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Lassithi Destinations, the Palm Beach of Vai

Lasithi: Discover the Peaceful, Authentic, Eastern Crete

Discover Lasithi, the easternmost prefecture of Crete! Undoubtedly, the most untouched by mass tourism part of the island. The scenery and people of Lasithi invite you to enjoy the beauty of life. From the busy lagoon of Agios Nikolaos to exotic Vai and peaceful Zakros, Lasithi’s natural landscape will take your breath away. Rent a car and explore our favourite driving destinations in the region!

 

Agios Nikolaos

65 kilometres east of Heraklio -at the west side of Mirabello bay- is Agios Nikolaos, the capital of Lasithi. Around Voulismeni lake beats the heart of the area with shops, restaurants and bars. Here, visitors and locals meet to catch up and have fun until the early morning hours. Park your car in the public parking area and walk around the lake to Kitroplatia square and the pedestrian street leading to the marina. For a panoramic view of the bay and some natural shade under the pine trees, follow the path to the park above the lake.

 

Lake Voulismeni, the heart of Agios Nikolaos, 65 km east of Heraklio. Photo by Marc Ryckaert, licensed.

 

Spinalonga Islet

The islet of Spinalonga is located between the town of Elounda and Mirabello Bay. Spinalonga is a place full of history! In 1579, the Venetians built a fortress on the islet for protection from Ottoman invasions. Later on, in 1715 and until 1905, the Ottomans had finally occupied the island. For the next 50 years, the islet had become a leper colony.

Spinalonga receives thousands of visitors every summer. Although it is one of the most famous attractions in Crete, the islet is uninhabited and has no accommodation. Boat tours from Agios Nikolaos to Spinalonga operate daily.

 

Islet of Spinalonga is located between the town of Elounda and Mirabello Bay. Photo by Pixabay.

 

The seaside town of Sitia, 70 km east of Agios Nikolaos

After 70 km of driving from Agios Nikolaos in the magnificent countryside of Lasithi, you will reach Sitia. Unlike other central towns of Crete, Sitia has kept its authenticity and offers a great base to visit small nearby villages such as Karidi and Handras. But, the most popular attraction near Sitia is the famous palm forest of Vai. In the evening you can enjoy some raki with the locals at the seafront tavernas.

The airport of the town connects Crete with Athens, Alexandroupoli, RhodesKos, Kassos, Santorini, Preveza, and other European countries with international charter flights. If your flight to Crete arrives in Sitia, you can always rent a car and start your journey from there.

 

The seaside town of Sitia, 70 km east of Agios Nikolaos. Photo by Marc Ryckaert, licensed.

 

Small, beautiful, peaceful Sissi, 26 km north-west of Agios Nikolaos

40 km east of Heraklio, Sissi is a picturesque coastal village with a small port. From here you can easily go trekking and biking or visit the cave near the charming village of Milatos, for a panoramic view of the bay. Park your car in the parking area and walk the 200m uphill path to the cave entrance. In case you prefer to enjoy a more relaxing day, the beaches of Boufos and Avlaki are also nearby.

 

The small harbour of Sissi. Photo by Stegop, licensed

 

Sandy palm beach of Vai, 94 km northeast of Agios Nikolaos

A palm forest ending at a sandy beach is not something you find often in Greece. Located 24 km east from Sitia, Vai is a place worth visiting. Since it is one of the most famous landscape in Crete, Vai is quite busy during the high season. The forest itself is protected by a fence by the local Forestry Department. However, the long sandy beach, the palm trees and the clear waters make Vai a destination you will remember.

 

The exotic palm beach of Vai, 94 km northeast of Agios Nikolaos, Crete. Photo by Marc Ryckaert, licensed

 

Zakros, 45 km southeast of Sitia

The ancient city of Zakros was one of the most important Minoan palaces. Its strategic location at the eastern tip of Crete, inevitably made Zakros the centre of commercial exchange with the East. Nowadays, Zacros receive a lot of visitors for its gorge known as the “Gorge of the Dead”. Despite its name, the footpath you follow is easy to walk. At the end of the path, you will reach a long but quiet pebble beach. This is the perfect spot to rest and daydream. There is nowhere further to go.

 

Ruins of the Minoan palace of Zakros, 45 km from Sitia, Lassithi. Photo by Vladimír Držík, licensed

Chryssi island or Gaidouronisi

Chryssi is an uninhabited island in the South Cretan Sea, opposite Ierapetra town. The island is home to the largest naturally formed Lebanon cedar forest in Europe. It is famous for its shallow, turquoise waters that remind those of a tropical island! You can reach Chryssi by boat from the ports of Ierapetra and Makrigialos. The boats operate daily during the summer season and the ride is about an hour long. You can go there to enjoy the beautiful sea and also have a traditional lunch at the local tavern. Read more information about Chryssi on Tiny Book‘s blog post.

Want to discover more of Crete?

Rent a car in Agios Nikolaos and go on a road trip on the Grand Tour of Crete

 
Post featured photo by  Marc Ryckaert (MJJR), licensed