Fourni

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Fourni's peaceful forest / Image: Alamy

This pretty hill is home to a tranquil pine forest hiding a Minoan necropolis – perfect for picnics, hiking and mountain biking. Not only is there also an ancient cemetery nestled among its trees, but a stone amphitheatre as well. The main way to reach Fourni is through the village Kato Archanes (just follow the signs), but you can also get there via hiking trails from Epano Archanes or the aqueduct of Morozini.

20min drive inland 

Kounaviano Gorge

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Gorgeous Kounaviano Gorge is all green / Image: cretanbeaches.com

This is an idyllic gorge covered in lush plant life and cut through with cascading streams. Its water is a tributary of the river Karteros, and merges with that of another gorge near the village of Skalani to form Karteros Gorge. Follow the marked out path to explore the area and look out for abandoned watermills – once used to grind grain as you go. 

30min drive inland 

Mount Stroumpoulas

A ramblers’ favourite, Mount Stroumpoulas offers an easy hiking trail that leads to the ancient chapel of Timios Stavros. Along the way, you'll breathe in the intoxicating scent of wild Cretan herbs, while at the summit awaits a spectacular view across the gulf of Heraklion, the coast of Hersonisos and the mountains of Lassithi.

40min drive west 

Spilia, agia irini

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The 19th-century aqueduct at Spilia / Image: Alamy

Just a few kilometres south of the ruins of Knossos, Spilia is a small, verdant oasis hidden behind the walls of the largest aqueduct in Crete, built to help solve water shortage issues in the early 19th century. The striking arches and surrounding plant life are beautiful on their own, but there's also a leafy park in the nearby Agia Irini church that's perfect for a stroll.

15min drive inland 

Mount Yuchtas

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You'll lose your head over the view from Mount Yuchtas / Image: Region of Crete – incrediblecrete.gr

Considered to be Zeus’s final resting place, this mountain – covered in swathes of wild herbs  looks like the head of a huge stone figure from the west. Don't feel bad about stomping on its face, however – it's the only way to climb to the top in order to see the eye-popping 360-degree view across vineyards, fields and olive groves. You'll also pass a herb garden and a few remains of a Minoan sanctuary on your hike.

25min drive inland