Ierapetra, Crete: Meaning Sacred Stone, Ierapetra is sun-drenched, cheerful and welcoming.
Infinite beaches with golden sand, caressed by the warm Libyan winds. At Ierapetra, life moves at a leisurely pace and holidays last virtually all year long. The waterfront is teeming with fish tavernas, cafes and bars, and every night feels like a celebration. The old town with its narrow alleyways, the flowers decorating the patios… you’ll love every minute in this joyous town in southern Crete.
A siege of sea and sand
Ierapetra is besieged by beautiful, endless beaches. You’ll rest and recharge your batteries, soaking the sun while lounging on the golden sand, the sea glistening before you. Anywhere you look, the scenery is exotic. Makri Yialos is located just 30km east of Ierapetra. The long, sandy beach is fully organised: water sports, a picturesque port, tavernas, stores, hotels and a village with its friendly locals make this seaside resort the perfect choice for a fun-filled holiday. It’s also worth exploring the many other small beaches and coves you’ll encounter along the way.
Chrysi island in the Libyan Sea
The ultimate paradise. Chrysi is an almost entirely flat island that from a distance looks like a thin strip of land protruding from the sea. The water around it is shallow, with a striking turquoise colour. The island is covered in powdery pink sand, while the stunning scenery is further enhanced by the scent of cedar.
In addition to the rare cedar forest, in this corner of Crete you’ll have the opportunity to discover ancient trees, as well as more than 120 species of migratory birds that live here. And if luck is on your side, you may encounter the famous sea turtles Caretta caretta, that often visit the island. The emerald green water of the tiny Chrysi island awaits, just 8 nautical miles south of Ierapetra, with boats making daily trips and all-day excursions.
The city’s fortress
Standing at the fortress, overlooking the old neighbourhoods and gazing out at the Libyan sea from its four towers, you’ll let the stories of the Saracen pirates take over your imagination. A point of architectural pride for Ierapetra, and its most impressive attraction, the famous Fortress of Kales was built in the beginning of the 14th century and witnessed lots of history – not only the Venetian and Ottoman wars, but also catastrophic earthquakes. Well-preserved and impressive, it hosts various cultural events, like the Kirvia cultural festival every summer.
Ierapetra: gateway to the south
In Ierapetra, the southernmost town in Europe, the lazy summer days start late midday with a coffee by the waterfront and continue with a refreshing swim at the eastern beach, with its green-blue water. Afternoons begin with a stroll in the old town, walking along the castle, the mosque and ‘Napoleon’s house’, ending in the quaint narrow-alleyed neighbourhoods. The sea air will reach and revitalise you even here.
Evenings in Ierapetra are … large. They begin with a walk on the beach or along the waterfront. The tavernas here are famous for their fresh fish and add even more vitality to an already lively city, where every night feels like a celebration.
A legendary visit: Napoleon in Ierapetra?
Is it legend or a historical fact? Napoleon, on his way to Egypt to declare war on the Mameluks, stopped in Crete and spent a night in Ierapetra. Chronologically, this piece of information is dated 26 July 1789, just before Napoleon reached Egypt. The two-storey home, said to have hosted him in Ierapetra, is located in the old town.
The old churches in Ierapetra
A Bishops’ seat, Ierapetra has interesting religious monuments. It’s worth visiting the Panagia tou Kale, Afendi Christo, Agios Spyridon and Agios Ioannis, which was converted to a mosque in the 17th century.
The forest and plateau of Selakano
The wild beauty of this landscape in Crete captivates you from the very first moment: beautiful gorges, streams, and birds of prey abound. You’ll reach this impressive destination through a majestic journey through the village of Selakano and a network of forest roads. In the basin there are two settlements as well as cultivations of walnut trees, pear trees and vines.
The Selakano forest is considered one of the largest apiculture sites in Crete, ending at the peak of Mt Dikti, Afentis Christos (Lord Christ) at a height of 2.148 metres. When you travel to Ierapetra its is worth devoting a day to enjoy its enchanting beauty.