East Crete has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with towns that have an authentic Greek feel. This is the quietest side of the island, yet it is thought to have the most beautiful beaches and the most luxurious resorts on Crete. Plus, we look at homes in East Crete: prices and property types, with examples – scroll down, you might just find your ideal home in East Crete!
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The name of the region on the east side of Crete is Lasithi. The Sea of Crete lies to the north and the Libyan Sea to the south. All around the coast there are lovely coves and beaches to discover, and inland you can explore the mountains and gorges. In contrast, at the foot of Mount Dikti lies the Lasithi Plateau, which is known for its old windmills.
East Crete’s Islands
The most popular islands off the coast, particularly for boat trips, are Spinalonga and Chrissi. To the east of the village of Elounda is the uninhabited island of Spinalonga, with its 16th-century Venetian fortress and the ruins of a former leper colony. Off the coast of Lerapetra is the island of Chrissi, which is very popular with tourists wanting a boat trip to beautiful beaches.
Climate of East Crete
The average annual amount of sun hours is 2786, which is wonderful when you compare it to London’s 1659 sun hours. The sunniest month is July with 372 hours of sunshine and the lowest is December with 117 hours.
In the months of May, June, July, August and September you are very unlikely to see a drop of rain. The average maximum summer temperature is 30C (86F), but be prepared for temperatures in the afternoon to reach much higher. The hottest month is usually July. The coldest month is February with an average day temperature of 14C (57F) and the wettest month is January.
East Crete Tourism
Thanks to its mild year-round climate and fabulous beaches, Lasithi attracts many tourists. Popular spots for holiday makers include Agios Nikolaos, Vai and the island of Chrissi. However, tourism can also be found in villages on the south coast like Myrtos, Makrys Gialos or Makrigialos, Xerokambos and Koutsouras.
The towns of Lasithi, Crete
Lasithi’s capital is Agios Nikolaos, but Lerapetra and Sitia are also considered major towns. Whether you choose to buy property in an inland village or a plot of land along the coast, it’s always reassuring to know there is a sizeable town close by for shopping, buying building materials and a hospital for medical emergencies.
1. Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos’ most amazing feature is Lake Voulismeni, which is set like a blue gem in the centre of the town and connected to the sea by a canal. It is very pleasant to stroll around the lake and watch the small fishing boats come in with their catch. Afterwards, you may choose to eat at one of the many restaurants on the waters edge, where you can enjoy fresh seafood. On two sides of Lake Voulismeni there are rocks and trees, where you can walk off lunch, by climbing the steps up to the view point.
Shopping in Agios Nikolaos
If you enjoy a wander around the shops, Agios Nikolaos has many charming boutiques and small shops selling local products. Typical products include carved olive wood, cosmetics, leather goods and handmade jewellery. There are also supermarkets and a weekly market on a Wednesday for all your fruit and vegetable needs. Even though it has become a well-known tourist destination, Agios Nikolaos has managed to preserve its historical and cultural identity.
The Port of Agios Nicolaos
The port has a great atmosphere. You can spend the evenings dining in one of the excellent tavernas, mooch in the gift shops or take a walk along the sea wall. At the port you can also catch a ferry, sealife boat tour or fishing trip.
Beaches near Agios Nicolaos
Not far from the centre there are several beaches famous for their crystal-clear waters, such as Ammoudi and Kitroplatia. Here you will find tavernas, pubs and discos that are open until late at night. North of Agios Nikolaos you will also find the renowned tourist resort of Elounda, with it’s 5 Star hotels and scenic coastline.
The archaeological museum is well worth a visit, which houses important finds from across Crete. The second is the Folk art museum, with its charming collection of Cretan art, traditional textiles, wooden artefacts and other items reflecting traditional life on the island.
Open year round
The benefit of owning a property near the town of Agios Nikolaos is that it has all the facilities you need, such as supermarkets, shops, weekly market, a hospital, yacht marina, restaurants, cafes, schools and children’s play areas. Due to its resident population, you will find many places open year-round.
Getting to Agios Nikolaos
It’s a straight forward 47 minutes drive from Heraklion airport to Agios Nicolas. KTEL bus company also runs coaches from the airport to Agios Nikolaos
Property for sale in Agios Nikolaos
You can find small properties to renovate in the inland villages from €20,000. A two bedroom apartment in the centre of Agios Nikolaos costs from around €130,000. A family house needing some renovation can cost from €140,000.
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Three-bedroom, Agios Nikolaos, €90,000
This is a budget-friendly three-bedroom bungalow for sale in village of Limnes. The house comes with a large fitted kitchen, a stone fireplace, two bathrooms, two double bedrooms and a single bedroom. It is possible to live in this property in its current condition, however, repairs would be advised.
Four-bedroom, Agios Nikolaos, €750,000
At the other end of the spectrum, this is a modern four-bedroom villa, constructed in 2010. It is located in Elounda Bay, the same area as many five star hotels. The home comes with an infinity pool that looks to the sea. There is also a barbeque area and large balconies to take in the views from.=
Sitia is a relaxed town on the north-east coast of Crete. It has retained its Greek character and has a friendly welcoming atmosphere. The oldest parts of town can be found in the steep narrow streets leading up the hill directly behind the harbour. There are plenty of steps – one set of which have been painted like piano keys.
Although it doesn’t have big tourist attractions it does have a laid-back charm, beautiful harbour and a big well-equipped beach. At Sitia beach you can relax on a sunbed or enjoy watersports, such as windsurfing.
The bustling harbour is filled with traditional fishing boats and serves as the centre of daily life. The fantastic Sitia waterfront runs the length of the harbour and is backed by the town. It is a pleasant place to stroll, lined with palm trees and excellent tavernas and cafés. Sunday evening is the big night out for the locals.
A typical old home in the old town has been transformed into a folklore museum. Its collection of traditional costumes, weaving, textiles, embroidery, carvings and photos mostly date back to the late 19th and early 20th century. There is also a small Archaeological Museum which boasts a varied collection of ancient artifacts from the region.
Kazarma Fortress has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times by a wide range of hosts from Venetian to Ottomans. Perched at the top of the hill above the town, it has superb views down to the harbour. Nowadays, it hosts a variety of cultural events and concerts, including the big summer Kornaria Festival.
The Sitia area
The area has a thriving olive and wine growing culture, with excellent quality virgin olive oils and many wineries to visit. There are also a number of great beaches and some fascinating Minoan archaeological sites.
The Sitia Geopark is a UNESCO World Geopark, meaning it is a site of extreme geological importance. This is one of the most ecologically and geologically diverse areas of Crete, dominated by the Zakros mountains. In the broader region more than 170 caves and many gorges have been recorded to date and numerous fossils have been found here.
How to get to Sitia
Sitia has it’s own airport with flights arriving from major Greek cities such as Athens and Rhodes. Alternatively, you could fly direct to Heraklion and either drive or catch a coach across to Sitia. The scenery on the drive over is said to be stunning and takes less than two hours. Sitia also has a large port with Anek ferries serving routes from Piraeus and various Greek islands.
Property for sale in Sitia
One bedroom apartments in the Sitia area cost from €53,000. A two bedroom apartment with a sea views in Sitia can cost from €112,000.
One-bedroom village house near Sitia €75,000
This is a traditional one-bedroom house in the village of Hamezi, 7 kilometres of Sitia, with a frequent bus to the town. This property would suit someone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Five-bedroom, Sitia, €1,290,000
This impressive five-bedroom villa sits just a few minutes outside of Sitia. The property is built on a hillside – so there are plenty of views to make the most of! It has numerous fabulous features: a designer Italian kitchen, a lounge with a flat screen TV and a fireplace, a gym, a terrace, infinity pool, and a small basketball/football court
The town of Lerapetra lies south of Agios Nikolaos and southwest of Sitia. Lerapetra is nicknamed “the bride of the Libyan Sea” because it is the only town on Crete’s southern coast.
Lerapetra consists of two distinct districts, Kato Mera and Pano Mera. Kato Mera is the old town, located on the southwestern headland. It is characterized by a medieval street layout with narrow alleyways. The former mosque and the “house of Napoleon” can be found in this neighbourhood, as well as the Aghios Georgios metropolitan church, built in the town centre in 1856.
Along the wide promenade leading to the headland you will find many tavernas with outdoor seating right on the waters edge. On the headland there is a port for fishing boats and a fortress. The crenelated Fortress of Kales dates back to the early Venetian era. It was built on top of an older defensive structure. Locals claim it was built in 1212 by Pescatore, a Genoan pirate.
The newer district
Pano Mera is the more modern part of town, where you will find the principal shopping street. The town hall, museum, cinema, and hospital are also in this area. Further east is a short beach with bars and restaurants, followed by the quay for ferries to the island of Chrissi. Beyond this is the main boulevard, which contains hotels, bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops. The promenade that runs parallel to beach is a great place for a walk.
History of Lerapetra
Lerapetra has retained a prominent place in the history of Crete since the Minoan period. The Greek and later Roman town of Hierapytna was located on the same site as present-day Lerapetra. Hierapytna was conquered by the Romans in 67 BC. The remains of the Roman harbour can still be seen in the shallow bay.
Getting to Lerapetra
The cheapest way to travel to Lerapetra from Heraklion airport is by bus. It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes depending on the number of stops. If you hire a car it will take 1 hour 17 minutes.
Property for sale in Lerapetra
It is possible to find village houses in the province of Lerapetra from €55,000, but they will need some renovation. A 2 bedroom property that is ready to move in can cost from €98,000.
Two-bedroom, Lerapetra, €140,000
A very pretty two-bedroom stone house located in the picturesque village of Kavousi. It comes with a courtyard that benefits from some shade and is big enough for a barbeque, it is lucky enough to have views of the sea and mountains.
Four-bedroom, Lerapetra, €480,000
This is a beautiful four-bedroom villa is just a few minutes from the beach, shops, and restaurants. Should you wish to venture to Lerapetra, it is a thirty-minute drive away. The home has access to a barbeque area, swimming pool, and a jacuzzi.
How to get to Crete
Heraklion International Airport “Nikos Kazantzakis” is the primary airport on the island of Crete, and is Greece’s second busiest airport after Athens International. Many airlines use the airport, including Easyjet, British Airways, Jet2, TUI and Wizz Air. Between them they do seasonal flights to Heraklion from major airports in the UK. Throughout the year Heraklion airport is also regularly connected to Athens International Airport.
The port of Heraklion is one of the largest and busiest ports in Greece. It is easily accessible from the port of Piraeus and is also connected on a daily basis to the ports of Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Ios and Karpathos.