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South East Crete

Vai Restaurant with view

South East Crete - the eastern region of Crete island in Greece is named Lasithi Λασίθι or Lassithi. The area is home to hundreds of relatively undeveloped beaches as well as the towns of Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra and Sitia. Visit Vai Beach, Chrissi Island and Makrigialos Beach.

Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos PanoramaAgios Nikolaos is the capital of Lasithi in Crete

To get to this region of Crete, you will most likely need to travel through
Agios Nikolaos
town. This pretty, modern town has a ferry port with ferries arriving from Rhodes and Karpathos via Sitia. The town sits around the lake pictured above, which is linked to the sea port, and surrounded by cafes and tavernas, making a romantic lakeside location for an evening stroll, cocktails and a meal.

See more information about Agios Nikolaos here.

Our picks for accommodation in town here.


Ierapetra CreteIerapetra town on the south coast of Crete

The town of Ierapetra is located just 36 km from Agios Nikoloas in the south of Lasithi, with access via the major highways and on the local buses.

This town is a seaside holiday destination, with fine beaches, a ruined Venetian fort, a wide esplanade, folk museums and seafront tavernas with fresh seafood. This is the departure port for the remote and uninhabited golden sands of Chrissi Island.

You may arrive on the plane or the ferry into Sitia, which is located 61 km to the north east of Ierapetra.


Sitia Crete Greece

Arrive by car, plane or ferry into Sitia, which is a ferry and fishing port in the east of Crete. Located 128 km from Heraklion and 70 km from Agios Nikolaos, this is a thriving town with its own character, a large bay and pretty esplanade, and houses built up the hills behind the bay.

Dine beside the harbour on fresh seafood, enjoy the local beaches, history, wine and museums.

See our picks for accommodation in Sitia here.

Makrigialos Beach

Makrigialos Beach is east of IerapetraMakrigialos Beach is 26 km east of Ierapetra

Makrigialos Beach

Μακρύ Γιαλός or Makri Gialos or Makry Gialos is a beautiful beach located 58 km from Agios Nikolaos and 23 km east of Ierapetra.This is also the name of the Minoan ancient site located just west of the village.

There is a lovely long beach of Analipsi, formed around a wide bay, with fine sand and pebbles. There are numerous coves and little beaches to explore such as Diaskari and Ammoudi Beaches.

The area is busy with agriculture, with olives growing on the hillsides and vegetables produces in numerous greenhouses dotted all around, there are many hotels and pensions on the beachfront as well as tavernas and cafes, and all sorts of conveniences such as mini markets and ATMs.

The beach lies at the entrance to Pefki Gorge, which provides good hiking and the inland villages of Agios Stefanos, Pefki and Aori are to be explored on high back roads.

The E4 European Walking Path crossed through Pefki Gorge, which means 'pine' and is full of lush green forest. Start the Pefki Gorge walk in the north, as the village of Pefki, and walk 4.5 km downhill and south, ending in Aspros Potamos, 2 km north of Makrigialos.

South East Crete
Chrissi Island

Chrissi island is a protected ecosystemChrissi island is completely natural

The name Chrissi or Χρυσή means 'golden' and refers to the stunning sand on this uninhabited island south of Crete.

This is a small, undeveloped, low-lying island about 7 km by 2 km and only 30 metres high, at its highest point. This stunning island has many coves and may be visited from spring to autumn. There is no access to the island but cruises take you swimming in the clear waters.

The island is south of Ierapetra in south-eastern Crete and can be reached by a short ferry ride - see more about the island here.

Accommodation in South East Crete

Top Tips from We Love Crete

Our top tips selected from beach side, mountain or town accommodation below. We choose small guesthouses or pensions, family-run small hotels and beautiful locations.

Pezoulia Mountain Retreat near Selekano Forest, Crete
Pezoulia Mountain Retreat - Lasithi

Pezoulia Mountain Retreat is surrounded by the Selakano Forest high in the mountains of Lasithi. Get away from it all and enjoy the fresh mountain air and cosy privacy.

"Exceptional. Top location for people who love feeling of freedom and authentic powerful energy places. Villas are absolutely beautiful and staff too. Loved it. This place touched our hearts."

Rural accommodation in Lasithi, Crete, Diktynna Mountain Villas
Diktynna Villas Crete

At Diktynna Traditional Villas just inland from Ierapetra in the small traditional village of Anatoli, you will find authentic Cretan hospitality in the mountains.

Offering villas and maisonettes for 5-6 guests with all modern facilities and comforts in beautiful mountainous surroundings.

"Charming traditional stone house. Very nice view from the terrace. Very quiet in a small mountain village. Well equipped house and comfortable bedding. Air conditioning and two bathrooms appreciated. Very nice welcome from the owner. We were greeted with water and fruit, as well as a small raki flask. The owner very kindly offered us a homemade dish."

Cretan Villa Hotel in Ierapetra
Cretan Villa Hotel Ierapetra

The Cretan Villa Hotel is in the centre of Ierapetra town with easy access to the port for a day trip to Chrissi Island.  A restored 18th century building with loads of character makes the perfect base for exploring south east Crete.

“Excellent, spacious rooms in a carefully restored traditional building, a peaceful location only a short stroll to the waterfront restaurants. Parking was available on a nearby street. Helpful host provided plenty of information about the town.”

Koutsounari Beach, Crete
Coriva Beach Hotel

Coriva Beach Hotel and Bungalows on Koutsounari Beach with direct access to the lovely long sand and pebble beach. A peaceful resort with its own large pool, and Pelagos Seaside Restaurant and bar by the beach.

Located 9 km east of Ierapetra, this is a quality hotel ideal for romantic holidays. With a day spa, free parking and easy access, this makes a wonderful choice of accommodation in south east Crete.

"Excellent location, perfect beach just a few steps from our room, helpful and friendly staff and a wonderful all day bar restaurant."

Private beachside villa in south east Crete
Carob Villa Crete

Pelagaios Villas - with three private beaches shared by only two villas. Peace and quiet.

This splendidly secluded home is on 5 acres of gardens. Be surrounded by nature to enjoy a family holiday or romantic getaway.

Located on little known coves, not far from Agia Fotia, just 8 km from Ierapetra.

“Excellent Location with private access to the sea. The villa is a dream. Beautiful surroundings and great facilities.”

Mayla House is near Ierapetra in south east Crete

Mayla House is 11 km from Ierapetra in south east Crete, near Ferma. Set a little bit back from the beach, this is a modern stylish home-away-from-home with a relaxing garden setting. Best to visit with a car to explore Lasithi.

This 3 bedroom home welcomes 8 guests in comfort.

"Very modern house, well equipped and recently renovated. Impeccable cleanliness and really special staff. Beach in front of the house was really convenient."

Exploring South East Crete

Agia Fotia Beach in south east CreteAgia Fotia Beach

Agia Fotia Beach (pictured above) is made of fine sand and is an excellent choice for swimming. The tall pine trees make it unique, and it is generally a quiet place to visit.

There are lots of places to explore in this region including

Getting to South East Crete

Take a 1 hour flight from Athens to Heraklion with Aegean Airlines or Olympic Air, with many flights available per day.

Or take a 9.5 hour overnight ferry from Pireaus port of Athens to Heraklion port.

More on flights and ferries below.

Car hire in Crete is a really good idea as it is a large island 60 km by 260 km. There is so much to explore.

When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and easy online booking. We are sure you will be well looked after by the team. Choose from hybrid, electric or regular vehicles.

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We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the We Love Crete team. Evíva!

The We Love Crete team - Anastasi, Katia & Apostoli

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