Lasithi – the easternmost and perhaps least explored region of Crete – delivers an ideal holiday experience whatever your travel style. Adventurers will love the terrain. This region features the Sitia Geopark, over 360 square kilometers of varied terrain and protected nature preserves, with a magnificent biodiversity. There are hiking trails for every level of skill and stamina, with highlights such as the Richtis Gorge, and the Toplou gorge, as well as segments of the E4 trail. More serious trekkers can take on the Dikti mountain, with its peak at Spathi at an elevation of 2148m.This is also an excellent destination for caving, with many caves besides the famous Dikteon Andron cave.
But for most travelers to Crete, the sea is the main draw. Lasithi’s beaches are extraordinary, and generally much less crowded than those of the rest of Crete. Xerokambos on the island’s eastern edge has a string of pristine beaches – one even has cliffs made of clay for a natural spa experience like no other. More well-known is Vai, on the northeastern tip of Crete. This golden sandy beach is edged by the largest palm forest in all Europe, an exotic sight. For the most remote superb beaches, you’ll need to get on a boat. There are two uninhabited island paradises off the south coast of Lasithi in the Libyan Sea – Chryssi and Koufonissi.
Lasithi is a rich destination for culture and history. Visitors who are interested in archaeology will be fascinated with Kato Zakros. The fourth in size of the Minoan palaces, Zakros is known for the Valley of the Dead, the beautiful gorge (part of the European E4) that leads to the sea. The Minoans of Zakros laid their dead to rest in the caves high in the sides of the cliffs. The gorge, despite its name, is not at all dark, but rather is filled with positive energy. Spinalonga, the Venetian island-fortress, is one of the most beautiful cultural sites of Crete. It’s also one of the most poignant: this was a leper colony for the first half of the 20th century. There were once many monasteries near Sitia, but after wars and pirate raids, just one – built like a fortress – remains. The 15th-century Toplou monastery is filled with beautiful icons and religious artifacts. It’s also a fine destination for oenophiles – the monastery produces excellent organic wines, as well as extra virgin olive oil.
Eastern Crete is a fantastic discovery. For the traveler seeking an authentic experience, this is true Crete at its best. The landscape is just as dramatic, the beaches are wilder, and the people are Crete’s warmest and most relaxed. While Crete’s western destinations – the regions of Chania, Rethymnon, and Heraklion – are very well-known, eastern Crete’s Lasithi retains some mystery. Much of the tourism is concentrated around the luxury resorts in the area, leaving the rest of Lasithi pristine, natural, and open for exploration.
The best way to experience the true Lasithi is by staying in authentic accommodations that reflect the true character of the region. At small inns, you will experience true hospitality. Your hosts will have an intimate knowledge of the area, and an enthusiasm to make sure their guests experience Lasithi to the fullest. The following accommodations in unique locations offer much more than a charming and hospitable place to stay. They are windows into the identity of the region, and a place to truly connect with Crete’s culture.
Villa Dio Petres
A dreamy property set in a lush olive grove with endless views of the sea, Villa Dio Petres is the kind of place you fantasize about building for yourself one day. In the meantime, enjoy the hospitality of your hosts Jacques Poot and Hans Rutten, who are ready to welcome you to this idyllic spot, and introduce you to the pleasures of Cretan village life. Supremely serene Villa Dio Petres is just 20 minutes from Agios Nikolaos and the shores of shimmering Mirabello Bay. The neighboring village of Kroustas is only 300 meters from Villa Dio Petres and is a wonderful place to experience Cretan village life and true local cuisine.
Jacques and Hans love to host. Jacques is a fine chef, and Hans is well-versed in the history and lore of the region, enthusiastic about making sure guests experience the best of the region, from a Dorian city, to a walk through the ruins of Minoan farms in a forest, to a 13th-century Byzantine church with magnificent frescoes.
This small Bed and Breakfast offers personal service and a selection of accommodations: a luxury room with a spectacular panoramic view, budget rooms, and also a suite. Enquire here to start planning a marvelous stay.
Maison Kronio, hosted by Christine and Vassilis Kargiotakis, offers excellent rooms and apartments built to modern standards of comfort in 2014. But the family’s reputation goes back further – they have welcomed thousands of visitors to Tzermiado over the last three decades at their excellent restaurant.
Marmaketo is a small village next to Tzermiado and is a fantastic destination for travelers who want to connect with nature. At an altitude of 850m in the fertile Lasithi plateau and ringed by mountains, Marmaketo is ideal for mountain biking and hiking. The hiking trails nearby can take you to the three peaks of Mt. Dikti, or a simpler route to Karfi, a Minoan settlement. Maison Kronio is also a central location for easily reaching everything you might want to see, from remote and fabulous beaches to the charms of Agios Nikolaos and Mirabello Bay.
Contact Maison Kronio directly to plan your stay.
One of the most storied locations of Lasithi, Kato Zakros is a destination that combines the fascination of an ancient Archaeological site with natural splendor. Terra Minoika – at the mouth of the Gorge of the Dead, by the shore, and overlooking the Minoan Palace of Zakros – is a place filled with positive energy and profound tranquility. Hostess Stella Ailamaki has a deep connection with the landscape and lore, and loves sharing the profound experience of a visit to Kato Zakros. The tasteful and charming stone villas of Terra Minoika express a strong sense of place, and offer every comfort, including a fully outfitted kitchen and private patio spaces. Guests make their own breakfasts as they like from the ample pantry provided by Terra Minoika.
There are splendid views of the sea and the gorge, as well as of magnificently starry night skies.
The fourth in size of the Minoan Palaces, the Palace of Zakros was an important center of trade and a significant archaeological find, excavated in the 1960s. The Gorge of the Dead makes a fascinating and beautiful hike. Kato Zakros attracts lovers of history and nature and is a quiet town. Tavernas serving excellent local cuisine line the lovely beach. Contact the property here to begin planning a memorable stay.
Experiencing Cretan Hospitality at its Best
At any or all of these excellent accommodations, you are assured not just comfort but also an enthusiastic introduction to the area, ensuring an enhanced, more personal Cretan experience.