Lake Kournas is in the Apokoronos area of western Crete about 40 minutes drive east of Chania city. It makes for a lovely morning or afternoon outing where you can enjoy a lakeside picnic or perhaps take a leisurely lunch at one of the lakeside tavernas which have fantastic views over the lake.
The surrounding landscape is beautiful as it lies in the valley amongst the hills, and the White Mountains are reflected in the mirror-like waters which change colour from green and blue to turquoise according to the position of the sun. You will find nature, peace and tranquillity even at the height of the summer season in spite of its popularity.
The lake used to be called Lake Koressia but it took its current name from the Arabic word for lake. It has a perimeter of 3.5kms, a width of about 800mts, and the length is just over 1km. Depth is estimated at 23mts at the deepest point. The water that fills the lake comes from the many water springs in the mountains and hills that surround it, but the exact process of its formation has not been totally discovered. In some parts of the bottom of the lake, the water comes out in high pressure, making some scientists believe that there may be an underwater lake that supplies some of its water. There are two springs on the southeast bank, one of which, the ‘Mati’ (eye) as the locals call it, is visible in late summer.
During the summer, the sun dries the lake and a strip of sand appears which forms temporary beaches by the main road where the tavernas are. At this time of year sun beds and umbrellas can be rented for a lazy day when you can also swim in the lake. Perhaps explore the lake by pedalo and look out for eels, terrapins, and water snakes, and ducks, herons, cormorants, and dragonflies. Feed the ducks as they waddle happily along the banks of the lake.
During the winter the lake fills with water again and gets bigger, making the trees and bushes near it partially sink under water.
Families should know
- Round the lake there is a walking path that covers about two thirds of its perimeter whilst the remaining part on the southwest of the lake is a nature reserve
- If you stand barefoot in the water by the sandy beach, tiny fish will nibble dead skin from your feet – a free fish spa!
- Most of the tavernas stay open in winter though it may only be on weekends for some. The tavernas mostly offer traditional cuisine and the local specialty ‘apaki’ (smoked pork) is worth a try
- If you have time, visit the picturesque village of Kournas, just 10 minutes’ drive from the lake where you’ll find a pottery shop and a couple of local tavernas
Best season to visit
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