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Travelling to Sitia

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London, United...
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Travelling to Sitia

Hi There

I am planning to travel by bus from Heraklion to Sitia in early June for a few days by the beach after time in the city.

I plan to stay at Hotel Elysee. Could anybody answer a couple of questions I have...

Am I best to head back to Heraklion to fly back to the UK or is there a closer airport to Sitia?

Are there any organised tours out of Sitia to Vai as I won't have a car? (I do drive but am a total chicken about driving abroad!) I think there is a public bus but wondered if there were 'day trips' or if it's just not touristy enough for this kind of thing.

Anyone who knows the area and has any tips it would be appreciated

Thanks!

22 replies to this topic
London, United...
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1. Re: Travelling to Sitia

There's no choice: you'll have to fly back from Heraklion. There may be an airport at Sitia some day, but it hasn't happened yet.

Vai is terribly overrated, in my opinion - it was pretty touristy and crowded even 20 years ago (and I'm told the famous palm trees have been dying, but please someone correct me if I'm wrong). If you want to go there I expect there will be day trips, but there are much nicer beaches in the vicinity - Itanos and the beaches near Palaikastro for example. There will be public buses, and someone who has recent knowledge of the area may be able to help you with more specific information.

Birmingham, United...
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2. Re: Travelling to Sitia

Hi,

The only airport is Heraklion, or possibly Chania for flights direct to the UK. There are flights from Sitia to Kassos, Karpathos, Rhodes.

Sitia beach tends to dissappear under the waves caused by the northerly winds.

There are regular local buses to Paleokastro, Vai, Kato Zakros, Makri Gialos, Ierapetra. So no problem getting to the main spots in the area.

Good for the Zakros Gorge as well - just take the local bus to Ano Zakros and walk down the gorge to Zakros Palace/Kato Zakros. Don't bother paying the entrance fee, probably closed by the time you get there, just wander around the surrounding fence, and then the return bus from Kato Zakros after a late lunch.

Vai beach is one of those classic ex-hippy haunt tourist traps of Crete. Very crowded indeed, packed with sunbeds now, massive car/coach park, enormous tourist taverna. It's not that great either, coarse sand and rocky.

However elsewhere there are much better almost tourist free beaches east of Paleokastro, like Chioni and Kouvromeno. Anywhere other than Vai basically.

There some travel agents in Sitia ask in there for any excursion buses.

Freiburg im...
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3. Re: Travelling to Sitia

Flights to Athens also operate out of Sitia airport. The slow development of Sitia into an international airport has taken another important step this year, with Dutch charter ArkeFly (part of TUI) operating direct flights between Amsterdam and Sitia this summer. Maybe more will pop up as the year progresses, but the answer to the original question is as already posted.

London, United...
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4. Re: Travelling to Sitia

Following on from Retired Hippy's suggestions, I'm wondering if Sitia is the right choice for you. It's a nice small city, but unless you have you a special reason for wanting to stay there, and if what you want is a few days of relaxing beach holiday, you might do better by staying in Palaikastro (stress on the second syllable), a large-ish village with several hotels a short, pleasant walk from Chiona and Kouremenos beaches, (whose names I couldn't remember earlier, it having been 20-odd years since I was there: thanks RH). There were good fish tavernas at Chiona, and I believe that is still the case.

London, United...
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5. Re: Travelling to Sitia

Thanks for you help everyone. It's a bit of a minefield trying to pick the right place! I'm not familiar at all with Crete and my friend I am staying with first in Heraklion has not travelled too much around the Island, when she does she is very much a hitchhiking and sleeping on the beach sort, which, whilst lovely is not what I'm aiming for...

I shall certainly look at Palaikastro. I also was considering Elounda as a closer option, but worry ti may be too Brits Abroad...

London, United...
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6. Re: Travelling to Sitia

You'll get some ideas about accommodation here:

http://www.palaikastro.com/

If you want to stay right on a beach, there seems to be a hotel at Chiona - and Kouremenos is right around the corner.

under the sun
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7. Re: Travelling to Sitia

I support comments that Sitia is not the best base in this area for a relaxing break or a glimpse of rural life on Crete, though it is still an authentic small Cretan town with some nice little streets to explore and a harbourfront to enjoy from one of the many cafes. Paleokastro/Palekastro or Kato Zakros would be a much better bet for relaxation. Even better for relaxation, peace and quiet would be Xerokambos, further on, but there is no public transport there. You'd need to get a taxi from Zakros.

KZ is not a village, just a seasonal beach settlement with 3 tavernas, a bar/cafe, the Minoan ruins and various rooms/apartments places. The very few shops are up in Zakros, 9km away. It's very quiet but there are a couple of easy walks from there: up the famous Gorge of the Dead to Zakros,or along the rocky coastline to Pelekita cave.

Palekastro is a village proper but set well back from the coast and beaches. You pass through Palekastro to reach Vai, an overrated beach unless you can be there at dawn before the crowds and hawkers arrive. Buses go to Vai (via Palekastro) from Sitia in summer though the service is now much reduced. The service to Zakros is also reduced, and you'd need to call the KTEL bus station in Sitia (where they speak English. Tel. +30 28430 22272) nearer the time to learn if buses will go at all beyond Zakros to Kato Zakros. They don't in winter/spring. A taxi from Zakros to Sitia costs 50-60 euros one way, or you could take a bus to or from Palekastro and do the last leg to Zakros/Xerokambos by taxi.

All these places have plenty of accommodation in June. No need to book, and perhaps better not to so you can choose one that suits you. The best ones often are NOT on the web!

Elounda has lovely views if you're high up, is convenient (public transport) etc but very touristy, full of cafes and bars and souvenir shops. Not much in the way of a beach, either. But a lot closer than Sitia and environs, and pleasant enough. After Heraklion, it may seem quiet enough for you.

Hope this helps a bit.

London, United...
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8. Re: Travelling to Sitia

It does all help, thank you very much indeed. I am having a look at suggestions and also looking at Rethymon as a further option.

I like to visit a beach but am not a sun worshipper. For me it's more about staring out at it from a taverna taking in the vibe and the clean air with some sea swimming for good measure.. a few shops to pick up some bits for breakfast but a good selection of places to eat in the evening and a good crowd, relaxed but mainly not too much 'English' food and entertainment, I don't want to turn the corner to see a 'Tesko' or 'Azda' :P

9. Re: Travelling to Sitia

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Edited: 01 February 2012, 17:49
 
London, United...
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10. Re: Travelling to Sitia

Given what you say, and if you don't want to spend all your time on the beach, I think Rethymnon would be a good option, and that you'd like it. Like Heraklion, though much smaller, it's a proper working town, with plenty of shops and tavernas. Some think it has the best beaches - and they are good, if you don't mind very shallowly shelving water - i.e. walking out about three miles to swim (I am exaggerating - but it IS shallow).

But if you're thinking of going in the westerly direction from Heraklion, you might also want to consider Chania - bigger than Rethymnon and the most beautiful town in Crete, if not in the whole of Greece, and a more interesting one, with more to see and do. If you enjoy sitting in cafes/tavernas and watching the world go by, there's no better place. It has to be said that along the harbour much of the "world" will be your fellow tourists - but the view makes up for that; and there are other areas, the Splantzia district for example, where tourists are thinner on the ground. You won't see Tesko or Azda or even Sainsberry: the supermarkets are Greek and the covered market is wonderful.

There are good beaches nearby - the town beach is ok, and Chrysski Akti, about 2km to the west, is lovely. It's walkable, but there are also frequent buses that can drop you there or at any of the other beaches along that coast (but IMO Chryssi Akti is the nicest: least crowded, and also the easiest to get to).

Chania is a 2.5 hour bus journey from Heraklion, which oughtn't to deter you if you were prepared to go to Sitia, which is even further, and it's a nice, scenic journey along the coast. If you do this, you can fly back to the UK from Chania's airport, which is a good deal easier on the nerves than Heraklion's.

Now that you're getting adventurous, you might even like to visit the south coast by bus from Chania and stay down there for a day or two. Chora Sfakion, Sougia, and Paleochora, are each around two hours away, and the beaches of Paleochora and Sougia, especially Sougia, are genuinely the best in Crete.

Edited: 01 February 2012, 17:57
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