From Viannos to Sitia

Crete travel guide

Tour around Crete: from Viannos to Sitia. Ierapetra, Makrygialos, Zakros, Palaikastro, Vai, Moni Toplou, Sitia

day 26

It's time to move and we head to Keratokampos via Viannos. Just another day by the sea!

day 27

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.

Day 28

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 enough facilities.

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.

Xirokampos beach, all shades of green and blue

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.

Day 29

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.

the town of Siteia

Day 30

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 beach.

the palm beach at Vai

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.

Itanos, one of the finest beaches in Crete

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.

Toplou Monastery
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