Kato Zakros is a traditional fishing village located 107km east of Agios Nikolaos and 40km east of Sitia. It is the picturesque harbor of Zakros village (located 7km on the west), situated in a fertile valley with olive groves surrounded by rough mountains. The area is one of the most remote areas of Crete and is ideal for those seeking tranquility, away from the bustling daily life of cities.
Here you will find a small village with all the basic amenities, but do not look for luxury. The residents are mainly concerned with producing some of the best olive oil in the world. The area is full of archaeological sites (here is the famous Minoan palace of Zakros) and therefore it remains underdeveloped (building is prohibited). However, you will find some rooms, taverns, mini markets, pharmacy and petrol station. There are also bus routes running from Sitia. People in Zakros are very friendly and will make you feel like home.
The beautiful beach on the edge of the settlement is formed within a large protected bay. It is mainly pebbly with some rocks in places and has wonderfully tranquil waters. It is not organized with umbrellas, but there are many trees offering shade. Zakros remains peaceful, even in August, and the rocky seabed is ideal for fishing. There are a few taverns and rooms on the beach, which are old constructions (because inside the archaeological area, building new houses is prohibited). If you have a car, then you could drive for a while till you find newly built rooms.
If you come in Kato Zakros, you must visit the famous wild Gorge of Zakros with the creepy name: Deads’ Gorge. It is named after the many Minoan graves found in its cavernous walls. The canyon is easily accessible and hiking from Zakros village takes about two hours.
The most famous site of Zakros is located near the exit of the imposing canyon. It is the Minoan palace of Zakros, the fourth largest after Knossos, Phaestus and Malia. It is the only palace left with its treasury not looted, offering several masterpieces of art to the archaeologists. It was built in 1900BC and was destroyed permanently in 1450BC, just like all the other palaces in Crete. It has 8000sq.m area and was built similarly to Knossos and Phaestus. The palace has a central courtyard, a labyrinth and a temple. The valuable findings (leaves of gold, ivory, jewelry, vases, etc.), imply that there was a close relationship with many other cities in the Mediterranean Sea. The archaeological site is open to public, but the most important findings are kept in the Museum of Heraklion.
If you have a car it is worth driving in the old dirt road to Zakros, running alongside the walls of the Gorge. In some places the road passes just next to the steep cliffs and the view is vertiginous. When you reach the village, you should stroll in the narrow streets and visit its churches. You can also visit the springs of Zakros, that form a small oasis with plane trees amid the wild landscape of Eastern Crete.
If you have time you can go by boat (or strenuous walking) in the secluded Cave of Pelekita, which is one of the largest in Crete with its length exceeding 300m. Traces of habitation from the Neolithic era have been found in the cave. There is a nearby quarry, which was probably used by the Minoans for building the palace of Zakros.