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 Chrissi Island (also called Gaïdouronisi or Hrysi).

The city's grey-sand beaches are backed by tavernas and cafes where the nightlife is busy in summer. Though few visible signs remain, 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 old quarter (Kato Mera) flash back to the Ottoman period.

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