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|The town and the beach of Sitia on the island of Crete|
Situated on the water around a bay in the east of Crete, Sitia and its 9000 inhabitants seem to have retained a certain kind of quiet atmosphere, that you can no longer find in much larger cities like for instance Heraklion. It feels more like a village than a town, and it's prettier and less developed (meaning: less ugly concrete, tasteless buildings). Sitia lives from its harbour, the cultivation of olives and a little bit from tourism. In the area grapes are also grown for the production of wine and raisins. Sitia has white houses that are built amphitheatrically around its large half round bay and is often described as the prettiest village in eastern Crete. Sitia is situated at 70 kilometres distance from the capital Heraklion. Since 2005 the small town has an international airport which is not used much.
Update: since 2012 the number of international flights to Sitia airport has increased and there are now for instance also a number of direct flights from Amsterdam to Sitia, which can be useful for people that want to visit the east of the island. On our visit in 2013 the town also made the impression of being more busy with traffic than it used to be. It was quite difficult to park the car and it made a more chaotic impression than a couple of years before.
Update: the residents of Sitia were not happy with the extra flights because of the noise (with the exception of the hospitality industry) and the mayor of the city was told that they would not re-elect him if he decided to keep these extra flights to the city. After that the extra flights were withdrawn and, as far as I know, only Olympic airlines now flies to Sitia airport a few times a week.
In the harbour you can find the usual kaiks along with some newer boats and private yachts, and sometimes a cargo boat or a ferry, because this is also the departing point for Lane Lines which connects Crete with the islands of Kassos, Chalki, Rhodes, and Karpathos and in the other direction to the town of Agios Nikolaos, the island of Milos, and than after that sails to the mainland of Greece, around three times each week.
There's a long boulevard with lots of tavernas and coffeeshops, and some palm trees and roses. Behind that are the shopping streets. The town is topped by the Venetian Kasarma castle that in its nowadays shape dates from 1631. It is built on the remains of an older Byzantine castle. Within the walls is a three storey tower. This is the old armory of the Venetians, the socalled "casa di arma". Maybe the remains of the Venetian fort are less impressive than some of the other castles you can find in Crete, but the views from Kasarma are wonderful. There is a central square / city park with palm trees and a bust of a famous Cretan poet, Vitzentzos Kornaros, who was born in Sitia.
The town beach is not the most inviting of Crete though, only 1 kilometer long, not very wide and close to the main road. It also did not make a very clean impression if you got further out of the town where there are no sunbeds and parasols. The water is clear though and the beach is shallow and suitable for small children. My judgement: for such a big place not bad at al ;), nice for a visit, because there is a really good atmosphere. If you want to spend only all your time on the beach than maybe it's better to look somewhere else. For better beaches you head east to Agia Fotia or to the beaches of Vai or Itanos (with also a naturist beach and an excavation). Another interesting excavation nearby is the unspoilt Tripitos.
The area where Sitia now is has always been a favourite place for people to live. Grave finds from the area going back to 2000 BC. The Venetians built a defensive wall here that enclosed the whole city. After an earthquake in 1503 and several attacks by pirates in 1651, the city was demolished by the Venetians and all the people left Sitia for good. Only after 1870 (centuries later) some people returned to start the building of the new town of Sitia. If you walk towards the ferry port of Sitia, which is located on the northwest side of the village, you can still see a fairly large part of the old city wall. In front of this there is a channel with beautiful clear water where large fish swim around. Fishing is not allowed here. Also in the city itself you can still see some remains of walls from the Venetian period when you walk through it.
On the road towards Ierapetra you can find the Archaeological Museum of Sitia (open 8.30 - 15.00 on all days of the week except mondays). Here you can see the finds of excavations that took place in eastern Crete. Most of the exhibited objects come from Kato Zakros, Mochlos, Psira, Petras and Agios Giorgios. There are clay tablets with Lineair-A writings, cups with a geometrical decor, a stone wine press, early and middle Minoan ceramics, a Minoan ivory statue and female figures on display. The Folklore Museum in Sitia (open 9.30 - 15.30 each day of the week except mondays) contains mainly handwoven materials, embroideries, local costumes and furniture in an original Cretan interior.
|Taverna Zorbas - Sitia|
Taverna Zorbas is located in the fishing port of Sitia. We were there on a Monday in the month of April and then it was one of the few eateries that was open (there is a lot more open on weekends). We ordered sardines, a dorade fish, a Greek salad, a tzatziki and half a liter of white wine. The wine, the sardines and the fish are okay, the tzatziki is reasonable and the Greek salad moderate with tomatoes that are not ripe, only a little cucumber and little (but also not tasty) onion.
Our verdict: a 7 out of 10
|Traditional Tavern "Cretan House" - Sitia|
This is quite a large taverna on the seafront promenade of Sitia. We order a cappuccino and a dish with a variety of snacks. The cappuccino is served with whipped cream instead of milk. Nice is the toasted bread with garlic and a dish with several small things that you can put on your bread. It takes a while before the main course appears on the table and even longer if we want to pay the bill. The food is not bad and it is not expensive.
Our verdict: a 7 out of 10
|Villas in Sitia - Roussa Village - very good reviews|
Roussa Village, a 5-minute drive from Sitia, overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and the Bay of Sitia. It offers lavish facilities such as a seasonal outdoor pool and guest rooms with a jacuzzi. Each room features a fully-equipped kitchen with a stove, cutlery and a washing machine. Guests can relax in the seating area or by taking in the charming view from the balcony. Hotel amenities include free Wi-Fi throughout the property and barbecue facilities. For children, Roussa Village features a playground. Complimentary private parking is also available at the hotel.
Check availabilities and prices & book a villa in Roussa Village - click here.
|Villa Delight - Affordable private villas in Sitia (2 km distance)|
Situated just 2 km from Sitia, these traditional villas feature private outdoor pools and free private parking. They offer an ideal base for independent holidays in Crete's countryside. The accommodation at Villas Delight combines tradition with comfort. The villas have stone archways and wooden features. The villas have 2 floors, with the ground floor offering laundry facilities and living room and the 1st floor featuring the bedrooms and kitchen. Less than 10 minutes away from Villas Delight are the beautiful beaches of Platani, Trailas and Papadiokampos. They offer excellent swimming, snorkelling and kayaking opportunities.
Check availabilities & prices and book Villa Delight in Sitia on Crete - click here.
For more hotels, apartments and studios in and around Sitia on Crete - click here.
|Hotel Krystal - Cheap hotel in the center of Sitia|
Hotel Krystal is located in the centre of Sitia, 70 metres from the sea. Guests enjoy a shared entertainment room with internet access and bar. It offers renovated rooms with autonomous air conditioning, refrigerator, satellite TV, balcony. Hotel Krystal incorporates Cretan tradition and warm hospitality and is suitable for solo travellers and families.
Check availabilities & prices and book Hotel Kristal in Sitia on Crete - click here.