In Lentas, or Lendas, in the south of Crete, the hands turn a lot slower than elsewhere on the island. Here, families meet on the beach, dropouts in the barren hills and backpackers under the stars around the campfire.
At the foot of the wildly romantic Asterousia Mountains on the south coast of Crete lies the charming Lentas, also spelled Lendas. The secluded harbour village with its 250 inhabitants is a paradise for all Cretan holidaymakers who want to take it easy.
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Journey to Lentas / Lendas
Getting to remote Lentas is not that easy. The road is asphalted, but sometimes very narrow and leads over a pass about 1000m high. The enchanting holiday resort is a good 73km from Heraklion, and the drive by rental car takes around 2 hours. From Heraklion, there is a turn-off to the left in Agii Deka to Lendas. If you are coming from Agia Galini, turn right shortly after Mires.
Buses only go from Heraklion and Mires to Lendas, and mostly only in summer and then only once a day. There is hardly any road traffic in peaceful Lendas. For this reason, Lentas is also the preferred holiday destination of families, backpackers, globetrotters and drop-outs.
Cleopatra's animals - capes around Lendas
Even on the approach, the striking rock jutting into the sea behind the bay of Lendas is striking. It gave the village its name, "Lion", because viewed from the sea, the barren protrusion resembles a sleeping lion. Incidentally, Lion Cape can be climbed in 15 minutes on foot and offers a wonderful sunset!
East of the village, opposite Cape Psamidomouri, a rock resembles a kneeling elephant, and from the viewpoint of Lentas, with a little imagination, a crocodile can be recognised in Cape Trafoulas. Legend has it that Cleopatra once visited Lendas with these three animals and liked the bay so much that she ordered her favourite animals to guard the beach for her - which they still do today.
Holiday in Lentas
If you are looking for action on your holiday in Crete, Lendas is the wrong place. Far away from mass tourism and traffic noise, Lentas attracts visitors with its unshakeable serenity, tranquillity and cosiness. Admiring the sunrise behind the hills in the morning, relaxing on the beach during the day, enjoying the genuine Cretan cuisine with freshly caught fish in the evening and sitting around the campfire at night with guitar music and admiring the overwhelming starry sky - this is how a typical holiday day in Lentas presents itself.
Tip: If you want to be self-sufficient in Lentas, you should do some bulk food shopping in Heraklion for budget and supply reasons and take enough cash with you! The nearest ATM is three quarters of an hour away by car in Mires.
There are no big hotels in Lentas either, so if you want to stay here overnight, look for a private holiday flat or camp on the remote coast - together with Sougia, the area around Lentas is one of the few places on Crete where wild camping is still allowed.
Lendas beach and beaches in the surroundings
The local beach of Lentas offers everything the heart desires for swimming holidays on Crete. Showers, sunbeds and parasols are available in the unspoilt bay, as are tavernas and water sports facilities. Between May and September, the endangered loggerhead turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs.
Only a 10-minute walk from Lendas beach - behind the "Lion" - is Dytikos beach, also with a few small tavernas. Wild camping and nude bathing are allowed here, so it's the right place for free spirits - and sun worshippers, because here it shines until the early evening hours. Just like the caves near Matala, Dytikos was once known as a hippie centre, whose carefree spirit from back then can still be felt.
Tip: Taxi-boats can be hired at the tavernas to take you to the surrounding bays with their hidden beaches.
Places of interest and excursions from Lentas
It may be hard to believe at first glance, but Lendas hides some interesting sights from antiquity. For example, the ruins of the Temple of Asclepius from the 4th century BC right at the entrance to Lentas. The town, then called "Lebenda", was known for its healing thermal springs, which is why the ancient Greeks paid homage to the god of healing here.
There are also some interesting excavations from the early Minoan period to discover around Lentas. About an hour's drive away are the archaeological sites of Gortyn, once the Roman capital of Crete, and the 5,000-year-old palace of Phaistos, Crete's second most important site of the Minoan culture after Knossos.
The Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis Theologos near the thermal spring dates from 1411, and the remains of an even older three-nave basilica still rest under its foundations.
Only half an hour's drive from Lentas lies the Tripiti Gorge. Tripiti GorgeTripiti Gorge is probably the most visited gorge in Crete after the Samaria Gorge. It impresses with its enormous steep slopes, between which adventurous passages have to be mastered with a four-wheel drive vehicle, and ends at the picturesque Tripiti beach.