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