Lake Kournas is the only freshwater lake located in Crete and is vital to the ecosystem of the area, set in a beautiful scenery and filled with wonderful things to experience. Located close to the northern coast of the island, between the capital of Heraklion and the city of Chania, it is closer to the latter. Kournas Lake used to be known as Koressia in ancient times, after a city that is believed to have existed on its shores.
Today, the village of Kournas overlooks the lake and there are plenty of accommodations and restaurants both in the village and closer to the lake. It also offers a wide range of leisure activities, from swimming and relaxing on the beach to paddle-boats and other more unique experiences. The lake is rather small, with a maximum length of just over 1 km and a maximum width of about 880 meters. This guide will show you everything you need to know about Lake Kournas in Crete!
Where is Kournas Lake
The beautiful Kournas Lake is located in a small valley among high cliffs, a short distance from the northern coast of Crete. It is part of the Apokoronas municipality inside the region of Chania, close to the border with the Rethymno region. Situated close to the road between the cities of Chania (45 km) and Rethymno (24 km), Kournas Lake is about 100 km west of the capital of Heraklion. From there, you can rent a car to Kournas Lake and it will take about one and a half hours to reach it. The village of Kournas is located a few kilometers to the south, while the nearest major settlement on the coast is Georgioupoli (5 km).
How to Get to Kournas Lake
Getting to Kournas Lake by Car
You can reach the lake of Kournas with a car rental from Heraklion or Chania. It is actually the best choice to visit the lake and the trip is extremely pleasant, following the northern coastal road. The trip from the capital takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, following the road west and passing through Rethymno, while the trip from Chania takes about 40 minutes, by following the road east towards Rethymno and then driving south from Georgioupolis. The lake is extremely well organized for tourism, with plenty of parking places, markets, taverns and many accommodation options in the nearby villages. Considering the comfort and speed, renting a car in Crete is the best option to visit Kournas Lake and its surrounding area.
Getting to Kournas Lake by Bus
There are regular buses connecting the main cities along the coast, mainly between Heraklion and Chania, passing through Rethymno. Nevertheless, there are no buses going to Kournas and the closest station is in Georgioupoli, some 5 km north of the lake. From there, you could find a taxi or some local transportation to reach the lake. Still, the best option to visit this splendid lake is hiring a car in Chania or Heraklion and driving there by yourself.
Best Things to Do at Kournas Lake
The magical Kournas Lake is one of the most fascinating destinations of Crete, a wondrous natural treasure that offers plenty of things to experience. The first impression of the lake is astonishing, with its unbelievable blue shades surrounded by green vegetation and the imposing rocky hills of the White Mountains. There is a road surrounding the lake, although mostly of dirt and best explored on foot.
Swim in the clear waters of the Lake
Hikers can also explore the surrounding hills to find unique place and admire breathtaking views of Kournas Lake. Many people though visit the lake to enjoy the amazing beaches and swim in its clear waters. As a freshwater lake, the experience of swimming there is completely different from the nearby sea. The lake is also a protected Natura 2000 area, with a rich biodiversity, including ducks, geese, cormorants, herons, eels, water snakes, goldfish and even rare turtles.
Rent a Paddle boat
You can experience the pleasure of staying in the shallow water and having small fish peel their feet for free. Other activities include feeding the ducks or renting a paddle boat and exploring the length of the lake. The shores have plenty of taverns and restaurants, some of them located higher on the hills and offering stunning views of the lake. There are also many legends and myths connected to Kournas Lake, one of them saying that it has no bottom, which is actually at 22 meters down.
Visit the village of Kournas
Just a few kilometers from the lake of Kournas, the village by the same name still retains its traditional atmosphere, with old Cretan houses and lovely natural surroundings. The views of the lake from the village are also sensational. While not having too many tourist services, a visit of the village can reveal some of its hidden treasures, including the church of Agios Giorgios, dating from the Byzantine times and renovated during the Venetian period. On the road to the village, you can also explore the small Kournas Cave, with nice speleological formations and stunning views over the lake.
Discover the village of Argyroupolis
The fascinating village of Argyroupolis is another marvelous destination of Crete, including the ruins of the ancient Lappa, as well as other archeological and architectural treasures. Ancient Lappa was founded by King Agamemnon and used to be a powerful city. The traces of its past can be discovered throughout the village, including the ancient cemetery. The village also features impressive old churches, Venetian mansions and the natural springs that form superb waterfalls.
Explore the Almiros Wetland in Georgioupolis
Apart from the gorgeous beaches and tourism industry, Georgioupoli is also home to a more unknown treasure. The river and wetland of Almiros is located just west of the village and is one of the most important in Crete. Although quite small in area, this natural heaven protects many interesting aquatic vegetal species that include myrtle, oleander, reed and more. You can have a pleasant walk around the area, admiring the several bird species that occasionally stop here.
Discover Other Beaches Nearby
Being located so close to the coast, there are plenty of beaches near Kournas Lake for you to enjoy during a trip to Crete. The nearby resort of Georgioupoli has a 10 km long and well-organized sandy beach, while further to the east, the beaches of Episkopi, Kavros and Kournas are equally enticing. The next major beach to the east is in the city of Rethymno. To the west of Georgioupoli, the coast is rather rocky and there are only small coves and beaches until Chania. The most popular ones include Almirida Beach, Kalyves Beach, Kolatsos Beach and others.
Where to Stay at Kournas Lake, Crete
Located close to the coast and important beaches, Kournas Lake is a great Cretan destination for you to visit and even stay for longer. There are plenty accommodation options close to the lake, with several available in the nearby village of Kournas and a lot in Georgioupolis. With hotels, villas and apartments to choose from, there are many choices available, yet they do tend to be completely booked during the summer months.
Blue Lake Villa
Blessed with a perfect location on the hills over Kournas Lake, this villa offers unique views of the stunning lake. It also features superb rooms perfectly equipped, a heated pool and jacuzzi, amazing Cretan architecture and design, free parking and internet.
☏ +44 752 0644734
Blue Fairy Villas
Perfectly located on the hill overlooking Lake Kournas, the three villas of Dafni, Rea and Amelia offer exquisite accommodation experiences that include breathtaking views, beautiful rooms, private swimming pools, fully-equipped kitchens and dining areas, free parking and more.
☏ +30 69733 53991
Located in a lovely area on the road between Georgioupoli, this excellent accommodation offers perfect units that include bedrooms, private bathrooms, kitchenette and terraces with great views of the sea. There is also a swimming pool and a snack bar.
☏ +30 2825 061694
Where to Eat at Kournas Lake
Georgias Traditional Taverna
One of the best rated and most popular restaurants located near Kournas Lake, offering a splendid panorama of the lake, as well as delicious traditional Greek, Mediterranean and Vegetarian food, all homemade by the owner from fresh ingredients.
☏ +30 2825 061671
Kavalos Taverna Cafe
An extremely appreciated restaurant at Lake Kournas, it is located on a nearby hill, offering outstanding views of the lake and the sea. It features amazing traditional Cretan and Greek food, as well as Mediterranean specialties, Vegetarian and Vegan options. Guests should definitely try the delicious lamb.
☏ +30 2825 061642
Featuring both indoor and outdoor eating spaces, the traditional tavern offers a diverse menu that includes traditional Cretan cuisine, grilled specialties, sea food and amazing desserts. It also includes a panoramic view of the lake.
☏ +30 2825 083008
Best Time to Visit Kournas Lake
The marvelous Kournas Lake is an all-season destination, although you can only swim during the warmer months starting from early Spring to late Autumn. During the winter in Crete, the lake increases in size and the beaches along the shores disappear. The peak season is from mid-June to mid-September and this is also the time when the place can get crowded, while the prices are usually a little higher.