If you’re looking to explore local history make sure you stop off at Metaxohori (5.3 km from Mala Villa), a village at an altitude of 560 m with a rich religious tradition, and at the small village of Myrtos (13.6 km from the Mala Villa), near which ruins of a pre-Palatial and Palatial culture Minoan settlement (dating from 1600 BC) have been discovered at the location known as Fournou Koryfi, as well as ruins of a Roman town with a port and heated Roman baths at the location known as Agios Antonios.
Just 7 km away lies Selakano, the NATURA 2000 site, recognised as one of the rarest ecosystems in the Mediterranean and 7.5 km to the south lies Sarakina with its beautiful gorge. Just outside of Malles is European path E4. Follow it and recharge your batteries as you explore verdant pine forests and small villages.
Route 1: Malles – Christos – Metaxohori (5.3 km)
The specific route includes two stops: The first destination is the village of Christos at an altitude of 531 m on the south-eastern slopes of Mt Dikti. The acropolis of the ancient city of Malla is located between the villages of Malles and Christos, where according to archaeologist Arthur Evans relics of Mycenaean fortifications were found.
Continue on Metaxohori at an altitude of 600 m where you’ll will encounter the church of the Virgin dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin (Eisodia Theotokou) and the Byzantine church of Agios Georgios.
Route 2: Malles – Sarakina (7.5 km south) – Mythoi (8.6 km) – Myrtos (14.3 km)
Combine nature and history, starting from the beautiful Sarakina gorge. Continue to the village of Mythoi at an altitude of 220 m where architectural remains and pottery from a major extensive ancient settlement (acropolis) have been found close to the village, dating from the Late Minoan IIIB-C period (at the location known as Kastellos). Also, architectural remains of residences and pottery dating from the Late Minoan IIIC period up to the Geometric period (at the location known as Zonari) and a Minoan settlement (at the location known as Leniko) have been found in the area.
The route ends in the small village of Myrtos near the location known as Fournou Koryfi, where pre-Palatial culture ruins have been found (dating from 3000 - 2600 BC) as well as a Palatial culture Minoan settlement (1600 BC) and a little further away, you’ll see the ruins of a Roman town with a port and heated Roman mosaic baths, in the area known as Agios Antonios. Here you can enjoy a swim on the charming beach and eat at coastal taverns at the water’s edge.
Route 3: Malles – Selakano (7 km)
The Selakano Forest, on the north-western borders of the Municipality of Ierapetra, is part of the European Natura 2000 network and is recognised as one of the rarest ecosystems in the Mediterranean.
A walk there among rich vegetation with wild pines, hollies, plane trees, maples as well as wonderful gorges and lakes that paint a truly magical landscape, is refreshing indeed. Quite a few guests opt to combine an excursion to this area with a demanding trek to Metaxohori via the village of Selakano and the Gypaetos and Parsa gorges.
Route 4: Malles – Agios Nikolaos (40 km)
It’s well worth dedicating an entire day to the beautiful capital of the prefecture of Lasithi. Enjoy the picturesque Voulismeni lake and the park offering panoramic views; Nearchou Square; the Kitroplatia area which leads down to the marina; the 6 tn 4 m high bronze, steel and glass statue of the Abduction of Europa at the port’s pier by sculptors Nikos and Pantelis Sotiriadis to a design by director Nikos Koundouros; Agios Nikolaos’ early-Byzantine chapel in Ormos; the Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos which features finds from the Neolithic period, the Minoan period and the Graeco-Roman period.
From here take a boat to Spinalonga, which is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Excursion to Sarakina Gorge
Lovers of trekking should not miss the incredible beauty of a walk down Sarakina gorge. The gorge is 1.5 km long, 3-10 m wide and the rocks at some points are 150m high. You’ll discover it near the village of Mythoi, in the Ierapetra region, around 10 km or a 29 minute drive from Mala Villa.
With a constant flow of water almost all year round, it offers a unique spectacle with waterfalls and ponds, where travellers don’t think twice about diving in to cool themselves down in the summer. It takes no more than one hour to cross the gorge.
Excursion to Chrysi
Just 5 km long and 1 km wide, the uninhabited island of Chrysi or Gaidouronisi lying 8 nautical miles south of Ierapetra, is accessible from May to October by boat (the trip lasts around 45-55 minutes and there are regular departures) and offers indescribable scenes of beauty.
Explore the unique 35 hectare Cypress forest, or the wonderful aquamarine waters, perfect for diving with a face mask, or the exotic beach of Belegrina (also known as Chrysi Akti) with its whitish-pink sands.