"The Independent Traveler's Guide to Sitka" Top 5 Page for this destination Sitka by Colewade

Sitka Travel Guide: 176 reviews and 278 photos

Alaska's Most Beautiful Seaside Town

In my travels on the ferry, I have heard Sitka called the prettiest town in southeast Alaska more than once. In thinking about why I agree with this assertion, I could only decide that it has to be that Sitka has just the right combination of a spectacular location, historic sites, and real sense of place. It is a one of a kind town.

The setting is spectacular. Sitka is separated from the open waters of the Pacific Ocean by only a few blue tree-tufted islands. The city is surrounded by a dense coastal evergreen forest set against a mountainous backdrop. A few peaks are high enough to have snow well into the summer. Even the harbor is punctuated with the scenic beauty of Kruzof Island's Mt. Fugi look-alike, Mt. Edgecumbe. Sitka also has three major watersheds that all swarm with salmon from july to september. The whales converge in very large numbers in Silver Bay and Sitka Harbor in the late fall and early winter. It is the one place where the whales actually come to town for the annual Whale Fest. Sitka is also the most popular fishing destination in Southeast Alaska. The trail system in and surrounding Sitka offers excellent hiking opportunities for all fitness levels. The trails are extensive and well maintained. Downtown has a few practical stores where you can actually buy things you may need. It also has many small attractions, gift shops, and restaurants, that make up one of southeast Alaska's best city walking tours.

History and Culture

Unfortunately, most of the Russian buildings are long gone and the Tlingit village before them. The buildings may be gone, but the echo of these older cultures is very clear. Sitka served as the first center of European culture in the North Pacific. It was called "The Paris of the Pacific" during the founding days of San Francisco. Well, "Paris of the Pacific" may be a bit of stretch, but both it's age and origin are evident. Notice that the main downtown city streets converge on St. Michael's Cathedral instead of a county courthouse.

A tour of both St. Michael's Cathedral and The Russian Bishop's House gives one a very good sampling of Russian American culture. At it's height the Russians strongly influenced areas from California to the Aleutians. Sitka National Historic Park and the Sheldon Jackson Museum do equally as well , if not better, in representing Tlingit culture and history. Finally, both cultures are well represented by local dance troups.

Planning Your visit

A stop at the Centenial Visitors Center is an excellent place to start. Pick up a map, and check the dancer's schedule. Many of your questions will be answered in these pages. Don't forget the travelogues.

Colewade's other Alaska Pages:

Independent Traveler's Guide to Skagway
Independent Traveler's Guide to Haines
Independent Traveler's Guide to Juneau

Ratings and comments are greatly appreciated.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Sitka is Alaska's most beautiful seaside town.
  • Cons:It requires a little effort to get to Sitka, and your likely to have rain when you arrive.
  • In a nutshell:Sitka has one of the best combinations of scenic and historical sites in Alaska.
  • Last visit to Sitka: Sep 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (21)

Comments (5)

  • CesVT's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2007 at 5:47 AM

    Unbelievably informative, beautifully written page, with awesome pics!! Can't believe you have so much here about my own trip in May/June: Sitka, Juneau, Skagway and Haines - THANKS!!! Have marked you as a friend to find it all again!! :-)

  • el_ruso's Profile Photo
    Feb 8, 2006 at 5:05 PM

    A great page, very informative and with great photos.

  • pollon's Profile Photo
    Nov 20, 2003 at 5:50 AM

    alaska has been one of my dream of a destnation since when I was in middle school and then a friend has given me a sort of meeting point here... and last but not least your page is really GREAT!!!

  • Nov 18, 2003 at 5:11 PM

    Real good comments about my future destination as I sail from Honolulu to Sitka! TNX!

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Oct 30, 2003 at 9:12 PM

    great infos and wonderful pics ! One day I hope to return to Sitka !


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