West Crete for visitors

Getting around west Crete

The western coast of Crete is what some would say is the real Crete. It is the perfect territory for walkers, full of dramatic scenery with majestic mountains, deep wooded gorges, ravines and valleys, lakes and little islands, accessible only by caique with idyllic villages that seem steeped in history and frozen in time.

Starting south-west of Rethymnon is the freshwater Lake Kourna set in a beautiful landscape with its backdrop of the White Mountains, Lefka Ori. It is the only lake in Crete, fed by streams flowing off the hills an mountains that surround it.

Lake Kourna is an ideal place if you feel like a change from lying on a beach. The lake has good facilities for visitors, and it is possible to hire pedalos, swim or just stroll around the lakeside. To walk the full circuit of the lake takes approximately one hour.

At a distance of 5km from Lake Kourna is the popular holiday destination of Georgioupoli that is well served for tourism and has a fine long beach of several kilometres. It has a quaint little harbour , fringed with eucalyptus trees, where local fishing boats moor and a small river that flows into the sea.

Further west is the village of Vryses with its plentiful water fed by local springs and lush vegetation. Here are extensive ruins from the Minoan period and Neolithic pottery has been excavated in the cave of Kera Spiliotissa close by.

Imbros is a wonderful place to stop to sample the local Sfakian dishes, in particular sfakian pies which are actually thin pancakes stuffed with cream cheese and drizzled with honey. Imbros has an altitude of 780m and is covered by snow for most of the winter, when its 100 inhabitants move south to winter down in the villages on the south-west coast.

The people are tough and hardy and Imbros has been the birth place of many of Crete's revolutionaries.

The sheer gorge of Imbros can be reached from the village and ends 11km further along at the village of Komitades. It is easy and safe to walk and a small entrance fee is charged. Parking is available for cars.

It is a popular alternative to the Samaria gorge because it is shorter, less crowded and less strenuous. The road through the mountains and across the Askiphou plateau down to Khora Sphakion is especially spectacular with breathtaking views as the road hugs the sides of the gorge.