Lake Kournas is at its best during summer, when the water recedes and reveals a strip of white sand. You can explore the outer reaches of the lake by canoe or paddleboat, walk around the lake’s 2-mile (3.5-kilometer) perimeter, or even visit as part of an off-road 4x4 adventure. Also, Lake Kournas has been granted the EU’s Natura 2000 preservation status, which recognizes and protects its varied bird and marine life. There are a huge number of species to spot, including water snakes, herons, cormorants, and the rare diamondback terrapin.
To immerse yourself in the Greek way of life, consider joining a combined lake and winery tour. Other guided tours that stop at the lake take in western Crete’s cities, villages, and natural scenery.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Kournas Lake is ideal for outdoors and wildlife lovers.
The eastern edge of the lake has a number of hotels and villas, as well as restaurants, cafés, and traditional tavernas—great for lunch with a view.
You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas on site during summer.
Visitors with limited mobility can book a wheelchair- or scooter-accessible tour of the lake and surrounding region.
How to Get There
Lake Kournas lies on the west side of Crete, south of Georgioupolis. From there, take national route 90, then follow the rural road and signs for approximately 2.5 miles (4 kilometers). Nearby villages include Kournas and Argyroupolis, where you can see parts of the excavated ancient city of Lappa.
When to Get There
The lake is open year-round, but during the winter and spring the water level is higher, so the beach largely disappears. Most of the tavernas also open only on weekends through the winter months. During the summer the lake can get very popular—particularly on the weekends when local families descend—so try to visit midweek to avoid the crowds.
The Pottery Workshops of Kournas
Visit the local village of Kournas, which unlike the lake, is relatively untouched by tourism. The traditional houses, family-run pottery workshops, and charming tavernas make it a quaint place to explore on foot. Kournas was also the seat of the revolutionary government during the 1866 uprising, so it played a significant role in the history of Crete’s fight for independence.
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