Sissi, a Serene and Picturesque Fishing Village / Travel Guide

Discover a charming tourist village, where time has stood still

 Developed around an old fishing port hidden discreetly in a tiny bay on the northeast coast of Crete, the charming resort Sissi (Sisi, or Kato Sisi) has become famous in the last decades for its traditional taverns with fresh fish and seafood, which attract both tourists and locals.

 Sissi is situated in the municipal unit Vrachasi of Lasithi Prefecture, 7 km east of the tourist hub of Malia, 25 km northwest of the cosmopolitan town of Agios Nikolaos, and 43 km east of the capital Heraklion. Despite the extensive development of tourism in the area, the calm atmosphere of the old patriarchal village remained unaltered and life flows at its natural pace. The main attraction of Sissi is the beautiful narrow bay with its natural harbor, lined with restaurants and taverns with fresh fish and seafood, from where you can admire the splendid sunset.

The Pearl of Sissi: the Small Fishing Harbor

 After turning off from the national highway E90, there is a 2 km long coastal route through olive groves and green gardens, which is the iconic view of East Crete. The entrance to Sissi seems not so impressive. The small hotels, villas with rooms for rent, tourist shops, and snack bars along the road do not betray anything of the surprise that awaits you. But slowly, the narrow winding streets of the village with old houses with colorful carpentry and flower-clad facades, catchy storefronts, and traditional taverns with smiling hosts will undoubtedly win your heart.

 Driving downward, the road leads you to the little harbor, the well-hidden yet vivid heart of the village. A place where the horizon opens brightly above the blue sea and the smell of fresh fish becomes noticeable. During the Great Cretan Revolution (1866-1869), this was a strategic spot for unloading guns and munitions for the brave Lassithi rebels. Today, the sided pier of the harbor protected by a small stone wave-breaker is the place where the local fishing boats dock and unload their fresh catch. You may want to stop and fill yourself with this idyllic vision, but you have to continue driving to find a parking spot and then double back to the charming little port.

 Built high on the hill, above the pier, lots of restaurants, bars, and fish taverns are the village's main attraction. Here, visitors indulge in the soothing colors of the deep blue sea while enjoying delicious Cretan food. On the shore across from the port, there is a small sandy beach for anyone who can't resist taking a dip in the crystal clear and calm water. There is a beautiful hotel garden near the beach, with numerous palms and colorful flowers that give the whole scenery a tropical vibe. 

 The small port of Sissi is certainly one of the most picturesque places in Crete. And being here around sunset is guaranteed to be a lovely memory of your summer holiday.

Beaches in Sissi

 Sissi has four small beaches protected from the northern currents, which makes them perfect for swimming and relaxing. Not very impressive, but the most central, the beach within the port is sandy and has calm waters, due to the wave-breaker wall. Boufos Beach, laying in the small bay of Harkoma, 500 meters east of Sissi, is a beach organized with umbrellas and sunbeds and a lounge bar overlooking the sea. The beach is a mix of rocks and sand, therefore wearing sea shoes is recommended. Heading a little further east of Boufos Beach you will find the Avlaki (“the little garden”), which is a small beach formed among rocks at the exit of a narrow bay. From here, you can access the nearby beach of Kalimera Kriti Hotel, a beautiful, well-maintained sandy beach set on the shores of an artificial bay. This beach is protected by a stone jetty, making the smooth sea suitable for swimming, sea sports, and diving. A few meters beyond the hotel, you will find the last beach in the Sissi area, called Spiliada, a quiet, sandy beach with many tamarisk trees, in the shade of which you can rest when you do not want to expose yourself to the sun.

Accommodation in Sissi

 This quiet and hospitable village is the ideal place to escape for couples and families, offering excellent accommodation facilities that cater to all tastes and budgets. At the top range of accommodation, you can find deluxe beach & spa resorts with a rich treatment menu to relax and rejuvenate. There are also plenty of hospitable small hotels to choose from, with marvelous sea views and a friendly atmosphere. Holiday apartments, room to let, and pensions with a genuine charm offer you comfortable conditions for an autonomous and more private getaway. For those who love boho-style adventures and prefer to experience the natural surroundings, there is Sissi camping, a rustic campsite by the sea, located approximately 800 m west of the village.

Food in Sissi

 Sissi is well known for its fish tavernas with fish straight from the picturesque harbor. Many Greek people come to Sissi from all around Crete to enjoy the fresh fish dishes and seafood.  Also, there are plenty of restaurants with a diverse selection of food. You can find traditional Greek tavernas, restaurants with wood-fired pizza and artisanal gelato, cafes, bars, and pubs that offer tasty snacks and drinks.  If you're wondering about the nightlife, there are two bars which are quite lively and stay open very late. For parties and nightlife, the neighboring resorts of Malia or Hersonissos are more recommended.

What to do around Sissi

 The landscape around Sissi is blessed with spectacular views of vineyards, olive groves, beautiful flora, and fauna, which can be enjoyed on a scenic hike or bike ride along the paths that surround the village. After visiting Sisi, you will not be disappointed if you rent a car and explore the surroundings to enjoy the Cretan lifestyle, history, and landscape.

 Traditional villages. Taking the road from the port to the mainland and only 1,5 km further, you arrive at the mountainous side of the settlement, called ”Epano Sissi” (“the upper Sissi”), a traditional village with some rustic tavernas. You may want to visit Milatos, a tiny fishermen's village almost untouched by tourism with popular seaside tavernas. The drive is approximately 15 minutes long to the east, following the road toward Elounda. From there you can take a short hike to Milatos Cave to find out about the historical drama behind it and light a candle at the little altar inside.

 Archaeological sites. Sissi has become an important site of historical and archaeological interest. Very close to Avlaki, on Kephali Hill (or Bouffos), excavations have brought to light the remains of a settlement dating from the Bronze Age, considered, due to its amplitude and complexity, the most important archaeological discovery of the last decade. Also, Malia’s Archaeological site, the third-largest Minoan palace after Knossos and Phaistos, is 4 km west of Sissi.

 Agios Giorgos Selinari Monastery. 8 km south of Epano Sisi, in the heart of the Selinari gorge, near the village of Vrachasi, is nestling the beautiful monastery of monks Agios Giorgos Selinari (Saint George of Selinari). The monastery was built in the second Byzantine period (961-1204) and was rebuilt after the major damage suffered during a pirate attack in 1538. The monastery has a very old icon of St. George, the protector of travelers which is said to work miracles.

 Lassithi Plateau and Zeus Cave. Driving about an hour to the south on the winding mountainous road, you reach the scenic Lassithi Plateau with white windmills. South of the plateau, situated at 1,025 meters above sea level and just 10 minutes walking distance from Psychro village, you find the Diktaean Cave (Psychro Cave or Dikteon Andron), a vast cave considered the birthplace of Zeus.

 Other places worth visiting.  You can make time to visit the famous resort towns of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda,  the historic lepers' island Spinalonga or Vai Beach, the palm beach in the far east. There are many other places around to visit, but it really depends on your available time and desire to explore the island.

 Sightseeing tour. With Happy Train, you can take a romantic one-hour tour through the Sissi resort in the evening. Also, Happy Train makes two half-day trips, one to Milatos and the other to the village of Varanasi, for the amount of 17 euros each. 

How to get to Sissi

 Sissi is a secluded, lovely place, relaxed and quiet, about 2 km from the main road. A local bus goes up to the road and acts as a feeder service to intercity buses, but it only runs once a day, at about 09.00.

 The distance to Heraklion Airport is 34 kilometers. There are 4 ways to get from Heraklion to Sissi: by bus, taxi, car, or shuttle. Obviously, the bus transfer is the most economical (5 euros/person), but it can take up to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on how crowded it is and how many stations it has to do.  Also, the bus service does not run very late and may not be convenient for night arrivals. 

 If you book a private transfer, the price would be at approximately 45-60 euros per way, depending on the company you book from. Some hotels offer by default a shuttle bus service to their guests. The most recommended way to explore this side of the island is to rent a car and you will find plenty of rental offices.

Other useful information

 In Sissi, you can find just about anything you may need for the comfort of your vacation: minimarkets, internet cafes, souvenir shops, car & bike rentals, water sports equipment, taxi service, bank & ATM machines, and a pharmacy. In case of a health emergency, there is a Medical center in Vrahasi and Neapolis or nearby cities Malia or Hersonissos. Taxi fare is usually 1 euro per kilometer.

 We hope you enjoyed exploring with us this tourist village, authentic and picturesque! Really worth a visit! And if you are booking your next holiday in Sissi, we are sure you will fall in love with these wonderful places!

No comments

Post a Comment