Lasithi Plateau Crete





The Lasithi Plain (also spelt Lassithi Plain) is the largest plateau of Crete with a length of about 10 km and a width of 5 to 7 kilometers. The flat plain is 830 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountains. Two mountain pass roads lead from Agios Nikolaos and Chersonissos first to about 1,100 meters and then about 250 meters down to the plain. From the top of the pass road you have a great view (see picture).


The Lassithi Plateau

A circular road leads around the Lasithi Plateau. There are approximately 20 villages with a total of about 5,000 inhabitants. In order not to waste any valuable agricultural land, the villages were built on the slopes at the edge of the plain. There are no settlements in the center of the plain. You can walk on footpaths across the plain.

The main villages in the Lassithi Plain are:

Pinakiano (first village on arrival of Malia / Chersonissos)
Tzermiadon (main village)
Marmaketo
Agios Konstantinos
Agios Georgios (first village on arrival from Agios Nikolaos)
Kudumalia
Avrakontes
Kaminaki
Magulas
Psichro (here is the famous cave of Zeus)
Plati
Agios Charalambos
Kato Metochi

The Lassithi plateau is known for its windmills. They were used to pump groundwater. Today the pumps are predominantly powered by electricity, but many of the formerly 8,000 wind mills still exist. They are something like the landmark of the Lassithi plateau. Unfortunately, many windmills now look a bit run-down.


Windmill in Lassithi

The Lassithi Plain is one of the most fertile and watery areas on Crete. Since ancient times, intensive farming has been practiced here. In the past, grain was cultivated, today also potatoes, beans, fruits and other plants.

The largest tourist attraction in the Lasithi Plateau is the cave of Psychro (also called Dikteon cave and sometimes spelt Psichro cave). From the car park (about 3 euros parking fee, often full in the summer, you have to wait) you walk about 15 minutes up to the entrance of the cave of Zeus. According to ancient Greek belief, the main god Zeus is said to be born here. However, a cave on the Nida plateau also raises this claim. You can go into the in summer cool cave after you have paid about 4 euros entrance fee (price from spring 2017). The circular walk through the cave of Psychro is less than 20 minutes long. You can see bats, birds and big dripping stones.

Some locals offer mules as riding animals for tourists who do not want to walk from the car park to the cave (the footpath is steep and exhausting). A ride with a donkey costs 10 Euro or more. Drinks are cheapest at the kiosk at the parking lot entrance, for a meal you better go to one of the nice villages on the Lassithi Plain. The visit of the cave of Zeus in Psychro is not "a must" but interesting.

The small folklore museum in the village of Agios Georgios (only open in the season daily, 3 euros admission fee) is worth a visit. The main topic of the museum is the poor, peasant life on Crete in the past centuries.

The main town of the Lasithi plain Tzermiadon attracts some tourists. Here you can rent good and cheap rooms. A good restaurant is the tavern and cafe Kronio right in the center (see picture). The Kronio Tzermiado is also a small pension.

Buses to Lassithi: Maximum 1-2 times daily from Heraklion, Chersonissos and maybe Agios Nikolaos. Whether it is possible to take day trips by public bus to the Lassithi Plateau depends mainly on the availability of buses in the morning and afternoon. This varies from year to year. Just ask at the bus station, best in the capital of Crete Iraklio. The buses go through most villages of the plain and end usually in Psychro, the villiage with the famous cave. From all the big tourist resorts on Crete, there are bus tours (day trips) for tourists to the Lassithi Highlands.

Traveling by car to the plateau has a great advantage: you can see several places on the Lassithi Plain in one day. The shortest way to the plain from the coast is from Chersonissos  and Malia - about 25 km. You can also explore the high plateau of Lasithi by foot or by bicycle. There is also a road to the Lassithi Plane from Neapoli (Crete), a small town at the motorway from Agios Nikolaos to Heraklion


The author: My name is Jorgy. I am German and I have been living in Crete for more than 10 years. I translated this article from German into English. I am not a native English speaker. When I will find a proofreader, the quality of the article will improve. If you know somebody who wants to help me, please write me an email: info@kreta-reise.info

 

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