Eastern Crete in Five Days

How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches, and mountain and coastal scenery.

Malia Archaeological Site on CreteMalia Archaeological Site in Eastern Crete

Day One


Get an early start from somewhere like Malia or Neapoli and follow our recommended drive around the Lasithi Plateau, including a visit to the Diktean Cave. There are several places to choose for lunch in the village of Psychro near the Diktean Cave, and the village of Krasi is another lunch option, a 25-minute drive north of Psychro.

The Lasithi Plateau in Eastern CreteThe Lasithi Plateau in Eastern Crete


From Psychro it’s a 40-minute drive north to the coast at Malia, where you can spend an hour or so visiting the Malia archaeological site and still have time for a swim.


Where you stay depends on what kind of place you like. Stay in Malia if you want rowdy nightlife, but our preference would be to make the 20-minute drive into the hills and spend the night in Neapoli at the excellent Neapolis Hotel. There are some great places to eat, too, better than in Malia, including the Finikas Raki Taverna.

Where to Stay in Malia

Where to Stay in Neapoli

Day Two


From Neapoli it’s a half-hour’s drive south to Kritsa to see the remarkable church of Panagia Kera, or if you’re in Malia allow 40-45 minutes. You can then make the easy 15-minute drive down to Agios Nikolaos to have lunch. We suggest La Casa, right by the lake.

Agios Nikolaos on CreteAgios Nikolaos


After lunch, make the 20-minute drive north from Agios Nikolaos to Elounda, from where you can take a boat trip out to Spinalonga island, the one made famous in Victoria Hislop’s best-selling book, The Island.


There are numerous choices of places to stay in both Elounda and Agios Nikolaos, for all budgets, so choose whatever you fancy. In Elounda we recommend dinner at the Ferryman overlooking the water, or if you’re in Agios Nikolaos, one of our favourites is Pelagos, a seafood specialist.

Where to Stay in Elounda

Where to Stay in Agios Nikolaos

Day Three


Spend the morning looking around Agios Nikolaos, and don’t miss its Archaeological Museum. We like the Patriko Taverna at Minoos 11, which we think has some of the best traditional food in Agios Nikolaos.


After lunch make the 20-minute drive east to the archaeological site at Gournia. The superbly-preserved ruins here will keep you occupied for an hour or two, after which head to the south coast. It’s only 20 minutes from Gournia to the main south coast town of Ierapetra, and we recommend driving a further 20 minutes west to the fun little town of Myrtos, and checking-in at the central Hotel Myrtos.


We recommend having dinner at La Sera, just around the corner from the hotel, although the hotel’s own restaurant is also very good.

Day Four


From Myrtos retrace your route to Ierapetra and continue east along the south coast to a lovely little place called Makriyialos (or Makri Gialos), which is almost an hour’s drive from Myrtos. We once spent a delightful week here, so stop to stretch your legs and walk around. Beyond here the main road turns to the north to take you to the lovely town of Sitia. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Makriyialos and you can have lunch at one of the waterfront tavernas.


After a good lunch head for Sitia’s Archaeological Museum, a 5-minute walk back from the waterfront. We recommend spending the rest of the afternoon walking around the town and/or cooling off with a swim from one of the town’s several beaches right in the centre.


Spend the next two nights in Sitia, at either the Itanos Hotel or the Elysee Hotel. Both are on the waterfront and both are very pleasant and inexpensive. Enjoy dinner at The Balcony Restaurant, where the food is definitely a cut above the average.

Where to Stay in Sitia

Day Five


From Sitia it’s an hour’s drive east and then south to see the small but absolutely fascinating and atmospheric remains of Zakros Palace. Tiny Zakros is a place we love, and it’s great to chill out here and have an excellent lunch at the Kato Zakros Bay Restaurant, right by the sea and with lots of the produce coming from the owner’s farm.

Read about Life as a Minoan


From Zakros it’s just under an hour’s drive north to the remarkable and popular Vai Beach, where you’ll see Cretan date palms. Don’t linger too long if you also want to visit the monastery at Toplou, a 20-minute drive inland from the beach and where you can sample (and buy, of course) some of the monastery’s own wines.


It’s a 20-minute drive from the monastery back to Sitia where you can enjoy a final dinner at one of the waterfront tavernas like the excellent Limani, happy that you’ve seen the best of eastern Crete in five days!

Other Crete pages

  • Our Hire Car in Crete

    The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

  • Cretan Writers and Artists

    The most famous Cretan writers and artists include the painter El Greco and the author of Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis.

  • Around Central Crete

    This tour around central Crete lists some of the area’s highlights such as the traditional village of Arolithos, Minoan remains at Tilisos, and Agioi Deka.

  • Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

  • Central Crete in Three Days

    Driving central Crete in three days gives you time to see the highlights including the Minoan palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the beaches and the Diktean Cave.

  • Maleme and the German War Cemetery on Crete

    Maleme near Chania is where the people who died during the battle of Crete are buried, in the German War Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Cemetery nearby.

  • Sir Arthur Evans, archaeologist at Knossos on Crete

    Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

  • The Cretan Diet

    Studies have shown the Cretan Diet as one of the healthiest in the world, involving lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and moderate amounts of wine.

  • Where to Stay in Eastern Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.

  • Western Crete Beaches and Villages

    Western Crete has some wonderful golden sand beaches as well as mountain villages, monasteries, caves, and archaeological sites to discover.

  • Eco-Tourism Accommodation on Crete

    The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.

  • Ancient Gournia Minoan Site in Eastern Crete

    Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.

  • Phaistos Minoan Palace on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.

  • Hiking in Southwest Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.

  • Elounda and Spinalonga, setting for The Island by Victoria Hislop

    Elounda on Crete's north coast is a popular holiday town with a pretty harbour, from where you can take day trips by boat to see the island of Spinalonga.

  • Best Crete Hotels

    The best Crete hotels include 5-star luxury hotels, historic and romantic Venetian palaces, and several hotels in Hania and Iraklion.

  • Stilianou Winery near Knossos

    The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.

  • Crete Olive Oil Tour

    For a Crete olive oil tour Greece Travel Secrets visits Biolea, one of the few olive oil factories on Crete that you can visit.

  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge

    Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Keramos Studios in Zaros

    Keramos Studios in Zaros on Crete is an inexpensive two-star hotel/guesthouse with one of the best breakfasts on the island using food from the family’s farm.

  • Where to Stay in Western Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in western Crete, including both luxury and inexpensive hotels in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

  • Rouvas Gorge Walk

    This Rouvas Gorge walk starts and ends in Zaros in southern Crete and should take three to four hours with a distance of eight kilometres or five miles.

  • Best Things to Do on Crete

    The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.

  • Crete’s Wildlife and Landscape

    Crete’s wildlife and landscape are two of the island’s attractions, including gorges for hiking, rare raptors like the lammergeier, wildcats and ancient trees.

  • Olive Grove Walk

    This olive grove walk from Limnes to Vrises on Crete also takes you through orchards and gives close-up views of some of the island’s windmills.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Popular Paliokastritsa on Corfu Gets New Marina

    Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias and Corfu Mayor Meropi Hydraiou inaugurated this week a new 103-berth marina at Alypa in Paliokastritsa. “The project will bring added value to the cosmopolita…

    Read More

  2. Poll: Cost-conscious Greeks Prefer Beach Holidays This Year

    Financially pressed Greeks are choosing beach holidays this year, according to a study released by Athens-based research firm Focus Bari in collaboration with YouGov. Carried out in July on a represen…

    Read More

  3. Costa Navarino Welcomes the ‘Democracy and Happiness Weekend’ in September

    World acclaimed authors, innovative thinkers and award-winning thought leaders will gather at Costa Navarino in Messinia in September to participate in the “Democracy and Happiness Weekend”, a cultura…

    Read More

  4. Chios State Airport to Get Long-awaited Upgrade

    The Greek Transport Ministry recently announced that the “Omiros” state airport on Chios will receive 9.6 million euros in funding to significantly upgrade infrastructure and expand facilities. The wo…

    Read More

  5. SKY express: New Routes from Athens to Milan, Munich and Sofia

    Greek airline SKY express recently announced the expansion of its network of destinations by adding new routes from Athens to the popular cities of Munich, Milan and Sofia. “We have announced the expa…

    Read More

  6. Vessels from 45 Countries Cross Greece’s Corinth Canal in July

    Vessels from 45 countries crossed Greece’s Corinth Canal in July after it reopened to transit, the country’s public assets authority said Thursday. One of the country’s most-visited sites, the Corinth…

    Read More

  7. Shopping Tips for Crete

    These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.

    Read More

  8. Corfu Shopping Tips

    These Corfu shopping tips include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, jewelry, gold, silver, wood carvings, and food and drink, with tips on haggling.

    Read More

  9. Tinos: Island of Miracles

    The Virgin, the art of marble crafting, the vernacular architecture, the rich interior, and of course the north wind. Maya Tsoclis writes about her island.

    Read More

  10. Six Days of Sailing in the Dodecanese

    If you're looking for a time machine, the waters between Crete and Rhodes are where you should sail.

    Read More