• Region : Crete
  • Prefecture: Lasithi
  • Municipality: Ierapetras
  • Population: 800

Makrigialos is a find.

Some way from any major or developed tourist towns, it lies east of Ierapetra, in Eastern Crete, a 30 minute drive, along a coastline filled with a number of secluded bays and quieter beaches.

Easy access to and from Sitia, a one hour drive. The older-seeming harbour area has some character-full cafes and tavernas; this place is special. Though it virtually merges with neighbouring Analipsi, where the main beach is, the two are different in character.

Both parts of what is now really the same village, are framed in front of an impressive mountain backdrop with gorges that are more accessible and every bit as rewarding as the Samaria Gorge. The harbour area is where we'd be tempted to go and meet friends, spend a long time reading or just idling away some relaxed times.

The large sweep of sandy beach offers a selection of hotels, apartments and rooms for rent. It also has some well conceived and decorated restaurants, cafes and bars, feels casually-stylish in the evenings (mostly casual!) and also provides a local and not excessively tourist-trodden atmosphere - we're looking forward to going back.

How to get there

By Bus from Ierapetra the enjoyable coastal drive takes about 30 minutes. The drive to Sitia about one hour.

By Air : From May through mid-October there are direct charter flights to Sitia and Heraklion Airport. Tickets can be bought in advance for almost all flights via our partner website.

By Sea : The journey is the thing". A superb way of enjoying the journey to Crete is to fly to Athens and take the ferry from Piraeus (Pireas) - the port serving Athens. A still-romantic way to travel by the overnight ferry from Piraeus to Heraklion Port. Tickets can be bought in advance for all ferries via our website.

By Car : If you want to explore the region while you're here, we recommend that you rent a car, other means of transport are limited and/or infrequent. We suggest our Partner Budget, which offers competitive prices and you can collect your car at either airport.

By Taxi: Book your taxi transfer online easily and safely from the airport or port to any location via our website.

Where to stay

There are apartments, small hotels - many choices in the standard to medium price range.

Akrotiri Apartments is our choice. On a headland about 150 metres from the harbour which it overlooks together with the whole Makrigialos Bay. Apartments and studios sleep 2-4 people, good for families, great views and balconies. Everything is well maintained, freshly painted and quite modern. Well-planted garden areas between each accommodation are a plus.

Aspros Potamos is our other choice in a protected valley gorge a whisper inland from Makrigialos and its beach, early-cretan genuine houses offer back to basics and tranquility.

Please see our links to local hotels at the bottom of this page.

What to see & do

Stroll the harbour, have drinks made with real care and attention (it does make a difference!) at Apotheke Cafe which is easily found by the landmark blue chair stuck eccentrically to its outside wall.

Or order something at the Olympio Cafe - both have interior or sea-edge veranda seating. Dimitris Kakouris, the owner of Olympio is a mine of information about the area, stop by and sip a drink on the edge of the beach. See more on the Olympio Cafe website.

Visit Koufonisi island - there is a boat trip to its wonderful (we are assured) beaches, leaving in the morning and returning in the afternoon from the harbour. The island was once partly covered by a Roman factory producing scarlet dies for the robes of the emperors, from sea shells. So it's also an archaeological site of interest. Until an earthquake around 500 AD it was still past of the peninsula east of Makrigialos.

The street market appears every Friday near the harbour entrance, at the crossroad to Agios Stefanos.

Walking: impressive nearby and easily accessible gorges. From Pefki or Agios Stefanos towards the coast, is popular. Also Dasaki and Pervolakia. Find wonderful coves, bays and beaches. Some are pebbly or even rocky - but there's every chance of finding that "special beachside feel".

Visit Kapsa Monastery, mountain pine forests and the historic villages of Skinokapsala, Orino and Pervolakia. See the impressive panoramic view across eastern Crete with its surrounding islands and islets from the 1500 metre Afendis Stavromenos mountaintop.

More exciting activities in East Crete.

Where to eat & drink

The tavernas and cafes at the harbour. Olympio Cafe (see above) serves good snacks and pizzas.

Nostos for home grown, traditional oven-baked, healthy and real Cretan food in the neighbouring village of Koutsouras, on the water's edge - also for it's bright, colourful, cheerful decor, home-produced wines and olive oil.

Drive to Kalo Nero (20 minutes east) at dusk and dine under the illuminated mountainside cave which gives the name to the establishment The Dragon's Cave, apparently open "all year, all day".

Special comments

We don't moan often, so you won't know how many times we feel there are missed opportunities to create places that are special and compliment the setting they are in. Rather refreshing therefore, to see the waterfront at Makrigialos' harbour, with thoughtfully and creatively decorated cafes and tavernas.

These features together with the mild tourism developments on the east side of the village, the surrounding mountains and interesting coastline, make this a notable place to stay on the south coast.

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