At a glance
Vast and varied, this province extends gracefully across the easternmost area of Crete, its western border binding it to Herakleion and its southern side lapped by the Libyan Sea.
A hugely popular destination for visitors of all budgets from around the world, the region is celebrated especially for its scenic Lasithi Plateau with its picturesque traditional villages, the Cave of Psychros, its remaining metal and white-sailed Venetian windmills (of which there were once around 12,000), as well as its large scattering of remarkable historical monuments and sites.
Although you’ll find sophisticated infrastructure in parts of the province, there is no shortage of wild, glorious alpine nature and a dazzling array of beaches, among them Vai, exotically populated by date palm trees.
Elounda, a sunny village by now equated with the sprawling luxury resort that’s built upon an unexcavated ancient port, is neighboured by the idyllic day-trip islet of Spinalonga, once a fortified leper colony, just a short boat ride away.
Only 5km from Elounda is Plaka, a bijou town with charming tavernas, cafes and boutiques through which boisterous winds blow, the film location of the TV series “The Island” (about the above-mentioned Spinalonga).
Agios Nikolaos, Lasithi’s busy capital, was once a buzzing magnet for lewd, rowdy holidaymakers but it has cleaned up nicely and is now transformed into an inviting destination where the elegance of its glitzy shop-fronts, eateries and cool-cat cafes lining the harbour and nearby natural gems, such as Voulismeni lagoon, really shine through.
Amphitheatrically-built Sitia, one of Crete’s most ancient towns, at 69km from Agios Nikolaos, offers a peaceful respite from the busier town. The vibrant villages of Handras, Zou and Ziros, abandoned Ethia, as well as its fascinating ancient sights and lovely monasteries, make it highly visit-worthy.
Ierapetra in the south is considered the most ‘family friendly’ destination of the region, from where you can hop on a boat to visit Gaidouronissi, shop at stylish boutiques or chill out at one of its many quaint tavernas or cafes.