Eastern Crete differs from the North-west end in that it remains largely uncommercialised and therefore some might say, unspoiled. It is the "natural Crete" where beautiful mountains meet crystal clear turquoise waters. You will find quaint villages, stunning beaches and authentic fine Cretan cuisine – most noted for the use of fresh local ingredients, often grown by the restaurant owners themselves.
If you tire from lazing by the pool with your book then jump in the car and within minutes you will be exploring the winding roads to stumble across dramatic views, secluded coves and discover Crete's natural environment that has a rich and diverse agricultural landscape with endless olive groves and vineyards.
A little further afield you will find beautiful ports with open air restaurants and modern shops aplenty. Or you can visit any of scores of archaeological sites and learn about ancient Crete. If you like exploring on foot, why not do some gorge walking. There are more than 10 dramatic gorges to choose from not far from your Bayview base. Some of our favourite activities are listed below.
The weather is invariably perfect, with year round sunshine and blue skies. Here is today's weather and forecast for the next few days.
If you are like us and like to get out and about there are so many places to visit, beaches to find, gorges to walk; the list is endless but here are some of our favourites...
Simply click on any heading
Gorge of the dead (Gorge of Zakros) - The most famous and most visited gorge of Eastern Crete. A wonderful route that starts South East from the village Ano Zakros, crosses the gorge and ends next to the Minoan Palace in the Gulf of Kato Zakros. It is accessible year round, spans 2.5km in length and the altitude difference from the entrance to the exit is about 100m.
The Gorge of “Monis Kapsa” - An exceptionally beautiful gorge, easily accessible all through it’s length. It starts south from the village Pervolakia and ends at the beautiful coast of the Kapsa Monastery. It’s full length is about 3 kms and the altitude difference from entrance to the exit is about 350m.
The Pefki Gorge - One of the most beautiful small gorges of Crete, with impressive rock formations and vegetation. It starts at the south of the Pefki village, and ends on the north of the Aspros Potamos region of Makrygialos. About 2kms long, the altitude difference from entrance to exit is about 300m
The Minoan Civilisation was the first and most ancient great civilisation in Europe and here in Eastern Crete the first centers and ports of this great civilisation developed. There are over 80 examples including:
The Minoan Palace of Zakros - Constructed during the 16th century BC you can view the excavations of this palace and the settlement surrounding it.
Minoan town of Palekastro - At the beach of Palekastro a great and big town of the Minoan period was excavated for you to explore.
Monastery of Toplou - One of the greatest monastery’s of Crete, dates back to 16th century and has been recently restored. Within the monastery are 2 museums.
Many artifacts are are also displayed at the Archaeological museum of Sitia.
Towns and Ports
Agios Nikolaos - A picturesque town built on the northwest side of the peaceful bay of Mirabello.
It is named after the charming 7th century Byzantine chapel of St.Nikolas, with its bell tower, drum and dome. The chapel has a number of well-preserved frescoes of the 19th, 10th and 11th centuries and rewards its visitors with a breath taking view of the town and bay.
The name Agios Nikolaos means "Saint Nicholas" who is the patron saint of sailors and of all of Greece.
Agios, as it is referred to by all the islanders, retains a traditional, quaint and tranquil fishing town which hasn't lost its charm with its busy tourist infrastructure. The small port of Agios Nikolaos, has its own charm, as it is surrounded by the picturesque tile-roofed houses, wonderful shopping and many fantastic restaurants surrounding the port. It is illuminated in the evenings by the lights of the shops and those of the "kaikis", fishing boats moored at the big dock.
At the center of Agios Nikolaos is a bottomless lake, which is actually not a lake because it is connected to the sea and is not bottomless because it does not go all the way to the other side of the earth. But it is deep enough for the retreating Germans to dump all their tanks during WWII, and nobody has seen them since.
Now the descendants of those same Germans can frolic in the sea and in the pubs with the descendants of the British people they fought, while being served by the ancestors of the farmers who defended their land with muskets against those tanks at the bottom of the bottomless lake.
Sitia - The city of Sitia offers simple daily pleasures in it's many corners. At the beach and the squares around it you will discover that Sitia is a vivid city with lots to offer.
You will find many open air restaurants and bars surrounding the quaint port area.
The nightlife of the city is combined with many high quality cultural events during the year. You will find music, dance and theatre performances. If you are interested in history then a visit to the Archeological Museum is a must.
There is an open market that sells only Sitian products or you can discover the traditional tastes at the restaurants on the rooftops of old noble houses.
Pefki – A romantic traditional mountain village set high in the mountains above Makrygialos this village offers spectacular views down the valley towards the Libyan Sea.
The village itself has no roads, but you can wander around the meandering paths and alleys where you will feel like time has stood still for many years. It is worth visiting the folklore Museum, the Vreikos Caves where traces of Neolithic habitation were found, and the stunning Pefki gorge.
At the base of the wonderful Pefki gorge you will find Aspros Potamos, meaning white river due to the lime which is washed down into the river bed, is a small settlement approximately 1 km from Makrygialos and the cottages found there were originally owned by the inhabitants of Pefki and used as overnight accommodation when they came down to the coast to pick their olives.
You will find the food at Piperia Taverna is excellent with it's outdoor dining where you will be seated under an ancient pepper tree, with views across the valley to the Mediterranean Sea. A cafenion has been on this spot for hundreds of years and here people would settle disputes, commemorate births and deaths and arrange marriages, so if the moment takes you, this is the perfect place to propose to your beloved!
Often the locals will entertain you as you eat with traditional live music and dancing.
Makrygialos Beach - If you are feeling adventurous there are a number of water based activities that operate from the beach including Ringo's, Bananas, pedalo's etc.
Here you can choose from the UFO which is a high speed ringo and becomes airborne as you turn into the breeze!, the flying fish which goes even higher, or more regular activities like water skiing, jetski and the more sedate pedlao's. Your camera is a must!
Heraklion Water Park - A unique water attraction for all ages. Some say this is the most entertaining and wild aquatic park in Europe, which offers 34 water slides guaranteeing fun and an adrenaline rush. A great way to pass a day for adults and kids alike!
If you forget yours you can buy them reasonably cheaply from Makrygialos village.
There are several boat trips you can take should you want to explore neighbouring islands or try your hand at fishing. Examples are:
From Makrygialos to Koufonisi Island
Sitia to Dyonisades Islands
Fishing charters operate from most ports
Our favourite beaches
Vai offers a lovely restaurant that is cut out of the cliff edge with spectacular views down the full length of the beach.
Xerokambos – 50 minutes from Bayview Resort. The road leading to the beach is as dramatic as the beach itself as it takes you right over the tops of the mountains and twists and turns its way down the other side.
This beach really is exceptionally beautiful and the clearest water we have ever seen. Our firm favourite.
Scramble cove – We named it this as you have to scramble down to the beach via a rough rocky path. Only 5 minutes from Bayview Resort this beach is quiet and beautiful. There is a nice half moon shaped rock pool at one end of the beach.
We often combine this with lunch at the Cave of Dragons Restaurant which is situated just above the beach.
Bayview beach - Just across the road from the resort lies your own long sandy beach should you want to venture away from the pool!
Good for a quiet walk, sunbathing or swimming.
Our favourite restaurants
Cave of Dragons - turn left out of bayview and you will find it situated up the road on the left hand side, right up in the hills. Both indoor and outdoor dining with spectacular views to match the authentic local cuisine. The restaurant grow most of their own produce.
Piperia Taverna – Situated in the village of Pefki you will find the food at Piperia Taverna is excellent with it's outdoor dining where you will be seated under an ancient pepper tree, with views across the valley to the Mediterranean Sea.
There is often traditional live music and dancing. Very romantic at night under the lights hung in the pepper tree.
Makrygialos - There are many bars and restaurants that have become our favourite, the standard is high whereever you go and there is a nice atmosphere as you dine along the seawall.
Cretan's tend to dine late and it is a whole family affair. Food options range from Pizzerias to traditional Greek cuisine, something for everyone.
I’m sure you’ll find many more things on your own holiday, please do let us know if you find something we should add to our list.