Crete is full of mountain ranges, amongst which fertile plains and plateaus are formed. The largest plateau of Greece, the peaceful Lassithi Plateau is hidden between the wild peaks of Dicteos Mountains and some smaller plateaus. The Omalos Plateau, in White Mountains, is in the heart of the most mountainous area of Crete. Omalos is the starting point for several canyons of Sfakia, such as Samaria. Psiloritis Mountain also has several plateaus, with Nida being the most important. The largest plain in Crete is that of Messara, located in the southern prefecture of Iraklion. Smaller plains are scattered throughout the island, especially in coastal areas.
Lassithi Plateau is the largest plateau of Crete, surrounded by the high mountains of Mount Dikti and several smaller plateaus. Here, according to the legend, was born Zeus and he later paired with Europe. Moreover, here took place one of the fiercest battles in Cretan history, the Battle of Lassithi, in honor of which Sitia Prefecture was renamed to Lassithi Prefecture.
Omalos Plateau is located 38km south of Chania city and is surrounded by the high peaks of the White Mountains. The plateau is very famous as the starting point of the trail that crosses the largest canyon of Europe, the Samaria nature reserve.
The plateau of Nida is one of the largest in Crete, located at an altitude of 1400 meters, in the heart of the Psiloritis Mountain (or Mount Idi). Following the ravines that begin or end in the plateau, the traveler can climb up to the peak of Psiloritis, go down to the Rouvas forest, or behold in wonder the Mesara plain, from the natural balcony of the plain.
The plain of Messara is the largest plain in Crete, serving as the largest granary for centuries. Its major attractions are the Minoan palace at Phaestus, the Minoan harbor of Kommos, the Roman town Gortys, the famous beach of Matala, and certainly, the whole area of the wild Asteroussia Mountains, where you'll understand what authentic Crete means.
Amari valley is formed between the Mountains Kedros and Psiloritis, at an altitude of 400-500m and is 25km long. It is the natural passage from the north to south Rethymno and Messara plain. For its central location, it was the theter of several historical events, especially during the Ottoman rule.
Plateau Gious Kambos is located in the valley of Amari, being one of the major habitats of Crete. Unknown to all Cretans, the plateau is a haven for scientists since here grows the endemic species of a beautiful red tulip.
The plateau of Anopolis in Sfakia is located in the southern areas of the White Mountains. It is a small fertile plateau, with a great history and natural beauty. Here was born the legendary Daskalogiannis and flourished the ancient town of Anopolis. Moreover, it is the starting point for plenty of paths to the White Mountains, the gorge of Aradena and several more gorges.
The plateaus of Tavri and Niatos are located very close to the plateau Askifou. These are two amazing unexplored parts of Crete under the shadow of Kastri, one of the many towering peaks of the White Mountains.
Krapi plateau is met on the way to Askyfou or Sfakia from Vrysses, Chania. It is full of oak, wild olive and cypress trees. It was repeatedly the scene of conflicts between the Cretan Rebels and the Ottomans.
Askifou Plateau is located in the middle of the road connecting Vrysses to Sfakia. The area is very mountainous, with the White Mountains surrounding the quiet valley. It is worth strolling around the mountains to see the two castles in Goni and the small military museum in Kares.
The plateau Manikas is located at the province of Sfakia, at an altitude of 720 meters. Today, the settlement Manikas, after which it gets its name, has been abandoned and is only used by shepherds. The plateau hosts the beautiful stone-built church dedicated to St Emmanuel (celebr. August 21).
A small plateau perched in the White Mountains and the homonym village with the old church of Panagia. The desolated village is used by some shepherds and their flocks! From here starts the impressive gorge of Kalikratis that ends at the village Patsianos.
Vothonas or Lakoudia is a very small plateau located 40km south of Chania city, near to the village Vafes. It can be accessed from Vafes via by a passable dirt road. The landscape of the surrounding mountains is spectacular, with majestic views to the White Mountains and the shores of Georgioupolis.
Katharo plateau is located next to Kritsa village, at an altitude of 1150 meters. It is the highest plateau of Dikti Mount, transferring water to the Lassithi Plateau through the canyon of Havgas. Moreover, here fossils of elephants and hippos were found and the place has been studied by paleontologists.
The Plateau of Limnakaro is a small plateau near the Lassithi Plateau, which is surrounded by towering mountains of Dikti with the highest peak of Lazarus. Several little cottages have been built in the recent years, walnut is also cultivated, while the openings of roads have made the feast of the Holy Spirit very well known and accessible to Cretans.
The small Nisimos Plateau is one of the most genuine Cretan landscapes, which is worth seeing when visiting the Lassithi Plateau. Small, infertile and surrounded by bare mountains, Nisimos feels like very eerie. Visit the chapels of the Holy Cross and St. Ariadne, and the Postminoan settlement on the hill Karfi.
Omalos Plateau of Heraklion is located near Viannos. It is generally unknown and many confuse it with the Omalos Plateau in Chania, thus it is called Small Omalos. Here, the nature is still unspoiled and the calmness covers the whole region. Omalos is ideal for daily excursions when you feel like your inner batteries need charging!
The Plateau Lapathos is located on the southern slopes of Mount Dikti, near the beautiful pine wood of Selakano. It's a pretty small plateau, where you can get via passable dirt road starting from Kato Symi towards Selakano.
Thripti plateau is located at an altitude of 850m, near Pahia Ammos in Lassithi Prefecture. The scenic village of Thripti, the green landscapes and the unique pine forest in the mountains of Sitia, are some of the things that you will never forget.
Plateau of Armenohandrades is located 23km south of Sitia, on the road heading to Xerokambos, through Ziros. Time seems to have stopped here many years ago, with the several deserted villages, the lush gardens with the metal windmills and the remaining picturesque villages make the landscape unique in Crete.
Livadi of Krousonas is located on the eastern slopes of Psiloritis Mt, on the ancient path followed by the ancient Minoans to visit the sacred source of Zominthos and the Cave of Ideon Andron. The thousands of pear and apple trees, the stone agrotouristic motels, the picturesque churches and the rugged peaks of Psiloritis compose unique scenery.
The plateau of Evdomos is located 3km southeast of the village Gonies, at an altitude of 780m. The plateau is actually divided into two smaller plateaus, the Kato Lakos and Ano Lakos plateaus. Nowadays Evdomos plateau is mainly used for stockbreeding.
The Plateau of Vromonero is located on the eastern slopes of Mt Psiloritis, just below the observatory of Skinakas. It is a small plateau within the wild peaks, which hosts a dense evergreen holly wood. The holly wood is the one of the only remaining woods in Crete and is a great choice for a day trip near Heraklion.
The small and elongated plateau of Strouboulas is to be found just south of the homonym elongated mountain range, which resembles a volcanic cone when seen from Heraklion. The elongated plateau is formed on the carbonate rocks of the “Tripolitsa” group and it lacks tree vegetation due to overgrazing except for some Kermes Oaks (Quercus coccifera).