Lasithi

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The Irresistible Land

Authentic Villages on the Slopes of Psiloritis and Exotic Sceneries on the Outskirts of the Libyan Sea

“…In the middle of the dim sea lies an island, Crete. Beauteous, fecund and surrounded by the sea, its dwellers are numerous and its villages ninety in number. Each nation and another language…”

Homer, Odyssey

Crete is the largest island of Greece, one of the biggest of the Mediterranean and a crossroad of the continents of Africa, Europe and Asia lying at the southernmost part of Europe. An island of legendary kings, powerful deities and mythical monsters renowned for its glorious history and its civilizations, its exceptional gastronomy, its distinctive musical tradition and its unique culture and heritage, will go beyond your expectations. Lasithi is the easternmost prefecture and Agios Nikolaos is the capital city of the prefecture. Characterized as one of the most beautiful cities of Crete, the seaside town spreads around the picturesque bay of Mirabello. It is an irresistible city where nature, history and tradition blend harmonically in a mysterious way. The natural beauty of Lasithi hosts sceneries of untouched nature with fertile valleys, numerous caves and gorges and an impressive coastline scattered from archaeological sites, castles, fortresses, churches and monasteries. The mythical palm forest of Vai, the beautiful Gulf of Mirabello, the windmills on the Plateau of Lasithi, the tropical islands of Chrissi and Koufonisi and the fortress of Spinalonga will take your breath away!

 

 

Discover Lasithi

Best of Lasithi

The Capital of Lasithi 

The City of Agios Nikolaos is the capital of Lasithi located on the northernmost point of the bay of Mirabello. The modern town of Agios Nikolaos is the administrative and commercial center of Lasithi. Characterized as one of the most beautiful cities of Crete, Agios Nikolaos has become one of the main attractions of the island. The landmark of the city is the large lake of Agios Nikolaos namely Voulismeni Lake.

The Archeological Site of Zakros

The Archeological Site of Zakros is located in the area of Paleokastro. Zakros was the fourth largest palatial construction of the island that served as the center of commercial activity with eastern countries due to its advantageous geographical position. Archaeological findings brought to light a series of Minoan tombs inside the caves and walls of the slopes of the Gorge of the Dead. The most important archaeological findings include workshop objects and remnants of sanctuaries. Findings from the archaeological excavations are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia.

The Fortress of Kazarma 

The Fortress of Kazarma is the most impressive historical monument of the region standing on the top of a hill above the town of Sitia. The fortress used to be an administrative and a military center during the Byzantine years. However, the fortress was partially destroyed from pirate invasions and a great earthquake until its total destruction. However, the fortress was rebuild from the Venetians. Today, the fortress has been restored and it is open to the public offering panoramic views of the bay of Sitia. During the summer, various cultural and musical events take place at the fortress.

The Isle of Chrissi 

The Isle of Chrissi is an uninhabited island of seven square kilometer located on the south side of the prefecture. The island hosts beautiful sceneries of exotic natural beauty dominated from endless sandy dunes and aquamarine waters. Chrissi been declared as a protected area of intense natural beauty and a wildlife refugee from the European Network of Natura 2000.

The Monastery of Toplou 

The Monastery of Toplou is one of the most important monasteries of Crete located close to the Vai Palm Forest. The monastery was founded in the 15th century but it was destroyed during a severe earthquake in 1612. The reconstruction of the monastery was made from the Venetians but it was destroyed again during the Ottoman occupation. The monastery is built in a remote location with a fortified architectural style. Inside the monastery, one can admire an interesting collection of icons, church relics and engravings in the Museum of Greek Folk Etching and Chalcography from Mount Athos. The monastery celebrates in honor of the saint in September 26.

The Plateau of Lasithi

The Plateau of Lasithi is one of the most fertile valleys of Crete lying on the northwest side of the Mountains of Dikti. Located in a peaceful region, the plateau covers approximately a surface of fifty square kilometers surrounded from wild mountains and various smaller plateaus. The windmills are the trademark of the plateau. The eighteen villages of the plateau are built on the foothills of the surrounding mountains and they are connected through a long circular road.

The Vai Palm Forest 

The Vai Palm Forest is one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean located close to the village of Palekastro. It hosts the largest natural palm forest of Europe, made up of five thousands Cretan Date Palms. According to tradition, the forest was created from the Arabs during the medieval times while others believe that the trees were planted from the Saracen pirates who wanted to hide. The Vai Palm Forest became popular in the 1970s, when the last hippies started coming to the island. As the area became a horrible campground, the Vai Palm Forest was cleaned and declared as a protected area of natural beauty.

Archaeological Sites

The Archeological Site of Gournia is located on the slopes of a hill close to the Gulf of Mirabello to the northern side of the region of Ierapetra. The site is known as Pompeii of Minoan Crete owing of the good condition of the preservation. The most important monuments of the site are the traces of the unfortified town with the remnants of houses, workshops and walls and the remnants of the palace that served as the center of the agora of the town.

The Archaeological Site of Itanos is located next to the Vai Palm Forest. Ancient Itanos was one of the strongest cities of Crete, especially in the Hellenistic times, and it flourished from the glass trade and fishing and trade of Tyrian purple, the red dye coming from shell extract in Koufonisi Isle. Archaeological excavations brought to light numerous ruins including the traces of the large tower built from black stones, the large Christian church of the Hellenistic settlement, the two Christian churches and the cemetery outside the town.

The Archeological Site of Lato is built on the saddle of two hills close to the village of Kritsa. Lato was one of the most powerful Doric cities of Crete and it is considered to be the best preserved town of the Hellenistic period of Crete. Archaeological excavations brought to light traces of the fortified city, the open space of Agora, the monumental complex of Prytaneion, the remnants of the temple and an ancient theatre.

The Archaeological Site of Olous is an ancient sunken city located at the present town of Elounda. It was located on the Isthmus where the island of Hersonissos, opposite, unites with the main land of Crete. Olous was one of the most important cities of Ancient Crete, which was destroyed after a devastating earthquake in 780 AD. Ancient artifacts and insrictpions discovered on Olous are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos.

The Archaeological Site of Palekastro is located on northernmost edge of the eastern side of the island close to the city of Sitia. Palekastro was one of the largest Minoan cities of Crete. The most important monuments of the site include the Sanctuary of Dikteon Zeus, the remnants of a Minoan settlement along with the ruins of cemeteries of the Minoan civilization. Findings from the archaeological excavations are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia.

The Archeological Site of Pressos is built on three hills close to the city of Sitia. Ancient Pressos was a city founded from the Eteocretans (the genuine Cretans) who abandoned the Minoan towns and found refugee in the remote areas of the island after the Dorian invasions. The most important archaeological monuments include the remarkable dwelling of the Hellenistic era, the sacrificial altar with two Minoan inscriptions with Greek characters and the remnants of an acropolis and an impressive mansion.

The Archeological Site of Zakros is located in the area of Paleokastro. Zakros was the fourth largest palatial construction of the island that served as the center of commercial activity with eastern countries due to its advantageous geographical position. Archaeological findings brought to light a series of Minoan tombs inside the caves and walls of the slopes of the Gorge of the Dead. The most important archaeological findings include workshop objects and remnants of sanctuaries. Findings from the archaeological excavations are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Sitia.

Castles and Fortresses

The Fortress of Kazarma is the most impressive historical monument of the region standing on the top of a hill above the town of Sitia. The fortress used to be an administrative and a military center during the Byzantine years. However, the fortress was partially destroyed from pirate invasions and a great earthquake until its total destruction. However, the fortress was rebuild from the Venetians. Today, the fortress has been restored and it is open to the public offering panoramic views of the bay of Sitia. During the summer, various cultural and musical events take place at the fortress.

The Fortress of Spinalonga is an exemplary sample of Venetian architecture located on the island of Spinalonga. During the Hellenistic period, the island was fortified from the inhabitants of Olounda in order to protect the harbor of the Ancient City of Olous. Under the Venetian domination, the island was fortified with a new powerful fortress, according to the fortress system of Genese Bressani and Latino Orsini above the ruins of the ancient fortress of Olounites at the highest point of the area. After the renovation of the old buildings and houses and the fortifications of the Venetian walls, the island became one of the most important fortresses of Greece.

The Fortress of Kales is an outstanding example of the fortified architecture of the Venetians located in the city of Ierapetra. The fortress was built in order to protect the city of Ierapetra while it was destroyed from a massive earthquake in 1508. However, the fortress was restored from Ottomans. Today, the fortress host numerous cultural and musical events organized from the municipality.

Churches and Monasteries

The Church of Panagia Kera is one of the most important churches of the island located close to the village of Kritsa. The church follows the Byzantine style of architecture with ceramic decorations. Inside the monastery, one can admire numerous well-preserved paintings and frescoes dating back to the Paleologian Renaissance.

The Monastery of Kapsa is one of the most beautiful monasteries of the prefecture built on a steep rocky hill above the sea at the sides of the gorge of Pervolakia, close to the village of Makrigialos. The monastery was founded in the 15th century while it was destroyed from the Ottomans. Today, the monastery has been renovated. The monastery celebrates in honor of the saint on August 29.

The Monastery Kremaston of Neapoli (Hanging Monastery) is built on a steep slope close to the village of Vrises. The monastery has a fortified architectural style, while it gives the impression that it is hanging as it lies on a steep wooded hillside, thus the name of the monastery. The convent is dedicated to Archangels Michael and Gabriel. There is also an iconography workshop operated from the nuns.

The Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni is an abandoned monastery located in a verdant area close to the city of Sitia.  The monastery has old monk cells of medieval architecture style and the churches are decorated with old frescoes. Every 15th of August, the monastery opens the doors to its visitors for the traditional celebration in honor of Virgin Mary.

The Monastery of Panagia Kroustallenia is one of the most historical monasteries of the island built on a verdant hill close to the village of Agios Konstantinos in the plateau of Lasithi. According to tradition, the name of the monastery derives from the icon of Virgin Mary that was found in a nearby cave that was carved in crystal. The complex of the monastery consists from buildings of the 20th century as it was destroyed during the Ottoman domination. The main temple of the monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary. To this extend, the monastery celebrates on August 15.

The Monastery of Toplou is one of the most important monasteries of Crete located close to the Vai Palm Forest. The monastery was founded in the 15th century but it was destroyed during a severe earthquake in 1612. The reconstruction of the monastery was made from the Venetians but it was destroyed again during the Ottoman occupation. The monastery is built in a remote location with a fortified architectural style. Inside the monastery, one can admire an interesting collection of icons, church relics and engravings in the Museum of Greek Folk Etching and Chalcography from Mount Athos. The monastery celebrates in honor of the saint in September 26.

Museums

The Archeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos is located in the city of Agios Nikolaos. The museum exhibits recently excavated archaeological findings from regions of Eastern Crete including bronze and gold artifacts, vessels and Minoan remnants dating back to the Neolithic period to the Greco Roman period.

The Archeological Museum of Ierapetra is housed in the building of the Ottoman Commercial School located in the city of Ierapetra. The museum was formed in the late 19th century from the residents of Ierapetra who founded the Educational Association of Ierapetra in order to preserve the antiquities of the area.
The Archeological Museum of Sitia is located in the city of Sitia. Exhibits include archaeological findings from the Minoan town of Palekastro and the Minoan Palace of Zakros. Amongst the most impressive exhibits is the chryselephantine statue named Kouros Palekastro that is considered to be a masterpiece of the art of the Minoan civilization.

The Folklore Museum of Sitia is located in the city of Sitia. The museum displays items from the 19th and 20th centuries. Exhibits include unique embroidery, examples of traditional weaving, woodcarvings, local dress and household items, all displayed in an authentic Sitian house setting.

The Museum of Eleftherios Venizelos is located in the village of Agios Georgios. Housed in a stone building of the 19th century, the museum houses an interesting collection of the personal belongings of Eleftherios Venizelos, the most important Greek politician.

Natural Beauties

The Cave of Ideon Andron is the legendary birthplace of Zeus located on the eastern mountain slopes of Psiloritis in Nida Plateau. Although the cave has not special geological value, the cultural value is priceless as it is considered to be the birthplace of the greatest god of Ancient Greece. The cave of Ideon Andron has an area of eight hundred square meters that is divided into three chambers along with the sanctuary. The stalactites near the entrance are worth seeing. The cave is accessible through a stone paved trail from the village of Psihros.

The Forest of Selekano is one of the greatest ecosystems of Crete lying on the Mountain Range of Dikti. The forest is covered with ample, cypress, pine and plane trees while an area of the forest is covered with apiarian production, so you might come across many bees during the period of efflorescence.

The Gorge of Ha is the wildest and most dangerous gorge of the Crete located on the eastern side of the island. Renowned for its rare geomorphological phenomenon due to a tectonic earthquake, the gorge hosts a rich flora and fauna as it is rarely touched from human presence. The Gorge of Ha is considered to be the fifth most beautiful gorge in Europe.

The Gorge of Milonas is located in the region of Ai Giannis in Ierapetra. It is a very beautiful gorge with verdant vegetation and running waters offering breathtaking sceneries. Inside the gorge, there is a waterfall of forty meters in height with magnificent landscapes. Keep in mind that descending the gorge from Ai Giannis is quite impossible without canyoning equipment.

The Gorge of Orino is located close to the forest of Koutsouras and ends to the settlement of Orino.  It is a beautiful gorge with impressive cliffs, verdant vegetation and running springs that forms one of the steepest rivers of the island. The The river shapes incredible waterfalls with ponds while the last three waterfalls of Peristerionas create of the most beautiful sceneries of the island.

The Gorge of Zakros (The Gorge of the Dead) is a beautiful gorge of fascinating scenery with scattered caves and tombs of the Minoan era extending from the region of Ano Zakros to the beach of Kato Zakros. The gorge is also called the gorge of the dead as the tombs of the Minoan Area were found in the area.

The Lake of Brarmiana is located close to the city of Ierapetra. It is the second largest wetland of Southern Greece that has been designated as a National Park. The lake covers a large area surrounded from plane, tamarisk and pine trees and it serves as a shelter for migratory birds.

The Lake of Voulismeni is the lake of the city of Agios Nikolaos. It is a sweet water lake surrounded from red rock formations and lush vegetation that is connected to the sea from a straight channel. According to mythology, the Goddess Athena and the Goddess Artemis bathed in the lake of Voulismeni.

The Plateau of Katharo is a beautiful plateau of natural beauty located close to the village of Kritsa. As the plateau consists from apple trees and oak trees, it is an ideal destination for botanist lovers. During summer, there are taverns operating in the plateau. One can also visit the Shepherds Feast that is held in the plateau every first weekend after 15th of August. There, one will have the opportunity to experience how cheese is produced.

The Plateau of Lasithi is one of the most fertile valleys of Crete lying on the northwest side of the Mountains of Dikti. Located in a peaceful region, the plateau covers approximately a surface of fifty square kilometers surrounded from wild mountains and various smaller plateaus. The windmills are the trademark of the plateau. The eighteen villages of the plateau are built on the foothills of the surrounding mountains and they are connected through a long circular road.

The Vai Palm Forest is one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean located close to the village of Palekastro. It hosts the largest natural palm forest of Europe, made up of five thousands Cretan Date Palms. According to tradition, the forest was created from the Arabs during the medieval times while others believe that the trees were planted from the Saracen pirates who wanted to hide. The Vai Palm Forest became popular in the 1970s, when the last hippies started coming to the island. As the area became a horrible campground, the Vai Palm Forest was cleaned and declared as a protected area of natural beauty.

Promenades & Villages

Agios Nikolaos is the capital of Lasithi located on the northernmost point of the bay of Mirabello. The modern town of Agios Nikolaos is the administrative and commercial center of Lasithi. Characterized as one of the most beautiful cities of Crete, Agios Nikolaos has become one of the main attractions of the island. The landmark of the city is the large lake of Agios Nikolaos namely Voulismeni Lake.

Elounda is a seaside village located on the north side of the prefecture. Spreading around the bay of Mirabello, the village of Elounda is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages of the island hosting numerous fine sandy beaches. With a starting point of Elounda, you can visit the charming village of Pines with spectacular views and the island of Spinalonga.

Ierapetra is a seaside town located on the south side of the prefecture. The town is the largest town of Lasithi standing on the narrowest crossing of the island. Ierapetra has an authentic Cretan atmosphere surrounded from abundant cultivations of lemon and orange groves. One can also visit the charming village of Kalamafka with spectacular views from the Chapel of Timios Stavros, the mountainous village of Agios Ioannis embellished with the beautiful Gorge of Milonas and the charming settlement of Kaliva, the verdant village of Mirtos with exceptional natural beauty sceneries, the Lake Bramianon and the tropical island of Chrissi.

Kalamafka is one of the charming villages of the island lying in the middle of a verdant fertile valley on the central part of the prefecture. The village has a traditional character with old traditional houses and cobblestone alleys. The surrounding areas are ideal for hiking and trekking lovers, as they are blessed from impressive gorges, unexplored caves and lush forests.

Kato Zakros is a seaside village located on the west side of the prefecture. The settlement lies in a wild landscape surrounded from barren mountains and steep slopes on one side and the endless Libyan Sea on the other side. Kato Zakros is considered to be one of the most remote areas of the island, an ideal destination for those looking for relaxations and tranquility. The village is renowned for the best olive oil production of the island. The beautiful beach of the settlement is a large protected bay with pebbles and tranquil waters. At last, the wild gorge of Zakros is an ideal location for hiking lovers.

Kritsa is one of the most beautiful villages of the island located on the west side of the prefecture. It is a traditional mountainous village built on a fabulous location on the foothills of Dikti Mountains with magnificent views over the surrounding areas. In a close distance from the village, one can visit the beautiful church of Panagia Kera and the he archaeological site of Lato.  The Agricultural Association of Kritsa has been awarded for its olive as the best olive in the world!

Mesa and Exo Potami are two mountainous villages located on the north side of the prefecture.  Located on the slopes of Mount Selenas, the villages are blessed with verdant vegetation and lush vegetation. The surrounding areas of the villages offer magnificent sceneries for hiking lovers.

Milatos is a traditional village located on the north side of the prefecture. The village is famous for the historical cave of Milatos, the place where the local people found shelter from the Ottomans in 1823 but they massacred after a period of fifteen days. Milatos is blessed with the finest of nature. On the eastern side of the village, there are a series of isolated bays with narrow strips of sand. The village is located close to the archaeological site of the Minoan town of Milatos that was destroyed from the opponent Minoan town of Lyttos. According to the legend, Milatos was a boy raised from a wolf in the forest. When the boy grew up, he killed the tyrant of the city escaping to the shores of Asia Minor and founded the colony of Miletus in 1500 BC.

Mohlos is a seaside village located on the north side of the prefecture. The village has managed to retain its traditional authentic elements and it is known for the delicious fresh fish taverns. One can climb up to the chapel of Agio Pnevma, on the southern side of the village, to enjoy panoramic views over the Gulf of Mirabello. On the eastern side of the village, there are a series of secluded bays including the beautiful coves of Kolimbakia that are ideal for snorkeling and the sandy beach of Limenaria. On the western side of the village, the region hosts the isolated beaches of Altsi. It is also worth visiting the neighboring villages of Myrsini, Sfaka and Tourloti.

Neapoli is a seaside town located on the north side of the prefecture. Nestling in a verdant valley, the charming town has an authentic atmosphere with well-preserved neoclassical buildings and narrow alleys. The most important monuments of Neapoli include the Archaeological and Folklore Museum of Neapoli, the Cathedral of Megali Panagia and the imposing Monastery of Kremasto. It is also worth visiting also the neighboring traditional villages of Houmeriakos, Limnes and Latisda.

Plaka is a seaside village with amazing views towards the Island of Spinalonga located on the north side of the prefecture. Lying amongst verdant vegetation, Plaka has managed to retain its natural beauty.  The tiny settlement is renowned for its delicious fish taverns. The village offers access to the island of Spinalonga, one of the most interesting attractions of the island. Plaka is a lovely destination for summer vacations and one of the best opportunities to enjoy the natural landscapes. It is also worth visiting the neighboring traditional village of Vrouhas. Vrouhas is a beautiful mountainous settlement surrounded from olive groves and wooded hills. The village has managed to maintain its traditional character and its natural beauty.

Sissi is a seaside village located on the north side of the prefecture. The harbor of the village has managed to partially keep its traditional atmosphere while the village has a truly authentic character. Sissi hosts a series of beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters including the beaches of Avlaki, Boufos, Kalimera and Spiliada. One can also visit the archaeological site of Malia and the monastery of Agios Georgios of Selinari.

Sitia is a seaside town located on the south side of the prefecture. The town lies around the homonymous bay. Sitia boasts a magnificent countryside adorned from dramatic gorges and intriguing villages home to important archaeological sites, notable monasteries and majestic beaches. In a close distance from the city, one can also visit the archaeological site of Pressos and with the winery of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Sitia.  The neighboring traditional villages of Stavromenos and Sandali are also worth a visit.

Sunset Spots

Spot: Archaeological Site of Lato, West Lasithi

Spot: Beach of Plaka, North Lasithi

Spot: Byzantine Fortress of Kazarma, South Lasithi

Spot: Chapel of Timios Stavros, Central Lasithi

Spot: Monastery of Kapsa, South Lasithi

Spot: Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni, South Lasithi

Spot: Monastery of Toplou, East Lasithi

Spot: Venetian Fortress of Spinalonga, Spinalonga Island

Excursions

Excursion: The Prefecture of Chania is the westernmost prefecture of Crete and its capital city is Chania, a city of culture and beauty with an exceptional identity, history and tradition blessed with the finest of Crete dominated from the White Mountains. Worshiped by beauty, Chania is encompassed from an endless coastline of sandy beaches of exotic beauty, impressive gorges and secret caves, verdant valleys and flowing rivers covered with olive and citrus trees amongst the green oasis of the mountainous and coastal villages.

Excursion: The Prefecture of Heraklio is the central eastern prefecture of Crete and its capital city is Heraklio, the beautiful capital city of Crete home to the renowned Palace of Knossos and the myth of the Minotaur.  Having experienced rich historical momentums of great glory, Heraklio entails a barren landscape with fertile plains and golden sandy beaches adorned from a lovely countryside with charming villages hiding between the verdant vineyards between the lush valleys and plateaus’ retaining their customs and traditions, magical archaeological sites with glorious history, stunning caves and gorges waiting to be discovered.

Excursion: The Prefecture of Rethymno is the central western prefecture of Crete and Rethymno Town is the capital city of the region, one of the best-preserved medieval towns of Greece. The countryside reveals the impressive and wildest side of the region where nature is the absolute master. Deep gorges and flowing streams tilling on the foot of the Mountain of Psiloritis, palm trees lying in a landscape looking like an African oasis, lush greenery vineyards and forest hiding behildthe verdant ravines and endless sandy seashores in the cold waters of the Libyan Sea makes you think that you live in a paralleled universe.

Activities

Bicycling: The countryside of Lasithi is an ideal place for cycling lovers. There are numerous bicycle rentals on the island where you can rent a bicycle and discover the beaches and villages of Lasithi. The circular road of the plateau of Lasithi passing from the eighteen charming villages of the plateau is an ideal route for bicycling lovers.

Bird Watching: Lasithi has the perfect environment for thousands native and migratory birds. Bird watching locations include the lake of Bramiana and the Park of Amazonas.

Botanism: The Plateau of Katharo is a beautiful plateau of natural beauty located close to the village of Kritsa. As the plateau consists from apple trees and oak trees, it is an ideal destination for botanist lovers. During summer, there are taverns operating in the plateau. One can also visit the Shepherds Feast that is held in the plateau every first weekend after 15th of August. There, one will have the opportunity to experience how cheese is produced. The plateau is an ideal place for botanist lovers.

Caving: The Cave of Ideon Andron is the legendary birthplace of Zeus located on the eastern mountain slopes of Psiloritis in Nida Plateau. Although the cave has not special geological value, the cultural value is priceless as it is considered to be the birthplace of the greatest god of Ancient Greece. The cave of Ideon Andron has an area of eight hundred square meters that is divided into three chambers along with the sanctuary. The stalactites near the entrance are worth seeing. The cave is accessible through a stone paved trail from the village of Psihros.

Driving: The hinterland of Lasithi offers numerous routes for driving enthusiasts. (1) The plateau of Lasithi offers amazing driving routes with beautiful sceneries. (2) Another beautiful route includes the one starting from the village of Makrigialos heading eastern towards the settlement of Goudouras. This route passes through the most authentic and pristine part of the prefecture. From Goudouras, one can continue towards the charming village of Agia Triada and the village of Ziros towards the settlement of Xirokambos. This route offers the most astonishing views towards the Libyan Sea.

Hiking: Lasithi hosts numerous paths ideal for lovers of hiking. (1) The Gorge of Ha is the wildest and most dangerous gorge of the island with a rich flora and fauna. Ha Gorge is an ideal route for experienced hiking lovers. (2) The Gorge of Zakros is a gorge with fascinating scenery with scattered caves and tombs of the Minoan era with archeological and geophysical elements that is easily accessible through the European pathway E4 starting from the village of Zakros. (3) Another interesting route include the one passing through the canyon of Richti with amazing natural beauty sceneries. (4) Worth visiting also the Gorge of Pervolakia for its imposing sceneries and its verdant vegetation.

Jeep Safari: The plateau of Lasithi offers amazing driving routes with beautiful sceneries for jeep safari experiences. There are a lot of suppliers who provide jeep safari in region of Lasithi.

Kitesurfing: Lasithi is known for its ideal conditions for lovers of kitesurfing, as the island gets really windy especially in the summer. The beach of Kouremenos is one of the best beaches of Greece for practicing kitesurfing.

Paragliding: Do you love adventure sports? Chania offers numerous tracks for beginners and advanced users of paragliding in order to admire the high view of the nature of Crete. Hold on tight and the direction of the wind wills always blowing on the right way! Recommended areas include the archaeological site of Falasarna, the plateau of Askifou and the lake of Kournas. Discover more information from the Paragliding Center of Crete!

Sailing: Crete is a paradise for sailing enthusiasts. Sailing around the beautiful coasts of the island is fully recommended. Crete has a favorable climate with stronger winds only on its southern side. One can hire a boat with experienced captains and experience the true beauty of Crete from the Venetian Harbour of Chania. Ideal anchorage points include the marina of Agios Nikolaos that is protected from all weather conditions. The marina of Heraklio can accommodate sailboats and yachts up to thirteen meters with mooring berths from the Yacht Club of Heraklio. Must visit spots include the isle of Spinalonga and gulf of Mirabello on the northeast side of Crete and the isle of Gramvousa on the northwest side of Crete.

Windsurfing: Lasithi is known for its ideal conditions for lovers of windsurfing, as the island gets really windy especially in the summer. The beach of Kouremenos is one of the best beaches of Greece for practicing windsurfing.

Beaches

Agia Fotia is a pebbled beach with dark blue waters located on the south side of the prefecture. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of Crete.  The beach is well organized with numerous amenities including sunbeds, umbrellas, taverns and a beach bar.

Amatou is a sandy beach with emerald waters and rocky cliffs located on the southeast side of the prefecture. The beach is rather isolated ideal for those who are looking for relaxation and tranquility.

Chrissi is an uninhabited island located on the south side from the prefecture of Lasithi. The island boasts numerous tropical sandy beaches with turquoise waters. The isle is accessible by boat from the harbor of Makri Gialos.

Goudouras is a seaside village located on the south side of the prefecture. The beach of Votsalaki is a beautiful pebbled beach with turquoise waters ideal for those looking for tranquility and isolation.

Istros is a bay boasting a series of beautiful beaches with turquoise waters located close to the town of Agios Nikolaos. Amongst the most beautiful beaches is the beach of Voulisma with golden sand and turquoise waters, and the beaches of Vrionisi located on the eastern side of Istros.

Itanos is a charming settlement located close to the town of Sitia. The area boasts the three consecutive bays of Erimoupolis. The beaches are sandy with turquoise. The bays are also ideal for those looking for seclusion and tranquility.

Kato Zakros is a charming village located close to the town of Sitia. At the end of the settlement lies the beautiful beach of Kato Zakros that is ideal for those looking for seclusion. The seabed of the beach is ideal for spearfishing.

Kolokytha is a sandy beach with turquoise waters and rocky formations located on the southeast side of the peninsula of Spinalonga. The beach is accessible from the town of Elounda following the road towards the eastern side along the shore that leads to the peninsula.

Koufonisi is an uninhabited island located on the south side from the prefecture of Lasithi. The island boasts numerous beaches with turquoise waters and endless sandy dunes. One can access the isle by boat from the harbor of Makrigialos.

Kouremenos is a long sandy beach with turquoise waters and tamarisk trees located on the east side of the prefecture. The beach is one of the most famous beaches for windsurfing in Greece. The beach has also a windsurfing center.

Maridati is a secluded pebbled beach with turquoise waters located on the east side of the prefecture. The beach is isolated ideal for those looking for tranquility and seclusion. The surrounding areas of the beach have also beautiful seashores including the beaches of Kokkinos Kavos and Kedromouri.

Spinalonga is an exotic natural beauty peninsula blessed with beautiful beaches of turquoise waters. The northern side of the peninsula hosts the isolated beaches of Vathi and Skourgeto while the beautiful beach of Kolokytha is located in the southeast side of the peninsula. All the beaches of the peninsula are ideal for those looking for tranquility.

Plaka is a sandy bay with turquoise waters located on the north side of the prefecture.. The beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of the island overlooking the island of Spinalonga. The beach is well organized with sunbeds and umbrellas and taverns.

Sitia is the easternmost town of the island hosting a series of beautiful beaches. The beach of Sitia is sandy with blue waters and it is well organized with umbrellas and sunbeds, water sport facilities, taverns and beach bars.

Skourgeto is a sandy and pebbled beach with deep blue waters and rocky formations located on the northern side of the peninsula of Spinalonga. The beach is accessible from the town of Elounda following the road towards the eastern side along the shore that leads to the peninsula. From a point onwards, there is no roads so you will have to continue on foot.

Tholos is a tropical sandy and pebbled beach with turquoise waters located on the north side of the prefecture. The beach is located on the exit of a verdant valley of olive groves. The surrounding area is well organized with taverns. One can also visit the secluded beach of Malavra.

Vai is one of the most exotic beaches of the country with emerald waters located on the east side of the prefecture. The main feature of the beach is the large palm grove that surrounds the beach. The heavenly sceneries of the beach remind African and Caribbean seascapes.

Vathi is a secluded sandy and pebbled cove with crystal clear waters located on the northern side of the peninsula of Spinalonga. The beach is accessible from the town of Elounda following the road towards the eastern side along the shore that leads to the peninsula. From a point onwards, there is no roads so you will have to continue on foot.

Coffee
Local Products & Specialties

Taste the local products of graviera cheese, wine, raki or tsikoudia, olive oil,  and honey.

Taste the local specialties of Lasithi dakos, a traditional bread with tomatoes, mizithra cheese and virgin oil, boureki, a vegetable specialty, gamopilafo, a dish of risotto boiled with cock and goat,  apaki, a dish of pork meat marinated in vinegar and various herbs, siglino, a dish of pork meat cut in stripes boiled in a fireplace with various herbs, tsigiaristo, a dish of lamb meat cooked with oil in a casserole, courgette flowers with rice, hohlioi, a dish of snails cooked in a casserole, squids cooked in wine, myzithropita, a cheesepie made with myzithra cheese served with honey, kalitsounia, a sweet cheese pie,and kserotigana, a pastry with honey.

Events & Festivals

Every Saturday of the Orthodox Christian Easter, a celebration takes place in the city of Agios Nikolaos hosting an event with fireworks at the Lake of Voulismeni.

Every June, the Kornaria Festival takes place in the town of Sitia. The festival hosts a series of cultural events including dances, music concerts, art and photography exhibitions and theatrical plays for a period of two months.

Every June, the Marine Week takes place in the town of Agios Nikolaos hosting a series of swimming, windsurfing and boat races.

Every June, the Casa del Mezzo Music Festival takes place in the village Makris Gialos hosting musical events with musicians and instruments from all over the world.

Every July, the Kyrvia Festival takes place in the town Ierapetra hosting a series of traditional and folklore events.

Every July, the Soultana Festival takes place at the main square of Sitia. The festival hosts a series of traditional and folklore dances accompanied from Cretan delicacies. Soultana is a distinctive type of grape cultivated in Sitia.

Every August, the Feast of Eftazimo, a type of bread, takes place in the village of Kritsa. The festival hosts numerous customs and celebrations.

Every 15th of August, the traditional celebration in honor of Virgin Mary takes place at the Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni.

Every October, the Fish Festival takes place in the town of Elounda. The festival hosts numerous folklore events accompanied from traditional music and dance.

Every 6th of December, the city of Agios Nikolaos pays special tribute to the patron of the town, Agios Nikolaos who is also the protector of seamen, by celebrating with small boats sailing near the shore.

History & Mythology

Mythology

According to mythology, Titan Rea gave birth to Zeus in the Cave of Dikteon Andron in Lasithi. Rea decided to give birth inside the cave in order to protect Zeus from his father, Titan Cronus, who used to eat his children to show his authority. Rea tricked Cronus by sending him a rock wrapped in clothes, that he swallowed. After the birth of Zeus, Rea took him to the cave of Ideon Andron in order to raise him with the help of nymph Melissa. Zeus was guarded inside the cave from seven giants, called Kourites, and every time little Zeus was crying the giants were producing a great noise with their swords so that Cronus would not hear it. When Zeus became strong, he released his sisters and brothers from the stomach of his father and eventually claimed the throne.

History

Archaeological findings show that the prefecture of Lasithi has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Excavations have showed that the contemporary town of Agios Nikolaos has been built on the ruins of the ancient town of Lato, a prosperous city state which flourished as an autonomous city during the Roman and Byzantine periods.  After the siege of Constantinople in 1204, Crete was given to the Marquis de Monfera, Bonifacio, who sold Crete to the Venetians. During the Venetian occupation, the Genovese pirates build a fortress of top of the hill of Kefali, known as Mirabello, which has now been destroyed from several earthquakes and pirate raids. At that time, the Cretans managed to develop their culture and commercial activities until the entire island of Crete was dominated by the Ottoman Empire in 1645.  Crete became a part of the Greek State on December of 1913.  For many decades, Crete and Lasithi suffered from other battles of Greece including against the dictator of Ioannis Metaxas and the Germans. Today, Lasithi is a great cultural and commercial center and a historical monument with a unique and exceptional identity, history and tradition.

Travel & Transport

By Air: Lasithi has the National Airport of Sitia. Numerous flights operate on an annual basis from the International Airport of Athens. The journey usually lasts forty five minutes to one hour. Book your tickets with AirTickets.com!

By Boat (195 Nautical Miles): Agios Nikolaos is accessible by boat from the harbor of Piraeus. The journey usually lasts fourteen hours. During the summer, there are connections with the islands of Kasos, Karpathos Kos and Santorini. Book your tickets with FerriesinGreece.com !

Mysterious Greece Tips

Agrotourism in the Plateau of Lasithi

Simplicity, harmony, clean air, warm hospitality and relaxed atmosphere. Is that what you are looking for? If yes, you should definitely visit the eighteen village of the plateau of Lasithi. The Plateau of Lasithi is one of the most fertile valleys of Crete lying on the northwest side of the Mountains of Dikti. Located in a peaceful region, the plateau covers approximately a surface of fifty square kilometers surrounded from wild mountains and various smaller plateaus. The windmills are the trademarks of the plateau. The eighteen villages of the plateau are built on the foothills of the surrounding mountains and they are connected through a long circular road. A series of agrotourism lodging facilities are available at the wider region of the plateau. The mountainous villages of Agios Konstantinos, Seli and Tzermiado are amongst the most beautiful village of the area.

Authentic at Its Best: Villages of Lasithi

Don’t miss out visit the beautiful village of Kritsa for its panoramic views of the Bay of Mirabello, which welcomes you with one of the most important Byzantine monuments of Crete, the Byzantine Church of Panagia Kera. The charming villages of Epano and Kato Elounda, Mavrikiano and Skisma that spread on verdant green valleys introduce the genuine Cretan lifestyle, where you can enjoy a Greek coffee at the traditional cafeterias. The mountainous village of Tzermiado does worth a visit for the beautiful sceneries while the mountainous villages of Myrsini and Tourloti offer amazing views towards the Libyan Sea that will take your breath away! And lets not forget about the picturesque fishing village of Mohlos for its delicious fish taverns and the tiny settlement of Amigdali for the serenity of the landscapes.

Discover the Hinterland of Lasithi

It is advisable to travel outside the borders of the city in order to discover the beautiful villages of Lasithi! Lasithi is considered to be one of the most genuine parts of the island, so it is highly recommended to explore the northeast and the southeast part of the prefecture!

Driving Explorations: Scattered Windmills and Authentic Villages

Driving over the Plateau of Lasithi is definitely a unique experience! The Plateau of Lasithi is one of the most beautiful elements of the topography of Crete. The fertile land of the plateau is endowed with verdant vegetation and watered from the melting snowcaps of Mount Dikti! It worth mentioning that the plateau of Lasithi is one of the most fertile regions of Greece! Another interesting fact is that the plateau numbers ten thousands windmills dressed with white cloth sails! The villages are surely must visit while the Cave of Ideon Andron, else known as the birthplace of Zeus, also worth a visit! As for religious monuments, one can visit the monastery of Panagia Kroustallenia in the village of Agios Konstantinos and the church of Timios Stavros in the village of Tzermiado!

Exotic at Its Best: Chrissi and Koufonisi Isles

Undoubtedly, you have to visit the Isles of Chrissi and Koufonisi on your days in Lasithi. These are two uninhabited islands literally have nothing to be jealous from the Caribbean. Exotic sceneries, endless sandy dunes and aquamarine waters are the monuments that one will have the opportunity to discover!

Find More Information about Crete

If you want to discover the entire island of Crete, it is highly recommended to be advised from the website of Mr. Alexandros Roniotis. He created a wonderful website with information for his beloved island. His main idea was to present a website with information about Crete! The website is CretanBeaches.com.

Grapes and Wines: The Long Tradition of Crete

The island is known for its long tradition in wine production since antiquity. The climate and the soil of Crete are the main determinants of the fine quality of the wines of Crete. So, are you interested in discovering the deep roots of wine production of Crete? One can discover the procedure of wine making from the Agricultural Union of Sitia!

Hiking at Its Best: Dikti Mountain Range

The Mountain Range of Dikti is the largest range of Eastern Crete that stretches on the borders of the prefectures of Heraklio and Lasithi. The highest peaks of the range include Karfi (2.148 m) and Afendis Christos (2.141m). The center of the range hosts the Plateau of Lasithi at an altitude of 850m while there are numerous others plateaus including Katharo and Omalos. Moreover, numerous canyons cross the mountains of Dikti such as the gorge of Havgas and the gorge of Krista. The area of Dikti is one of the most fertile areas of the island with an enormous ecological importance. Hiking to Afendis Christos is definitely an amazing experience! The shortest trekking trail of E4 starts in the north side of the Plateau of Limnakarou above the Plateau of Lasithi and climbs up to the saddle of Afendis Christos.

Hospitable Crete

The inhabitants of Crete are known for their hospitality all over Greece. If you happen to be in a place where locals invite you for a glass of the traditional alcoholic drink of raki, do not reject as they usually take it very personal, and it is kind of an insult! Just say cheers and smile!

It’s Sunset Time

Yes, we do have a section for sunset spots! However, one should also visit the villages of Kroustas, Loumas and Stavromenos to enjoy the breathtaking sunset views!

Observing the Stars of the Aegean by Night

Do you want to observe the stars and the moon of the Aegean? Or do you desire to watch the planets, the nebulas and the galaxies? Or maybe you want to watch the sun? The Observatory of Sasteria offers astronomy seminars!

Snorkeling at Its Best: Ancient Olous with A Mask

When the waters are warm and calm, the remains of the roman settlement on the seabed of the Archaeological Site of Olous are visible!

Southern Crete: Endless Sandy Seashores

The southern coast of the island of Crete is well known for its beautiful pristine beaches. The beaches border with the Libyan sea and it is also an ideal place for lovers of scuba diving and snorkeling!

Worth Visiting Beaches and Villages

As Crete is the biggest island of Greece, the prefecture of Lasithi has an endless coastline of beaches. Some of the most beautiful beaches include Elounda, Istros, Kouremenos, Tholos and Vai. As for villages, Lasithi is covered with “millions of worlds”. The villages of Crete are many and time is limited to discover them all. Some of the most interesting villages and natural beauties include the villages of Agios Konstantinos, Kritsa, Milatos, Sissi and Tzermiado and the natural beauties of the Gorges of Ha and Zakros, the Vai Palm Forest and the Plateau of Lasithi. However, as everybody has his own tastes, the best way to explore the island is to rent a car and get a map. Drive in the places that captured your attention, and discover new worlds!

Photo Credits

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Note: All the images are copyrighted from their owners. Please see Terms & Conditions. You can find the original images at the following links:

Agios Nikolaos: Christophe Faugere by Flickr

Dikti Mountain Range: HikingHarry by Flickr

Gorge of Ha: Visit Ierapetra by Flickr

Ierapetra Town: Ierapetra Official Website

Kapsa Monastery: Visitsitia.gr

Landscape: TrekGreece

Lasithi Plateau: Shutterstock

Potami Dam: Mpolitis by Flickr

Psira Island: Ingo Wölbern by Wikimedia

Richti Waterfall: Nikosr47 by Flickr