The part of the E4 European long-distance path that crosses through the Lassithi Prefecture is one of the least visited sections of the trail, yet offers incredible sights for visitors that seek the hidden treasures of Crete island. It crosses through the Lasithi plateau and various smaller ones like Limnakaro, Omalos Viannou and Katharo. The trail also passes through landscapes of rare beauty – such as the Selakano forest and runs on through the Ierapetra region and that of Makrygialos. Afterwards, it crosses the mountains of Sitia to reach Kato Zakro at the very east seaboard of Crete. For the final leg, it turns north to complete its course back up to Sitia and has its unofficial endpoint at Hochlakies gorge.
One of the places you can discover is the plateau of Katharo (meaning “clean” in Greek) and is located at an altitude of 1150 m. While it is also accessible by car, from Kritsa, the path offers a very different experience. The path crosses through wild and untamed scenery where only shepherds and goat herds can be found. Do not miss the tavernas in the area around Kritsa, known for their excellent local cheeses made from fresh milk supplied by the shepherds. In the winter, the area is thick with snow and most of the residents move to nearby villages. Proper equipment is needed for safe crossing.
The coastal section that descends towards Makrygialos also crosses through Pefki gorge. From Makrygialos, the route goes north towards Dafni, bypassing the southeastern coast where visitors can find more hiking routes through challenging gorges and historic monasteries. The final sections of the trail, from Skalia to Zakros through the Valley of the Dead, is another highlight in this region. The gorge got its name from the fact that the ancient Minoans used to bury their dead in the caves formed in the gorge. A refreshing swim in the secluded bay of Karoumes, with its soft pebbles and tranquil waters, will reward hikers that reach the finish line. It is a much-needed rest before carrying on to hike the Karoumes – Hohlakies route through the gorge that takes you back to the village.