Istron Kalo Horio is just 10 km from the cosmopolitan town of Aghios Nikolaos in the Lasithi region of east Crete. Surrounded by lush vegetation, with many olive and citrus groves and allotments bursting with produce, it's a real working Cretan village, characterised by gentle tourism, and there are several attractive beaches within easy walking of the village of Kalo Horio.
The lower coastal part of this lovely area is known as Istron or Istro and the upper village is known as Kalo Horio. The names seem to be interchangeable. We lived in Istron Kalo Horio for over two years and were never quite sure what to call the village that was our home.
We loved our time in Istron and got to know the area and the locals pretty well. It is a fabulous place with some gorgeous beaches, fabulous restaurants and traditional Greek Tavernas, friendly and welcoming locals and some of the nicest places for walking and admiring the scenic flora and fauna.
The village of Istron also has a variety of local friendly Kafenions, bars, a bakery and many shops.
There's a really wide choice of places to stay in Istron Kalo Horio. You can choose luxury villas like the Nimfes Villa or the luxury hotel of the Istron Bay hotel. There's also the new Anny Sea & Sun Apartments, the Elpida hotel, the El Greco Apartments to name but a few. Camper vans and some campers also find their holiday locations on the Istron beaches.
Places to See
Served well by the efficient bus service KTEL, Istron is a scenic coastal bus ride from nearby pretty Aghios Nikolaos to the north, with charming Ierapetra a few kilometres to the south. Other excursions can take you to nearby Chrissi Island, Spinalonga, and the Lasithi plain with its windmills.
Flora and Fauna
If you love Flora and Fauna you’ll adore your time in Istron Kalo
Horio. The village nestles attractively among wild herb hillsides
abundant in wildlife – butterflies, gold finches, hoopoes, wild rare
orchids and rare birds of prey frequent this very green and fertile
spot. It is a bird watchers heaven.
Wandering through the vineyards, olive groves and orange groves expect to see farmers, old ladies, donkeys and goats working the land throughout this part of the village. During your time here you will share the real Cretan village life with the locals.
Most of the Taverna owners in Istron are also farmers who have small market gardens and allotments around the village. They grow and tend their crops and then serve them up in their Tavernas. Most produce their own olive oil, wine, Raki and fresh fruits and vegetables. Some also keep chickens and other livestock so you can be assured that you will have fresh, tasty and organic food in the restaurants throughout the village of Istro.
Agios Panteleimonas, the patron saint of the village, has his feast day on the 27th June, when all the villagers honour their saint by attending the tiny church on the beach at Istron for a panighyri service.
Afterwards, along with a marching band and priests of the eastern Orthodox religion, the villagers form a procession along the beach. The next evening a huge feast with plenty of delicious food, gallons of Cretan wine, traditional Greek dancing and Cretan music are played well into the early hours.
Visitors are made very welcome.
There are three attractive bays here in Istron, all within easy walking distance of each other, and close to the Tavernas and shops. One beach is pebbly, but the other two have very beautiful beaches and little coves with fine sand or sand with a few pebbles. The water is crystal clear!
Golden Beach or Voulisma Beach at Istron
Golden Beach at Istron has to be one of the best beaches in Crete and we would say one of the best beaches in the Greek Islands.
Named locally as Voulisma Beach the golden sands and crystal clear sea of this stunning beach are wonderful. There's quite a big parking area at the top of the entrance to the beach and to access the beach you need to use the steps to get down from the cliff tops.
The main beach of Istron Golden Beach is a long stretch of golden sand packed with sunbeds and parasols. There are also a few rocky coves for a more secluded beach experience.
Voulisma Beach is very popular and is packed during the summer months. There's a little Kantina off the main beach for snacks and drinks and also a small cafe at the top of the main beach.
Or head across the road to the fabulous Panorama restaurant that has commanding views of the whole of the Mirabella Bay and some of the best food in Istron. Family run by local brothers George and Andreas you'll be assured a warm, friendly welcome at the Panorama.
The Panorama serves the best mixed fish platter and the best mixed grill plate in the whole village. Plus their carafe red house wine is simply stunning value.
Silver Beach or Agios Panteleimonas Beach at Istron
Known as Church Beach and also Silver Beach the beach of Agios Panteleimonas at Istron gets its name from the tiny white washed church dedicated to Saint Panteleimonas which is actually on the beach itself. This is a lovely beach that the locals like to use as it never gets too crowded even at the height of the summer.
It has a few pebbles but is mostly soft white sand and is ideal for children as it is very gently shelving. It can get quite choppy at times though if the winds pick up and then the windsurfers have a great time.
It is a Blue Flag awarded beach and has a large parking area, sunbeds and parasols for hire. It has a Kantina, toilets, shower and first aid facility.
Bronze Beach or Karavostasi Beach at Istron
A mostly pebbly beach is the Karavostasi Beach at Istron. It is much quieter than the other Istron beaches and is used mainly by the locals. You can stroll through the olive groves to get to Karavostasi Beach and have a snack or drink at the little Kantina. In the summer evenings the Kantina is very popular.
There are tables and chairs on the beach itself and is a truly lovely setting particularly watching the sun setting over the distant mountains. The food and drink served at the Kantina is incredibly good value. Try the pork soulvlaki with Greek salad and chipped potatoes washed down with carafe white wine – delicious!
The modern day village of Istro sits on the site of the ancient town of Istrona. Archaeologists discovered the remains of a Minoan settlement at Vrokastro in this very village, which makes an interesting place to visit during your stay in Kalo Horio.
Eating and Drinking in Istron
You'll find you're really spoilt for choice for dining out at Istron. Ranging from snack food at the beach Kantinas, the fast food of Obelix and the grill menu of To Steki to the Greek Taverna food and Cretan specialities served at a number of brilliant Istron restaurants.
If you're visiting Istron Kalo Horio in eastern Crete then Zygos Taverna should be top of your list for the best Crete eating experiences.
We also love the Panorama, El Greco and Pelagos – all very different in their own ways but all well worth a visit.
The Friends Bar, Pinocchio Bar and Commotions Bar are also fantastic for night life, drinks, sport and music plus internet access.
And a great place to spend some time by the pool is at the wonderful Istron Pool Bar. It's brilliant for children with their own children's pool and play area. They have a whale of a time!
The food and drinks are brilliant too. Try a Café Frappe in the morning and perhaps a cocktail or two later on!
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