Mountain or sea? Rocks or sand? Canyons or mountain peaks? Sitia has a charismatic morphology and holds many surprises for those who decide to explore it.
Starting from Lassion Golden Bay you can discover some of the most beautiful and special places of Crete.
- Sitia Beach. A large and organized beach near the city. Provides all comforts and security that a visitor may require. Awarded with 3 blue flags.
- Vai (Palmforest). The only palm forest in Europe, with a beautiful beach and crystal clear sea, at the northern tip of the province. This uniqueness is the reason why it has been designated one of the 19 Aesthetic Forests of Greece and in 1973 was included in the category of protected natural areas. Vai, other than style, has also great biological value. The wetland that is created between the palm forest and the beach is important to the birdlife, whilst in the sea grows a huge wealth of marine life.
- Xerokampos. A wide variety of beautiful and virgin beaches, where you can enjoy the magnificent sea.
- Hiona. A white sandy beach, with sandy seabed and shallow waters. Safe for swimming, even for children. Ideal for the whole family.
- Ermoupolis. Just north of the palm forest, the sandy beach of Ermoupolis is located. Truly breathtaking images in a unique landscape. Here the visitor can combine swimming with a visit to the ruins of the ancient town of Itanos.
- Kato Zakros. Here you can combine your swim with a visit to the palace of Zakros, the only Minoan palace that has been found in eastern Crete.
- Kouremenos. Little further from Vai are located the long sandy beaches of Kouremenos and of Hiona, with ideal conditions for water sports and more (wind surfing).
- Makris Gialos. The beach of Makris Gialos is suitable for children and pleasant for adults since you can find all kinds of entertainment as well as comfort.
Some of the greatest canyons
- Richtis Canyon.Is one of the most beautiful, small canyons of eastern Crete, with a carved and marked route which follows the watercourse of a small river that has water flow almost the whole time and creates a beautiful waterfall. Due to the magnificent scenery, locals believe that fairies still live there.
- Kato Zakros canyon of the dead.Is a place that strongly carries the ancient bonds and roots of people with nature. Is the most famous and most visited canyon in eastern Crete. Here, in the cavities of the rocks, Minoans buried their dead. A wonderful journey that begins south of the village Ano Zakros crosses the gorge and ends next to the Minoan Palace in the bay of Kato Zakros. The gorge is passable almost throughout the year, has a total length of 2.5kl and the elevation difference of input-output is approximately 100 meters. It is part of the European E4 path and you can walk it through in about one hour.
Some of the most important Archaeological sites
- The Minoan Palace in Zakros. Data suggest that Zakros was one the largest Minoan centers. Although the palace has many similarities to the other large palaces of Crete, it has its own characteristics, which help to complete the study of Minoan architecture. There is also evidence of how the rulers lived there and of the relationships between eastern Crete, Egypt and Middle East.
- Dorian Itanos. The ruins of ancient Itanos are located near palm Vai. The area is known as Erimoupolis or Ermoupolis. The establishment of Itanos goes back to prehistoric times.
- Minoan residences of Petras.Many archaeologists argue that the location of ancient Itia or Itida, home of Myson, a wise man who many rank him among the seven sages of antiquity, is situated on a small hill that today is called Petras.
Monastery of Toplou
One of the largest and greatest monasteries of Crete.
The monastery’s building complex is impressive and has the form of a fortress. Its official name is “Panagia (Virgin) Akrotiriani”. Toplou means “who he has a canon” (canon=top in Turkish). The monastery was named Toplou because it had a canon to repel the pirates during the Turkish occupation.
The monastery seems to be founded in the 16th century around the small church of Panagia that was there from the 14th century as illustrated by the ”fragments” of its wall paintings. During the latest years, a great restoration project is being done. Two significant museums are also created, one with images and relics and the other with engraving items. The monastery is also the center of organic farming of olive oil, wine and raki, while nearby a windmill park is in operation.