A picturesque town built at 260 m. above sea level, located at the end of the road from Sitia to the eastern part of the island, 38km away from Sitia and 19,5km from Palekastro. Zakros has 750 inhabitants, farmers, producing olive oil of excelent quality, stock breeders and fishermen. It is the commercial and administrative center of the area with the villages : Adravasti (75 inhabitants, 300m a.s.l.), Azokeramos (58 inhabitants, 230m a.s.l.), Kelaria (34 inhabitants, 250m a.s.l.), Klissidi (15 inhabitants, 220m a.s.l.) and Kato Zakros a small coastal village, site of the fourth large Minoan Palace, located 7.5km from Zakros at the bay of the same name. There is regular public bus transportation from Sitia to Zakros. The town and the wider area offers quite few facilities to the visitors, apartments for rent, restaurants cafes, shops etc. During the summer cultural events are taking place at the central square of the town, attracting both tourists and locals. The area is characterized by lush vegetation, due to the many springs and streams with running water, while watermills were built in some of them.
Xerókampos (GR: Ξερόκαμπος) is a beautiful coastal settlement in a place of natural beauty. The distance from Ziros is 20 km and from Zakros 11 km. The wonderful beaches, the healthy climate and the important ancient places of interest attract both Greek and foreign visitors. The settlement offers a infrastructure of small hotels, apartments, taverns, super markets and supporting facilities. Xerokampos is an old settlement. It is first recorded in the 1583 Venetian census. The ancients were certainly aware of the beauty of this place and its important position and the site has been inhabited since the Minoan times. The settlement would appear to have been at the spot called Katsounaki and on Trahilas hill a peak sanctuary already looted was discovered. There are important ancient sites from Hellenic times on the hills of Antisternia and Farmakokefalo. At Farmakokefalo where the excavations are under the authority of the archaeologist N. Papadakis an important town, mainly of the Hellenistic era was brought to light. It is possible that the town is Ambelos which various literary sources and correlation place in this area of Crete.
The village of Papagianades (GR: Παπαγιαννάδες) with ~160 inhabitants, is situated in the area of Lefki at an altitude of 480 m above sea level, approximately 90 km from Agios Nikolaos and 19 from the town of Sitia. It was first recorded in an Egyptian census in 1834 with 8 Christian families. It was also recorded by Chourmouzi Byzantios in 1842. In the 1881 census the village is recorded with a population of 77 pertaining to the Community of Handras. The Ai Lias hill just before entering the village is of local interest as well as the Monastirakia, a ruined Minoan settlement. There is also the church of Panagia Eleousa with frescoes dated back to the 14th century. The sightseer can sit and relax at the marvelous Panteli, a place in a gorge with lot of trees, joining the villages of Papagianades and Maronia. The chapel of Virgin Mary is worth visiting as well.
Péfkoi (GR: Πεύκοι). A typical Cretan village, built at 420m above sea level, with narrow paved streets and old stone built house. There are many places worth to visit in the area. The folklore museum, housed in a small well preserved building located by the old school, provides information on the history and the day to day life of the village. At the top of the overlooking hill, named "Kastelopoulo" there is a building of the Late Minoan period which used to be a watchtower or a beacon. The 7km long road from Makrygialos to Pefkoi passes through the "Pefkiano" gorge, a wonderful landscape with plenty of pine trees (=pefko) who gave their name to the village. Approaching the village we see the dirt road that leads to the miracle working church of Agios Georgios Semekides, celebrating every year at November 3rd.
A palm tree forest stretching on a marvelous valley and sandy beach. It consists of self planted palm trees of Theophrastus (Phoenix Theophrasti). It is unique of its kind in Greece, Europe and probably the world. Vai because of its special value and beauty is protected by the Greek state, European Union and international contracts. The protected area covers 23.4 ha. The sandy beach of Vai is amongst the most beautiful in Crete and Greece and attracts thousands of visitors every year since Vai is a top destinations especially for the new comers. The small islets opposite the beach add a lot to the beauty of the place. There is a parking area, a tavern, a canteen, umbrellas and seabeds. There is regular public bus connection with the towns of Sitia and Palaikastro during the summer and many organised day trips by travel agencies. If you don't like crowds, you can walk a little to the south from Vai to Psili Ammos a lovely small beach with fine gold sand which is nested in a small cove.
Makry Gialos (Long shore GR:Μακρύ Γιαλός) is a small beach resort on the south-east coast of Crete, located 60km from Agios Nikolaos, 25km from Ierapetra, and 33 km from Sitia. Makry Gialos features a small fishing harbour and a nice 1km long sandy beach that stretches from the harbour to the east. Four more lovely beaches can be found in the immediate area. Accommodation is available mostly in family-run studio and apartment complexes and there is a good choice of bars, restaurants, tavernas, some of them right on the beach front or at the small fishing harbour. Makry Gialos is the administrative centre of the wider area which comprises some picturesque traditional villages built on the tree covered mountain sides. The area has been inhabited since the Minoan times as many ruins from this as well as the Roman and the Venetian periods prove.
A one kilometre long beach, with fine gold sand and shallow waters, lies right in front of the town of Makry Gialos. It is accredited with the blue flag and is considered to be one of the safest beaches for swimmers of all experience and children due to its soft and gently shelving. It is an organised beach with sun-beds, umbrellas and most sea sports facilities.
Within a few distance from the town of Zakros, starts the Gorge, which ends at the bay of Kato Zakros, almost near the Palace area. This gorge is of outstanding beauty, with large caves in its walls. In those caves were discovered tombs dated to the Minoan period, and finds of great archaeological importance. That is the reason why the caves are named "The Caves of Dead" and the gorge "The Gorge of Dead". Because of its natural beauty and archaeological significance the gorge attracts numerous visitors every year.
The cave, with impressive stalagmites and stalactites, is located near the sea (~200m), at Pelekitá (GR: Πελεκητά), a place 3km away from the Palace of Zakros (~1 hour walk)and above the small bay of Karoumbi. In this cave were discovered signs of neolithic habitation. Its entrance is at 105m above sea, it is 310m long and its area is approximately 4.500m2. A little further there was found also the quarry from where the ancients took the stones to built their Palace (hence the name "Pelekita"). The cave is also known as "Sikias Spilios" (the fig tree's cave) due to the fig tree that is located at its entrance. The view to the sea from there is magnificent.
The hilly village of Ziros (GR: Ζήρος) spreads over the lower slopes that the locals call Egremno (the Cliff) at an alti-tude of 590 m. at the pictureque Armeni-Handras plateau. The village is the seat of the Municipality of Lefki. The village was first recorded as Siros in 1577 in the Venetian Barozzi's catalogue of the villages of Sitia. In a census carried out by the P. Castrofilaka it was listed under the same name in 1583, with a population of 448. In 1928 with the first census after the union of Crete with Greece, the population was 742. Today the population of the village is approx. 742 but diminishing. The Ziros community includes the villages of Kalo Horio, Hametoulo, the coastal settlement of Xerokampos, the deserted Lamnoni and some settlements inhabited seasonally like Agrilia, Lethi, Achladias, Makri Livadi and Anargyros. The Ziros area has many antiquities from all periods, however no methodical excavations have yet occured. Ancient sited can be found at Plakospilios (roman settlement and tombs), St. John (an Archaic set-tlement), Fonias (a Minoan settlement), Stalos (Minoan tombs and settlement), Katsoulianos (Minoan tombs), Pentalitro (Minoan Acropolis), Katergari Papa Pigadi (Minoan Settlement), Anemomilia (Minoan building), Pirgales (Minoan Villa), Vrisi Hametoulou (Minoan settlement), Limnia or Palaki Mantra Hametoulou (Minoan buildings). An important peak sanctuary of the Middle Minoan period existed at the Plagia hill but now it is ruined. The Ziros area is dotted with caves and also other geological features, the most important are: the cave of Agrilia, the cave of Lygias Spilios and the cave of Voevodas. The Ziros area has also many remarkable churches to show with the most important from all the painted church of St. Paraskevi dated back to 1523. The St. Nikolaos church has graffiti dated back to 14th and 15th century.