Idyllic Ierapetra holidays 2019 / 2020
Ierapetra sits pretty on the gorgeous southern coast of Crete, and is famously the sunniest place on the whole island. Its endless sandy beaches and laid-back pace of life make it the ideal holiday destination, whether you're looking for a romantic break for two, a family escape to the sun, or a fun getaway with friends. The town, like many in Crete, features an old quarter, with enticing narrow streets, and a waterfront district where most of the shops and tavernas are located. The fabulous long beach offers crystal clear waters and plenty of amenities for all kinds of water sports. You can take boat trips from the port out to Chrissi Island, a nature reserve with a cedar forest and breathtaking beaches.
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At a glance
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When to go
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A quaint, unspoiled town on the southern coast of Crete, Ierapetra has gorgeous beaches, and lots of authentic Greek charm. Its historic quarter is full winding alleys, pavement cafes and historical sights, from an Ottoman mosque to a Venetian fortress. Ierapetra makes a great base for exploring some of Crete's most famous sights; see the Minoan ruins at Knossos, discover the beautiful beaches of Chrissi Island or go hiking and walking in the picturesque mountains. And after a long day's sightseeing, you can relax and enjoy all the nightlife Ierapetra has to offer. From traditional tavernas and fantastic restaurants to lively bars and late night discos, there's something to suit every budget and taste.
There is a wide choice of places to eat and drink in Ierapetra, whether you fancy trying a traditional tavern in Kato Mera (the historic heart of the town) or want to tuck into some fabulously fresh seafood right on the beach front. You’ll find lots of Greek classics such as moussaka as well as local specialities such as lamb with stamnagathi – a popular wild green – and lemon. The delicious local pies are ideal for eating on the run and include the sarikopites, which are cheese-filled sweet pies drizzled with honey, and chaniotiko boureki, made with courgettes, potatoes and mizithra cheese. Pick up a bottle of Cretan wine, and you’ll be all set for a fabulous picnic!
Thanks to its gorgeous sandy beaches, wealth of water sports and authentic Greek charm, Ierapetra is especially appealing for families. The beaches are usually the focal point of family holidays, and the soft sand, shallow waters and excellent amenities make them perfect for even the youngest kids. Older children and teens will enjoy the fantastic array of water sports on offer, as well as the shops, cinemas and nightlife in the town. The whole family will enjoy a boat excursion to beautiful Chrissi Island, now a nature reserve, which has cedar forests, sand dunes and spectacular beaches with turquoise waters. There are lots of easy walking trails in the area, which are suitable for families, including one to a waterfall and natural swimming pool in Koutsounari.
Action & Adventure
Ierapetra is a lively seaside town, which offers a whole host of activities. There are plenty of water sports available, whether you want to go sailing or wind-surfing, maybe try some water skiing or just mess about on a banana boat. There’s also a diving centre, which offers courses and runs excursions to some of the best diving sites in the area. Crete is deservedly famous for its fantastic hikes, and you’ll find plenty of wonderful walks in the Ierapetra area, such as the Sarakina Gorge or the gentle walk to the Milonas waterfall in Koutsounari. You can also try a host of other activities, such as canyoning or climbing in the Ha Gorge.
There are three beaches in Ierapetra itself, but there are countless other bays and coves along this beautiful stretch of coastline. You can try your hand at a choice of water sports, hit the beach bars or find your own private spot on a secluded stretch of sand. The three main Ierapetra beaches all boast excellent facilities, including sunbeds and parasols for rent, and a good choice of places to eat and drink. If you want to escape the crowds, head a few miles east to find Koutsounari beach, which is a long sandy beach with shallow waters that is popular with families. The spectacular beaches on Chrissi Island are among the best to be found anywhere on Crete.
Ierapetra has a good choice of bars and clubs to keep you entertained on balmy evenings. Most of the liveliest options are clustered around the harbour, where you’ll find a couple of clubs plus several venues with live music. Like elsewhere in Crete, the nightlife gets going late, and goes on until the sun comes up. The town also has a great selection of mellow cafés and bars, if you simply want to sit out on a charming terrace, enjoying a drink and watching the world go by. In summer, the town hosts the Kyrvia festival, which celebrates traditional music and culture, and you’ll find lots of fun activities, from concerts in the streets to parties on the beach.
Ierapetra is a fantastic destination for a romantic holiday in the sun. This relaxed Cretan town boasts everything from beautiful beaches to a charming historic quarter. You can simply bask in the sun – Ierapetra boasts more sunshine and higher temperatures than anywhere else in Crete – or have a go at all sorts of water sports, from water-skiing to paddle-boarding. Don’t miss the chance to visit Chrissi Island, which has some spectacular white-sand beaches, including lots of tiny coves that you may have all to yourself. You can enjoy romantic dinners in vine-shaded courtyards or right by the sea, and the town boasts plenty of great places for a cocktail in the evenings.
Ierapetra has a long history, and the Romans, Venetians and Ottomans have left their mark on this laid-back town. Its biggest surviving monument is the Kales Fortress, which still guards the harbour. Behind it stretch the narrow lanes of the old quarter, where you’ll find a couple of fine churches – the tiny 12th-century Agios Giorgios and Agios Ioannis – and an Ottoman-era mosque. You might also pass the unassuming little house where Napoleon is said to have stayed for a night in 1798. The town is also home to a good archaeological museum, which contains finds from Gournia, a Minoan settlement located about 10 miles from Ierapetra, and other sites.