Vai palm forest
One of the most famous spots in Crete, about 25 kilometers east of Sitia, Vai is Europe’s only palm tree forest, with its origins entangled in the legend of Saracen pirates who roamed the area and enjoyed their dates, tossing the pits on the fertile Cretan land. Its charm derives not only from the peculiarity of its vegetation, but also from the golden, exotic beach on which it ends.
Just 60 kilometers from Sitia, surrounded by golden beaches and fertile lands, Ierapetra is Europe’s southernmost city, with its charming harbor overlooking the vast, mesmerising Libyan Sea. Take a stroll through the picturesque alleys of Kato Mera and feel the Venetian history into the well-preserved 13th-century Kale Castle.
Organized and spotless despite being by the harbor, Sitia’s central beach is a best seller for those who don’t want to waste time on trips, but Agia Fotia is just as popular. Makris Gialos is quiet, shallow and child-friendly, while crystal clear waters are found at the beaches of Mochlos and the neighbouring small coves. Xerokambos, Papadokambos and Ermoupolis have virgin beauty. Platanos cove is a quiet choice, Zakros is associated with a visit to the Palace, while south of Vai the long sandy beaches of Kouremenos and Hiona are especially popular to surfers. However, the “Blue Lake” beach of Gaidouronissi, the exotic island south of Ierapetra, is also a magnificent choice, with the pink sand created by millions of broken shells.
Traditional Cretan pasta made without rolling pin or machine, but with a twisting of the finger in the dough. Their preparation requires a special skill and technique passed down from a housewife to a daughter and grandmother to a granddaughter and their traditional Cretan version wants them served with butter and plenty of grated dry cheese in another Cretan recipe – hymn to simplicity.
Olive oil, pulses and honey
Overwhelmed by olive groves, Sitia produces excellent quality olive oil, as well as honey, wine and legumes, which form the basis of many recipes that highlight the flavours of the region’s top quality meats and fresh fish brought daily by fishermen to the taverns of the port.
Useful phone numbers
Tourist Police: 2843022259
Port Authorities: 2843022310
Radio Taxi: 2843022700
General Hospital: 2843340100