Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete

August 17, 2023

The Insider Guide to Sitia unveils a captivating journey through the enchanting town on the east coast of Crete. Delve into its rich history, explore thrilling outdoor activities, and savor the flavors of Cretan cuisine. Experience Sitia’s vibrant nightlife, find your perfect accommodation, and discover the best beaches in the area. Plan your trip with ease, and uncover the magic of Sitia’s cultural wonders and natural beauty. Sitia promises an unforgettable experience every season as it welcomes you to its idyllic embrace.


History of Sitia

Sitia is a port city on the east coast of Crete, Greece. It has a long and rich history, dating back to the Neolithic period (6000-3000 BC). The city was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lasithi, and it was later an important center of trade during the Byzantine and Venetian periods.

The city’s golden age was during the Minoan period (2700-1450 BC). Sitia was a major commercial center and a thriving port city at this time. The city was also home to a number of important Minoan palaces, including the Minoan Palace of Petras.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Church of Toplou Monastery

After the fall of the Minoan civilization, Sitia was ruled by a succession of different powers, including the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. In the 13th century, the city was conquered by the Venetians, who ruled it for over 400 years. During the Venetian period, Sitia was a major center of trade and commerce.

In 1669, Siteia was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. The city remained under Ottoman rule for over 200 years. Sitia declined in importance during this time but remained a major commercial center.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Sitia town, Crete

In 1898 Sitia was liberated from Ottoman rule and became part of the independent Greek state. Since then, the city has experienced a period of economic and cultural growth. Today, Sitia is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, historical sites, and traditional Cretan culture.

Things to do in Sitia

Nestled on the beautiful island of Crete, the captivating town of Sitia awaits with its rich tapestry of history and culture. Exploring this picturesque corner of eastern Crete promises an enchanting journey through time, and there’s no better place to start than the Sitia Archaeological Museum.

Stepping into the Sitia Archaeological Museum is like unraveling the secrets of the past. Founded by the visionary Cretan archaeologist Nikos Papadakis, this renowned museum boasts a treasure trove of artifacts from various eras, including the Minoan, Geometric, Archaic, and Greco-Roman periods. Each exhibit is a glimpse into the life and times of the ancient civilizations that once thrived in this region.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Ruins of Zakros Palace, Crete

The fascinating Petras Archaeological Site is just a short distance away, perched atop a hill overlooking the town. Here, visitors can roam among the ruins of ancient buildings, discovering the footprints of long-gone societies. The site’s historical significance and proximity to Sitia make it an enticing destination for history enthusiasts and cultural adventurers.

For those seeking a spiritual experience intertwined with history, the Toplou Monastery is an extraordinary marvel. This 15th-century masterpiece features magnificent Byzantine icons and a serene courtyard surrounded by towering fortified walls. Gazing upon this impressive structure, one can almost hear echoes of the past and imagine the monks honing their winemaking and distilling skills, producing wines and tsipouro that have stood the test of time.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Toplou monastery

Delving deeper into the heart of Sitia, the Folklore Museum offers a glimpse into the daily lives of the town’s ancestors. It houses a captivating collection of hand-woven textiles, intricate embroidery, traditional regional costumes, and timeless furniture. Every piece tells a story, reflecting the warmth and simplicity of a bygone era.

Presiding over Siteia’s landscape is the majestic Kazarma Fortress, a testament to the town’s resilience throughout history. Built by the Venetians in the 13th century, the fortress stands as a proud sentinel against the ravages of time. Its partial destruction by a local earthquake in 1303 serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by the community, making it an essential stop for those eager to understand the town’s legacy.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
The Venetian fort of Kazarma in Sitia

Sitia whispers tales of its captivating past with each step, inviting visitors to embark on an unforgettable journey. If you are an avid history buff or a wanderer in search of cultural wonders, Sitia promises to be a destination where the past comes alive, weaving an irresistible tapestry of experiences that will leave you yearning for more. Embrace the charm of Sitia, and let its ancient secrets guide you through a journey of discovery and wonder.

Taste – What to Eat in Sitia

Prepare your taste buds for an unforgettable culinary journey as you immerse yourself in the flavors and aromas of Sitia, Crete. The quintessential summer dish that epitomizes the essence of Lassithi and Cretan cuisine is “sofegada.” This vegetarian delight, prepared with love and devotion, showcases a harmony of fresh ingredients dancing in a wide pot. 

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Greek chicken soup

Tender zucchinis, onions, and potatoes diced to perfection join forces with flavorful fava beans, tiny peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. Sofegada embodies the simplicity and abundance of Cretan culinary artistry, making it a true emblem of summer on your plate.

Venture to the plateau and savor the heartwarming “chicken or rooster soup” prepared with hearty alania bird or chicken, served at joyful celebrations and weddings after merry hours of wine toasts. The skilled fishermen of Siteia and Ιerapetra proudly present their delightful catches, such as the famous “kakavia” fish soup brimming with scorpionfish, the crispy “fried barbounia,” and succulent grilled big fish that make every meal a gourmet delight.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Psarosoupa or kakavia, a traditional greek fish and vegetable soup

Satiate your sweet tooth with traditional delights like “xerotigana” and other heavenly treats, boasting unique Cretan flavors that distinguish them from any other part of the island. “Patouda,” a delightful local dessert dipped in powdered sugar, unveils a divine filling of dried fruits, heightened with a symphony of spices.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Cretan traditional Xerotigana

Taste the magic of Sitia’s culinary treasures, savor the enchanting flavors passed down through generations, and let this unique corner of Crete’s rich history and cultural heritage leave a lasting impression on your palate.

Nightlife in Sitia

As the sun dips below the horizon, Sitia transforms into a vibrant playground of nocturnal delights, where ancient charm and contemporary fervor intertwine to create an unforgettable nightlife experience. This enchanting town not only preserves its rich past but also embraces the future with open arms, offering an array of high-quality cultural events that delight locals and visitors year-round.

During the balmy summer months, Sitia truly comes alive, its evenings resonating with the sweet melodies of music, the captivating performances of theater, and the graceful movements of dance. The streets hum with excitement as locals and travelers converge to witness a diverse range of cultural spectacles that bring the heart of this ancient city to life.

While strolling along the quaint alleys or savoring delectable Cretan cuisine in one of the cozy tavernas, you’ll feel the pulse of Sitia’s intense nightlife thrumming around you. The city radiates an atmosphere of celebration and joy as artists and performers share their talents, bridging the gap between the past and the present.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete

In Sitia, the night is not merely a time to rest; it is a time to indulge in the euphoria of art and entertainment. The fusion of tradition and innovation sets the stage for an experience like no other. As you wander through the moonlit streets, you’ll be drawn to the melodic strains of live music pouring from open-air venues, filling the air with an irresistible allure.

So, come and immerse yourself in the magical nights of Siteia, where the echoes of history blend seamlessly with the rhythm of the present. Let the allure of the town’s nightlife beckon you to explore its vibrant cultural scene, and you’ll discover a destination that not only cherishes its heritage but also embraces the boundless possibilities of the future. As the stars twinkle above, let Sitia cast its spell upon you, and let its vibrant nights linger in your heart forever.

Find your hotel in Sitia

Sitia welcomes travelers with diverse accommodation options to suit every preference and budget. Sitia caters to all preferences, offering options ranging from quaint guesthouses nestled amidst historic streets to luxurious beachfront resorts.

Porto Kaza
The gorgeous Porto Kaza Boutique Hotel

For a truly enchanting escape, consider the idyllic haven of Porto Kaza Boutique Hotel. Situated near the picturesque Venetian neighborhood and the stoic Kazarma Fortress, this charming retreat harmonizes history and nature in a mesmerizing dance. Sun-kissed verandas offer breathtaking sea panoramas, providing the perfect backdrop for unwinding in pure bliss and tranquility.

The essence of Cretan hospitality envelops you at Porto Kaza, where a touch of rustic elegance makes you feel right at home. Embracing an eco-friendly philosophy, the hotel offers earthy apartments and deluxe amenities, ensuring a memorable stay that resonates with the spirit of the island.

Porto Kaza

Let Porto Kaza be your gateway to exploring the magic of Crete. The warm invitation from the Porto Kaza family promises cherished memories and boundless joy. Allow this boutique hotel to be the canvas for your perfect vacation, where unforgettable moments with your beloved companions are etched in your heart forever.

Be Active – Outdoor Activities around Sitia

In the embrace of eastern Crete lies a playground for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. Sitia and its surroundings offer a plethora of outdoor activities that promise to ignite your sense of wonder and leave you with cherished memories of exploration.

Venture into the awe-inspiring Gorge of the Dead, also known as the Zakros Gorge, where history and nature converge in perfect harmony. Named after the caves that once served as Minoan burial grounds, this remarkable natural formation entices hikers with its well-marked trails and majestic views. The Gorge of the Dead leads to the famed Minoan Palace of Zakros, offering an unparalleled journey through time and a glimpse into the rich heritage of ancient civilizations.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Zakros Gorge in Crete

Embrace the spirit of discovery as you explore the Minoan Palace of Zakros, a captivating archaeological site from the Late Minoan period. This palatial center stands as a testament to the prosperity and brilliance of the Minoan civilization, and its exceptional preservation has earned it a spot on UNESCO’s prestigious list of “Minoan Palatial Centers.”

For those seeking a scenic and charming experience, the Chochlakies Gorge beckons with its picturesque canyon and rocky green landscapes. The accessible hike from the village of Agathias to the bay and beach of Karoumes provides an easy adventure for nature lovers and hikers alike.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Richtis Gorge, Crete

Immerse yourself in the lush greenery and cooling shade of the Richtis Gorge, a protected park near Exo Mouliana, Sitia. A three-kilometer hike leads you to a magnificent 20-meter waterfall, accompanied by the remnants of old water mills and cottages scattered along the stream’s banks.

If you’re drawn to the Cretan Sea’s glistening waters, Sitia offers an array of watersports and aquatic adventures. Explore the vibrant marine life and stunning underwater landscapes through snorkeling or scuba diving excursions. Windsurfing and kiteboarding opportunities abound for thrill-seekers, taking advantage of the region’s favorable winds and clear waters. 

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete

Take a leisurely boat trip along the coast to admire the picturesque shoreline and secluded coves, or try your hand at fishing with local experts who can guide you to the best spots. Explore Sitia’s captivating outdoors, a wonderland of adventures designed to enthrall and delight your soul.

The Best Beaches close to Sitia

Sitia, a coastal gem in eastern Crete, beckons travelers with its pristine shores and breathtaking beaches. Embark on a sun-kissed adventure and explore some of the finest coastal havens this enchanting region offers.

Vai Beach: Picture yourself in paradise as you step onto the iconic Vai Beach, a mesmerizing palm-fringed shoreline that evokes tropical dreams. With its crystal-clear waters and golden sands, Vai Beach is a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation. The lush palm forest surrounding the beach creates a sense of seclusion, making it the perfect escape for beachgoers seeking tranquility.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Vai beach

Karoumes Beach: A hidden gem near the village of Chochlakies, Karoumes Beach is a secluded paradise that promises a private and intimate beach experience. Accessible via a scenic hiking trail, this beach rewards adventurers with its untouched beauty and peaceful atmosphere. The turquoise waters lap gently against the pebbled shore, creating a soothing symphony that enhances the sense of serenity.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Karoumes beach

Kouremenos Beach: A paradise for water sports enthusiasts, Kouremenos Beach is a mecca for windsurfing and kiteboarding. Feel the adrenaline rush as you glide over the azure waters, carried by the gentle sea breeze. Even if you’re not a water sports enthusiast, the beach’s captivating scenery and relaxed atmosphere make it an excellent spot to unwind and soak in the Cretan sun.

Itanos Beach: Nestled beneath the majestic ruins of the ancient city of Itanos, this beach is a delightful blend of history and natural beauty. The turquoise waters gently caress the pebbled shore, inviting you to immerse yourself in its refreshing embrace. Wander among the ancient ruins, and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, connecting with the past while indulging in the present.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Itanos beach

Kato Zakros Beach: Embark on a journey to Kato Zakros Beach, where the scent of saltwater blends with the sweet fragrance of blossoming flowers. The beach is flanked by dramatic cliffs, creating an awe-inspiring setting to enjoy the sea’s embrace. After a day of exploration, venture into the nearby Minoan Palace of Zakros, adding a touch of history to your beach retreat.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Kato Zakros

Chiona Beach: This pristine sandy beach is an oasis of calm and simplicity. Chiona Beach is a serene sanctuary for beach lovers seeking a peaceful escape, surrounded by olive groves and picturesque landscapes. As the sun dips below the horizon, the beach transforms into a canvas of colors, setting the stage for a breathtaking sunset spectacle.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Chiona Beach

These beaches, each with its unique allure, showcase the diverse beauty of Sitia. Sitia’s beaches promise an unforgettable adventure if you seek a Mediterranean oasis, a historical escape, or a paradise for water sports. So, pack your sunscreen, embrace the spirit of exploration, and let Sitia’s coastal wonders wash over you, leaving you with cherished memories and a desire to return to this idyllic corner of Crete.

How to get to Sitia

Reaching the charming town of Sitia is an adventure in itself, as it combines various transportation options that cater to every traveler’s preference. If you’re arriving by air, Sitia has its own airport with regular domestic flights connecting to major Greek cities. Alternatively, you can fly into Heraklion International Airport, which offers a broader range of international flights, and then take a scenic drive of approximately 2.5 hours to Sitia.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Heraklion Airport

A road trip to Sitia is an excellent choice for those exploring the beautiful island of Crete. The town is well-connected by a network of well-maintained roads, making it easily accessible from various parts of the island. If you prefer public transportation, regular bus services link Sitia with other major cities and towns on the island.

For a unique and unforgettable experience, consider taking a ferry from Piraeus or other Greek islands to Heraklion or Sitia’s port. Cruising through the Mediterranean Sea and arriving at Sitia’s picturesque harbor is a captivating way to begin your journey in this idyllic corner of Crete. Whichever route you choose, Sitia awaits with open arms, ready to welcome you to its enchanting embrace.

Transportation in Sitia

Getting around Sitia is a breeze, thanks to its efficient and convenient transportation options. Walking is an excellent choice to explore the town and its surroundings, as Sitia’s compact size allows you to leisurely stroll through its charming streets and discover hidden gems at every turn.

For longer distances or to reach nearby attractions, renting a car provides the freedom to venture beyond the town’s borders. Car rental services are readily available in Siteia, allowing you to embark on scenic drives and explore the stunning landscapes of eastern Crete at your own pace.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete

Alternatively, if you prefer a hassle-free option, taxis are readily available, offering quick and reliable transportation to various destinations in and around Sitia. Additionally, regular bus services connect Sitia to neighboring towns and villages, providing an affordable and comfortable mode of public transportation.

Getting around Sitia is a seamless experience that ensures you make the most of your time in this captivating town and its beautiful surroundings.

City hopping from Sitia

Sitia serves as an excellent springboard for exciting city-hopping adventures, allowing you to explore the rich cultural tapestry of eastern Crete. Embrace the spirit of exploration and embark on short and delightful journeys to neighboring towns and cities that offer their own unique allure.

Just a scenic drive away, Agios Nikolaos welcomes you with its picturesque charm and vibrant atmosphere. This coastal town is renowned for its serene Lake Voulismeni, surrounded by cafes and shops. Stroll along the waterfront and indulge in local delicacies while enjoying breathtaking views of the azure sea.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
The lake Voulismeni in Agios Nikolaos

Venture south to Ierapetra, the southernmost city of Europe, and bask in its laid-back ambiance. The town boasts a lovely promenade, historic sites like the Venetian Fortress, and nearby golden beaches that invite you to unwind and soak in the Mediterranean sun.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Ierapetra in Crete

Extend your adventure and journey to the bustling capital of Crete, Heraklion. Immerse yourself in its vibrant energy, explore the impressive Heraklion Archaeological Museum, and take a step back in time as you wander through the ancient walls of the iconic Knossos Palace.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Heraklion harbor

City hopping from Sitia allows you to experience the diverse facets of Crete, from serene lakeside retreats to lively coastal towns and the historical treasures of the island’s capital. Each destination enriches your journey with new experiences, making Sitia the perfect gateway to unlock the wonders of eastern Crete.

When to visit – Weather in Sitia

Sitia, an enchanting destination on the eastern coast of Crete, boasts a climate that embraces visitors with open arms throughout the year. In the heart of summer (June to August), the sun shines brightly, painting the skies with vibrant hues, and the temperatures soar to a balmy 30°C (86°F). It’s a time when the beaches beckon and the sapphire waters welcome you to indulge in refreshing swims and bask in the glorious Mediterranean sun.

As spring (March to May) awakens the landscapes, Siteia transforms into a floral paradise, with blossoms adorning every corner. The temperatures become pleasantly mild, making it the perfect season for sightseeing and exploring the town’s historical gems.

Insider Guide to Sitia, Crete
Sitia, Crete, Greece.

Come autumn (September to November), the fervor of summer subsides, leaving behind a serene ambiance. The weather remains pleasant, allowing you to relish unhurried moments by the sea and delve into the region’s captivating history.

Even in winter (December to February), Sitia remains inviting, with mild temperatures that provide a tranquil escape. It’s a time for quiet strolls along the shore, embracing the town’s peaceful charm.