Ierapetra is called the sunniest city in Crete. Moreover, it is the southernmost town in Europe, which provides the view onto the coast of Africa. This place combines the features of a typical resort with a rich historical heritage.
The city of Ierapetra provides plenty of opportunities for relaxation apart from long sandy beaches, comfortable hotels, and developed infrastructure. You can enjoy sightseeing tours both in the city and in the vicinity.
The Fortress of Koules is the visit card of the city. The Venetians built the fortress in the XIV century to protect their territories from Arab pirates: its convenient location offered an excellent view of maritime areas. Thus, one could see the enemy ships before they reach the lands.
Koules had undergone several reconstructions. First, it was rebuilt at the initiative of Francesco Morosini. Later, it suffered from the destructive influence of the earthquake and the attacks of Turks. The fortress was used for its intended purpose as a military fortification up to the XIX century.
Today, it is the jewel of a harbour in Ierapetra. You will not see refined architectural elements on the building. However, its foremost advantage is not its exterior but stunning panoramas of the city and the lighthouse.
Opening hours: from 9 to 15 free of charge
Ierapetra Archaeological Museum
The city of Ierapetra stands on the lands that were constantly inhabited from ancient times. If you wish to learn more about the heritage of the former civilizations and epochs, you should take a glance at the Archaeological Museum of Ierapetra. It is a true treasury of artifacts, which date back up to the times of the Minoan era.
The museum occupies the building of the former Ottoman school. At first, the residents of Ierapetra collected the items by themselves. As a result, with the time this place turned into the warehouse where one could see the objects comprising the period from 3rd century BC to 5th century AD. The visitors can see the clay sarcophagus, a rich collection of ceramics, the ancient statues, the objects of worship, and coins.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun, from 08:30 to 15:00.
The old town of Ierapetra – Kato Mera – greatly differs from a modern urban district. You can spend more than a few hours wandering through its scenic streets, which seem to transfer you into the times of antiquity; and exploring its architectural treasuries:
Napoleon’s House is the attraction Ierapetra is very proud of. Just for one night, in the XVIII century, this place turned into the residence of Napoleon. You should not expect too much from it: the building has quite an ordinary exterior. However, tourists take pictures in front of this attraction with great pleasure;
The Turkish Mosque was built at the times of the Ottoman rule. It nestles in the picturesque square. Right opposite the mosque, there is another attraction that is called the Muslim fountain;
St. George’s Cathedral is one of the popular Ierapetra attractions. It was constructed in the middle of the XIX century with the use of elements of the ancient houses. It is also adorned with carved décor made of stone;
Lord Christ Church is the monument of architecture of the XII century.
Infrastructure facilities nearby: in Kato Mera you can enjoy local delicacies in welcoming taverns, buy souvenirs, and stay for one night at the mini-hotel upon such a necessity.
Ierapetra excursions to explore Crete
The city of Ierapetra is an ideal starting point for autonomous or organized excursions to discover attractions of both the northern and southern coasts of Crete. The city provides rather convenient access to all directions: it will take you approximately 35 minutes to get to Faneromeni Monastery, and 45 minutes to reach Agios Nikolaos; and just one hour to immerse relaxation on the island of Spinalonga. Ierapetra is situated in 98 kilometers from Heraklion and in 87 kilometers from the Diktaion Cave (also known as Dikteon).
A 50-minute drive will carry you to the peaceful and scenic Selakano Forest which enchants with its wild beauty at first sight. This place is laced with numerous hiking trails, which allow tourists to enjoy leisurely walks within a picturesque environment.
Ierapetra tours to Ha Gorge
You can find Ha Gorge just 13 kilometers from Ierapetra. It is one of the most beautiful natural formations in Crete. Moreover, it has one of the largest caves in Europe.
It is not up to everyone to cope with the full length of the route, which covers the distance of about 1 kilometer. You should be well-trained and possess similar experience. Ha Gorge is famous for its majestic cliffs, small waterfalls, twinkling lakes, diverse fauna, and flora.
The cave has preserved its environment wild and untouched by the contemporary world. If you are about to visit Ha Gorge, you should hire an experienced guide and gear for a trip.
How to reach: it is not difficult to find this location. You have to move to the north of inland of Crete. The gorge is located in the vicinity of the village of Monastiraki.
Ierapetra day trips to Chrissi island
The island lies opposite Ierapetra. Its coast is covered with fine pink and white sand and is washed by the clear turquoise sea. The infrastructure facilities of the island include only a tavern and several chaise lounges. Chrissi island is a perfect destination for day trips and diving. Pay attention that is forbidden to stay for a night there.
How to reach: the island is accessible by sea from Ierapetra. The motorboats depart every morning and come back in the evening. The travel time is about 45 minutes.
Monastery of Axion Esti tours from Ierapetra
Only 2 kilometers separate Ierapetra from the Monastery of Axion Esti. Its construction dates back from 1984. The three-aisled basilica is decorated with frescoes that were the creations of Manuel Panselinos, a representative of the so-called Macedonian School. On the territory of the monastery, you can visit the church and three chapels. Another reason to visit this location is the unique views of the mountains, which open from above.
How to reach: you can get in the monastery by taxi from Ierapetra or by private vehicle. Move in the northerly direction. Infrastructure facilities nearby: in a 2.5-kilometer distance, you can find the nearest supermarkets and a gas station.