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Sitia in eastern Crete
Sitia (9,350 inhabitants) is about 35 kilometres east of Mochlos and about 72 kilometres east of Agios Nikolaos. The first sight of Sitia gives a rather gloomy impression. From the road you can see a lot of factories and you wonder where you have ended up. But once you enter the town, the feeling changes and you notice that Sitia is a really nice town with narrow streets lined with new and old houses, and an attractive harbour promenade with tavernas and cafes.
The port promenade in Sitia.
Like so many other towns in Crete, Sitia has a long history. It begins, as so often, in Minoan times. However, the heyday was during the 16th century when the Venetians ruled over Greece. The town has been destroyed three times: in 1508 by an earthquake, in 1538 by pirates and in 1651 by the Turks. After the devastation in 1651, Sitia was uninhabited until 1870, when the city began to be rebuilt. The only thing that remains from Venetian times is the remains of a fort located above the city. Today, the fort is used as an open-air theater.
The cosy port promenade is lined with pleasant tavernas and cafes.
One of several cafes in Sitia.
Unlike Agios Nikolas, Sitia is not visited by very many foreign tourists. However, many pass by because the road to the famous palm beach of Vai passes through Sitia. From Sitia it is 35 kilometres to Mochlos (my favorite village in eastern Crete), 72 kilometres to Agios Nikolaos, and about 20 kilometres to the famous palm beach of Vai.
From Sitia it is about 20 kilometres to the famous palm beach of Vai.
One of the shopping streets in Sitia.
As of summer 2017, the airport in Sitia is also open for international flights. I wonder if there are more tourists coming to Sitia now. It would definitely benefit the entire region. It is a bit far to Heraklion (2.30 hours by car), which used to be the nearest international airport.
One of many long staircases in Sitia.
Sitia is dominated by Greek everyday life.
Sitia has a large port from which there is a boat connection with Heraklion and Piraeus, and the islands of Anafi, Kassos, Karpathos, Milos, Rhodes and Santorini.
The port in Sitia.
The beach in Sitia is nothing to brag about, at least not if you compare it to many other beaches in Crete. Now it doesn't matter much because it is close to Vai palm beach. At the end of Sitia Bay, there is a walled village just to the left. The village is artificial and is called Dionysos Village and is not a village but a giant hotel. When we were last here, the hotel had gone bankrupt and was completely deserted. It looked spooky.
The long beach in Sitia.
The abandoned "village" Dionysos Village outside Sitia.
My wife has an aversion to Sitia. Not without reason. We had been travelling around Greece for quite some time and it was high time to cut our hair. When we got to Sitia I found a barber shop that looked good, sat in a chair and got a haircut. Camilla sat on a sofa behind me and watched. She thought the hairdresser gave a good haircut and decided to get a haircut too. I thought that it takes time and went for a walk around town.
Getting cut like a duck in Sitia.
When I came back, she was finished cutting. She didn't look happy when she asked me how it went. But the question is still what happened. The hairdresser had most certainly never cut hair like that before. She only cut half her hair, in a side part too, something that Camilla detests. If I'm being kind, I might say she looked like a duck. When she recovered from the shock we went back, the haircut had to be redone. But then it was closed for the day, and we were going on, so she had to be a duck for quite some time. She can laugh about it today, but not then. :-)
ACCOMMODATION IN SITIA
We have never stayed in Sitia, but if I were to, I would have chosen to stay at the Elysee Hotel, which looks very nice, and is very well located. If you want to stay by the beach, Apollon Hotel is perfect.
WHAT YOU MUST NOT MISS WHEN YOU VISIT SITIA