Tour around Crete: from Viannos to Sitia. Ierapetra,
Makrygialos, Zakros, Palaikastro, Vai, Moni Toplou, Sitia
It's time to move and we head to Keratokampos via Viannos.
Just another day by the sea!
We follow the road to
Ierapetra and Kato Horio. We are now entering an area
of Crete which is still unknown to most people. Here starts a dirt track
leading to Thrypti Plateau. Before we reach Thrypti we cross a
lovely pine-tree wooded area; it lies right above the gorge
of Ha, one of the most tough gorges in Crete. So far very few people
have climbed its steep walls.
From Thrypti there is a path leading to Mt Estavromenos (1476
m, 2 hrs). You may also access the summit via a dirt track.
*One of the finest trekking excursions of the
Mountaineering Club of Iraclion is from Monastiraki hamlet to Thrypti,
up to Mt Estavromenos, back to Thrypti and finally to Kavousi village.
We keep driving to Oreino village, Stavrohori, Koutsouras
and Makrygialos. We are looking for a room at Aspros Potamos.
It's a ravine with some traditionally-built rooms for rent; there is a
sign to the road leading there inside Makrygialos.
For the next couple of days we are going to wander around in the area
of Sitia. The inland in this area are remote from big cities and touristic
main stream. It's the most genuine area of Crete, still unspoiled
from "development". Most villages preserve their traditional
architecture and are inhabited by a few old people only. There are no
rooms for rent or taverns, therefore suitable only for a quick visit.
Of course this does not apply for the coasts of Sitia, where there are
We pay a visit at Moni Kapsa and then take the dirt road to Pezoulas
(an old almost completely abandoned hamlet, worth for a quick stop), Perivolakia,
Handras, Ziros, Hamaitoulo (another quick stop for
some photos) and Xirokampos.
As we descend from Ziros to Xirokampos the view to the sandy beaches
and the aquamarine sea is marvelous. Xirokampos is a great place if there
is no wind, but it may look like hell if the wind is strong (very usual
in July and August). Here was the ancient city of Ambelos.
We are heading to Zakros, a prosperous harbor in the Minoan Era.
Here is the Minoan Palace of Zakros as well as the Gorge of
the Dead. In the cliff walls are many caves used as tombs by Minoans.
We leave Zakros and follow the road to Andravastoi, Karydi
and Sitanos. Take a stop here and walk around the old village;
it's one of the prettier in Crete. We return to Karythi and drive to Roussa
Eklisia in order to admire the panoramic view to Sitia.
Late in the afternoon we arrive to Sitia, where we are going
to spend the night.
From Sitia we drive to Palaikastro. There are some fine beaches
here, like Hiona and Kouremenos and a windsurfing school.
If you like fresh fish, then the taverns at the beach of Kouremenos
are an excellent choice.
A few miles after Palaikastron we reach Vai, the famous palm-tree
forest in Crete. It's always crowded but still worth-visiting. Don't
miss the view from the watching point high above the right side of the
Next stop is the beach of Itanos (Erimoupolis). In fact
there are 3 beaches here: the first is the one at the end of the road,
the second is reached by feet, walking to the north and the third is also
reached by feet, going south behind the small fortress. The third one
is more suitable to spend some time under the shade of the palm-trees.
However the best selection for swimming is the northern, sandy beach.
Right after a refreshing dive into the sea the time is perfect
for our visit to the historical Moni Toplou, one of the better
preserved monasteries of Crete. An interesting point for the visitor
to the monasteries in Greece is the existence of an etiquette, regarding
the way you are dressed. In most monasteries no shorts are allowed,
either for men and women, as well as swimming suits or "hot"
mini skirts. If they think that you are not dressed decently, they
will not allow you to enter the monastery, so be prepared for this.