Parks and Nature Attractions in Crete

Parks are community places that are open for the public for them to enjoy and relax. They provide people with different kinds of entertainment for them and their family and friends to enjoy. Most of the time, adults bring their children along with them to this kind of place to bond with them. Typically, parks feature amenities like playgrounds, restaurants, cafés, animals, and plants that cater to different types of visitors. This makes parks a valuable green space where plants can freely grow and where animals can be nurtured. It makes the park a safe place for these plants and wildlife to enjoy. Almost every park in the world not only houses nature, but it can hold a specific historical background or value as well.

Crete, an island in Greece, has its own parks and nature attractions that people can visit. It is a place where both nature and historical background can be found. Crete is a place that is popular with historical enthusiasts because of its different sites that hold Cretan history and culture. However, Crete offers tourists places they can relax and enjoy, while learning some history and culture of Crete. Tourists can appreciate the nature of Crete while interacting with wildlife as well when they visit these places. These parks and nature attractions can be accessed through public transportations like buses and taxis or car rental in Crete.

Listed below are the Best Parks and Nature Attractions in Crete.

  • The White Mountains: It is a site situated in Chania where the mountains turn white when covered with snow in winter and when the sun hits it during summer. It features the deepest caves in Greece and 50 valleys.
  • Chania Municipal Garden: It is an open garden located in Chania where people can relax and enjoy themselves together with their family or friends. The site has a zoo inside that is the home of the rare and endangered species of goat.
  • Christos Polentas Park: It is a park that pays tribute to the victims of accidents in Crete. Inside the park is a memorial sculpture for the tribute that was created in 2011.

1. The White Mountains

The White Mountains, sometimes known as Lefka Ori, are constructed out of limestone. It is covered in snow during late spring, thus called the White Mountains. Additionally, the mountains look white when the sun hits them during the summer. It is situated in the centre of West Crete, specifically in Chania. The site is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from April to October. From November to March, the site can be open daily upon request. To get to the site, tourists must take a few roads that will lead them to the destination. The road to Omalos will take the tourist to the entrance of Samaria gorge, which will then lead them to the mountains. Another way is going through the plateau of Askifou which will lead the tourists to the Chora Sfakion. The highest summit of the mountain is called Pachnes which is 2,453 metres high. There are other summits that are also above 2,000 metres high. The site is where the deepest caves of Greece are located as well. Additionally, there are 50 valleys situated on the site, namely Samaria, Aradena, Tripiti, Klados, Boriano, Dittany, and Kidoni. Furthermore, there are many floras and faunas that can be found in the white mountains. This is why the best time to visit the site is during spring and autumn, when the flowers are blooming and the weather is great for hiking. Tourists rated the site 5 out of 5 mainly because of the amazing colour changing of the mountains depending on the weather.

Lefka Ori or White Mountains

2. Chania Municipal Garden

Municipal Garden, locally known as Kypos, was constructed in 1970 as a public place for people to go to for relaxation. Up until now, the garden is still free for the public to use to stay, have fun, and relax from Thursday to Wednesday from 7 am – 7 pm. The site is considered to be a hidden gem of Chania City. To get to the garden, tourists can take buses number 3, 11, and 42 as these bus lines stop nearby the garden. The garden is not just a simple garden, but it is a place with the historical value of Chania. Inside the garden is a small zoo where the famous goats of Crete, Kri-Kri. It is a rare and endangered species of goat with a light brown coat and dark brown and black areas. The zoo is known to be the most important attraction of the Municipal Garden. Furthermore, the zoo features animals such as ducks, swans, and peacocks. Additionally, the garden has floras and faunas such as the Bengal Ficus tree, which is one and a half centuries old. This makes the garden to be considered a special attraction because it houses many rare plant and animal species. Tourists rated the garden 3.5 out of 5 because the garden has a playground that is great for those who have kids.

Chania Municipal Garde or Kipos

3. Christos Polentas Park

The Christos Polentas Park was a tribute to the victims of traffic accidents in Crete, and one of those victims was Christos Polentas. The park is supposed to serve as a reminder for the visitors of how lucky they are to be safe and alive. There was even a memorial sculpture that was created and is located inside the park in 2011. It serves as a reminder for Road Safety in Crete. The park is open to everyone 24 hours from Monday to Sunday.

Christos Polentas Park

4. Vai Palm Beach

Vai Palm Beach is the most famous in eastern Crete. The large palm forest of 4,500 Theophrastus is found on this site. The name of the site came from the Greek name for the tree of the phoenix. It features fine golden sand, pebbles, and blue waters. The beach has umbrellas, showers, loungers, water sports, and a café to cater to the needs of the tourists. The entrance fee for the beach is free and open to everybody. However, the umbrellas and lounger are for rent that will cost €6. It has a parking space that is great for those who travel to the beach using their car which will cost about €2.50. The place became popular in the 1970s when an ad about Bounty chocolate was broadcast. The ad was filmed on Via Palm Beach, which features palm trees. It is located 25 kilometres from Sitia and 7 kilometres from Palekastro Village. Sitia is just two hours away from Heraklion airport. Once reaching Sitia, tourists will only need 30 minutes more to travel to the beach. The beach can be reached from Rethymno as well. However, it will take about 4 hours to get to the beach. If the tourists are coming from Chania, they will arrive at the beach after 4.5 to 5 hours. Tourists may opt for a rented car or bus. Vai beach is open from 8 am to 9 pm and the entrance fee is free of charge. The best time to visit the beach is during the months when it is not crowded. Therefore, avoid July and August, especially August 1 – 15. Tourists rated the beach 4.0 out of 5 mainly because of the palm trees and other amenities the beach has to offer.

Entrance to Vai Palm Beach

5. Georgiadis Park

Georgiadis Park is one of the most visited parks and the largest place in Heraklion. The park is known for its great green surroundings and scenery. Additionally, the park is equipped with a playground that will give entertainment to the children. This is a great option for people who want to relax while their kids have fun. Furthermore, the park has a café and store where tourists can eat and shop for their wants and needs. The park is open for 24 hours and free of charge, thus the park is available for anyone at any time who wants to just have fun and relax. Public transportation like buses can be used to get to the park. The park has a canteen as well inside where people can eat while relaxing. Bus lines 6, 9, 10, 11, and 12 stop near the park. Tourists rated the park 4.5 out of 5 mainly because the park is a great place for family and friends to hang out and relax.

Georgiadis Park in Heraklion

6. Amazonas Park

The Amazonas Park is a private zoo located in Lasithi, Greece, that has been open since 2011. The zoo features animals such as parrots and monkeys from South America. Additionally, the park is home to domestic animals as well. The main attraction and highlight of the visit are the lemures. Lemures are distinctive primates whose origin is from Madagascar. The park is known for nurturing and reproducing bird species, especially those that are endangered. The park is open every day from 9:30 am to 6 pm and is closed during winter. The entrance fee for adults will cost €10 and €8 for children. Children that are under 3 years old do not need to pay for their entrance. To get to the park, a private car or taxi is needed. Buses do not stop near the park and tourists may need to hire a taxi, rent a car, or walk for at least 4 kilometres to reach the park. Tourists rated the park 4.5 out of 5 mainly because the park was enjoyable for the tourists wherein they were able to feed the animals.

Amazonas Park

7. Kato Vrisi

The Kato Vrisi is a small attraction situated in Astritsi, Greece. It is a small valley located between mountains that are covered by woods and trees. The valley has many natural springs where people can get water for their crops. Additionally, this is where people wash their clothes as well. Furthermore, back then the place had two large caves where people kept their sheep. Now, there is only one cave that exists in the area because the other one got destroyed. The remaining cave called Neraidopilios was once a shelter. Cultural festivals are held in the area every year as well. Additionally, there is a restaurant in the place where visitors can eat Greek cuisines. Tourists rated the place 4.0 out of 5 mainly because of the magnificent place with traditional Greek foods.

Kato Vrisi in Astritsi

8. Rouvas Forest

The Rouva Forest is an essential environment that houses different living things such as plants, animals, and organisms. The forest is mainly composed of oak trees and is considered to be one of the most important and valuable oak forests in Crete. The trees are said to be at least 15 metres high. In addition to this, the forest has pine, maple, and cypress trees as well. It is considered to be the only enormous and healthy forest in Crete. Inside the forest are orchids, olive trees, cretan maples, turkish pines, and evergreen oaks. To get to the forest, tourists can take buses number 2, 6, 10, 11, and 12 from Heraklion. These bus lines will stop near the forest. Tourists rated the forest 4.5 out of 5 mainly because the place is an ideal place where people can walk and appreciate nature.

Rouvas Forest

9. Selakano Forest

Selakano Forest, situated 35 kilometers northeast of Ierapetra, is a significant pine ecosystem, considered the most vital in the Mediterranean. Integrated into the Natura 2000 program, the forest boasts a variety of trees including oaks, cypress, maple, plane, and pear. Its beauty is enhanced by clear streams, mountain roads, steep gorges, and green hillsides. Selakano serves as a significant apiculture center in Crete, making it a hub for honey production. Known for its biodiversity, hawks and vultures frequent the area. The forest’s location facilitates various hiking routes, and the E4 European long-distance path passes through it. Despite its importance, the forest is threatened by grazing goats that inhibit new tree growth. Despite this, it remains one of the most important and beautiful ecosystems in the island, playing a crucial role in the local and wider Mediterranean environment. The region also offers outdoor activities, such as hiking, and is accessible through several routes, providing unique adventures for visitors. Notably, the village of Selakano has a small church and a tavern, and it’s a significant site for bee activity, providing an opportunity for visitors to observe this unique ecosystem.

Selakano Forest

10. Anopolis Plateau

The Anopolis Plateau is a small landform that is situated below the desert mountain of Sfakia, which is one of the unreachable places in Europe. It was known as the revolutionary centre against Venetians, but was demolished in 1365. Nowadays, this site is considered the hiking path to the White Mountains. The southern side of the White Mountains is visible from the Anopolis Plateau. On the west side of the plateau, the Aradena gorge can be seen. The site is 13 kilometres away from Chora Sfakion. Tourists rated the plateau 4.0 out of 5 mainly because the site has great entertainment as well besides the great view.

Anopolis Plateau

Which are the best parks in Crete?

Crete is known to have ancient sites, landscapes, and hiking paths that tourists can go to.  These parks are known to not only provide entertainment, but have historical and cultural value as well. These parks can be used by tourists to relax, have fun, and learn about Cretan history. Just like any other place, Crete has its own best parks that it can offer to tourists.

Listed below are the best parks in Crete.

  • Amazonas Park: The park features a zoo that houses animals like parrots, monkeys, and birds. They nurture these animals, especially those endangered ones, and reproduce them.
  • Chania Municipal Garden: The garden is known to be a hidden gem of Chania that holds historical value to the town. The garden has a zoo inside as well that is the home of animals such as ducks, swans, and peacocks.
  • Georgiadis Park: The park is one of the most visited parks and the largest place in Heraklion. The park has a café and store inside where tourists can eat and buy items.
  • Christos Polentas Park: The park is known to be dedicated to the victims of accidents in Crete. It serves as a reminder that people are lucky enough to be alive and healthy.
  • Kato Vrisi: It is a valley located between mountains that are covered by woods and trees. The place has a restaurant inside of it as well where it serves Greek cuisines.

Which are the best nature attractions in Crete?

Parks in Crete are known to be natural attractions as well because it features the beauty of nature. These parks have floras and faunas as well as different animals that they nurture and are available to the public to see. The plants can be relaxing to see for nature lovers. The animals, on the other hand, are great entertainment as tourists can interact with them or take a picture with them.

Listed below are the best nature attractions in Crete.

  • The White Mountains: The mountains are covered in snow during late spring, and it turns white when the sun shines upon them. The deepest caves of Greece and 50 valleys can be found on the site.
  • Vai Palm Beach: The beach is known for its palm trees that are already visible at the entrance. Additionally, the beach features golden sand, pebbles, and clear blue waters.
  • Rouvas Forest: The forest is known to house and protect plants, animals, and other organisms. It is abundant in oak trees and is considered one of the most important oak forests in Crete.
  • Selakano Forest: The forest features trachea pines and is abundant in plants like berries and herbs.
  • Anopolis Plateau: It is a small site that is situated below the desert mountain. The place is worth the visit mainly because of its natural beauty.

Rouvas Forest

Which are the best nature & parks in Crete for travellers on a budget?

Travelling can be really expensive, especially if the place is international. When tourists travel, they need to consider the flight, accommodation, food, and transportation costs. The most expensive on the list could be the flight to the place itself, and most tourists want to enjoy their visit without breaking their wallets. Fortunately, there are different places in Crete that are suitable for those who are on a budget.

Listed below are the best nature & parks in Crete for travellers on a budget.

  • Municipal Garden: The garden is free of charge and anyone can enter for them to relax with their friends and family.
  • Vai Palm Beach: The beach is a great way to enjoy the ocean without sacrificing the wallet funds, as the beach entrance fee is free.
  • Georgiadis Park: This park is another budget-friendly site to visit because the entrance fee is free as well.

Palm Trees in Vai

Which are the best nature & parks in Crete for adventurous travellers?

There are tourists out there that not only wanted to relax during their visit, but wanted to experience and do different activities as well. These people always seek adventures or activities whenever they visit a place. Crete is not only known for its historical places, but it provides tourists with different activities as well that they can enjoy.

Listed below are the best nature & parks in Crete for adventurous travellers.

  • Selakano Forest: The place features cliffs that are great for those who are into rock climbing.
  • The White Mountains: The site features different mountains and valleys that are suitable for people who are interested in hiking.
  • Anopolis Plateau: The place is known to be a hiking path to The White Mountains, thus is a great activity for adventurous people.

What parks open at night in Crete?

There are parks in Crete that are open at night. These are great places for people who want to visit a place during a night trip. These parks can be visited during the end of the trip as well if the tourists wanted to visit many tourist spots. Municipal Garden is an open garden that is open from 7am to 7 pm. Vai Palm Beach is a beach featuring palm trees that is open from 8 am to 9 pm. Christos Polentas Park is a park that can be visited at any time of the day because it is open 24 hours. Amazonas Park is a park that closes earlier than the rest, as it is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm only.

Is a day trip to Parks and Nature Attractions in Crete worth it?

Yes, a day trip to Parks and Attractions in Crete is worth it. While a night trip to Crete is possible, a day trip is much more worth it. It is more worth it, mainly because Crete is the largest island in Greece and going from one place to another can take about 5 hours. Taking a day trip means allowing tourists to have more time to travel to different places and enjoy their visit more. This is best suited, especially, for those who only plan on staying in Crete for a few days.

How to plan a 4-day trip to Parks and Nature Attractions in Crete?

Crete is the largest island in Greece that is known for its different tourist attractions. Since the travel time from one place to another in Crete is at least 5 hours, creating an itinerary is beneficial. This is to make sure that every desired place to go will be visited on

Listed below is instruction on how to plan a Crete Itinerary for a 4-day trip.

  • Book International Flights: Crete has three available airports – Heraklion, Chania, and Thessaloniki airports. Heraklion Airport is considered the larger airport where people typically choose. Chania Airport was renovated to cater to more flights in the future.
  • Find Accommodation: There are many budget-friendly accommodations that are available in Crete. Elounda Heights is the most budget-friendly accommodation in Greece.
  • Find Restaurant: Crete is known to be the home of Greek cuisine. Parasites, Pelagos, Lemonokipos, and AVLI are a few of the best restaurants in Crete. However, there are restaurants or cafés that are available as well on the site itself.
  • Go to different Attractions/Sites: Plan ahead of time on what places to visit in Crete. Crete is known to have many archaeological, parks, beaches, and museums that tourists can visit. Always check the time and the location of the place to know what to visit first.

Do you need to rent a car to visit the Ancient Cities in Crete?

Yes, renting a car to visit Ancient Cities in Crete is a must. There are sites in Crete that are not reachable by public transportation. Buses and taxis are the most available public transportation in Crete. However, the ancient cities in Crete cannot be reached by these transportations. That is why rented cars are a great option to travel around Crete. Additionally, this can be a cheaper alternative for travelling as there is only a one-time payment per day for the rented car. Furthermore, it is more convenient for private transportation, especially for those who have a company with them.

What are the factors to consider before renting a car in Crete?

Just as mentioned above, buses and taxis are available that tourists can use to travel around Crete. However, car rentals are the option to go to different places around Crete. Tourists need a car for them to be able to reach ancient cities and other destinations they wish to visit. There are different Crete car hire companies that tourists can opt to rent their car in Crete during their stay. It is a great option for those who want to have private transportation when going to their destination, especially during the pandemic.

Listed below are the things to consider before renting a car in Crete.

  • Insurance: Make sure that the car has insurance that will cover the damage that may be caused by any possible accidents.
  • Driver’s Age: The rental and driver should be at least over 21 years old and has a driving licence for about 12 months.
  • Driver’s Gender: Some tourists can be picky regarding who will be their driver. The gender of the driver is one of the things that tourists consider, as many people believe that men are better drivers than women.
  • Car Type: There are different car types that are available to be rented. Each type caters to a different number of passengers and the amount of bags they can carry.
  • Documents: Other than having a driving licence, a credit card is a must to rent a car. A credit or debit card with the tourist’s name is needed to provide the rental car company guarantee.

Explore Crete with a Car rental from €29 per day

How much does a car rental in Crete cost?

Renting a car in Crete depends on how many days that car will be rented, the number of passengers, and the type of car that will be rented. These factors will determine how much a rental car costs. A rental car may cost around €250 for a week’s trip. For day trips and night trips in Crete, renting a car will cost about €30 to €40. These cars can be used by tourists for a week with unlimited mileage depending on their itinerary. The rental cars are manual transmission, air-conditioned, and have four doors. After using the car, it should be returned to the company with the same amount of fuel as at the start of the trip to avoid charges.

Harry Anapliotis
Travel Writer and Developer
Harry Anapliotis is a travel writer and developer at Rental Center Crete - Car hire.
Rental Center Crete - Car Hire
Car rental Company
Rental Center Crete - Car Hire is a car rental Company offering services in Crete Island, since 1975.