Apokoronas is a region in north-west Crete, at the east of the city of Chania. It extends from the foothills of the White Mountains to the coast on the north, in a wide plain with rolling hills. To the east, Cape Drapanon (527m) rises above the plain and extends out into the Sea of Crete. The area is very green and fertile, unusual for rocky Crete. The Apokoronas area is a rich agricultural region with many olive groves, vineyards and orange groves. Nowadays there are approximately 13.000 inhabitants in 50 villages and settlements. Kalyves, Almyrida and Georgioupolis are the main beach resorts. There are many beautiful villages and monuments in Apokoronas that are worth a visit. It is also an ideal region for walking and biking, and there are many possibilities for other activities in the apokoronas
10 activities in the Apokoronas
1. Kournas Lake
The Kournas Lake is the only natural lake on a Mediterranean island. It was created by underground waters coming down from the White Mountains. The landscape around the lake and the lake itself is a protected habitat for many animals and plants. Around the lake have been recorded approximately 400 plant species, among which 7 are endemic to Crete.
2. Georgioupolis and its harbor
The only really active fishing harbor in the municipality of Apokoronas is that of Georgioupolis. You find here the typical colorful fishing boats. The water in the harbor is actually sweet water from the Almyros River that starts just outside Georgioupolis. Many turtles live in this river. Very typical is also the little chapel of ST. Nikolas (the protector of the seamen) that was built in the sea about a century ago. Georgioupolis is also famous for its long sandy beach.
3. The traditional village Vamos
Vamos is a semi mountainous village, 250m above sea level, surrounded by cultivated and wild nature. It is a traditional Cretan village, well-protected from mainstream tourism and very much retaining its character. Here you can find some fine examples of traditional and neoclassical architecture in new and renovated buildings. Today, Vamos is known as a traditional destination and more and more locals have started to restore their own houses here. The local tourist office organizes many activities in the apokoronas, like cooking lessons, cheese making, walking etc.
4. Karydi Monastery
The Monastery of Agios Georgios at Karydi exists since 1600.The impressive building of the olive factory, which was completed in 1860, consists of 12 arches and is characteristic of the local folk architecture, with Venetian influences. In 1923 the complex was destroyed and the largest part of its property was granted to Veterans of the Asia Minor and Balkan wars. Since 1996 the Monastery is gradually been restored.
5. Ancient city of Aptera
The ancient city of Aptera is an important historical place and the ruins you can see nowadays are mainly from the Roman period. The most spectacular constructions are the huge water cisterns and the amphitheatre. Other important monuments are a Dorian Temple, a group of tombs from the 4th century B.C., as well as an almost 4km fortification wall. There is also a Byzantine monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos and a Turkish fortress built in 1866-1869.
6. Vrisses and the Roman Bridge
Vrisses is a typical rural village and an excellent place to visit during the hot summer days of Crete. Vrisses is situated in a fertile green valley with plenty of running water, plane trees and rich vegetation. In fact Vrisses means “fountains” in Greek. The historical landmark of Vrisses is The “Elliniki Kamara”, a bridge upon Vrissanos River that dates from the Greco-Roman era. The bridge is made of stones, fit together side by side without the use of any substance to hold them together. Its height is about 6,5 meters.
7. Gavalochori & the Venetian Wells
Gavalochori is a beautiful traditional village with many places to visit. You can find an arched olive oil mill from 1360, the old school and many old (restored) houses. At the village square is “The Woman’s Co-operative”, selling hand made goods and textiles. About 1km walk from the village square you find igloo-shaped Venetian stone wells, dating back to the 11th century, and a bridge from the Venetian era (1204 – 1669). Several pieces of pottery have been found in these wells that can be seen in the “Folk Museum” of Gavalochori, located close to the square.
8. Stylos and the springs
Stylos has a large square surrounded by huge plane trees. Here there are several springs with crystal clear water. Close to the square you find the old church of Agios Ioannis Theologos (13th century), decorated with frescoes. Excavations in the area have revealed many archeological treasures. In the early 1960s an important Minoan settlement was discovered in “Azoires” hill, which was probably constructed during the early Minoan period. In 1961 an arched Minoan grave belonging to a local ruler was excavated in the western side of the same hill, while more recently an ancient cemetery was discovered.
9. The Byzantine Church of Agios Nikolaos (Kyriakoselia)
The church is a magnificent example of Byzantine architecture and was built at the end of 11th century or the beginning of the 12th century. The church has many beautiful and well preserved frescoes with a strong emphasis on shades of blue. It is a very scenic route to Kyriakoselia! Also the rock church of Agios Mamas above the Byzantine church is worth a visit.
10. Ancient Lappa and Argyroupolis (just outside Apokoronas)
Argyroupolis is a picturesque green village, built on the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Lappa. There are many interesting sites to visit, such as an old mosaic floor and Roman graves. At the lower part of the village, under the shade of the plane trees, you can visit the small waterfalls and eat at one of the plenty taverns where they also have fresh trout!!
If you want more info on activities in the apokoronas, please click active on Crete