Sitia – Authentic, Slow-paced Old Town and Charming Fishing Harbour
Sitia is not beautiful in the true sense of the word, but it has a charming vibe being a slow-paced and traditional Greek town set in the stunning landscape of easternmost Crete.
Arriving by boat to Sitia harbour or by plane to the local airport you will see the old tranquil town with whitewashed houses on a hillside above the fishing harbour. Steep stairways connect the port with the old town and the ruins of the Venetian castle on the hilltop. The waterfront below is full of life with tavernas and cafés lined up on the wide seaside promenade.
Where is Sitia in Crete?
Sitia refers both to the port town, with 8,900 inhabitants and to the municipality with around 19,000 inhabitants in Lasithi, Crete. It lies to the east of Agios Nikolaos and to the northeast of Ierapetra. Sitia port is on the Sea of Crete, which is a part of the Aegean Sea and is one of the economic centers of the Lasithi region. European route E75, which ends in Vardø, starts in Sitia. Sitia has not experienced the effects of mass tourism. It is a authentic, quiet town with a long beach along the road leading to Vaï Palm beach and several places of historical interest.
Sitia on a map
How to reach Sitia in Crete?
Sitia is one of the biggest and most important towns in Crete and as such it has its own airport with daily flights from Athens International Airport Eletherios Venizelos, and with connections to Rhodes, Kassos, Karpathos, Alexandroupolis, and Aktio. Sitia Airport (IATA: JSH, ICAO: LGST), known as Sitia Public Airport also has a limited amount of charter flights from different cities in Europe During the summer months.
Which airlines fly to Sitia Crete?
The airlines flying to Sitia Crete are Aegean Airlines, and during the summer months Lufthansa, and British Airways.
To Sitia by ferry
If you come from Athens or one of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea you can also choose to embark a ferry for Sitia. You will find daily ferries from Piraeus (main port of Athens).
Driving to Sitia from other parts of Crete
Cretan Luxury Adventure
7 HOUR’S ADVENTURE TO RICHTIS WATERFALL, MINOAN SITES, THE OLDEST TREE, AND NORTH COAST
If you arrived in Crete to one of the other major airports or ports, you could rent a car and drive to Sitia. There are two main roads in Crete: the North Road Axis passing the cities on the north coast and the South Road Axis on the south coast.Read more
Distances to Sitia:
- Agios Nikolaos: 82 km (1 h)
- Heraklion: 147 km (2 h)
- Rethymno: 226 km (3 h)
- Chania: 286 km (3.5 h)
The South Road Axis is a provincial road and not as fast as the North Road Axis. The South Road Axis is starting at Tymbaki and Mires after which it passes Viannos and connects Ierapetra with Sitia at Makrigialos. It is a lovely route with the picturesque villages of southern Crete and a beautiful landscape covered with olive groves and oleanders.
Sitia by bus
You can always reach Sitia from all larger towns and cities of Crete by the local bus service. You can also reach Zakros and Palaikastro from Sitia by bus.
Beaches near Sitia
What to do in Sitia Crete?
Sitia is a perfect base for exploring nearby Vaï, ancient Zakros, Toplou Monastery, and the eastern coast of Crete. While traveling in eastern Crete Sitia also has a few sights visiting. Sitia is not depending on mass tourism, agriculture is still the base of local economy.
SITIA TOWN, TOPLOY MONASTERY & VAI PALM BEACH
- Kazarma fortress – is the fortress built above Sitia town. It is a 13th century Venetian fortress abandoned by the Venetians in 1651 and partly destroyed by them to prevent its use by the Turks.
- Toplou Monastery – one of the most significant monasteries in Crete, dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary) and St. John the Theologian. Toplou Monastery was founded in the 15th century, probably on the ruins of an earlier convent.
Read more about Toplou Monastery
- Petras – a Minoan site near the town of Sitia
- Vaï Palm Beach – is one of the largest attractions of Crete. It features Europe’s largest natural palm forest, consisting of the Cretan Date Palm. You will find it near Sitia
Read more about Vaï Palm Beach
- Ancient Zakros – often divided into Epano (Upper) Zakros and Kato (Lower) Zakros – is a site on the eastern site of Crete containing ruins from the Minoan civilization. It is located approx. 38 km from Sitia. Zakros town was dominated by the Palace of Zakros built around 1900 B.C. The ruins of the palace are a popular tourist attraction.
- Mochlos is an island in the Gulf of Mirabello in eastern Crete, and the archaeological site of an ancient Minoan settlement.
- Richtis Gorge – is a state protected park near Exo Mouliana in Sitia, its hiking trail being about 4 km long.
- Dead’s Gorge, alsoknown as the “Canyon of the Dead” is close to the archaeological site of Kato Zakros in Sitia Municipality
Ancient history of Sitia
The Minoan site of Petras
The earliest settlement of the town dates back to before Minoan times; excavations in the neighbouring site of Petras have unearthed architectural remains that date back to the end of the Neolithic period 3000 BC and continue throughout the Bronze Age 3000-1050 BC. There is evidence that a palace got built and houses. Inscriptions like the Minoan axe can be found. In addition, there are several Minoan settlements unearthed in the various archaeological sites in the municipality, such as in Itanos and in Mochlos.
Mochlos island in the Gulf of Mirabello
Mochlos is an island in the Gulf of Mirabello in eastern Crete, and the archaeological site of an ancient Minoan settlement. There is evidence that Mochlos was not an island in Minoan times, but was attached to the mainland and acted as an eastern harbor. The name Mochlos also applies to the small fishing village and resort located on the main island of Crete, opposite Mochlos island. Only 150 metres separate them. The island is administered from Tourloti which is only 9 km away.
Richtis Gorge (Faraggi tou Richti)
Richtis Gorge (Faraggi tou Richti) in Crete (Map of Richtis Gorge here) is a state protected park near Exo Mouliana in Sitia, that starts at the traditional village Exo Mouliana, which is located on the national road between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia and ends at the secluded Richtis beach, just east of the village Kalavros. Richtis gorge is one of the most beautiful trails in Crete; the hiking trail is about 4 km long. From spring to autumn it is a easy trail and during winter it is moderately difficult. It has a rich vegetation (mainly platanus trees, wild berries and local flowers and herbs) and the fauna consists mainly of local species of butterflies, small reptiles, birds and mammals. They can be observed along the way, as well as old stone bridges and water mills before it culminates with the Richtis Waterfall and beach, making Richtis gorge trail one of the most diversified hiking experiences in Crete.
Weather and climate in Sitia Crete