Located in the southern part of the prefecture of Heraklion, Crete, Asterousia is the southernmost mountain range of Greece. Hanging over the Libyan Sea, the Asterousia Mountains are not very high in altitude, with the highest peak being Kofinas at 1,231 metres. The narrow mountain range lies between the plain of Messara and the sea and has been classified as a Natura 2000 site due to its ecological and archaeological importance. In the lunar, barren landscapes of the Asterousia one can encounter vultures, golden eagles and other birds of prey.


Access is not easy, it requires patience and careful driving. Winding through shrubs and rocky hills, you will feel early on like you’re on safari. The distance from Heraklion is about 64 km and you will pass through the villages of Agioi Deka, Vagiona, Loukia and Kapetaniana. The latter is the ideal base for exploring the area. Here you will find the traditional ecotourist guest-house “Thalori” (Kapetaniana, tel. +30 28930 41762, www.thalori.com). The old houses of the village have been renovated and now form a charming neighbourhood with a restaurant and swimming pool.

The houses are made of local stone, while many details, such as the lamps, are handmade with tree trunks. Great attention has been paid to restoration and traditional locks, wooden ceilings and selected furniture have been used. The restaurant serves traditional Cretan breakfast with pancakes, local honey and yoghurt, as well as traditional Cretan dishes the rest of the day.

Kapetaniana is built on the southern slopes of the Asterousia Mountains, at an altitude of 750 meters, just below Kofinas, the highest top of the mountain. The guest-house also organises many activities, such as 4×4 off-road routes, cooking classes, hikes, farming and stock-breeding activities as part of agrotourism.

It is also worth visiting the beaches on the south side of Crete, under the Asterousia Mountains. Tripiti is a lovely pebbly beach with tiny tamarisks and crystal clear waters. For something even less crowded, visit Elygia beach, near the settlement of Agios Ioannis, 10km south of Kapetaniana. From Agios Ioannis you will cross a short and easy path and you will discover an impressive beach with thick sands.

The Koudoumas Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in southern Crete, is also of interest. The monastery served as an important refuge during the Occupation and is celebrated every year on 15 August. The road to Koudoumas Monastery starts from the village of Sternes. There is also another path starting from the village of Kapetaniana, which runs through unique landscapes.

For great food it is worth venturing over to the village of Lentas (30 km from the village of Kapetaniana) to the restaurant “Levinthos” (Lentas, tel. 6972 662473). They serve authentic Cretan cuisine and fresh fish in a wonderful location in front of the sea.

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