Ierapetra (yeh-rah-pet-rah) is a cheerful, down-to-earth seafront town and is the commercial centre of southeastern Crete’s substantial greenhouse-based agri-industry. The town’s approach is through a fairly discouraging countryside crammed full of greenhouses interspersed with storage depots and other buildings. Persevere, however, as Ierapetra has a lot to offer and an impressive history.
This was an important city for the Dorians and the last major outpost to fall to the Romans, who made it a major port of call in their conquest of Egypt. The city languished under the Venetians, who built the fortress at the western end of the harbour. Even Napoleon is said to have stopped off on his progress towards Egypt.
There are tavernas, restaurants and chic cafes along the waterfront, an archaeological collection, a Venetian fort at the harbour and the odd remnant of a Turkish quarter. The town beach and surrounding beaches are reasonable, the nightlife lively and the overall ambience is satisfyingly Cretan.
From Ierapetra you can visit the low-lying sandy island of Gaïdouronisi (also known as Hrysi).
Every Saturday there is a street market on Psilinaki from 7am to 2pm.