A memorable spring excursion in Chania (part 1)

Photo from www.feriastravel.gr
Photo from www.feriastravel.gr

Missing nature and the beauty of the great outdoors? Thought so. That’s why we wanted to take a moment to present you, our suggestions for an exciting spring excursion in Chania.

Crete’s former capital, and arguably most picturesque town, blends gorgeous landscapesstunning beachesdelicious cuisineemblematic sites and hidden gems. That’s why Chania is a yearlong wonderland, brimming with attractions no matter the weather. But if you’re wondering when it is the best time to visit, the answer would be most likely spring. With clear sunny skies, balmy temperatures (May average highs hover around 24°C ), and nature in full bloom, spring in Chania is wonderful – and there are no tourist hordes, which means you can enjoy the icons without having to beat the crowds at it. If you are planning an April, May or early June escapade in Greece’s largest island, read on for our handpicked suggestions for a spring excursion in Chania, that’ll linger long in the memory.

3 + 1 ideas for a delightful spring excursion in Chania

Spend a day at the Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete

On the foothills of the White Mountains, the Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete is a 20-hectare nature reserve with an impressive variety of flora and fauna. It was created in 2004 by two brothers who saw their ancient olive grove getting destroyed by a massive fire and set about giving it a new breath of life. The park nowadays features more than 150 species of plants, fruit trees and herbs, as well as pharmaceutical and ornamental flowers — many indigenous, other tropical or subtropical. These coexist with butterflies and wild birds, wild goats, hares, badgers, Cretan rock ferrets, Cretan weasels and tree frogs. There is also a charming small lake with ducks and geese gliding through the cool water and a Mediterranean-style restaurant with panoramic vistas completing the enchanting scenery. The Park is located some 20 km away from the bustling town of Chania – and it is a magical place that’s as spirit-lifting as it is eye-pleasing. Choose to spend a leisurely, fragrance-filled day here as an alternative to the beach.

Hike the emblematic Samaria

Dubbed Europe’s Grand Canyon, Samaria is one of the longest and most impressive gorges on the continent. Declared a National Park, it is the home of the endangered kri-kri species, – the rare Cretan wild goat – as well as many other endemic flora and fauna. The trek is quite demanding and takes about 4-7 hours to complete, depending on your level of fitness, but the scenery and the breathtaking views of the White Mountains and the Libyan Sea will recompense you. It is probably best though to avoid hiking Samaria in the summer – choose it for an energetic spring excursion in Chania when the weather is cooler, the tourists are far fewer and wildflowers are blooming everywhere.

Explore the Akrotiri Peninsula

The Akrotiri Peninsula makes for a memorable spring excursion in Chania. Located some 19 km north of the city, this scenic peninsula is home to several historic monasteries, including Gouverneto and Katholiko. The former was built in 1537, at an altitude of 260m, with Renaissance and Baroque influences. Outside of this remarkable antique structure, there is a paved footpath leading into the Avlaki Gorge that runs down to sea level. According to legend, this was where Saint John the Hermit lived. Walk for another 20 minutes to the famous Αrkoudospilios (Bear Cave) – where the massive rock inside is allegedly a petrified bear. Venture a bit further down to find Katholiko Monastery – the oldest one in Crete – and the church of St John the Hermit. This isolated area was one of the island’s most important centres of asceticism in the 11th century. Nowadays the former hermits’ caves and the remnants of a quite elaborate, 17th-century ecclesiastical complex are still visible, making the whole scenery beautifully eerie.

If you’re on the other hand more of a beach kind of person, Akrotiri also sports some of the region’s most lovely shores. Stavros is mostly famous as the spot where the iconic sirtaki dance scene in ‘Zorba the Greek’ was filmed; and Marathi sports turquoise waters which remain calm and tranquil even in windy weather. Both are developed and popular with families with kids – alas largely off-limits in the summer months as they tend to be overwhelmingly packed.

Tour the wineries of Chania

The history of Cretan wines is lost in the depths of time – with archaeological findings suggesting that they were an important part of the locals’ lives since the early Minoan era. Nowadays Cretan wines are undergoing a renaissance – thanks to the systematic efforts of a new generation of winemakers, ancient varieties are being salvaged and revived, yielding some veritable gems that are now consolidating their position in the international oenophiles’ scene. Discover these rising stars with a tour of the wineries in Chania. All boast incredibly scenic settings which look even lovelier in springtime. And if you’re a beer lover you can also visit the highly sophisticated facilities of the Cretan Brewery – the first microbrewery in Chania; learn the secrets of the brewing process and sample artisanal beer among olive, orange and avocado groves.

Is your appetite whetted for a spring excursion in Chania? Stay tuned to the Oscar Suites & Village blog for more tips and ideas for excursions in and around Chania, as well as for more local insights and suggestions on what to see and do on the amazing island of Crete!

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