With nearly ten thousand inhabitants, the city is big for a Greek island yet it appears to be uncrowded. Part of its charm is the fact that it isn’t on the tourist trail and so you’ll see more of the traditional Cretan way of life there. It doesn’t mean to say there’s nothing to do there for one of the most important monasteries in Crete, Moni Toplou is just outside Sitia. At Exo Mouliana Village you can follow the trail to the Richtis Gorge and in the spring, see the dramatic waterfall that drops through the gorge.
Not far away to the west on the E75 is Agios Nikolaos, the original holiday resort of Crete and in possession of a beautiful harbour with dozens of brightly painted fishing boats.
Lerapetra on the south coast is the southernmost Greek resort and its location gives it nearly perfect weather. The resort is mainly about the beach and the tourist facilities but not far from it you can get a boat trip out to Chrysi Island, a barren but sandy location where in almost total isolation you can enjoy swimming and sunbathing. There’s a single ramshackle taverna on the beach serving only freshly caught sardines, salad and beer.