Post Summary: 10 Best Things To Do in Sitka AK for a Weekend including an itinerary, historical sites, food and local spots.
Sitka, Alaska is not a place you would accidentally find yourself in. There is no road connecting Sitka to the rest of the world, which I find very intriguing. To get there, you would need to fly or boat in. Worth it?
Does the idea of seeing remnants of the old Russian Empire, the home of the Tlingit Indigenous People, the past Capital of Alaska, the spot where the USA bought Alaska from Russia, or seeing a golden sunset over a dormant volcano excite you? Then this guide to the 10 Best Things to Do in Sitka AK is for you.
How to Get to Sitka AK
I started the journey by taking a 6-passenger sea plane from Juneau, Alaska flying over the ABC islands (Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof Island) to arrive on the west side of Baranof Island where Sitka lies. These islands are all part of the Tongass National Forest (the largest National Forest in the USA at 16.7 million acres) and home to a dense population of brown bears.
- Alaska Airlines offers the most flight services linking Sitka with Seattle, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Ketchikan.
- Delta Airlines also offers some services in the summer season.
- Alaska Seaplanes is also a unique option (which is what I did!)
The city of Sitka faces the Sitka Sound, where Mount Edgecumbe, the dormant volcano that resembles a small Mount Fuji, lies across. Seven miles of road span in each direction of the city; the rest – vast forest.
Do You Need a Car in Sitka?
When planning this trip, I did not know whether to rent a car or not. If you are only in Sitka for 24 hours – I’d recommend renting a car so you can see as much as possible!
I booked an Airbnb that had bikes for each guest (and also offers a car in the summer!). I was able to see SO much this way. My Airbnb was also close enough to walk downtown and check out the local shops and historical sites. I cannot recommend the place I stayed at enough – we had the best hospitality. Click HERE for up to $55 off your first time using Airbnb!!
After checking in to the Airbnb, I set out to explore the city! Here are the Best Things To Do in Sitka AK
SITKA Sights You Don’t Want to Miss
- St. Michaels Cathedral – built during Russia’s control of Alaska, located in the heart of downtown Sitka. Open to the public on select days of the week. With it’s green domes and golden details, this has become a major landmark in Sitka.
- Baranof Castle – also known as Castle Hill, this park was where the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States took place. There is no fee to enjoy the history here and the views of downtown and the waterfront.
- Totem Square – this park features an impressive totem pole that displays the history of Sitka as well as a Russian cannon.
- Totem Trail in Sitka’s National Historical Park – You could easily spend a couple hours wandering the totem scattered trails in this park and checking out the museum nearby.
- Russian Bishop’s House – No charge to check out the bottom floor of the once Russian Mission Orphanage.
- Fortress of the Bear – This place stole our hearts. A safe haven for orphaned bears in Alaska. $15 per person allows you to spend time observing the personalities of 9 bears of different populations. Because of it’s location, you would need to bike, take a shuttle/taxi, or rent a car. Very worth it.
- Bike to the end of road – We biked south of downtown to the Fortress of the Bear and the views along that road were some of my favorite in Sitka.
8. HIKE IN SITKA
I only had enough time for one hike, but the one hike I did was incredible. Rated as difficult, Mount Verstovia Trail seemed to be a local favorite. At 4.5 miles round trip and 3,400 feet elevation gain, it didn’t take long to see views of downtown, the harbors and Mount Edgecumbe in the distance. We had plenty of sun on the day we ventured up there, but I imagine even in the rain it would have stunning views. Bring the hiking 10 essentials and some bear spray and head out!
If you are looking for a trail that is a different difficulty level, I recommend using AllTrails to find a hike that fits your itinerary and abilities! Access AllTrails online or through their app.
9. Sunset at Sandy Beach
We biked to Sandy Beach on the north end of the city for sunset on our last night and enjoyed a very golden sunset behind Mount Edgecumbe.
10. Visit Goddard Hot Springs
This was on my list, but I wasn’t able to make it happen this trip!! I guess I’ll just have to go back.
Charter a boat from Sitka 16 miles south to these scenic first come first serve hot springs! Camping and Lodging is nearby and overall looks like such a good time.
For more information CLICK HERE
FOOD AND DRINK in Sitka Alaska
There are only so many options for food and drink in Sitka, but there are some good ones! Everything in Sitka is on the more expensive side due to importing goods in. If you are on a budget consider going to the grocery store to make a few of your own meals if the place you are staying has kitchen access!
- Bayview Pub – this was my first stop for food after arriving in Sitka. It has a view of the harbor and the mountains, fish and chips and a classic pub menu with local beers.
- Fisheye Organic Cafe – one of my favorite spots as it had healthy cafe foods such as Acai bowls, scrambles, smoothies and more.
- Beak – this was our favorite dinner. Local, tasty seafood. Yes. Please.
- Agave – great for post-hiking as there are lots of options and an arcade room next door for some air hockey when you are finished!
- Pioneer Bar – the local dive bar with a retro vibe and hundreds of old photographs to look at. Don’t ring the bell!! Ringing the bell means you’re buying everyone in the bar a drink! Hang out and play some pool like I did!
- Mean Queen – This is the only place with an open-late kitchen. I had my hands full with wings and pizza and some very strong cocktails on my last night in Sitka.
SITKA TRAVEL TIPS
It is recommended to reserve a taxi BEFORE your arrival if you are going to need one to reach your accommodations. We were lucky to have such great hosts that arranged this for us and ensured we made it to the airport for our departure on time.
Another thing to note is that the security to fly out of Sitka is VERY slow. We did not give ourselves much time since it is such a small airport and we boarded with very little time to spare.
Be prepared for rain. Sitka receives 131 inches of rainfall on average and generally has cooler temperatures.