Past Agios Nikolaos towards Crete’s easternmost edge is beautiful Sitia, a small coastal town known for the friendliness of its inhabitants and the beauty of its surrounding region. Worthy as the destination is in itself, the drive you take to reach it is also gorgeous!
This very small coastal town is an ideal destination for those who want to escape the more touristy areas to the west. This is Crete’s most unspoiled location, where life is not built around tourism. Tourists are warmly welcomed, and the facilities and services are excellent. But in Sitia you will be better able to connect to the authentic local culture of Crete. Stunning natural attractions are near Sitia.
Sitia is 130 km east of Heraklion — a two hour drive, and 70 km east of Agios Nikolaos– an hour and 20 minutes. This is prime location for visiting Vai, a protected palm forest and beach. Mt. Dikty is the nearest mountain. This is also an ideal starting point for visiting the Minoan palace of Zakros, in its remote location on Crete’s Southeastern edge.
The only trace left of the Venetians in today’s Sitia is the Kazarma fortress. The name comes from “Casa de Arma”, and it’s now often the site of outdoor concerts and events. The view from here is stunning!
Sitia has an Archaeological Museum where you can enjoy findings from many eras of the history of the surrounding area, including Bronze Age findings from the tiny island Mochlos (almost certainly formerly connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land) and Zakros, one of the four Minoan Palace of Crete. The Paleokastro Kouros, a statue found in the excavation of Paleokastro, is another highlight. There are also exhibits from the Geometric Period (ca. 900 – 700 BC) so called because geometric patterns and motifs decorated the pottery. There are also exhibits from the Greco-Roman period.
There is also a Folklore Museum, where you can see the high quality Cretan embroidery and weaving, and beautiful folkloric costumes. These are still a part of Crete’s traditional life, worn at village festivals where there are also folk dances and excellent music.
The harbor of this charming town is the place to go for traditional fish tavernas. Make sure to try cretan specialties also. Raki, a distilled spirit of grape marc, is the drink of choice for many Cretans. It’s pure, but strong- take it easy at first!