Kournas - Experience True Crete
Situated 5 kms from Kavros beach and 4 kms from Lake Kournas this idyllic village gives tourists a taste of real Crete. This traditional village is well worth the extra 15 minutes of travel on from the Lake. While the lake is a tourist hotspot, the village of Kournas lets its visitors take a step back in time to when life was simpler.
After negotiating the narrow road to get here, we recommend that you take a minute in one of the kafenions with a drink to really take in your surroundings. From the working pottery to the tavernas this part of Crete remains largely untouched in the last 30-40 years.
Wandering around you will see the men of the village discussing the news of the day in the kafenion, the women discuss which dishes they will be cooking later and the children play safely in the street.
There are many old buildings (some are renovated – but always traditionally) and the narrow streets are only wide enough to let the donkeys pass by.
In the centre of the village are a handful of shops: a small supermarket, a kafenion, a bakery, an ouzeri, Mandali which is full of local specialities and three taverns. There is also a primary school which has over 120 students from Kournas and the surrounding villages. Just before you reach the centre of the village you will come across the community centre which hosts summer weddings, baptisms, plays and parties.
Local Tsikoudia & Olive Oil
In September and October every year grape picking will begin to allow the distillation process to happen. Using traditional methods, the tsikoudia produced has a unique taste and is one every tourist should try at least once.
When November comes around, the weather is a little cooler which makes it perfect for olive pressing. The olive oil factory in Kournas still uses traditional methods and the olives are farmed by hand near the factory. The farmers take great pride in farming in a natural way and keeping the plants healthy.
Eat, Drink and Celebrate
In the summer months Kournas plays host to the Panagiri, the feast of the village. The feast welcomes villagers as well as tourists and is a time of great celebration.
The first party is at the end of April which celebrates the name day of St Georgious. The festivities are centred around the church, where the Papas (priests) of the village hold a service which is then followed by the congregation moving to the square, where tables and chairs are laid out with blessed bread, pilaf rice, meat and wine.
In mid-August the annual village festival is celebrated with live performances, food and wine. This normally takes place on the square which accommodates hundreds of guests into the early hours.
Finally, at the end of August people come together to celebrate the name day of St. John. The festivities begin with a service in the Church of St. John and in the evening the main street in the village is turned into a big party with plenty of food, drink, music and dance!
After all the celebrations, food and wine, there is nothing better than getting back to nature and taking a walk. Every Wednesday there is an organised botanical walk. The walk is taken at a calm and comfortable pace and time is taken to literally stop and smell the flowers and plants.
It is not uncommon to encounter some natural wildlife too, with goats and sheep being common place and birds of prey flying overhead.
At the highest point in the walk, walkers are treated to magnificent views over Kournas and the rest of Almyros Bay making this a must do activity for anyone visiting the village.