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, Azilakodasos near 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.
The cypress wood of Kritsa is located about 10km west of Kritsa village, very close to the asphalt road that heads to the plateau of Katharo. It is formed across a deep ravine, at the southern foot of Mount Tsiva. The forest is in the middle of the ancient path that led Minoans to the plateau of Katharo, with many Minoan pottery remains found here.
Sirikari is located 55km west of Chania and 17km south of Kissamos, in a lush green area with canyons and water streams. The road to Sirikari is paved and runs through the dense vegetation, indicating the beauty of the area at the very first moment. From here begins the beautiful canyon of Sirikari leading to the settlement of Polirinia, where the ancient town of Polirinia was built.
The wider area of Agios Ioannis at Sfakia province hosts one of the most beautiful pine forests of Crete. The most famous trail in the area is the ancient stone paved path that connects Agios Ioannis with Agia Roumeli, after reaching the beach with the church of St. Paul at position Selouda.
The forest Selakano is located 35km north of Ierapetra, in the southeastern part of the Dikti massif, surrounded by the four highest peaks (Lazaros 2085 m, Spathi 2148 m, Afendis Christos 2141 m, Psari Madara 2090 m). The area can be accessed via asphalted road that runs through a magical route till the village Selakano and starts either in Ierapetra or Kalamafka.
Fourni is a large lush hill next to the picturesque Arhanes village, about 12km south of Heraklion. It takes its name after the local homonym preminoan cemetery, next to Knossano Gorge. Fourni can be accessed through Kato Arhanes, where you’ll meet signs leading there.
One of the nicest villages in Crete is the forested village of Kato Simi by Viannos in Heraklion Prefecture. Together with the ruined village of Pano Simi, they lie in the heart of the largest pine forest of Crete, with the neighboring Selakano and Malles woods included. The whole area is full of water springs gathering water from the slopes of Dikti Range, that waters plane trees, walnut, cherry and many other species of trees. In autumn they give the area colorful scenery mostly reminiscent of parts of northern Greece.
The forest village of Agios Ioannis at Sfakia province is the starting point of one of the most beautiful and best marked trails of Chania prefecture, the trail of Kormokopos. The word Kormokopos means place where trees are cut, due to the dense forest of the area.
The small palm grove of Saint Anthony is located next to the Monastery of St. Nikitas, in one of the most inaccessible places in Crete. An oasis in the middle of nowhere, the palm grove is now protected by goats and is studied under scientific research.