Ierapetra is a laid-back seafront town and the commercial centre of southeastern Crete’s substantial greenhouse-based agribusiness. Hot and dusty in summer, it offers a low-key, authentic Cretan experience and is also the jumping-off point to the semitropical Gaïdouronisi Island (also called Hrysi).
The city's grey-sand beaches are backed by tavernas and cafes where the nightlife is busy in summer. Though little is left, Ierapetra has an impressive history with interludes as a Roman port and as a Venetian stronghold, as attested to by the harbour fortress. The narrow alleyways of the Turkish quarter recall its Ottoman period.