The starting point of this route is the city of Ágios Nikólaos. Take the Ágios Nikólaos - Kritsá provincial road, and after approximately 10km you will come to the beautiful - unique, even - village of Kritsá (connection with Route 7). After reaching Kritsá, you have two options (Routes 9.1 and 9.2) to cross the Lassíthi Plateau:
3.a. The route continues (driving slowly and carefully) towards the Lassíthi Plateau and more precisely Mésa Lassíthi, so keep to the right in order to cross Marmakéto and reach Tzermiádo, the largest village in the Lassíthi Plateau, where we propose that you make a stop at the Agía Triáda parish church and the relic museum right next to it.
Don’t forget to visit the important Trapéza cavern, also known as Krónion and the Níssimos Plateau. Continue on a westward course, cross the settlements of Lagós and Pinakianó and then go downhill; in approximately 5 km you will come to Kerá.
3.b After passing Kritsá, head towards Lakónia. After crossing the settlements of Amýgdala, you will come to the village of Zénia. At a small distance from the village, you may visit the ruins of an ancient city, as well as Atziganóspilios, one of the most noteworthy caverns of Lassíthi that you really shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to see. Going uphill, you shall pass by Potámi (Mésa Potámi and Éxo Potámi), two villages built in the middle of verdant vegetation, both of exquisite beauty and fascinating history. Continuing your route, you come to the Lassíthi Plateau and make your first stop at Mésa Lassíthi; a short distance further, you will come to Moní Kroustallénia and then turn left towards Ágios Konstantínos, Ágios Geórgios and Avrakónte.
All the villages that you will come across on the Plateau are of unique beauty and you may visit them throughout the year. Stop wherever it suits your fancy, strike up a conversation with the locals, have a rakí with oftí potato on the side and buy local products (apples, pears, beans, potatoes, etc.).
From Avrakónte you go uphill to the majestic plateau of Limnákaros, from where the main hiking path starts, leading all the way up to the top of mount Aféndis. Our next stop is Psychró, an attractive village with a lot of water and an icy-cold fresh water fountain on the street.
You shouldn’t leave before visiting the world-renowned since ancient times worship cave of Diktéo Ándro that attracts thousands of visitors every year; according to ancient Greek tradition, this is the birthplace of Zeus, the father of all Olympian Gods and his main place of worship. You may approach the cave by foot or by donkey on the well-maintained path.
The route carries on by going through the settlements of Ágios Charálampos and Káto Metóchi, where just outside the village you should make a stop at the restored Moní Vidianís, where you may also visit their small museum of natural history.
As your trip around the Plateau nears its end, you may turn left and, after a stop at Selí Ampélou, enjoy the view of the sea.
Start making your way downhill and in approximately 5km you will come to Kerá with its breathtaking view overlooking the Avdós valley. You may stop at the historical Moní Kardiótissas to admire the impressive byzantine hagiographies.
Don’t forget to taste the unparalleled roast meat at the village’s tavernas, prepared in wood-burning stoves.
The route goes downhill to meet, with a detour to the right, the picturesque village of Krássi, where it is truly worthwhile to take a stroll down its streets and definitely have a coffee underneath the enormous monumental platanus tree that many a time lent its shade to the artistic genius of the great Cretan thinker Níkos Kazantzákis.
Leaving Krássi behind and after approximately 10km of exquisite view and unique natural surroundings, you will come to the tourist resort of Mália, where you definitely must visit the Mália complex of palaces, built according to the Knossós and Festós architectural style, at a distance of no more than 3km to the east of the settlement. Leaving Mália, follow the old Heráklion - Ágios Nikólaos national road and turn left at the signs to make a stop at Sísi, a picturesque little local fishing village or move just a bit further to the east towards yet another fishing village, Mílatos with many fish tavernas and ample accommodation.
At a nearby distance (3km), south-east bound, you will come to the historical Cave of Mílatos, where in 1823 about 200 Christians were martyred. Going uphill and making a small detour to the right, you will reach the most special and picturesque village of Vrachássi, where a brief tour around the settlement is a must. Continue on a south-eastern and cross the small settlement of Latsída (quite famous over the past years for its succulent souvláki). Our next stop is the city of Neápoli (connection with Route 8) and the route ends with your return to Ágios Nikólaos.