LASITHI


East Crete, Lasithi region

The Lasithi region, often overlooked and forgotten, solitary and unspoiled, treasures arguably the most authentic side of Crete.

About Lasithi

Lasithi is the easternmost region in Crete, a place where life runs at a different pace where unique landscapes and places to see will not stop surprising you.

The main touristic city in the region is Agios Nikolaos, nestled in the Mirabello Gulf, on the Cretan Sea. Agios Nikolaos is also the capital city of the region.

The region hosts the most important highlands on the island, the Lasithi Plateau, surrounded by the Dikti Mountains.

There are several archaeological sites to visit, including the sunken city of Olous, the mysterious Minoan Palace of Kato Zakros, and the Valley of the Dead

Map of Lasithi

When to visit Lasithi

Springtime is one of the best moments to visit the region. Endless varieties of flowers color the mountains of Lasithi creating spectacular landscapes. While the bushes of wild thyme, rosemary, and oregano add a touch of fragrance to the atmosphere. Besides, during this time you will be able to enjoy pleasant walks without the scorching summer temperatures and almost no tourists around.

The best moment to visit the beaches in the Lasithi region is Summer when the sea is warm and the skies usually lack clouds. Summer in Crete virtually lacks rain. As a matter of fact, the region receives the lowest quantity of rain on the island. In summer there are also cultural festivals in cities and villages to which everyone is welcome to participate.

During Fall, the temperatures go down by a few grades which makes it perfect to enjoy mountain walks or trek the different gorges you can find in the region.

In Winter, rainfall and even snow are common in several high areas, such as the Lasithi Plateau, Katharo Plateau, and other mountain settlements. Many roads are closed during winter. Life in the southern city of Ierapetra goes on quite as normal since it remains Crete’s fourth most important city.

How to get to Lasithi

Once you’ve arrived in Heraklion, you can reach Lasithi driving east along the National Road. It’s a pleasant road trip that can last a little more than an hour. The region hosts a small national airport in the city of Sitia, but your flight is more likely to arrive either at Heraklion.

You can also drive all the way from Chania or Rethymnon, since the trip will be longer it’s a good idea to make a few stops along the way. Those traveling by bus from Chania usually need to change their bus at the Central Bus Station in Heraklion.

How to move around in the Lasithi region

Moving around in Lasithi is fairly simple since, in general, roads are in quite a good condition and it’s not really hard to drive around. If you’re in need of extra advice, check this tips to drive safely in Crete.

The buses departing from the central stations of Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, and Sitia reach the main centers in the region (and the rest of the island). There are a few connections reaching smaller villages, and special bus services are active in summer to get to the most important touristic landmarks in Lasithi.

If you’re interested in exploring off-the-beaten track spots, there’s no better way to visit Lasithi than renting a car and driving around on your own. For short day trips, it’s also a good idea to rent a bike or a motorbike.

Cities of Lasithi

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Agios Nikolaos

This top 10 things to do in Agios Nikolaos is the guide you need to plan a visit to the capital of the region of Lasithi. It includes beaches, churches, and a selection of the best places to stay and where to eat.

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Ierapetra

The southernmost city in Crete, Ierapetra, is often overlooked by visitors. However, there’s a lot to see and do. Besides, Ierapetra is the best place to stay if you plan to take a boat trip to Chrissi island.

Best beaches in Lasithi

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Best beaches in East Crete

There are many beautiful beaches in the Lasithi region, some of them are quite well-known, on the northern coast of the region. There are also many unique shores, quite unknown on the south coast too.

Chrissi Island

Right opposite the city of Ierapetra, about an hour south by boat, it’s possible to visit one of the few uninhabited islands that surround the coast of Crete. Chrissi is a small paradise, with stunning beaches and a cedar forest.

Things to see & do in Lasithi

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Psychro cave

The Cave of Zeus, also known as Diktaion Andron or Psychro Cave is in the Lasithi Plateau, in the small village of Psychro. It’s a magic place with beautiful geological formations that you can visit in Lasithi.

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Lasithi plateau

One of the most scenic drives in East Crete is the one that goes along the 18 villages of the spectacular Lasithi Plateau, in the Dikti Mountains. Discover all the places you can visit when you travel around this area of the East.

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Spinalonga Island

The small island of Spinalonga is one of the most visited places in the region. It’s located about half an hour away from Agios Nikolaos, opposite the village of Plaka. It’s better known for its tragic past as a leper colony during the past century.

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Holy Toplou Monastery

One of the most beautiful religious centers in Crete is located in the Lasithi region, not far from the impressive palm tree beach of Vai. The monastery is also home to a remarkable war museum and one of Crete’s best wineries.

Coming to Crete any time soon? These fantastic resources will help you organize the trip!

Finally, make sure you’ve got everything you for a hassle-free trip!

  • I never move around the island with any of these… my Osprey backpack has been the most loyal travel partner over the last 5 years. It’s sturdy, light, roomy, and super comfortable! I just love it. To visit the old town, archaeological sites, and museums, this little crossbody bag is always around.
  • When driving around Crete, I always pack my Michelin map, clear, accurate, and easy to read and my Nikon D7200, I’m lost without any of them. In summer I also carry good sunscreen lotion, the sun on the island can be pretty aggressive.
  • Greece, and especially Crete, is a fairly safe destination, however, I’m sure you know that it’s always better to travel with an insurance policy for complete peace of mind. My favorite? World Nomads. Already left home? Buy your travel insurance online now!
  • Always bring with you a good travel guide to Crete! The best Crete Travel Guide I’ve found so far is the one published by Lonely Planet. It has all the information you need.
  • Airfares to Crete can vary immensely from one airline to the other, make sure you always compare ticket prices with a powerful search engine. Getting to Crete can be really comfortable with an airplane, but nothing beats the romantic experience of traveling by sea. I always choose Direct Ferries to visit other Greek islands or to travel directly to Crete from Athens. It has a powerful search engine to get the right ticket you need!
  • If I need to book accommodation in Crete or anywhere else, I personally use Booking.com. Their Genius Loyalty Programme allows me to find better fees. As they say, the more you stay with them, the more rewards you get.
  • Road trips in Crete are the most authentic way to explore the island. Find the cheapest rental car using a good car rental search engine. Discover Cars searches over 500 trusted rental companies for you to find the best deal. Compare prices for rental cars in Crete here.
  • Sometimes, the best way to get to know a place better and make the most of your time on Crete is to join an organized tour. GetYourGuide has a great selection of proposals that help you save time and money. From cooking lessons to archaeological site tours, skip-the-line attractions, and even airport transfer!

Do you have everything you need? Then you just have to get ready to discover Crete, Greece’s most beautiful island!

This guide to Lasithi is updated regularly with new content.
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About the Author

Hola! I’m Gabi. I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round.
I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.
I’m a beach freak and on this island, I’ve found heaven on earth!

Gabi Ancarola
The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog