural freshwater lake in Crete and one of the few in all of Greece.
  • Size and depth: The lake covers an area of about 579,000 square meters and is about 22.5 meters deep at its deepest point.
  • Nature reserve: Lake Kournas is a protected Natura 2000 area and is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including rare bird species.
  • Recreational Activities: Visitors can enjoy swimming, pedal boating, canoeing, and hiking around the lake.
  • Scenic beauty: The lake is surrounded by stunning scenery, including the White Mountains (“Lefka Ori”), olive groves, and small villages.
  • Mythical Significance: Local legends and myths are associated with the lake, including stories of nymphs and gods.
  • Tourist infrastructure: There are various facilities such as cafes, taverns and shops near the lake.
  • Best time to visit: The lake is accessible year-round, but it’s especially popular during the summer months when the weather is warm and nature is in full bloom.