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Legends of water nymphs combing their hair by moonlight and water shifting through a dozen shades of aquamarine over the course of the day enhance the magical feeling of 143-acre Lake Kournas. The lake, known as Limni Kournas in Greece, is the only freshwater lake on the island of Crete. Set against the backdrop of the White Mountains in the Apokoronas region of the Chania Prefecture (province), Limni Kournas and village of the same name are fantastic destinations for a day trip or afternoon picnic.
Originially called Kourisia after the ancient city of Korion and home to a temple to the Goddess Athena, Lake Kournas is a small, relatively shallow lake. It has a maximum depth of 74 feet and sits at 66 feet above sea level. Limni Kournas is fed by two springs and several mountain streams, and the turquoise water changes color depending on the sun and time of day. The water levels drop over the summer, exposing sandy beaches around the lake's three mile long shoreline and making it possible to walk the entire way around the lake. Visitors can sunbathe and swim in the lake, but there are ducks that also make their home on the beach and lake. Legend says that the water nymph cares for small creatures and ducks, and given their number it appears that she is doing her job. A few concessions rent pedal boats and kayaks, both of which are ideal ways to spend a leisurely afternoon on Limni Kournas.
Lake Kournas is near the coastal resort of Georgioupolis, and many of the people that visit the lake stay at the resort and take day trips to the lake. Georgioupolis has a variety of accommodations including hotels, holiday villas and vacation rentals. There are restaurants, nightclubs and a long stretch of sandy beach in northwest Crete. Along with Lake Kournas, it is geared towards tourists with any amenities a visitor might need.
After spending the morning at Limni Kournas, visitors should continue two and a half miles further down the road to the Village of Kournas. A small cave, just 35 feet deep, sits between the lake and the village. The cave has impressive stalactites and stalagmites and offers spectacular views of the lake. Many visitors don't travel beyond the lake, so although Lake Kournas focuses on tourists, the Village of Kournas sees few visitors. Surrounded by olive groves and known for its pottery, Kournas is perched on a hillside above the lake. A beautiful Byzantine church crowns the village square, and visitors can stop at one of the village's taverns to enjoy a "galaktoboureko," the region's custard and orange tart.
A trip to Limni Kournas and the Village of Kournas gives visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the local culture while at the same having access to any amenities a tourist might need. With its beautiful natural setting and small traditional village, Kournas offers guests an authentic Greek experience. Its proximity to Georgioupolis and the coast of Crete make it a fantastic destination. Legend, history and rugged beauty combine to create an unforgettable getaway.
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