Zaros Crete





The village of Zaros in the central south of Crete is rich in fresh water. From large sources above the village flows the best drinking water in large quantities. It was only 30 years ago that the idea was born to breed freshwater fish in Zaros. Trout were unknown in Crete until then. Only fish from the sea were known. Today, fish farming has become an important economic sector in the 2,000-inhabitant village. The tourists come because of the fish. The green landscape, a beautiful lake and the famous hike in the Rouvas Gorge are further reasons for tourists to come to Zaros. Most visitors stay only a few hours in a rented car. However, there are more and more hotels and room rentals in Zaros. Holiday in the village, away from mass tourism, is also booming in Crete.

If you come by car you cross the beautiful village of Zaros on the main road. Shortly after the centre several signs point to the right. On the biggest sign you can see the advertising for the Idi-Hotel. Follow this turn-off. After a good kilometre you will see several larger taverns. A few hundred metres further on you come to the lake. Here, one usually finds a free parking place without any problems.

Around the beautiful lake Votomos leads an approximately 500 meters long footpath. The walk around is worth it. On Crete lakes are something special. For Cretans, freshwater in such large quantities is rare and precious. In the lake food fish such as trout are bred in large quantities. Many signs point out that fishing and swimming are forbidden. The lake is an artificial reservoir that was created in the 1980s.

On the way back, you should stop at the Votomos tavern, a few hundred metres from the lake towards the village. To the left of the tavern you can see large pools where fish such as trout and salmon are bred. The fish are constantly supplied with fresh water from the springs.

To the right of the tavern you can visit the rooms of an old water-powered mill. The Votomos tavern is one of the restaurants in Zaros where fresh trout are offered. For about 11 Euros (as of 2017 / 2018) you can get a delicious trout with side dishes from one of the fish tanks next door.


A grilled trout

Salmon is also on the menu. In the nearby tavern Limni (translated: lake tavern) you can order the delicious dish trout with feta.

In the village Zaros itself a walk through the main street in the centre is more than worthwhile. The famous instrument maker Antonis Stefanakis has his business here. On the walls you can admire handmade musical instruments of high quality. He makes typical Cretan instruments such as Laouto, Lyra and Bouzouki.

Also in the main street of Zaros is an old weaving mill. Here traditional cloths and blankets are produced by hand. The relatively inexpensive products are ideal as souvenirs. The old looms are a great photo motif.

The probably best restaurant of Zaros is also in the central main street. The restaurant is called Vengara. Here is still much like in good old Crete. A loving elderly lady runs the tavern Vengara. She dedicates herself to sewing when she has no customers. Very inexpensive offers like fish with salad and a glass of wine for 8 euros, several great salads for 4 euros.

At a small fountain in the village centre you can try the fresh water of Zaros for free.

Rouvas Gorge: Many tourists who come to Zaros are hikers. The majority go through the famous Rouvas Gorge. The start of the hike is directly at Lake Votomos near Zaros. A large sign in English and Greek behind the lake informs about the gorge. The walking time through the Rouvas-Gorge is about 5-6 hours round trip. One sees a narrow gorge with high walls and a lot of forest. Unfortunately parts of the forest have fallen victim to a fire some years ago. The rich flora and fauna of the Rouvas Gorge is not only interesting for experts. The oak forest (holm oaks) is one of the few on Crete. Botanists and amateurs enjoy the many rare orchid species in the Rouvas Gorge near Zaros. You should take enough drinking water with you and inform yourself about the weather beforehand. Better you don't go alone. It can get very hot in the gorge in summer. Sometimes the gorge is also called Agios-Nikolaos-Gorge. Also the monastery that one passes at the beginning of the hike is called Agios Nikolaos. The hike is exhausting. On the way there it goes up about 700 metres in altitude. See: Cretan Gorges

The water of Zaros is famous in Crete. It is the most famous drinking water in Crete. The brand is simply called Zaros. You can find the water in almost every supermarket on the island.

The bus connections to Zaros are bad. As far as we know, there are a maximum of two public buses a day from Heraklion to Zaros. Buses to and from Mires are even rarer.

Practically all visitors to the village come with their own vehicle or rental car. In the middle of Mires (a little east of the city centre on the main road) you should not miss the turn-off to Zaros if you want to get to Zaros from the south of Crete.

 

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