The beach areas propose fine accommodations, while the mountainous villages are perfect places to experience the traditional Cretan way of life.
Magnificent beaches can be found all around the coastline, such as Vai Beach with the incredible palm forest, the exotic waters and the golden sand. Ierapetra, Sitia and Agios Nikolaos are fine seaside villages that keep their authentic character despite the tourist development.
If you are interested in sightseeing, then you should not miss a visit to the island of Spinalonga, a strong Venetian castle and former leper colony. The Medieval Castles of Sitia and Ierapetra are nice to explore, as well as the many ancient sites you will find on your way.
According to the myth, Lassithi was the birthplace of Zeus. The history of Lassithi is strongly associated with the history of the rest of Crete. Lassithi Plateau was the center of the Minoan civilization and it has been inhabited since the Neolithic times. The cave of Trapeza is one of the most important sources that confirm the existence of human activity there.
Many towns were established in the Minoan times, such as Vassiliki, Lato, Zakros and Gournia and there are traces of the development of ceramic art, metalwork and architecture. From about 1450 BC, there is a decline of the Minoan civilization with the arrival of the Dorians, who marked a new culture and built new cities.
During the Classical and Hellenistic times, the cities of Lassithi were destroyed by civil wars and were later captured by the Romans in 66 BC. In 395 AD, Crete island became part of the Byzantine Empire. The region of Lassithi is particularly rich in Byzantine monuments and characteristic frescoes. In the 13th century, the region was surrendered to the Venetians who fortified the entire island. To ensure their control, the Venetians fortified Sitia, Ierapetra and other towns, among them the famous Spinalonga. Crete was strongly influenced by the Venetian culture in language, traditions and political morals. Despite the resistance of the Cretans against the Venetians, their influence led to the flourishing of letters and art.
After the Venetian occupation, the island is surrendered to the Turks from the 1669 to 1898. During the last years of Turkish rule, the settlement of Agios Nikolaos was built, named after the Byzantine temple that lays there. The Cretans fought strongly against the Turks and in 1898 the island gained its autonomy and became officially part of Greece in 1913.
Museums - Archeological
Although the museums of Lassithi are not large in size, their exhibits are very interesting. The Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos, the capital of Lassithi, was founded in 1970. It exhibits many archaeological finds that have been excavated from the eastern Crete, finds which were then housed in the Museum of Heraklion. Nowadays this interesting museum houses a rich collection of various items found in the surrounding and area from the Minoan to the Roman Period.
Another interesting archaeological museum is found in Sitia. In its modern exhibition halls, visitors are able to admire items dating from the Minoan, Hellenistic and Geometric periods. The Archaeological Museum of Ierapetra is housed in the Commercial Ottoman School building and exhibits various items dating from the Minoan till the Roman period.
Vai, Amoudara, Elounda Beach, Havania, Palekastro, Istro beach, Almiros, Agia Fotia, Makrigialos, Agios Nikolaos Beach, Hiona, Itanos, Kato Zakros, Maridatis, Myrtos, Pahia Ammos, Papadiokampos, Sissi beach, Tholos, Xerokampos
Religious Monasteries and Churches
Lassithi bears witness to an important part of the Cretan history with remarkable Venetian buildings, Turkish mosques and Byzantine churches spread throughout the town and the villages of Lassithi.
North east of Sitia is found the historical monastery of Toplou, mostly known for its rich heritage. It lies surrounded by one of the most beautiful and hospitable areas with an enchanting forest. The monastery complex comprises of three floors, 40 rooms and an impressive bell tower. On its name day, on September 26th a big festival takes place at the monastery.
On the way to Kritsa village, some kilometers from Agios Nikolaos is located the active female monastery of Panagia Kera. It exists from the beginning of the Venetian period and was used as a base of operations for the revolutionists. However, it has always been a symbol of freedom.
In a beautiful rocky area, on the south coast of Lassithi with a superb view to the Libyan Sea stands the monastery of Kapsa. It is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and it was inhabited by hermits until it was destroyed by the Turks in the 16th century. One of the hermits was the monk Gerontoyiannis, known for his healing powers.
Close to Agios Kostantinos village stands the Monastery of Kroustalenia. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and during the years of Ottoman occupation was the center of revolutionary acts and as a result it was greatly damaged. From the beginning of 19th century it operated as a school. Today many of the surviving remains can be seen.
One of the most beautiful monasteries to visit is the holy site of Faneromeni built at the edge of a gorge. The main church of the monastery lies into the cave where it was found the icon of the Virgin Mary.