...Lassithi, natural flavor of life...
The prefecture of Lassithi lies on the easternmost part of Crete Island. It is also the southernmost part of Europe, marking the major land boundary between that continent and Africa and the Middle East. Ιdeal for alternative tourism, it is full of contrasts, combining the rugged beauty of its mountains with lush, fertile valleys, quaint villages and charming small ports.
There are many sites worth visiting in Lassithi, such as the ancient ruins in Gournia and Zakros, Diktaion Andron on Mt. Dikti and the 15th century Toplou Monastery. The cosmopolitan air of the region blows strong in Elounda, while other - no less beautiful - towns and villages, such as the coastal town of Ierapetra, the lively port-town of Aghios Nikolaos (capital of the prefecture), the atmospheric town of Sitia occupying a location that dates back to the Minoan period, the towns of Neapoli and Makrigialos, make up the diverse picture of this corner of Crete. Unique to Europe and a "must see" is the palm-tree forest in Vai. The plateau of Lassithi, a green, fertile expanse covering an area of 25,000 sq. km., is one of the most beautiful sights in Crete complete with tens of white-sailed windmills - some of them used to this day to irrigate the fields. Several uninhabited islets off the coast also present special interest and can be reached by trawlers. Spinalonga, a fortress-islet crowned by a medieval castle, once hosted one of the last active leper colonies in Europe; Agioi Pantes is home to free-roaming herds of the wild Cretan goat; Kolokytha, Psira and Dionysades have interesting archaeological finds; Elasa, Koufonissi and Chryssi where an endemic species of cypress tree is flourishing.
For the more adventurous trekking, caving, mountaineering, cycling, climbing and hiking through the mountain ranges, gorges, caves and plateaus is a challenging yet rewarding way to discover Lassithi and all its beauties. Tens of gorges, plateaus and more than 1300 caverns embrace the indigenous beauties of the fauna and flora of eastern Crete. Most of the 2000 indigenous plant species of Crete are found here.
Known for the generosity of their spirit, the locals are friendly, pleasant, graceful and hospitable, keeping customs and traditions alive. An ancient custom, the tradition of public “festivities” or family gatherings adds a particular vivid colour to the local way of living, although inevitably affected by modern lifestyle. Religious feasts and cultural festivities are held throughout the year, peaking during Easter which is celebrated with processions and religious services. In the summer months, many special events are held in picturesque villages where the folk music is accompanied by free wine. In the domain of arts, especially in woodcarving, many local craftsmen have been distinguished for their works, unique for their inspiration and fine technique. Lassithi is also known for its remarkable production of home handicraft, truly fine works of art with exquisite decorations.
Travel to the prefecture is served by the recently renovated airport in Sitia with regular flights to Athens; the ports of Agios Nikolaos and Sitia provide regular ferry service to Piraeus, as well as the Dodecanese and Cyclades islands in the summer. For getting around, the local public buses are inexpensive and quick enough for short journeys, often traveling on scenic coastal roads where most of the population is centered.
Η Σητεία διαθέτει αεροδρόμιο με καθημερινές πτήσεις για Αθήνα, αλλά ο νομός εξυπηρετείται και από το αεροδρόμιο του νομού Ηρακλείου. Ακτοπλοϊκά δρομολόγια πραγματοποιούνται καθημερινά από τον Πειραιά για το λιμάνι του Αγίου Νικολάου και της Σητείας. Τους καλοκαιρινούς μήνες η Σητεία και ο Άγιος Νικόλαος συνδέονται με τα Δωδεκάνησα και τις Κυκλάδες.