Ierapetra (alternative spellings Irapetra, Iearapetra) is the southernmost town of Europe. It lies on the south coast of the Greek Island of Crete in the region of Lassithi and faces gloriously the Libyan Sea, It is a significant port with a majestic fortress. There are a number of brilliant beaches around the town including Achlia Beach which is included in our Best Beaches Guide.
Ierapetra is around 36 kilometres south of Agios Nikolaos and lies southwest of Sitia. Mild winter temperatures and low rainfall together with more than 340 sunshine days a year make Ierapetra not only a tourist destination but also a lovely place to live.
Only 8 miles from the port of Ierapetra, Chrissi Island (also known as Gaidouronissi or Donkey Island) can be reached by daily boat cruises that run from the town from May to October.
A short boat trip will take you to the small paradise island with turquoise waters and white sandy beaches.
The island is almost flat with colourful volcanic rocks, covered in sand and aquatic fossils and is very pretty.
East of Chrissi a smaller, rockier island called Mikronissi is located where sea turtles nestle in small caves.
Libyan Sea Dining
A fresh fish dinner caught earlier that morning from the Libyan sea is a ‘must do’ experience in Ierapetra. Choose any one of the glorious sea front restaurants along the waterside and relax and enjoy your meal washed down with a glass or two of wonderful Sitia wine. Or try goat-stew, cream cheese-pies with honey, local stuffed vine leaves, "staka" (filled courgette flowers). These delicious local foods all from the Cretan Diet you can find on the menus of the traditional tavernas in the villages of Ierapetra.
Minoan Archaeological Finds
Those interested in Minoan period, archaeology and ancient culture will enjoy a visit to the Museum of Ierapetra, which is housed in the building of the Ottoman School. A full size statue of Greek goddess Demeter takes pride of place at this fascinating museum.
Take a leisurely stroll around the harbour of Ierapetra with its Venetian fortress standing guard at the entrance of the fishing port. It was built by the Venetians in 1212 and recently restored and used as open air theatre during the summer cultural festivities "Kyrvia" held in Ierapetra every year during the months of July and August.
Local Feasts & Festivals
Ierapetra and its surrounding villages host many festivals throughout the year. These include Raki and wine festivals, feast days of Greek Orthodox saints, traditional folk dancing and singing that visitors are very welcome to attend.
The village square of Episkopi, which lies just 7 km from Ierapetra on the road to Agios Nikolaos hosts a traditional festival on 15th of July, with Raki, wine and traditional mezes.
16km from the town of Ierapetra lies the fascinating plateau of Thripti and the Ha Gorge. A traditional Cretan feast is held on 13th and 14th of September with plenty of dancing and singing in to the early hours of the morning.
The seaside settlement of Gra-Ligia, just 5km of the road from Ierapetra plays host to two festivals. The first held on 21rst of May (feast-day of St.Constantine and St.Helene) and secondly on the 15th of August (Assumption Day).
Just 12km to the west of Ierapetra you can visit the Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Crucifix) on the top of the hill Kastellos, Kalamafka and celebrate the feast day with the locals on the and of Timios Stavros on the 14th of September.
Only 7km northwest of Ierapetra at Makrilla many festivals take place during the year. The festivals of St. Anton on the 17th of January, Peter and Paul on the 29th of June, St. John on the 29th of August and of the Holy Crucifix on the 14th of September.
If you're staying in or visiting Ierapetra then why not take the opportunity to meet, ride on and walk with donkeys from a lovely donkey shelter in the area.
For more details see Walk with Donkeys.
Ierapetra is accessible from the mainland and the whole of Europe through Nikos Kazantzakis airport, and the many daily ferry services in Heraklion.
Check out Flights to Crete.
Car Hire around the area of Lasithi
There are a number of really good car rental companies in and around the Ierapetra area that can give you the freedom to explore the south coast of Crete.
A brilliant and cheap bus service KTEL connects Ierapetra with many of the villages and towns of eastern Crete including Agios Nikolaos, Istron, Kalo Horio, Makrigialos and Sitia.
Staying in Ierapetra
The excellent and varied choice of accomodation in and around Ierapetra makes this beautiful town the perfect place to stay for a holiday in Crete. A wide range of top luxury hotels, waterside hotels, suites and comfortable apartments and studios are available in this laid back and lovely town.
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