This route covers a large part of the northeastern axis of the island. All along its length, one comes across important archaeological sites and many attractive places. Our route arrives at the archaeological site of Malia, 3 kms. east of the modern town of the same name. Malia was an important Minoan town with a palace equivalent in size to those of Knossos and Phaestos, but not so grand. The first palace was built around 1900 BC, was destroyed around 1700 BC, following which a new one was built. However, around 1450 BC, this new palace suffered the same fate. The ruins to be seen on the northwestern side, belong to the old palace, while the remainders of the ruins belong to the new palace.
Continuing our tour and at a distance of 11 kilometers southwest of Aghios Nikolaos lies the picturesque village of Kritsa, built amphitheatrically on a hill. It is renowned for the quality of its handwoven articles.
Three kilometers to the north of Kritsa at Kontaratos, lies the ruins of the ancient Doric city of Lato Hetera. It flourished between the 7th and the 3rd centuries BC and was protected by two acropolis, between which it lay. The archaeological site was excavated by the French School of Archaeology, and includes an agora, a number of public buildings and several houses.
From there we drive north to
the capital of Lasithi prefecture, Aghios Nikolaos. It is a modern town built on the northwestern point of the Mirabello bay. Aghios Nikolaos is also built on the site of the ancient town of Lato towards Kamara, which was a seaport of Lato Hetera (the Other Lato). It flourished during the 3rd century BC. The “trademark” of Aghios Nikolaos is the Voulismeni Lake in its middle, which is linked to the sea by a canal - offers an interesting walk.
As we continue on the coastal road
towards the north, we come to Elounda, 10.5 kilometers from Aghios Nikolaos. This is one of the most developed holiday resorts in Greece. Further north, opposite the northernmost point of the Spinalonga peninsula and its fortified islet, lies the fishing village of Plaka. The rocky islet of Spinalonga or Kalydon originally fortified by the Venetians in 1579 by building a castle with 40 cannons and thus transforming it to a lethal stronghold for centuries. Later it became notorious as it was the exile center for lepers from 1903 until 1957.
Estimate tour duration: 6 hours