Having the distinction of being the southernmost town facing the African coast, Ierapetra enjoys the smoothest, almost rainless weather in Europe, with a temperature that rarely drops below 12 C all year long! No doubt Ierapetra, "the bride of the Libyan sea", is the sunniest holiday resort in Europe.
Ierapetra combines a brilliant past with a present of economic growth and extension. It has the largest population in the prefecture of Lassithi (East Crete) and the fourth largest in all Crete. In 2001 census 15,400 inhabitants were registered within the town, and the population of the Ierapetra municipality was 23,800.
The visitor can take a leisurely walk in the vivid center of the town, along the coast, in the small municipal park near the Town Hall, or in the quiet picturesque narrow streets of "Kato Mera" - the old part of the town.
Ierapetra was chosen among 500 South European destinations by the QualityCoast International Certification Program of the European Coastal and Marine Union as one of the 50 most attractive tourist destinations for visitors interested in cultural heritage, environment and sustainability. In 2012 Ierapetra was one of the only three destinations in Greece that won the Gold QualityCoast award, ranking 2nd among the TOP 100 chosen European destinations.<ref>EUCC, 2012, QualityCoast Magazine 2012</ref>
The character and charm of the old warm neighborhood has been retained, whilst it has been given new life as a shopping and eating experience for the visitor. A tempting variety of shops, open-air cafes, bars, restaurants and traditional taverns, makes Ierapetra the ideal place to relax, enjoying shopping, eating, drinking or simply wondering around! Pick up a handmade gift from a colorful market stall and enjoy the exciting sounds of busy Cretan life!
Please try to avoid tourist-oriented restaurants. Ask at where you are staying, stressing that you are searching for some small place where locals would go eat, and try that instead.
The prefecture of Lassithi produces probably the best "raki" in Crete, a white spirit made from grapes. Try it at some local "taverna" or "kafenio", together with a variety of "meze" - local delicacies: The locals do that all the time!
Huge, luxurious hotel complexes have been built in the last years inside and around Ierapetra. There are also lots of small guest houses and rent rooms, and you can probably find a place to sleep anytime, almost anywhere.
The street near the Town Hall is where most bars and small night clubs are gathered. They are popular with locals, especially during the holidays (July-August, Christmas and Eastern), and at Friday and Saturday nights.
Eating and drinking is a major part of the Cretan merry-making, and can make a great night out on its own. You get find some excellent food in taverns in the villages around Ierapetra, either on the sea side, or further higher on the surrounding mountains.