Meet Crete
On the road in eastern Lassithi
Lassithi areaScenic Road Trips

Road Trip East Lassithi: Sitia, Kato Zakros, Monastery Kapsa


  Full Day Tour 

Road Trip East Lassithi: Sitia – Palekastro – Kato Zakros – through the mountains to Handras village – Monastery Kapsa

Alternatively: if you stay in Zakros, Kato Zakros, Ierapetra or Makrygialos, take the suggested route at any point, you can track it in the opposite direction.

Road Trip East Lassithi – Sightseeing en route with suggested stays:

  • Ancient settlement Petras in Sitia (45 min. stay)
  • Palekastro with its ancient site Roussolakos (if you don’t prefer visiting the ancient site, take a swim at the beautiful Chiona beach directly at the site.) (1 hour stay)
  • Kato Zakros beach and ancient site (alternatively have a swim at the beautiful beach) (1,5 hours stay)
  • Abandoned settlement Voila (45 min. stay)
  • Venetian Villa Etia (45 min. stay)
  • Monastery Kapsa (45 min. stay)

Mileage: ca. 100 km

Driving time: 2,5 hours

Duration of the tour as calculated above: ca. 8 hours

See the tour route on the map below: please note, that you can take the route at any point, and use the road from “Info point 1” to “Info point 2” = 25 km to close the circle.

Click the button to print the map    

Each Crete-Tour is unique, and each in another way. On this day I am traveling alone and throughout the tour it struck me that I really am at the southeastern corner of Europe. On my journey through the mountains I had preferred photographed scents, if only that were possible. At each stop an intense thyme or juniper smell came into the nose.

Road Trip East Lassithi

Petras ancient site on the eastern outskirts of Sitia

Early in the morning at 08.30hrs I stand at the gate of the archaeological site Petras, on the eastern outskirts of Sitia, ca. 500 m inland from the road to Palekastro. Parking is quite difficult due to the very narrow street , but with a little luck you will find a space. It was my lucky day, because, although already at the beginning of June, the site was accessible only for a few days because they just cleaned all grasses and weeds. “Hopefully soon someone will be employed” said the friendly worker Kostas, “so that at least in July visitors can enjoy the ancient discoveries”.

Road Trip East Lassithi: Sitia, Kato Zakros, Monastery Kapsa
Ancient Petras with view to Sitia

Towards Palekastro one travels fast

The road is very good, the ancient site Roussolakos is well signposted, and a few minutes after the turnoff to the ancient site, the road ends at the beautiful and wide sandy beach Chiona of Palekastro. Roussolakos lies almost directly on the beach.

Road Trip East Lassithi: Sitia, Kato Zakros, Monastery Kapsa
In ancient Palekastro, which is called also Roussolakos by the locals, due to the often intense red colour of the soil everywhere in this region.

Kato Zakros – where Crete ends

From Palekastro it is only a few km until the village of Zakros, and from here another 15km to Kato Zakros (Lower Zakros). The road leads parallel to the gorge of the dead, and then you reach the rocky coast. At the sight of the large bay of Kato Zakros I immediately got the feeling that here is the end of civilization, the end of the world, here I can switch off. Awesome.

Kato Zakros beach easten Crete
It’s coffee time at the beach in Kato Zakros

Kato Zakros consists of 10 houses situated along the beach road, all of which are converted into taverns etc. I leave my car at and stroll across the street. In a pretty looking café I ask the waitress: “I’d like a coffee, do you have a Freddo Cappuccino maybe?” “Sure” she replied. So far away from everything, I would have expected at most a Frappe. I chose a table right on the sandy beach, no usual noise such as traffic comes to my ear, I see only a few people …. I would love to have stayed here a few days.

After a well deserved break I continue to the ancient site of the Minoan palace of Zakros, which is just 5-10 min. walk inland. Here I walk between busily working archaeologists along the stone walls and as always I enjoy my journey through time.

Find more information about this ancient site in  Minoan palace at Kato Zakros – centre of commercial exchange

Road Trip East Lassithi: Sitia, Kato Zakros, Monastery Kapsa
The amazing view to the bay of Kato Zakros

Hillsides and patchwork-like olive groves

It goes back over the village Zakros and a bit further until Andravasti, and here the road branches off from the mountains towards Karydi and Handras.

The road winds in large and gentle loops up, and every time I thought to have arrived at the top, it went a little higher.

The following 30 km on the road trip east Lassithi  through the mountains and hills of the eastern district of Lassithi I describe in this way: it was the beginning of June. The hills were covered with yellow, low growing gorse bushes on the one hand often leaving a sweet fragrance in the atmosphere. This took turns with the scent of thyme bushes.

Road Trip East Lassithi: Sitia, Kato Zakros, Monastery Kapsa
Sitanos village

The hillsides offer a view to patchwork-like olive groves and other fields. Due to the highest possible speed of 20-30 km/h and the winding and therefore not well to overlook highway and numerous photo stops, a wonderfully relaxing holiday feeling appeared. Other vehicles were a rare sight. This whole rural area through hills and valleys is characterized by the refreshing absence of tourist structure, here you get a glimpse of a piece of Crete away from the crowds.

The isolated villages on the way perfectly match the well-known postcard cliché of white-washed houses, a church, a village square on the main street with chatting cap wearing men of all ages in the coffee house.

A lot of things are to see on the Road Trip East Lassithi . We recommend the following sights: 

Now only a few kilometers separate me from the main road Sitia-Ierapetra, and then ….. finally press on the accelerator again, here you can go again with 50-70 km/h!

Arriving on the south coast, the signs show to the village Makrygialos and the monastery Kapsa on the coast about 5 km further east.

The view from the monastery Kapsa to the Libyan Sea is breathtaking
The view from the monastery Kapsa to the Libyan Sea is breathtaking

I opt for the monastery Kapsa,

and had the pleasure to drive along on the only really arrow-straight piece of Cretan rural street! The monastery Kapsa is nestled on the high cliff above the coast.

During the whole tour you will be led by surprisingly well signposted roads. Those who wish can omit one or other target, or meet the proposed route from other locations (see above).

Conclusion of the Road Trip East Lassithi: a wonderful and very special day, connecting the rural and agricultural scenes of the Cretan everyday life with its glorious past. A journey through the original Crete.

Related posts

Agios Nikolaos, the charming coastal city of east Crete


Vai – Europe’s largest palm forest with a beautiful sandy beach


Sitia, important coastal town and port of the east


Off-Road Trip Crete: Preveli Palm Beach, Triopetra Beach


Ierapetra – southernmost city in Europe


The “Abduction of Europe” – in Agios Nikolaos