Top recreational areas and natural attractions in Crete

Palm Forest at Vai

Palm Forest at Vai ©Spiros Vathis/Flick

Crete is the largest island of Greece and one of the top biggest islands of the Mediterranean, with a population of 500,000 inhabitants. The island lies between Europe and the African continent. In the center of the island is the highest plateau in Europe, the Lassithi Plateau with numerous plantings of vegetables, vine crops, olives and oranges.

It is a green Island with a flora rich in chestnut, pine and Cyprus forests, palm and cedar forests. The top recreational areas and natural attractions in Crete are the Samaria Gorge, the Dikteon Cave, the Aquarium of Heraklion and the Palm forest at Vai.

The Samaria Gorge

The Samaria Gorge is the second tourist attraction of the Island of Crete after the Palace of Knossos. It is located in the southern part of the prefecture of Chania and was declared a national park in 1962 to protect the Kri Kri species, which are the wild goats of Crete living only in this region.

The Samaria Gorge has 16 km and is the longest in Europe. It starts in the northern part of the Omalos Plateau and ends at the village of Agia Roumeli. The gorge is opened to visitors from May to October.

Samaria Gorge in Crete

Samaria Gorge in Crete ©ctsnow/Flick

The Aquarium of Heraklion

For an underwater experience we recommend you the Thalassokosmos Aquarium in Heraklion, where you have the chance to see interesting species of seas and oceans from around the world. In over 1600 square meters of exhibition located in a former U.S. military base, you will enjoy more than 200 species of aquatic animals exposed in 37 aquariums. The Aquarium of Crete is an important natural tourist attraction and is opened from May to September.

Aquarium of Heraklion

Aquarium of Heraklion ©slazgrc/Flick

Palm forest at Vai

The Palm forest at Vai is the largest natural palm forest in Europe, consisting of Phoenix Theophrasti trees. Currently the forest is declared a protected area and the human activities are limited in this area.

Palm Forest at Vai

Palm Forest at Vai ©Spiros Vathis/Flick

The Dikteon Cave

The Dikteon Cave is also known as the Andros Dikteon and is one of the top natural attractions in Crete. It is an impressive cave, located near the city of Heraklion and gave birth to many legends. One of them says that Zeus, the supreme ruler of the gods on Mount Olympus, was born by his mother and then hidden in the Dikteon Cave to escape the cruel custom of his father of swallowing his babies.

Main Gallery of the Dikteon Cave has a length of 70 m, and will take you through narrow galleries, stalactites and stalagmites and even to a small cave lake.


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