Crete was once covered with dense forests, thus its mountains were called "Idea", i.e. wooded. Unfortunately these forests have almost disappeared due to logging, overgrazing and fires. Even so, the few remaining forests are some of the most beautiful landscapes in Crete and a typical sample of the Mediterranean vegetation that once covered the entire island.
Each area of Crete has its own characteristic trees. The provinces Apokoronas and Sfakia are covered with cypresses, Thrypti has mainly pines, the lowlands of central Crete host arbutus, the humid areas of Kissamos are covered with chestnuts, while the Diktaean and the White Mountains are home to oaks.
The most important cypress woods are met at the National Reserve of the White Mountains, Kroustas, the lowlands of Apokoronas and the mountainous province of Kydonia. The greatest oak wood is located at Rouvas at Psiloritis and it is home to rare animals and plants, including the endemic Cretan wildcat and the orchid Cephalanthera cuculata. Extensive pine woods are formed at the mountain of Thripti, at eastern Dikti, Sfakia, Asterousia Range and southern Psiloritis. More specifically, the pine woods of Selakano, Vorizia and Kato Symi are the largest beekeeping areas in Crete.
Woods of special tree species are also formed in various parts of the island, such as the famous groves of the Cretan Date Palm at Vai and Preveli beach. Also, Tris Ekklisiesnear Malia is the largest forest of holm oaks in Crete, while the area of Tris Ekklisies hosts the largest native forest of carob trees in Europe.
Prina Village is located 24 km SE of Agios Nikolaos and 14 km N of Ierapetra. The hills of Prina are covered by a very important pine forest, which sadly has been burnt several times recently.
The Gorge of St. Savvas is the natural continuation of the canyon Trypiti, in the wild and imposing Asterousia mountains. In the arid landscape of Asteroussia Mts, the dense forest of the wild olive and carob trees looks like an oasis in the desert.
The Forest Pardi is one of the finest remaining holly woods of Crete, near the village Kouroutes, 53km southeast of Rethymno. Here the steep western slopes of Psiloritis meet with the plain of Amari, creating a magical and unknown majestic landscape.
The holm oak wood (Azilakodasos) is located 11km west of Vrachasi and 9km south of Malia, in the foothills of Mount Selena. The small forest can be accessed either by walking the smooth path from Krassi village or by following the trail from Malia that runs uphill. There is also a small network of forest dirt roads in the area.
Paschaligo is a small grove located 1.5 km southwest of Neapolis town, on the northern slopes of Mt Kavalaras. The existence of the forest is related to the history of the region, which was named after the Venetian feudal lord Fillipo Pasqualigo, who lived in a tower that was built here.
Just below the famous Kamares cave, above the village Kamares we meet a sizable wood. Kamares wood covers the region on the south side of Mavri peak and reaches up to an altitude of 1600-1700 meters. Its area reaches almost till the position Koutsounares where the Voriza canyon starts and continues above the village Vorizia.
Thripti pine wood is located at an altitude of 850m, near Pahia Ammos in Lassithi Prefecture. The scenic village of Thripti, the green landscapes and the unique pine forest in the mountains of Sitia, are some of the things that you will never forget when you come here.
The monastery of Koudoumas is located 74km south of Heraklion, on the western side of Cape Martelos and south of Kofinas Peak (the highest peak of Asterousia Mountains). The whole area is full of cavities where hermits used to live. To reach the monastery, you have to drive in a passable dirt road of 20km, starting from the village Sternes, which descends from an altitude of 1000m to the sea level. The views during the descent are shocking and could cause vertigo! The route passes between pine and cypress trees, many of which are bent by the wind..