East Crete is the most quiet part of the island, retaining most of its genuine character and style. Although it is generally the driest land in Crete, you will be amazed by the lush green oases formed mainly around the low mountain ranges of the prefecture. Here we present you several, but a few, places to visit when staying at Agios Nikolaos, Sitia or Ierapetra cities.
The amazing gorge of Richtis is located in Lasithi Prefecture, on the north side, between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia. It starts just outside the village Exo Mouliana and ends at the Richtis beach, east of the village of Kalabro. The total length of the route is approximately 3 kilometers and the elevation difference between the starting point and the beach is about 350 meters. The gorge, even in summer, has enough water, which is used by locals.
The thousands of visitors arriving daily with the boat from Ierapetra to Chrissi island mainly swim on the beach of Belerinina or Golden Beach. Bright blue waters, white sand with pink shades from the thousands of broken shells, the junipers that hold the sand with their huge roots is the backdrop that makes anyone fall in love with this place.
The impressive cave of Zeus, the Diktaean Cave, is located just 10 minutes walking-distance from Psychro, in Lassithi Plateau, at an altitude of 1025m. In Psychro there is plenty of parking areas, with plenty of restaurants nearby. Two paths leading to the cave start from the parking area. The easiest path is the left one, because in the right path (the oldest) the stones are worn by thousands of tourists and are slippery.
The wonderful Lassithi Plateau is located about 25km south of Malia and 70km west of Heraklion city. Located in a peaceful and fertile region, it is surrounded by the wild mountains of Dikti and several smaller plateaus. The views of the surrounding mountains of Selena and Afendis Hristos are majestic.
In Xerokampos the landscape is arid and truly eerie, characterized by bare rocks and steep mountains. The vegetation is limited to bushes and there are some places with a few olive groves. A small tourist destination has started developing during the last years, especially after the roads were paved with asphalt.
Spinalonga is a small island located at the entrance of Elounda lagoon and north of the Gulf of Mirabello. It has an area of 85 acres and its maximum height is 53 meters. The history of the island still inspires awe. It has been a Venetian fortress, a castle colony, a rebel refuge, a place of exile for lepers, a communication link with Cairo during the Second World War.
The beautiful Gorge of Kato Zakros (or the gorge of the Dead) starts in a short distance from Ano Zakros, nearly 100km southeast of St. Nicholas, and ends at Kato Zakros. The beauty of the landscape, the historical importance of the gorge and its accessibility, attract many visitors every year.
Toplou Monastery is located in the northeastern tip of Crete, at the base of Sidero Cape, 10km east of Sitia and 6km north of Palekastro. The monastery is one of the most historic monasteries of Crete and is known for its vast real property. In religious circles it is known as the Monastery of Panagia Akrotiriani, while the locals just call it the Great Monastery.