The fabulous Botanical Park of Crete is one of best Crete attractions for visitors of all ages and is located close to Chania.
You'll find the Botanical Park of Crete in the foothills of the beautiful White Mountains on the lovely scenic road leading up to Omalos (the starting point of the Samaria Gorge). The botanical gardens are just 15km from Chania Town, just past Fournes, and is easily accessible from many of the resorts of Western Crete. If you looking for things to do in Crete then this blend of a nature trail and botanical gardens is your answer.
A cross between a scenic hike and an interesting nature trail, the Botanical Gardens of Crete offers visitors a fantastic day out away from the beach. The 1 to 2 hour trek takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery, alive with butterflies and a variety of wild birds. The many and varied plants, herbs and trees thrive in two hundred square kilometres of beautufully planted terraces on the hillside.
Depending on the time of year you visit, you'll see fruit trees in full blossom, or alternatively heavy with fruits. The gorgeous aromatic herbs also take on a new life when in full flower. Each day is different at the Botanical Park, as the exhibits grow, flower and fruit, attracting different wildlife at different months of the season. Visiting the Crete gardens and park is one of the best things to do in Crete.
We have visited in early May and then again in mid June and found the Park had already taken on a different form. We'll like to return at least two or thee times a year to see the progress and changing nature of the plants and trees. Whatever time of year you visit you're assured of colour, fragrance and variety.
Well-signposted paths take you through the different sections of the Botanical Park, which consist of tropical trees, fruit trees, citrus groves, herbs and vineyards. The lake at the bottom of the park offers a home to ducks, geese and other water birds. You'll see pairs of buzzards flying overhead too. There's even a spectacular amphitheatre on the site.
The Botanic Garden and Park of Crete itself was the brainchild of four brothers who saw their livelihood, land, olive groves and orange trees destroyed by a devastating wild fire in October 2004. The damage was unprecedented. Sixty thousand olive trees, some over 400 hundred years old, were destroyed leaving the whole village ruined both financially and ecologically.
But, like the magical and mystical Phoenix bird of Greek Mythology, the Botanic Park of Crete grew from the ashes of that devastating fire. The brothers set about creating a park to highlight and exhibit the many indigenous plants, herbs and trees found in Crete, together with other tropical and sub tropical varieties from around the world.
Amongst the colourful, thriving, vibrant exhibits of the now well established Botanical Gardens you'll come across the odd burnt out, charred husk of an ancient olive tree, standing as a reminder of the origins of the Park. Entrance to the Botanic garden is a mere €5, and is unbelievable good value. Children under 12 go free. You even get a free bottle of spring water to take with you on the nature trail.
The nature trail is suitable for all reasonably fit and active people with good mobility. We recommend that to get the very best from the Botanic garden and park, take it slowly so you can really appreciate the 150 or so species of fruit trees, herbs, pharmaceutical and ornamental plants that line the trail.
There are plenty of resting stops throughout, none better than the very scenic small lake with ducks and geese gliding through the cool water. Needless to say, it is better to avoid the midday sun in Crete in the summer months, so either go early in the morning or in the late afternoon.
The Botanic Park of Crete is open every day from the beginning of May right through to the end of October,: 8:30 am - 8:30 pm.
The Botanical Park Restaurant is open throughout the day and has stunning panoramic views of the botanical gardens and the surrounding breathtaking scenery.
Don't miss the opportunity to sample some traditional Cretan Diet food and drink while you are visiting the Botanic Garden and Park. The menu consists of very reasonably priced, home grown, traditionally prepared, tasty and nutritious dishes. Try the Dakos – doubled baked bread, topped with tomato, cheese and oregano. Or the Marathopites – fennel and onion pies with a Xerole salad, consisting of seasonal greens with cheese and a honey dressing. All the food is local, seasonal and organic.
Try a freshly squeezed orange juice from the botanical gardens orange grove, or a traditional Cretan mountain tea. Why not go mad and have some delicious local Cretan wine!
The restaurant itself is modern, spacious, and beautifully decorated and and offers both indoor and al fresco dining.
The toilets are spotlessly clean too!
The Botanic Park of Crete is one of the major Crete attractions, so ensure you visit soon.
If you’re stuck for things to do in Crete then visiting this fantastic place is a must.
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