Ierapetra is a modern town built upon the site of the ancient Dorian city of Ierapytna. located on the southern coast of western Crete, it is 36 kilometres from Aghios Nicolaos, 59 kilometres from Sitia airport and 95 kilometres from the International airport at Heraklion. A frequent bus service runs from Aghios Nicolaos and Heraklion, and both cars and motorcycles are easily rented. Ierapetra is the largest town in the prefecture of Lassithi and the fourth largest in Crete. It is also the most southerly town in the whole of Europe.
Koundouriotou is the main shopping street in the town, which also has a museum and two cinemas, and a hospital. To the west lies the southern headland with a Venetian fortress and a small fishing port. To the east is a short beach backed with bars and taverna's, a little further on is another area lined with with hotels, more bars, taverna's and souvenir shops.
Kales Fortress, whose name is thought to have originated from the Turkish word "koules" meaning castle. It was built by the Venetians on the sea wall of the old port to protect the town from pirates. The earliest known reference to the fortress is an official record from the Venetian Senate in 1307, which refers to its construction. The next known reference was during the sixteenth century, where it is noted that the castle had suffered gravely in 1508 from the effects of an earthquake. When the Turks took over the town, they they preserved the fortress for their own use. After this the fortress fell into decline, but has now been recently restored.
Ierapetra is devided into two separate areas, Kato Mera and Pano Mera. Kato Mera is the old part of the town with medieval alleys with small houses, which gives more of a village feel to the area. Places to visit include the “house of Napoleon” where, it is claimed, Napoleon stayed during a visit to the island, and an old mosque that dates back to the period of the Turkish occupation. Also worth a visit is the church of Agios Georgios, built in 1856, it must be one of the most impressive churches on Crete, with its superb architecture and wooden dome.
As would be expected of a resort of this size, Ierapetra has a busy nightlife, with a large choice of music bars that carry on sometimes until 4 or 5 in the morning. If you need one during your stay, Ierapetra has a good choice of Internet cafes.
There is a long sandy beach in front of the town, which is well organised. There are also a number of good beaches to be found westwards towards Myrtos, and eastwards in the direction of Makrygialos. It is also possible to catch an excursion boat and visit the small island of Chryssi.