Panormo is a small coastal village with ~400 inhabitants, located 25km east of Rethymnon in a small distance from the national road. The village has developed to a tourist resort providing quite a few tourist facilities such as hotels, apartments, lovely taverns and bars. There is also a small fishing harbour that serves mostly the locals. It is an nice place for swimming as its beaches - with umbrellas , sun beds etc - are with fine sand and clear water. Early-Christian basilica in Panormo In 1948 the archaeological axe brought to light the largest early-Christian basilica of Crete southwest of the village of Panormo. The basilica of Aghia Sofia had a wooden roof and dates back to the 5th century.
About 25km from Panormo to the mainland is the archaeological site of Eleftherna.
Its 1000 years history comes to life for the visitor, who has the chance to admire its monuments, and old houses, perfectly preserved through the centuries. In the village square , you can sit and enjoy your coffee in the traditional coffee shop, while children can play in the playground next to the school. You can also visit the church of Agios Ioannis in the same square. There are quite few rooms for rent in the village and tavernas serving traditional Cretan dishes.
Kamilari is a quiet, traditional village, with a panoramic view to the endless olive groves of the Messara valley on the one side, and to the Libyan sea on the other side. It has been inhabited since the Minoan period. One of the seven wise men of the ancient world, Epimenidis, a great wise man and a soothsayer, lived in a small community outside Kamilari, called Metohi.
Vori is a beautiful, traditional village of the county of Pirgiotissas in the Messara Valley. It is located 60 km south of Iraklion and in the western part of the Messara Valley. The village stretches in a slope, by the side of a small river. The archaeological site of Phaistos is 2 km to the south and the coast of Messara 4 km to the west.
A picturesque town built at 260 m. above sea level, located at the end of the road from Sitia to the eastern part of the island, 38km away from Sitia and 19,5km from Palekastro. Zakros has 750 inhabitants, farmers, producing olive oil of excelent quality, stock breeders and fishermen. It is the commercial and administrative center of the area with the villages : Adravasti (75 inhabitants, 300m a.s.l.), Azokeramos (58 inhabitants, 230m a.s.l.), Kelaria (34 inhabitants, 250m a.s.l.), Klissidi (15 inhabitants, 220m a.s.l.) and Kato Zakros a small coastal village, site of the fourth large Minoan Palace, located 7.5km from Zakros at the bay of the same name. There is regular public bus transportation from Sitia to Zakros. The town and the wider area offers quite few facilities to the visitors, apartments for rent, restaurants cafes, shops etc. During the summer cultural events are taking place at the central square of the town, attracting both tourists and locals. The area is characterized by lush vegetation, due to the many springs and streams with running water, while watermills were built in some of them.
Xerókampos (GR: Ξερόκαμπος) is a beautiful coastal settlement in a place of natural beauty. The distance from Ziros is 20 km and from Zakros 11 km. The wonderful beaches, the healthy climate and the important ancient places of interest attract both Greek and foreign visitors. The settlement offers a infrastructure of small hotels, apartments, taverns, super markets and supporting facilities. Xerokampos is an old settlement. It is first recorded in the 1583 Venetian census. The ancients were certainly aware of the beauty of this place and its important position and the site has been inhabited since the Minoan times. The settlement would appear to have been at the spot called Katsounaki and on Trahilas hill a peak sanctuary already looted was discovered. There are important ancient sites from Hellenic times on the hills of Antisternia and Farmakokefalo. At Farmakokefalo where the excavations are under the authority of the archaeologist N. Papadakis an important town, mainly of the Hellenistic era was brought to light. It is possible that the town is Ambelos which various literary sources and correlation place in this area of Crete.
The village of Papagianades (GR: Παπαγιαννάδες) with ~160 inhabitants, is situated in the area of Lefki at an altitude of 480 m above sea level, approximately 90 km from Agios Nikolaos and 19 from the town of Sitia. It was first recorded in an Egyptian census in 1834 with 8 Christian families. It was also recorded by Chourmouzi Byzantios in 1842. In the 1881 census the village is recorded with a population of 77 pertaining to the Community of Handras. The Ai Lias hill just before entering the village is of local interest as well as the Monastirakia, a ruined Minoan settlement. There is also the church of Panagia Eleousa with frescoes dated back to the 14th century. The sightseer can sit and relax at the marvelous Panteli, a place in a gorge with lot of trees, joining the villages of Papagianades and Maronia. The chapel of Virgin Mary is worth visiting as well.
The village of Pitsidia is located 65 km southwest of Iraklion at an altitude of 80 m a.s.l, just before the magnificent bay of Messara. The village with aproximately 700 inhabitants is the oldest village of the area and is refered (by S. Spanakis) that it was the place where the soldiers of Nikiforos Fokas, commander of the Byzantine army, settled. The army, famous for its bravery, came from Pisidia of the south Asia Minor, and this is probably the origin of the name Pitsidia.
The hilly village of Ziros (GR: Ζήρος) spreads over the lower slopes that the locals call Egremno (the Cliff) at an alti-tude of 590 m. at the pictureque Armeni-Handras plateau. The village is the seat of the Municipality of Lefki. The village was first recorded as Siros in 1577 in the Venetian Barozzi's catalogue of the villages of Sitia. In a census carried out by the P. Castrofilaka it was listed under the same name in 1583, with a population of 448. In 1928 with the first census after the union of Crete with Greece, the population was 742. Today the population of the village is approx. 742 but diminishing. The Ziros community includes the villages of Kalo Horio, Hametoulo, the coastal settlement of Xerokampos, the deserted Lamnoni and some settlements inhabited seasonally like Agrilia, Lethi, Achladias, Makri Livadi and Anargyros. The Ziros area has many antiquities from all periods, however no methodical excavations have yet occured. Ancient sited can be found at Plakospilios (roman settlement and tombs), St. John (an Archaic set-tlement), Fonias (a Minoan settlement), Stalos (Minoan tombs and settlement), Katsoulianos (Minoan tombs), Pentalitro (Minoan Acropolis), Katergari Papa Pigadi (Minoan Settlement), Anemomilia (Minoan building), Pirgales (Minoan Villa), Vrisi Hametoulou (Minoan settlement), Limnia or Palaki Mantra Hametoulou (Minoan buildings). An important peak sanctuary of the Middle Minoan period existed at the Plagia hill but now it is ruined. The Ziros area is dotted with caves and also other geological features, the most important are: the cave of Agrilia, the cave of Lygias Spilios and the cave of Voevodas. The Ziros area has also many remarkable churches to show with the most important from all the painted church of St. Paraskevi dated back to 1523. The St. Nikolaos church has graffiti dated back to 14th and 15th century.