Zakros, 45km southeast of Sitia, is the starting point for the trail through Zakros Gorge, also known as the Valley of the Dead because of the Minoan burial caves that honeycomb the canyon cliffs. The small town has lodging, mini-markets, an ATM and a gas station but is otherwise a mere prelude to the coastal village of Kato Zakros. The 7km drive down a winding road is spectacular and delivers mesmerising views after every bend.
Shortly before reaching the village, you can see the huge jaw of Zakros Gorge breaching the cliffs in the distance. Look closely and you might also spot the ruins of the Minoan palace just up from Kato Zakros' pebbly, narrow beach and row of tavernas. Add to all this the isolated tranquillity and sense of peace, and you have the perfect recipe for escapism.