at 0km (N) from Palaikastro town
Palekastro (Palaíkastro GR: Παλαίκαστρο) is a lively, unpretentious town, at the east coast of Crete 20 km. away from Sitia and the seat of the Municipality of Itanos. It was named after an old castle. Its sources main income is agriculture and tourism. Although the town is growing, it manages and retain its character and charm. The town's square is the center of activities and is lined with cafes and taverns. Many a pleasant hour can be passed here, watching the world go by. During the summer months, weddings are often held in the village, with the huge wedding feast taking place in the square, to which everyone is invited. A chance to try your hand at Cretan dancing!
at 1.8km (E) from Palaikastro town
At the northernmost edge of the eastern coast of Crete lie the ruins of a settlement which flourished during the Late Minoan period (1550-1220 B.C.). At the same site, however, are preserved remains of the Early and Middle Minoan periods (3000-1550 B.C.), mostly cemeteries with well-built ossuaries, and ruins of spacious houses. The site ceased to be inhabited at the same time when Zakros was abandoned (1450 B.C.) but was reoccupied during the Late Minoan III period (1300-1200 B.C.). The city covered a total area of more than 50,000 sq.m., was densely inhabited but not fortified. To the NE of one of the city's sectors lies the sanctuary of Diktaian Zeus, which belonged administratively to the city of Itanos. Cult practice was continuous from the Geometric period (8th century B.C.) until the Roman conquest. It seems that the sanctuary was plundered and destroyed by fanatic Christians at the end of the 4th century A.D.
at 4.4km (NW) from Palaikastro town
It is an historical monastery of the 15th century, which collapsed in the earthquake of 1612 and was rebuilt with the financial aid of the Venetians. During the Ottoman conquest of Crete, the monastery was destroyed and devastated by the Turks. In 1704 the monastery was declared stauropegion. During the Ottoman occupation there was a school in the monastery, while, after 1870, it was founded there a school of mutual teaching. The Monastery is a stauropegion fortress. The main building of 800 m2 has three floors, which are divided into cells, guest - houses, kitchens, the abbot' s residence and warehouses. The katholicon is a two-aisled church; the northern aisle is dedicated to the Virgin, and the southern posterior aisle, to St John the Theologian. The monastery' s characteristic bell tower bears relief crowns and crosses with inscriptions and the date 1558. In the Monastery, there is also an interesting Museum.
at 6.3km (N) from Palaikastro town
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.
at 8.9km (S) from Palaikastro town
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.
at 10km (S) from Palaikastro town
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.
at 10.8km (S) from Palaikastro town
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.
at 11km (S) from Palaikastro town
Like the other Cretan palaces, the palace of Zakros, was first built in about 1900 B.C. The present ruins seen by the visitor belong to the second building phase, in about 1600 BC. The total area of the palace, including ancillary buildings, is approximately 10,000 sq.m. It was not only the permanent residence of the royal family, but also the administrative, as well as commercial and religious centre of the surrounding area. The long term excavations have yielded over 10,000 objects, many of them considered unique, which are now on display in the Iraklion and Sitia museums.
at 11.2km (S) from Palaikastro town
Small coastal village at the eastern edge of Crete. Here in 1961 a great Greek archaeoligist, N.Platon, unearthed the fourth largest Minoan Palace. Nowadays in Kato Zakros (GR: Κάτω Ζάκρος) live a few people, occuping with farming, and fishing. There are a few taverns and cafe bars available for the visitors as well as a few rooms for rent. The scenery is great and the sandy beach with crystal clear water is one of the nicest in eastern Crete. Apart from a visit to the Minoan site the visitors can take a walk through the imposing gorge of the dead or follow the path along the coast to the cave of Pelekita
at 13.8km (W) from Palaikastro town
The easternmost town in Crete. A small and pleasant coastal town, built in a semicircle on the western side of the Bay of Sitia (Si̱teía GR: Σητεία), a typical, peaceful Mediterranean port. It is the capital of the county with the same name and is sited 69 km east of Agios Nikolaos.