Kato Zakros Village, small and personal, simply awesome, quiet and well - it is somewhere you feel a sense of ownership about the moment you arrive.
At the end of a dazzling, exciting with stunning views road, descending from the plain around Zakros itself.
The journey to Zakros builds and improves the experience that "you've really traveled" to get there. You are in the East 44km southeast of Sitia. You have reached this wonderful coast and there is nowhere further to go!
The setting of Kato Zakros is simply amazing. You are by the sea with a large pebble beach and often-dazzling waters. It's quiet, feels as "real" as a beachside place can, there is a little tourism as such, and what there is mostly consists of daytime visitors to the Palace of Zakros archaeological site.
There are very few places where you can enjoy such a beautiful bay, a Minoan Palace and a spectacular Gorge. Add sunrises, sunsets, shooting stars, and starlit nights, a handful of welcoming, traditional tavernas (supplied by their own organic gardens which you can walk amongst) coastal walks, and no shops! This is a very special place.
About the Palace of Zakros, the site is a prized destination for many and we've heard numbers of people call it the site that has most impressed them in Crete. There is a lack of mobile phone reception which delights some and will require adjustment from others!
Kato Zakros remains and maybe is the most original, unspoiled, nontouristic destination in Crete.
How to get there
For the adventurous, there are some wonderful and most indirect routes along unpaved roads - including an easily traveled (with a slow pace and great care) one from Xerokambos.
Or for stunning mountaintop views of the sea, gorges, and mountainscapes, a journey made via Roussa Eklissia, Mitato to Adravasti is hard to match and most memorable - what a sense of achievement you feel after that journey!
Another most enjoyable transition from any time spent in Sitia would be to travel to the beach at Vai (try to be there close to dawn or dusk to avoid crowds), perhaps including a visit to the fascinating Toplou Monastery (recommended-see more about it in Sitia) on the way and stop at Palekastro (many places to stay) and/or Zakros for refreshments or more solid food intake!
From May through mid-October there are direct charter flights to Sitia and Heraklion Airport. Tickets can be bought in advance for almost all flights via our partner website.
The journey is the thing". A superb way of enjoying the journey to Crete is to fly to Athens and take the ferry from Piraeus (Pireas) - the port serving Athens. A still-romantic way to travel by the overnight ferry from Piraeus to Heraklion Port. Tickets can be bought in advance for all ferries via our website.
If you want to explore the region, absolutely you do, while you're here, we recommend that you rent a car, other means of transport are limited and/or infrequent. We suggest our sister website, which offers competitive prices and you can collect your car at either airport.
And why not, could if you wish, book your taxi transfer online easily and safely from the airport or port to any location via our website.
Where to stay
Terra Minoika Villas, these quality villas, with spectacular views over the bay and all the sights of the area, mix interior modernism and luxury with a sense of place, dominating the entrance of this small, unspoiled village situated 40m above the sea surface and 300m away from the sand and pebble beach.
Stella’s Traditional Apartments, a real gem in a serene setting.
What to see & do
- Enjoy the area's peace and serenity, listen to the melodic sounds of the birds, cicadas, the wind, or the rustling of leaves and these tremendous views.
- Swim, stroll down to the beaches of Kato Zakros, famous for the clarity of the water- are covered either by pebbles or by fine sand. They are rich in fish and are suitable for either an amateur fisherman or a spear fisherman and a professional fisherman as well. The path to the beach goes past small gardens, which the Zacrites (the inhabitants of Zakros) have to produce their vegetables, potatoes, fruit, and citrus fruits. The beach is about a 7 or 8 minutes walk ( of course it is less by car) and it is a very pleasant route.
- There are trekking routes of gradual difficulty- varying from very easy to very demanding ones- which you can enjoy under the instructions and with Elias and Stella’s help. Elias and Stella from our Terra Minoika Villas, the owners, are trekking fanatics and they have climbed all the Greek mountains as well as Kilimanjaro, the Alps, and the Himalayas. And if asked, we think that you will not find Elias reluctant to lead the way to one of these trekking paths, getting you away from the tourist routes and discovering in the nearby mountains, things that only the natives are aware of.
- What’s more, if you are interested in climbing, there is a secure climbing field at the exit of the Dead’s Gorge and Elias will be very willing to lend you his climbing equipment to follow easy or difficult routes, or even to create your one.
- Moreover, if you are interested in Greek or Cretan traditional dances, you can ask Stella to teach you some: from “syrtaki” and “hasapiko” to “pentozali” and “tsamiko”(Stella is a P.E ( Physical Education) teacher, specialized in Greek traditional and folklore dances). Unless, of course, you happen to be present in one of the Greek nights they organize regularly.
- Enjoy the amazing nature, it is impossible to give even a glimpse of the atmosphere you will find here. It is the feeling of an escape from civilization; it is the scent that rises from the Cretan soil; it is the color of tradition and simplicity one will find here; it is the music deriving from nature’s sounds in an immaculate environment; it is the tastes of the local products, varying from fish, vegetables and meat to wine, fruit and “raki”; these are the things that cannot be captured by any camera lens.
- Walk (E4-path goes from Zakros through the Gorge of the Dead (5.5 km approx. very slow going, sid to take 6.5 to 8 hours!) to Kato Zakros where the gorge reaches the coast.
- Explore Sitia Geopark. Eastern Crete, and especially the area of Sitia, is one of the most important and environmentally unique areas of Crete. Its geographical position on the eastern edge of the island, which allowed for the exchange of species with Asia Minor, in combination with the intense dry and hot climate of the area, created a mosaic of habitats and ecosystems, some of which, such as the Palm Forest of Vai, are unique in the Mediterranean.
- Eat fresh fish and more at the tavernas, read, write, make conversation, and visit the Minoan Palace of Zakros. Zakros palace was the last Minoan palace to have been discovered (1962) and the excavations proved remarkably fruitful.
- The Cave of Pelekita is situated at a distance of 5km northeast from Kato Zakros, and is one of the biggest caves in Crete with a length of up to 310m and occupies an area of approximately 500m2. The interior is unique as spectacular stone blocks alternate with the stalactites and the stalagmites that decorate it. Tour the mountain villages and other coastal points nearby, including Xerokambos. Xerokambos is a quiet village and farming settlement on the far southeastern side of lovely Crete. Its isolation means that tourism is pretty much low-key, the busiest period is July and August. There are two splendid beaches and a few scattered tavernas.
- Visit the Toplou Monastery which is located about 11km east of Sitia, one of the wealthiest, most beautiful, and most important monasteries in Crete. The historic monastery has a very special architecture with a square shape and it looks more like a castle.
- Small excursions should include the Kapsa Monastery above the gorge of Perivolakia (about 10 km east of Makrygialos) and the remains of the medieval village of Vóila.
- You can also make longer trips to the famous palm beach of Vaï (but don’t go in July or August when it gets sadly crowded), the lively seaside town of Agios Nicolaos on the northern coast, the Lasithi Plateau famous for its 7,000 (or so) windmills, or, closer to ‘home’, the island of Koufonisi, to see the remains of the ancient Roman theatre and to go for a swim from the wonderful sandy beaches.
More activities at Lasithi Area.
Where to eat & drink
Platanakis family taverna represents many people's ideal of a taverna on the seafront. Casual, with the hint that good fresh fish would be a fine thing to eat. One could sit here and enjoy savouring much for many moons.
Three further tavernas offer a variety of dishes and are almost as close to the water's edge.
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