Further to the east, Crete becomes wilder. Overcome by the heat of the sun, the nature here is burnt, yet it preserves natural and historical richness. Located at the gate to the east, Sitia is a fishing port of 7,000 inhabitants. Its white houses spread from the hills to the sea. With the mildness of its climate, the docks lying in the shade, the cafés and the taverns along the port, with its beach sand and grey pebbles, Sitia is a pleasant resort. You can visit the ancient Kazarma Venetian fortress, the Folklore Museum and the Archaeological Museum. To the west of Sitia, the road to Aghios Nikolaos crosses several small but quiet roads leading down to the sea. This is the opportunity to discover the small, picturesque villages, such as Mohlos, still saved from the mass tourism that rules over the north coast. Sitia is situated only 18 miles from the south coast and a very good road links the city to the Libyan Sea. Explore the inland through the small roads or tracks diverting from the main roads to meet small and charming villages where Cretan people from the mountains live. The road to the east of the city runs along from Sitia to Toplou. There is also an ancient monastery from the 13th century that looks like a fortress and hosts a church and a museum where several beautiful ancient icons are stored. The Minoan ruins of Zakros constitute the most important cultural site in the region. Nearby, you can trek in the Valley of the Dead, particularly pleasant in the spring when wild laurels blossom. Additionally, the region of Sitia has many caves which are interesting on a geological and often archaeological level. Finally, the coastline is home to beautiful beaches, among the most beautiful on the island (Ambelos, Kouremenos and the mythical beach of Vai, famous for its palms.
Around Sitia, you should visit the whole region as well as the Toplou Monastery and the Vai palm grove.
Among the other natural sites to be discovered elsewhere on the island, there are the Samaria and Imbros gorges, the plateau of Lassithi (with a visit of Agios Nikolaos and the fortress of Spinalonga) and the plain of Messara (typical villages and palaces of Festos). You can spend part of the day in a Cretan village, with a party and traditional meal in the evening. Peoples' favourite excursion is visiting the ruins of Knossos, the first Minoan palace to be discovered and also the only one to be reconstituted. As the residence of King Minos, it is said to have housed the labyrinth in which the Minotaur was locked. The visit continues with the discovery of the prestigious archaeological Museum of Heraklion. You can also stroll around the towns of Hania (Chania) and Rethymno, which you can combine with a visit to the famous monastery of Arkadi. Excursions with sports activities are also organized such as 4x4 safaris, scuba diving and kayaking. Finally, as far as long excursions are concerned, you will have the opportunity to visit Santorini, the most famous of the Greek Cyclades islands.
If you arrive in the middle of summer, do not overload your luggage, and make sure to bring along light cotton clothes.
Avoid making a call to the UK from your hotel room, otherwise the bill will be quite hefty. Opt for phone cards as there are telephone booths everywhere!
Restaurants are in abundance here. Here you will find typical Cretan dishes such as gyros, Greek salad, slouvakia and moussaka.
On the markets, you can find food, herbs, olive oil and Cretan cheese. In the shops, CDs of local music are sold. The raki is cherished as an institution, taste it and bring a bottle back for your friends.
This Marmara exclusivity is located on one of Crete's most beautiful ...