Crete Botanical Gardens
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Crete Botanical Gardens near Chania
and finds a wonderland of colourful plants, trees, and flowers filling a lovely
The View from the Crete Botanical Gardens
Visiting the Crete Botanical Gardens - or the Botanical Park
and Gardens of Crete to give it its full title - was one of the best things we
did on our last visit to Crete. We didn't expect such a colourful and
fascinating display of plants, flowers and trees from around the world. We
should have known better, as our fantastic guide Isi of Go-Crete never steered
Passiflora Quadrangularis in the Crete Botanical Gardens
Live Music at the
Crete Botanical Gardens
The gardens actually started because of a disaster, as we
found when we spoke to one of the owners, Nikos, after our tour. There's so
much to see that it was getting dark by the time we finished, and we had to
race to get out before the gardens closed. We decided to stay and eat there,
and we're so glad we did as it turned out to be one of their live music nights.
I video'd some of it for our YouTube channel:
The Roots of the
Crete Botanical Gardens
Nikos told us that the gardens only exist because of an
awful fire which devastated his family's olive trees in 2003. They lost over
45,000 trees to the fire, which was obviously a major blow both personally and financially.
The land had been in the family since at least the 1930s.
Nikos worked the land with his three brothers, and it was
one of the brothers who suggested that instead of replanting the olive trees
maybe they could create a botanical park on the land. The brothers and their
father agreed, and the park was opened in 2009. Their father died three years
later at the age of 85, but lived to see the botanical park become a success.
Map of the Crete Botanical Gardens
Where Are the Crete
The gardens are about a half-hour drive south-west of
Chania, beyond the village of Fournes, after a very zig-zag uphill road.
Rose of Sharon in the Crete Botanical Gardens
Visiting the Crete
As you enter the gardens you have no idea what wonders lie
beyond. It's like entering Paradise. From the entrance the path zig-zags down
one side of the valley, with the view regularly opening up to show olive groves
on the opposite slope. Lizards rustle in the dry leaves on the ground,
occasionally appearing to add to all the colour, and birds sing constantly
from the trees. To the creatures who live here it probably is Paradise!.
Lime Tree in the Crete Botanical Gardens
What's impressive is that everything is cultivated
organically. It clearly works well as you don't just come across individual
examples of plants or trees but often whole terraces of them.
If I listed everything I wrote down it would go on forever, so I'll make do with a few highlights, and some of the hundreds of photos we took.
Palm Trees in the Crete Botanical Gardens
There was a Peruvian cherry tree, and I was dying to try the
ice-cream bean from Central America, but thought I'd better not. The fruit of
the Barbados cherry tree contains 30 times more Vitamin C than an orange (yes,
there's plenty of information about the plants). I was definitely starting to
get hungry, having seen the strawberry guava plant opposite the tropical
There was a pineapple guava, a Malabar plum, a Japanese
raisin tree, wild garlic plants, passion fruit, avocados, and walnut trees. The
Mediterranean herb garden section had lovely scents of coriander, cumin, thyme,
fennel, rosemary, and oregano. ‘Nature is the largest pharmacy in the world’
says a sign.
There's a Surprise Around Every Corner in the Crete Botanical Gardens
We see dozens of beehives across the valley and wonder what
their honey must taste like with this feast just a short flight away for them.
There's quince, honeysuckle, eucalyptus, mastic, pistachio, pomegranates, white
mulberry, aloe, and a huge prickly pear cactus at least 3 meters (10 ft) tall.
A Prickly Pear Cactus in the Crete Botanical Gardens
The main path is about 1 km (0.6 miles) long and they say it
takes about an hour to go round. We took two hours because we were all three
constantly stopping to take photos. At the end of this path there an optional
extension to add another kilometer, but by the time we got to the divide it was
starting to get dark, so we looped around back up to the entrance.
Palm Trees in the Crete Botanical Gardens
Dining at the Crete
Our dinner in the restaurant after our tour was
exceptionally good. It was served buffet-style, with tzatziki, fava, Greek
salad, bread, zucchini pie, and vegetable stew. The main course was chicken
cooked in orange and lemongrass. It was incredibly zesty and tasty. On top of
this was all the red or white wine you could drink. Highly recommended!
The View from the Restaurant in the Crete Botanical Gardens
Where to Stay on Crete
Some other Crete pages
This Amari Valley drive in southern Crete starts and ends in Ayia Galini, takes four to five hours and cover 100 kilometres or 62 miles.
These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.
The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.
This Airbnb in the quiet village of Malaxa, a 30-minute drive into the hills above Chania, is a peaceful retreat with a delightful and thoughtful artist owner, with wonderful views and amenities.
Greece Travel Secrets discovers Sitia, the main town in eastern Crete, with its relaxing waterfront, inexpensive hotels, good food, and nearby ancient sites.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.
For a Crete olive oil tour Greece Travel Secrets visits Biolea, one of the few olive oil factories on Crete that you can visit.
This Rouvas Gorge walk starts and ends in Zaros in southern Crete and should take three to four hours with a distance of eight kilometres or five miles.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has four ENUESCO sites, which are Sitia, Psiloritis, Asterousia, and the Gorge of Samaria.
Driving central Crete in three days gives you time to see the highlights including the Minoan palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the beaches and the Diktean Cave.
Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,
The Diktean or Diktaean Cave, also known as the Psychro Cave, near the village of Psychro in eastern Crete, is said to be the birthplace of Zeus.
Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.
Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.
Crete’s wildlife and landscape are two of the island’s attractions, including gorges for hiking, rare raptors like the lammergeier, wildcats and ancient trees.
The most famous Cretan writers and artists include the painter El Greco and the author of Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis.
The Byzantine Church of Panagía Kerá near Kritsa and not far from Ayios Nikolaos is one of the most famous in Crete, and close by is the site of Ancient Lato.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Western Crete with tavernas and restaurants in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.
Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.
Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.
Western Crete in five days allows time to visit Chania and Rethymnon, enjoy the beaches, hike the Samaria Gorge and see the monasteries at Arkadi and Preveli.
The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.
This tour around central Crete lists some of the area’s highlights such as the traditional village of Arolithos, Minoan remains at Tilisos, and Agioi Deka.
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