Lassithi Plateau Cycling Tour
About The Place
Lasithi Plateau is a mesmerizing region that seamlessly combines natural beauty, historical significance, and a unique agricultural tradition. This elevated plain, covering approximately 11 kilometers in the east-west direction and 6 kilometers in the north-south direction, is a captivating destination for those seeking to explore both the natural and cultural wonders of Crete.
Situated about 70 kilometers east of Heraklion, the Lasithi Plateau is perched at an average altitude of 840 meters (2,760 feet) above sea level. Its location in the Dikti Mountains gives it a unique microclimate and breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. However, this elevation also brings about harsh winters, with snow often blanketing the plateau and the nearby mountains until mid-spring.
One of the defining features of the Lasithi Plateau is its endorheic nature, meaning it has no outlet to the sea. This characteristic, combined with impermeable rock layers just below the surface, has led to a fascinating burial tradition where the deceased are often interred above ground in stone mausoleums or decorative stone boxes.
The fertile soil of the Lasithi Plateau has attracted inhabitants for millennia, dating back to Neolithic times around 6000 BC. The area’s agricultural prosperity is due in large part to alluvial run-off from melting snow, making it an ideal location for cultivation. One of the most iconic features of the plateau is its white-sailed windmills, which have been in use since the 1920s. These wind-pumps, designed locally, were historically employed to irrigate the land, making agriculture sustainable in this arid region.
While there were once around 10,000 windmills on the plateau, most have fallen into disuse in favor of modern diesel and electric pumps. However, these iconic structures still dot the landscape and serve as a reminder of the area’s rich agricultural history.
The Lasithi Plateau has a complex history, marked by periods of prosperity and adversity. The region has been continuously inhabited since ancient times, with Minoans and Dorians settling here. During the Venetian occupation of Crete, a dark period descended upon the plateau. Frequent rebellions and strong resistance led to the destruction of villages, a ban on cultivation, and the forced exile of natives under penalty of death.
In the early 15th century, Venetian rulers allowed refugees from the Greek mainland to return to the plateau and cultivate the land again. To ensure successful crops, the Venetians designed an extensive system of drainage ditches known as “linies,” which were constructed between 1514 and 1560 and are still in use today. These ditches divert water to Honos, a sinkhole on the western edge of the plateau, which in turn feeds the Aposelemis Dam reservoir.
The Lasithi Plateau has witnessed significant historical events, including periods of conflict and tragedy. During the Greek War of Independence in January 1823, Ottoman and Egyptian forces, led by Hassan Pasha, seized the plateau, resulting in the loss of many lives and the destruction of homes and villages. Similarly, in May 1867, during the great Cretan revolt, Ottoman and Egyptian forces under Pashas Omar and Ismail Selim marched on the plateau, leading to a tragic and brutal conflict that left a lasting impact on the region.
During World War II, the peaks surrounding the plateau provided refuge for local resistance fighters who opposed the Axis occupation of Greece from 1941 to 1944.
The Lasithi Plateau is not only a place of natural beauty and historical significance but also boasts several caves of archaeological interest. One of the most famous is the Psychro Cave, near the village of Psychro, believed to be the birthplace of Zeus in Greek mythology. This cave also has ties to the legend of Zeus using it as a hiding place after abducting Europa.
Additionally, the archaeological site of Karfi, located in the mountains immediately north of the plateau, is believed to be the last outpost of the Minoan civilization, offering insights into the ancient history of the region.
In conclusion, the Lasithi Plateau is a captivating destination that weaves together the threads of history, culture, and natural beauty. This elevated plain, with its unique climate and agricultural traditions, stands as a testament to the resilience of its inhabitants throughout the ages. Whether you’re exploring its archaeological sites, admiring the iconic windmills, or simply savoring the breathtaking views, the Lasithi Plateau offers a journey through time and a glimpse into the soul of Crete.
- 8 Hours
Embark on an unforgettable cycling adventure through the captivating landscapes of Lassithi plateau, a dreamy destination nestled in the heart of Crete. This idyllic region, adorned with 10,000 white-sailed windmills that stand gracefully against the backdrop of majestic mountains, boasts a tranquil and fertile environment. Enveloped by the untamed Dikti mountain range and adorned with smaller plateaus, Lassithi offers awe-inspiring views of the Selena and Afendis Christos mountains. With an elevation ranging from 800 to 850 meters, Lassithi stands as one of the few residential areas in the Mediterranean situated at such a lofty altitude.
As you pedal through this picturesque landscape, you’ll discover that the 18 villages of the plateau are nestled at the foot of the encircling mountains, allowing the plains to flourish with cultivation. The well-connected road network facilitates seamless exploration of the plateau, and the absence of steep hills makes it an ideal route for cycling enthusiasts. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to visit all the captivating attractions that dot the plateau, including the renowned Cave of Psychro, also known as Diktaean Cave. Steeped in ancient mythology, this cave holds great significance as the birthplace of Zeus and the site of his legendary encounter with Europa, who would give birth to Minos, the illustrious King of Knosos.
The cycling tour culminates in the enchanting traditional village of Plati, where you can immerse yourself in the authentic ambiance and soak in the local charm. Each season in this region unveils its unique and special allure, promising an unforgettable experience to every visitor.
- Personal expenses and beverages
- Entrance fees to museums and other sites
- Distance: 20 km
- Minimum Elevation: 812 m
- Maximum Elevation: 875 m
- Elevation Ascent: 200 m
Mountain bike & helmet
Transfer from / to your hotel
Lunch in a traditional tavern
Drinking water while riding
Support vehicle with all equipment follow during the tour
- Starting time 09:00
- Ending Time 17:00
Cancellation Policy - Flexible
- Whenever you cancel 4 days or earlier than the confirmed activity starting date, your fee will be refunded for the entire activity charge.
- In case of cancellation within 48 and 96 hours before the scheduled activity starting date, you'll get 50% reimbursed.
- Those who cancel 48 hours or beyond are considered last-minute cancellations. There will be no refunds