Sitia is a quiet town in the far Eastern corner of Crete, and serves as the regional centre. As such, you’ll find the local hospital, shops and schools serving the far northeast of Crete. The Venetian castle that looms over Sitia can be seen from a long way away. Sitia’s small Archaeological Museum holds various artefacts from the Minoan period up to the present day, and is well worth a visit. There is not too much tourism in Sitia, and for that reason it’s a perfect escape from the mass tourism that has invaded other destinations on Crete. The sandy beach in town is pretty, though somewhat marred by the presence of a busy road just behind it.

Sitia on Crete

Sitia has undergone some work since I last visited in 2002; there’s a new promenade along the waterfront. It’s worth visiting the Kastro (castle) which overlooks Sitia. It’s usually open to the public, although it was closed during my last visit in June 2007. The castle itself is not that interesting, but it offers stunning panoramic views of Sitia and the surrounding landscape.

The Castle in Sitia  Sitia Crete at the Waterfront

Sitia Beach: An excellent sandy beach, though there’s a big road behind it. It’s one of the few beaches on Crete where Greek is the main language spoken, and topless women are an extinct species. Nevertheless, it’s a long beach with plenty of cafés and bars, most of which are full of Greeks. The best is Paradise Beach Café, which has a large menu of reasonably priced offerings.

Volleyball at the Beach of Sitia  Sitia Town Beach

Eating in Sitia: Sitia has many good restaurants with average prices. One of the biggest – some might say too big – is Zorba’s Taverna. Big taverna, big menu. Their crab saganaki (€7.50 in 2007) is the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

Accommodation in Sitia: There are a few mid-class hotels along the waterfront, most of which also cater for package tours. Go a few streets inland and you’ll find a wealth of pensions. The cheapest I found was Pension Venus, on Kondilaki Street, run by a friendly elderly couple. The rooms are very basic – you do not have your own bathroom – but there is a good kitchen you can use. To get to the rooms, you have to walk through the living room of the old couple, where they also sleep. A double room was €20 in the summer of 2007. Sadly, the legendary youth hostel of Sitia does not exist anymore. The Belgian owner Hilde has given up reopening the hostel.

Shopping in Sitia: Next to the bus station there is a big Spar supermarket, which is quite expensive. If you go 2km out of town on the Agios Nikolaos road, you’ll find Lidl, which is probably the cheapest supermarket in Sitia.

Internet Cafés in Sitia: The Java Café, just behind the seafront, has long opening hours, good prices (€2 for an hour) and fast computers.

Getting to Sitia and Away

Buses Sitia: Buses depart 6 times a day for Agios Nikolaos, 5 times a day bus for Ierapetra, 4 times a bus to Vai and 2 times to Zakros and Kato Zakros.

Flights Sitia: Sitia’s old, small airport has only a few flights a week to Athens. The new airport has been under construction for at least ten years, and should have been ready in 2004. In Greek time, that translated to 2007, and it may soon see international flights from Britain and Germany.

Ferries Sitia: Ferries leave 3 times a week to Athens, 1-3 times a week to Rhodes, stopping at Kasos and Karpathos along the way.

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