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HERAKLION 

ATTRACTIONS

- Attractions in Heraklion. The city of Heraklion, even though it doesn’t have the ideal road infrastructure, it has numerous attractions. The large Eleftheria Square with the Gate of Agios Georgios, where the Prefecture’s headquarters and the Archeological museum are, is pretty impressive. The Liontarion and the Kornarou Squares are also distinctive. The first was named after its fountain and the second is located next to a Turkish monument and the Vempo spring. The Venetian Loggia is considered one of the most impressive monuments of the city and today it hosts the City Hall. It was awarded the 1st EUROPA NOSTRA prize (for the most well renovated and preserved European monument) in 1987. The famous Koule, the picturesque Venetian fortress in the port, is pretty difficult to be missed, as it prevails over the beach front of the city. Discover Arsenali (Tarsanades), the Municipal Gallery, the Venetian Walls with the 4 gates and the Martinegko bastion, where the memorial and the tomb of the famous writer Nikos Kazantzakis are located. Most of the stores of the city are located in Daidalou Street, the cafes are in Korai Street, the market on 1866 Street, while the 25th of August Street is considered one of the most beautiful ones in the city. You should also check out Mpentenaki, Talos and the Pancretan Olympic Stadium.
- Museums. The capital of the island could not but have numerous museums. The city hosts the Archeological Museum, the Historical Museum of Crete, the Museum of the Battle of Crete and the Museum of Natural History. You don’t want to miss the state-of-the-art Cretaquarium in Gouves.
- Churches and Monasteries. The metropolitan church of Agios Minas is in the square of Agia Aikaterini. The initial smaller church of Agios Minas is located next to the metropolitan church and boasts impressive woodwork from the 18th century. The church of Agia Aikaterini (of Sinai, dated back to the 15th century) is located in the same square. It has a great historical importance, since it operated like a center for the letters and the arts, where many prominent figures from the Cretan Renaissance went through. Nowadays, it hosts many exhibits; mainly Byzantine icons and Christian heirlooms. The church of Agios Titos (962 AC), the Basilica of Agios Markos (used for cultural events), the Dominican Peter and Paul’s church are also located in the city. If you wander around the prefecture, you need to visit the Koudouma Monastery in southern Crete, which is located underneath Mount Kofinas.
- Archeological sites. In the prefecture of Heraklion, visitors will see many of the important and renowned palaces of Knossos and the remnants of Ancient Festos. The archeological site of Knossos is near the capital (well connected by bus), while Festos is about 59 kilometers away and can be combined with an excursion to the southern part of Crete. Other important ancient cities are Malia, Zakro, Agia Triada, Arhanes, Palaikastro and Tylisos.
- Distinctive locations (near the city). Peza is a relatively small village, which has become the agricultural and financial hub of the island. From the most well known cooperatives of the village is Enosi Pezon, which supplies the entire country with wine. The Museum of N. Kazantzakis is located in the nearby village of Myrtia. Hersonnisos, as well as Malia, are widely and universally known holiday resorts. They are not picturesque, but they do have modern tourism infrastructure and a vibrant nightlife. If you want to go to an idyllic place, without getting too far away from the city, you can visit the picturesque Piskopiano, which enjoys a fabulous sea view and offers the ideal setting for long strolls in its narrow streets. For a longer road trip, visit Matala, which during the ’70s was internationally known, because of the hippies that used to go there and live in the caves above the beach, adopting an alternative, different kind of life.

ROUTES 

Heraklion – Tymbaki, around Mount Psiloreitis: Another interesting but difficult route is the one in the southern part of the prefecture, where Mount Psiloritis or Idi is situated. We take the national highway towards Rethymno and in Gazi we make a left turn towards Tylisos. We visit Ancient Tylisos with the unique archeological findings and the impressive architecture. From Tylisos, which is supplied water from the Loutra and Agios Mamas springs, we visit the slopes of Psiloritis. We then continue towards Moni and Korfes, where we take a left turn and then a right towards Krousonas, which is a village with a great history since its habitants fiercely resisted the Turkish Rule. From there we take a right turn to Idaion Antro, which is the cave where allegedly Zeus was born. The road is not particularly good and it’s probably better to visit Idaion Antro from Anogeia.
From Krousonas (returning from the cave), we take a left turn to Kato Asites, whose wider area features many important caves. The ring road around Psiloritis goes through Ano Asites and Prinia. We get off the main road for a while and after Agia Varvara we turn right to Gergeri. We enter the municipality of Rouva, a location of exceptional natural beauty and an incredible forest of enriched biodiversity. Gergeri is ideal for intresting excursions to the nearby mountainous villages, either by foot or by car. Zaros and the homonymous lake are nearby and worth a visit. We then keep heading west and visit Kamares (archeological site and cave). From Kamares, we head south (towards Grigoria, Kissoi and Voroi) and end up in the main road towards Tymbaki and the southern beaches of the prefecture: Kokkinos Pyrgos and Agia Galini. Further to the south but close to Tymbaki, we see Festos and Agia Triada. If you decide to make this deviation, you can easily get carried away and continue to Matala. Alternatively, from Gergeri you can make a left turn to Kardamiana and Rapti, where you will see the road Heraklion-Moiron and head south -after Agioi Deka- to visit Ancient Gortynia. From there you can take the easy way to Moires. This road continues as Moiron-Tymbaki towards Tymbaki, as previously mentioned.

Heraklion- Peza - Asterousia – Tsoutsouros: Asterousia are very important for the history of the island, because they served as a natural defensive wall for the pirates approaching from the south. The villages are also called Athos of Crete, while they are also considered the most important ecosystem of the prefecture and with a significant but small a livestock production. The location boasts many gorges, caves and beaches and offers visitors the chance for hiking, scuba diving and many more. To approach this beautiful area, you should use the easy BIPE-Pezon road so you can save your energy for later. This easy road goes through Kallithea, while the next village is Kounavoi. It’s a small and beautiful settlement with traditional cafes, Byzantine churches, scintillating sea view and the evergreen Kounaviano Gorge. You should then go through Peza and the imposing Agios Vasileios with the panoramic view. From there you can turn left towards Arkalohori, for a more adventurous ride to Asterousia. Alternatively, you can continue in the national road towards Praitoria, where you can turn left to Pyrgos and Rotasio, under Asterousia.
If you choose to go through Arkalohori and then towards Agia Semni and Lefkohori you will enjoy a beautiful ride, through the poplars that gave their name to the village. From Lefkohori you can continue to Ano Poulia, where you can turn right to Garipa. Turn right to Drapeti and then left to Kalyvia. Then head south from the road Agioi Deka–Kastellianoi, where you can turn right to Mesohori and then stumble across the villages of Asterousia. Mesohori nests the Church of Virgin Mary dated back to 1570. Continue right and go through Rotasi, where parts of the Venetian walls and remnants of churches with frescoes from the Byzantine era can be found. In Rotasi, you should get off the Agioi Deka–Kasteliannoi road and head over south to go round Asterousia. The view to the plains of Monofatsio is totally different than the usual ones in Crete. After 10 kilometers you will reach Ethia, in the southern part of the mountain. This is a traditional settlement with stone houses -not something customary for the villages of Heraklion- and an amazing tavern with delicious local food from mountainous Crete. A little after Ethia (2 km), you will reach the beautiful Ahendria and the famous forage products. Visit Agios Dimitrios (Byzantine church) and descend to the beach of Agios Nikitas to admire the not so widely known palm tree forest. To go there you should turn right in Ahendria and then right again to the next crossroad. After about one kilometer, you should turn right again. After swimming in the beautiful beach, go back to Ahendria to head north towards Ano and Kato Kastelliana, where you can turn right (south) for Tsoutsouro, the summer resort of the residents of Heraklion in the Libyan Sea.

CHANIA

ATTRACTIONS
- Archeological sites. There are many archeological sites in Aptera, a Doric city-state of strategic importance. Its location allowed the control of the commercial and financial activities of the area. The walls are still preserved, so as the tanks (of a later period), the double temple (5th – 4th century), the tombs (Geometric period) and the buildings (of the Byzantine era). Polyrrinia, near the homonymous village, one of the oldest cities in Crete, where we see the walls, tombs and remnants of the Roman aqueduct. The ancient city of Falasarna, near today’s resort, the ancient Lissos, a religious hub where remnants of the temple of Asclepios, a theater and carved tombs are located. In Agia Roumeli (Tara) we see remnants of a sanctuary, while in Ancient Anopoli we admire the impressive walls. The archeological tour continues to Ancient Diktynna, which was dedicated to Artemida Britomarti, in Kourna, where we can study the domed tomb, and then in Maleme for another domed tomb, which has a pyramid shape peak.
- Churches – Monasteries. The Monastery of Agia Triada Tsagkarolon in Akrotiri is one of the most impressive and distinctive samples of Cretan architecture, with influences from the Italian Renaissance. At the end of the 19th century, it operated as a seminary with prominent teachers and boasted a rich library with rare editions. In the same area, you will see the Monastery of Gouvernetou (Lady of the Angels) with a peculiar -for a monastery- architecture, since it was built like a Venetian fortress in order to repel all attacks. The third most important monastery in Akrotiri is the nunnery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos, which is less impressive architecturally, but very peaceful and with immersive devoutness. The Gonia Monastery, built on top of the ancient temple of Diktyna Vritomartida Artemis in Kolymbari, was the center of the Greek resistance (during the Greek revolution), while the Orthodox Academy of Crete –a modern religious and cultural foundation- is also located nearby. Additionally, you should definitely visit the Monastery of Panagia Chrysoskalitissa, in the southwest with the panoramic view, which got its name from a legend according to which one of its 90 steps –visible only to the ones who have not sinned- is made of gold. The Monastery of Chryssopigi is located in the city of Chania and has displayed significant action (hagiography, embroidery, preservation of old books, book binding, beekeeping, waxwork, incense and soap production, publishing, organic cultivation, programs of environmental conscience etc.). Nowadays it continues this tradition, since this monastery played a substantial role during the Turkish and German occupation.
- The museums. The Archeological, Folk Art and the Maritime Museum are located in Chania, at the old port. This is where you will see the Mosque of Janissaries, where exhibitions and events are taking place during the summer, as well as the houses of Venizelos. Impressive and unique is the model of the Minoan Ship in Neoria, while in the city you can check out the Byzantine Collection and the War Museum, in a distinctive building at the edge of the old port. You should also visit the Byzantine and the Folk Art Museum Spilias in Kissamos, the Museums of Chemistry and Typography in Souda, as well as the Museum of National Resistance in historical Therissos.
- Other attractions. If you stroll at the old port, by the marina, you will pass by the Center of Mediterranean Architecture, which is an excellent sample of blending a traditional building into the everyday life of a modern city, since it hosts many exhibitions and events in a perfectly preserved space, next to Neoria, which are also being used for events.
In the center of the city, you will see the Municipal Market, from where you can buy excellent local products and also eat in the traditional taverns. Unique is the Institute of Cretan Law, while the Municipal Garden is beautiful, with its summer open theater, a small zoo –where you can admire the Cretan wild goat, and a nice café. The picturesque narrow streets of the Old Town nest the Synagogue, while at the old port the Venetian Lighthouse prevails, as the city’s landmark just across from Firka’s hand. In the same area, you should discover the Turkish Bath, the Municipal Gallery, the Mosque and the city’s metropolitan church. While you are in Chania, tour the neighborhoods of the old city and of Splantzia, for a trip down memory lane, and the Koum Kapi, with the successive seaside cafes and taverns with the lovely view. Nea Hora is a modern seaside neighborhood of the city, with fish taverns, while another hub of the modern city is the big square 1966, but also the impressive Courthouse Square. The location of Halepa extends from the water to where the old tanneries are and ascends towards the hill to the limits of the city, offering an amazing view to the residents. This is justifiable considered one of the best neighborhoods in Chania. A visit to the Tombs of the Venizelos family in Kounoupidiana is usually combined with the delicious pastries at the nearby cafes that offer a scintillating view to the entire city.
- In the widest prefectural area. A very distinctive characteristic of the prefecture of Chania and of Crete is that the development, the tradition and the history are not only preserved in the urban centers. While you are in the prefecture of Chania, visit Maleme, with the German cemetery, and Therissos, the historical village whose access is through a beautiful gorge, while you can combine this visit with a stop at the village’s taverns, known for their delicious meat and sweet wine. The prefecture’s landmark is the Samaria Gorge (National Park), one of the biggest in Europe, located in Lefka Ori and starts from the Omalos plateau and ends up in Agia Roumeli. In Agia Roumeli, you can conclude this unforgettable hike with a swim in the Libyan Sea. Other gorges are this of Aradaina, of an impressive wild beauty where bungee-jumping events are often organized, of Polyrrinia (or Sirikariano) and that of Agia Eirini. The Lakes of Agia and Kourna offer a different landscape to the visitor, while in Stylo you can visit the cave of Samona. Fragkokastelo is a place of unique beauty and so are the impressive Gramvoussa and the village of Vrysson. From Platania you can see the island of Agioi Theodoroi, which is a national park of a massive environmental importance, where only organized visits can be scheduled, even though the scientific community emphasizes on the complications of human intervention in the life of wild fauna of the island, which includes the unique Kri Kri (Cretan wild goat).
Lefka Ori, Omalos and Askyfou plateaus as well as the cave of Agia Sofia are of unique beauty. If you like to hike, you should definitely go through the European trail Ε4. The acclaimed and picturesque Milia is a sample of mild tourism activity. It’s an abandoned village which was restored with utmost respect to the character and the ambiance of the slopes, where a traditional guesthouse energy autonomous (at the old times the rooms and the little houses had power during specific hours only, while candles and a fireplace were used for the rest of the day) operates. In its restaurant, you can eat freshly cooked dishes with local ingredients of their own production. There are more traditional mountainous villages in the prefecture, like Kokkino Horio, as well as magical beaches, like Elafonisos. Gavdos, the island of Kalypso, also belongs to the prefecture of Chania and you can visit it with a boat from Palaiohora or Sfakia.

ROUTES

Chania – Akrotiri: Akrotiri is ideal for short excursions from Chania. This is where the Stavros Cave is located, where the movie Zorbas was shot and it’s ideal for swimming near the city. You can also visit the monasteries of Agia Triada Tzagkarolon, Agios Ioannis Prodromos and Gouvernetos, from where you can continue through the hiking trail to descend to an isolated beach.

Chania - Kolymbari – Kissamos – Falasarna (64 km): Heading towards the west part of the island, you go through the popular Agioi Apostoloi, Agia Marina, Platanias, that have many organized beaches and vibrant night and day life, while on the left you will enjoy the Aegean blue. You will then reach Gerani, where the known refreshments are manufactured, Maleme, Tavronitis and Kolymbari. You can visit the Monastery of Odigitria Kyria Gonia and relax in the Ravdouha, with the beautiful beach and the unique taverns. Continuing on the seaside, we pass by Kissamos and after that the mostly photographed peninsula of Gramvoussa appears as a paradise on earth. On the west, the beautiful beach of Falasarna looks appealing, not only for swimming, but also for lunch and a visit to the archeological site.

Chania – Kantanos - Palaiohora: You follow the route from Chania towards Kissamos and after about 19 kilometers (there are signs) take a turn to Voukolies-Kastano. Once you reach Kantano, make a stop at the central pastry shop, for homemade sweets. Once you reach Palaiohora, enjoy the nearby beaches of the Libyan Sea and the well-organized settlement. Many organized excursions start from there towards the nearby attractions.

Chania – Therissos – Karanou – Omalos – Sougia (89 km): If you head over to Therissos from Chania, you shall cross the charming evergreen gorge, while in the village you will find out about its historic importance and taste the exceptional meat. The route and especially the descend can be a pleasurable hike. The route towards the south goes through the villages of Meskla, Fourne and Lakkoi. You will then reach Karanou, with the renowned wine and the traditional café. You can then ascend towards Omalos with the impressive plateau head over to the Samaria Gorge. If you are prepared, you can attempt to cross it. Alternatively, you can descend to Sougia, a more relaxed choice, and enjoy the beautiful long beach, as well as the small settlement, which overlooks the Libyan Sea.

Chania - Sfakia (68 km): To reach Sfakia, where the famous pies got their name from, you should head over from Chania to Rethymno. If you slightly deviate from the main route, you can visit the picturesque Vamos, a village with traditional architecture, well preserved mansions and a remarkable tourism development, promoted by a group of locals that returned to their roots from Athens. Their effort was quite successful. In Vrysses you shall turn right (south) towards Sfakia, go through the Askyfos plateau and descend along the amazing Imbros Gorge to end up in the traditional seaside settlement, with the local legends and stories about its ambiance. There you can enjoy the nearby beaches, which overlook the Libyan Sea and also take the boat to go to Gavdos.



LASITHI

ATTRACTIONS

- The cities. The prefecture has many diverse cities. Agios Nikolaos boasts the beautiful Lake Vouliagmeni, which is connected to the sea (there is a bridge-canal at its narrowest point). The city is amphitheatrically built around the lake, creating a picturesque but also cosmopolitan destination. If you happen to be in Crete during the Eater, visit the church of Agios Nikolaos on Holy Friday and attend the “burn of Judas” in the center of the lake.

Siteia is the easternmost point of Crete and is a little different from the rest of the island. The birthplace of the famous poet V. Kornaros is less popular (local and Greek tourists prevail), it has its own couleur locale and infrastructure, thus becoming distinctive. You should choose this place for your vacation, if you need the perfect balance between absolute serenity and leisure.

Ierapetra is the southernmost city of Europe, with the warmest climate, thanks to which the region has one of the largest agricultural production in Greece; enough for local consumption, but also for exports. It’s one of the places that hasn’t been promoted as a tourist destination (since the agricultural production sufficiently supports the local community), but it has the necessary infrastructure and has a lot of fresh fish!

Elounda, near Agios Nikolaos, is one of the most beautiful resorts of the island and it’s actually known worldwide for its ultra luxurious hotels that attract prominent personalities and celebrities from Greece and all over the world.

- Museums. The Archeological Museums of Agios Nikolaos and Siteia have rich collections of ancient findings from the prefecture of Lasithi. A nice collection is also in display in Ierapetra at the Ottoman School (Mehtepi). The key-exhibit is the statue of Persephone wearing a veil. Folk Art Museums exist in many cities of the prefecture. The one in Agios Nikolaos is hosted in the Port Authorities’ building, next to Lake Vouliagmeni. In Siteia, the members of the association V. Kornaros gathered in a traditional building many exhibits of the last century (embroideries, woodworks, local attires etc.). In Hamaizi you will have the chance to tour an authentic Lasithian house, as it was in the beginning of the last century, but also to study the way an old olive oress, a smithery and a wine press work. Near Ierapetra, in the villages of Myrtos and Vainias, there are two smaller folk art museums with old instruments and house utensils.
- Monasteries and Churches. The Kapsa Monastery (Agios Ioannis Prodromos) in south Lasithi is in an impressive location, on a steep cliff with unobstructed view to the Libyan Sea. The Monastery of Faneromeni in Siteia guards the entrance of the Agioi Pantes Gorge.
The Toplou Monastery is one of the richest in Crete, looks like an impenetrable castle and it’s known for its power. If you are planning on visiting the Faneromeni Monastery of Agios Nikolaos, you can combine it with a visit to the archeological site of Gournia. The Vidiani Monastery in Mount Louloudaki connects the past with the present, since it’s built on top of the remnants of the church of Zoodochos Pigi. The Monastery of Kroustallenia (in Agios Konstantinos) impresses the visitor, as it stands out in an imposing environment with steep rocks, on a high altitude and is guarded by gigantic plants.
- Historical / Archeological sites. In Ancient Lato, one of the most powerful cities of Crete (7th century BC) about 15 kilometers west of Agios Nikolaos, there are remnants of two acropolises, but also of the city’s inside. Spinaloga at Elounda Bay is a small island of great historical importance, since it was an exile place for the lepers. Victoria Hinslop’s book “The Island” refers to Spinaloga and it was turned into a TV show. Since then, hundreds of visitors go there each year. The Liopetro Fortress near Hamaizi was built from Venetians on the remnants of the ancient acropolis, since the location is like a natural fortification. You can visit Diktaion Antron in Psyhro –this is where Zeus was born according to the Myths- by foot from the village.
- Locations of exceptional natural beauty. The Psychrou Cave in the Lasithi Plateau, near the homonymous village, is a very special attraction. Dionysades, in the gulf of Siteia, northwest of Sidero Cape, are 4 uninhabited islets that dramatically alter the landscape. Visit the exotic palm tree forest in Vai, which is the biggest one in Europe. It’s a protected area, while during the last years, the palms were fenced in order to be protected. The Ziros-Xerokampos Gorge is unknown to most people. When you cross it, you will start from the homonymous village and you will end up at the beach of Xerokampos. The Gorge of the Dead starts from Ano Zakro and ends up in Kato Zakro, through massive cliffs and many caves. The Pines’ Gorge is relatively small, starts from the homonymous village and ends up in Makrys Gyalos. The Kapsa Gorge is near the homonymous monastery and a 100 meters from the beach. Around the area of Ierapetra there are 3 gorges: Ha (from the Greek work “hasko”, which means that something is wide open), Sarakina, which according to the myth was created from the beard of Sarantapichos (son of Zeus) who cut the mountain in half when he bend over to drink water, and finally Messonas, with impressive flora and fauna. From the rare attractions in Crete are the Windmills in Seli Ampelo, which also characterize the area of the north Lasithi plateau.

ROUTES 

Agios Nikolaos – Villages around Siteia - Siteia: Starting from Agios Nikolaos, head over to the east, in the coastal road. You go through Ammoudara, which is ideal for swimming, but also from Pahia Ammos. Then you will see Mohlo, which has a profound archeological interest, before go to Siteia. You should make a stop for a stroll at the picturesque port, while in case you want to do some shopping, there are lots of stores on the first parallel street above the coastal one. After that, you should continue to the east towards Vai, to see up close the unique palm trees forest. Since you are in the easternmost part of the island, you can continue towards the southern part, passing through Toplou Monastery and Palaiokastro. You can then go to Zakro and the amazing beach of Kato Zakros. The easternmost part of Crete is the least touristic one, while you will notice that there are a lot of differences in the landscape, compared to the rest of the island. It’s wilder, steeper and quieter. From Zakro, you can continue through a less accessible road to the south towards Xerokampos or west towards Karydi. If you head over to Xerokampos, you will soon reach the Libyan Sea and the local beaches, which are getting less wild as you head towards the south and the west. If you head over to Karydi, you can visit the picturesque Rousa Ekklisia and Agia Fotia, to end up in Siteia or you can continue touring the prefecture. If you choose to continue, we suggest a more difficult tour to the villages of the southeastern part of the prefecture, which are a little more rocky and isolated, but in a more wild and imposing terrain. You will end up in Kapsa Monastery and the homonymous beach. If you want to return to Siteia, choose the coastal road, which goes through Kalo Nero, and falls on the national highway in Makrys Gyalos, for a nice comfortable ride.

Siteia - Ierapetra: From Siteia, we head over to Maronia and Agios Georgios and from there you can deviate to the left towards Agios Spyridonas, Presos (with archeological interest) and Handra. From there you can turn right towards Armenous and return to the central road. You can also head south, go through Makrys Gyalos and Koutsoura, in the bay of Kala Nera, which is a very good choice if you like more quiet beaches. You will notice that as you approach Ierapetra, the coastal area becomes urban. Alternatively, you can go further to the south –not by taking the central road- through Achladia, Kato Krya, Chryssopigi and Stavrohori, to end up in Koutsoura, where you can take a right turn to Ierapetra.

Ierapetra –Agios Nikolaos: Mount Dikty prevails over the western part of this prefecture, something that also gives a sense of direction to our routes. The shortest way to go from one town to the other is by taking the national highway to Pahia Ammos and then a turn to Agios Nikolaos. However, it’s more interesting to visit the mountainous villages of the prefecture. From Ierapetra, you can head west, where you can visit the archeological site of Myrtos and in Stomi take a right turn to Kalogeros. The route has lots of turns, but the view is simply breathtaking. In Anatoli, you can decide on whether you want to go west towards Males and then to Mathokatsana –the south entrance to the plateau- to return to the south bank, through the settlements of Selakano, Christo, Males, Mythi and Mournies. Alternatively, you can head north to Prina and Kalo Horio, where you will find yourselves in the Faneromeni Monastery and the ancient grounds of Gournia. From Prina, you take the difficult route to Krousta and Kritsa, around Mount Dikty. From Kritsa you can either continue towards the northern entrance of the plateau to the left (Katharo) or to Ancient Lato to the right. From there, the city of Agios Nikolaos is close and easily accessible.

Agios Nikolaos – Elounda: An easy and nearby route, Elounda is one of the best choices for swimming, if you are holidaying in Agios Nikolaos. The exploration of the northern part of the prefecture is easy. A little further to the north of Elounda, you will find Plakes which is also a popular destination for swimming, in the deep emerald waters. The northern beaches (Vlyhadia, Milatos) overlook the Aegean Sea. Do not forget to go to Neapolis with the distinctive square, which is in the center of the village, while a nice stroll in the narrow, picturesque streets is definitely worth it. From Neapoli you should head north, in the Kremastoi Monastery, Exo Potami, Krystallenia Monastery and Psychro, to visit Spilaio.

RETHYMNO

ATTRACTIONS
- Attractions in Rethymno. Fortezza is definitely the landmark of the city. It was the biggest and more powerful castle in Crete, during the Venetian era and was being built for 15 years! Another remnant from the Venetian Era is Loggia, where the Municipal Library is hosted at, while during the Ottoman Empire it served as a mosque. The Venetians ameliorated the city and Rentouris, a commanding officer, combined the necessary irrigation works with this exceptional fountain. Architecturally, the church of Agios Fragkiskos is truly interesting, since it stands out for its unique sculptures. Except from the Venetian attractions, the city boasts monuments from the Ottoman era as well. The mosque of Veli Pasha, the Mastamba, the mosque of Nerange (old Santa Maria) with the impressive minaret, the mosque of Kara Mousa Pasha and this of the Great Gate.
- Museums. The Archeological Museum of Rethymno, in the central gate of Fortezza. For a more modern cultural approach, try the Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete – Gallery L. Kanakaki, with works from the Greek modern art. The Historic and Folk Art Museum is located in a beautiful Venetian two-story mansion of the 17th century. In Mitropoleos Square you will see the Ecclesiastical Museum of the metropolitan church with important heirlooms. The Mastamba Mosque is in the Paleontological Museum, of the Goulandri Museum of Natural History, with very important fossils from endemic elephants and deer. Finally, you can combine an excursion to Chromonastiri and a visit to the Military Museum.
- Churches and Monasteries. Very important are the monasteries of Arkadi (historically) and Preveli. Their surrounding area is beautiful and it hosts numerous museums, with special sacred heirlooms. Within the prefecture, you will see many Paleochristian basilicas in the following villages: Panormos, Goulediana and Ancient Eleftherna. In the church of Virgin Mary Roustika you will see frescoes all the way back from 1381 and in Lambini murals from the 12th and 14th century. In Roustika you will also see the Monastery of Prophet Ilias, which played a special role during the Greek revolution. The Monastery of Bali enjoys a panoramic view, but most importantly also played a special role during the 1821 Greek revolution. The Monastery of Agia Eirini guards the folklore tradition and offers visitors embroideries and woven.
- Archeological sites. The archeological site of Eleftherna is one of the most widely known ones, while located near the capital of the prefecture you will see the cemetery of Armenon within an impressive oak forest. In Lappa many important findings were discovered and are now hosted in the archeological museum. Equally important is the archeological site of Stavromenos-Sfakaki, since a 5th century BC headstone was discovered, with the engraving of a young hunter.
- Other attractions / Known events. Idaion Antro, which is between Rethymno and Heraklion, is definitely a unique attraction, since here according to the myths Zeus was born. In the city of Rethymno every year there is the local carnival, which is substantially smaller than the one in Patra, but equally vibrant and known (together with the one in Xanthi). Within the framework of the carnival, you can participate in a Treasure Hunt. During the summer, there is a Renaissance Festival, which is based on the background and the architecture of the city. Whichever time you are visiting, stroll around the narrow streets of the Old Town, relax in the picturesque cafes and of course don’t forget to taste the tsikoudia and the local delicacies.

ROUTES 

Rethymno – Roustika – Plakias - South: If you stay in Rethymno and decide to explore the prefecture, you should definitely visit Plakia. The prefecture of Rethymno is ideal for exploration throughout the year, since going from the northern to the southern part is easy (it’s the narrowest point between the two coasts). In this case, we suggest you take the main road of Rethymno-Spili and also to dare a tour in the mountainous villages. First stop is Gerani, where you can visit the Medieval Tower and then head over to the Franciscan Metohia, with the beautiful nature and the small settlement. You can then go to Gonia, where you should take a right turn outside the village towards Nik. Foka and take another right for Roustika to visit the local attractions. The next settlement is Mountras with the springs and the fountains, while on the west you will see the homonymous gorge. The hiking trail E4 goes through this village. We are moving to Agios Ioannis-Roustika and go through the village before turning right to Plakia. From Plakia, there are endless choices to visit many coastal areas with a breathtaking view to the Libyan Sea. To the west, you will see the famous Fragkokastello, while the nearest and more quiet choice is Rodakino. Southern of Plakia you will see Souda and further to the east the beach of Plakia. Driving on the coastal road you can also visit Damnoni.

Rethymno – Arkadi – Monastery of Asomaton – Spili - Preveli: To visit the southeastern beaches of the prefecture, you should head over to Spili. Instead of using the main Rethymno-Spili highway, you can select the longer route to simultaneously visit more of the island’s attractions. You can head east to Platanias and turn right to Adele, which is a popular destination as well as the prefecture’s headquarters. The road goes through Pigi, a small settlement, and Agios Dimitrios, with the homonymous Byzantine church. The highway Platanias-Arkadi will lead you to your destination, through Loutra and Kyrianna. Arkadi borders with Amnato, which has an amazing view and exceptional Venetian houses, while from there you can deviate and visit the nearby villages. Initially you can turn towards Kapsaliana, a traditional settlement, where you will see the olive-mill of the Arkadi Monastery. The road ends up in Eleftherna and the Ancient Aleftherna. After a visit to the ancient monuments, you can return to the monastery of Arkadi, which has a special historical importance.
Heading towards south, go through Kalogeros, with the Byzantine church of Agia Marina. From there, to the monastery of Asomaton and then to Monastiraki, which is a must see. From Amati you can head over to Gerakari, where you can take the Gerakari-Spili highway to end up in another center of the region, with impressive fountains. From Spili you can take the Rethymno-Agia Galini highway to approach the southern part of the island. Here the choices are many. In the south, the beaches of Preveli (part of which was destroyed during the 2010 fires), Agios Pavlos and many more. Most of them have an adequate, but subtle, tourism infrastructure. 


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