The district of Apokoronas in the north-eastern corner of the Chania prefecture and at the foot of the White Mountains is one of the greenest regions of Crete and contains some interesting sights, such as Lake Kournas, the island's only freshwater lake, picturesque villages and small beach resorts.
The ruins of ancient Aptera are located on a hill above the bay of Souda. Founded in the 7th century BC, Aptera was one of the largest city states in Crete and was continuously inhabited until an earthquake destroyed it in the 7th century AD. A monastery was established there in the 12th century.
Most of this very large site has not been excavated yet but you can see impressive Roman cistern, a Greek temple, various other buildings and massive defensive walls. At the north-western end there is a Turkish fortress with superb views of Souda bay. The archaeological site of Aptera is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 am to 2.30 pm and entrance is free.
Kalives, Almyrida and Plaka
Located on the coast in the Souda bay, Kalives is a large village with a nice sandy beach and has been attracting more and more tourists in the last few years. Most of it is fairly low key and you still get the sense that you are in a Cretan village. A little further to the east, Almirida has seen a number of tourist developments as well. Its sandy beach with shallow waters make it a good destinations for families with small children. Above Almirida, the small village of Plaka offers stunning views of the Souda bay and the White Mountains.
Georgioupolis and Lake Kournas
The small village of Georgioupolis, at the eastern end of the district of Apokoronas, used to be a sleepy little fishing village but its long (9 km) sandy beach is seeing a massive development in hotels.
Lake Kournas is located 3 km inland from Georgioupolis at the foot of the mountain and is the only freshwater lake in the whole of Crete. This makes it a popular "exotic" weekend destination for the Cretans. The landscape in Kournas, especially if you pick a grey day, is reminiscent of a mountain lake in the Alps and you loose the sense of being on Crete. Unusual!
Vamos is the capital of the district. In 1995 a group of villagers started a project to preserve the traditional way of life of Vamos. With funds from the European Union, they started a project to showcase the crafts and products of the region and restored old stone buildings using traditional materials and crafts and turned them into guest houses.
Vrysses (or Vrisses) is a new village dating back to 1925. It is located on the road which links the north coast with Sfakia. There is not much to do in Vrysses but the rivers that flow through its centre make it a nice place to escape the summer heat, in the shade of the giant plane trees. Vrysses is also famous for its excellent yoghurt.