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  • sunset-Sitka-Alaska - Sunset over Sitka Harbor, with Mount Edgecumbe in the background.
  • Sitka-Alaska-harbor - Sitka Harbor is always bustling with boats.
  • sunset-Sitka-Alaska-2 - Sunset near Sitka, Alaska
  • Mt.-Edgecumbe-Sitka.jpg - Mount Edgecumbe is a dormant volcano that rises 3,201 feet over Sitka, Alaska. It last erupted about 2,400 years ago.
  • Naa-Kahidi-Dancers-Sitka.jpg - Enjoy a performance of ancient songs and dances by the Naa Kahidi Dancers during your visit to Sitka, Alaska.
  • St-Michaels-Church-Sitka.jpg - Visitors to St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church in Sitka will see a remarkable collection of religious art, with some pieces believed to date from the 1600s.
  • Raptor-Center-Stage-Sitka.jpg - Visit the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka to see injured bald eagles being nursed back to health.
  • Sitka-Harbor-with-rainbow.jpg - A rainbow frames the Sitka Harbor. Take a scenic waterfront cruise and or take a water taxi to nearby nature attractions.
  • Sitka-shopping.jpg - Experience shopping the way it used to be: Sitka boasts all independent, locally owned shops with nary a chain in sight.
  • sitka-black-tailed-deer.jpg - The Sitka black-tailed deer,  a subspecies of mule deer, spotted on the outskirts of Sitka.
  • alaska-coach-tour.jpg - Awaiting an Alaska Coach Tour in Sitka, Alaska.
  • lupins-in-sitka.jpg - Purple and white lupins bloom in Sitka, Alaska.
  • paddleboarding-in-sitka.jpg - A stand-up paddleboarder goes out for a spin in Sitka, Alaska.
  • sitka-harbor.jpg - A harbor in Sitka, Alaska.
  • eagle-and-guide.jpg - A painterly image of a staffer with an  eagle on the mend at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • falcon.jpg - A falcon on the mend in the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • sitka-raptor-center-stream.jpg - A brook running through the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • St-Michaels-Cathedral-sitka-interior.jpg - A shot of the interior of St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska.
  • St-Michaels-Cathedral-sitka-interior2.jpg - A shot of the interior of St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska.
  • St-Michaels-Cathedral-sitka.jpg -   St. Michael's is a historic Russian Orthodox cathedral in Sitka, Alaska.
  • eagle-sitka-raptor-center.jpg -  An eagle recovering at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • eagle-sitka-raptor-center2.jpg -  An eagle recovering at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • tour-guide-and-eagle.jpg - A tour guide with an  eagle on the mend at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • tour-guide-and-eagle2.jpg - A tour guide with an  eagle on the mend at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • tour-guide-and-eagle3.jpg - A tour guide with an  eagle on the mend at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • eagle-at-raptor-center.jpg -  An eagle recovering at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska.
  • Sitka-reflection - Boats in the calm waters of Sitka Harbor, Alaska.
  • sitka-totem-in-park.jpg - At Sitka National Historic Park, wander through the forest along scenic paths where totems depict the rich culture of the Tlingit people.

Sitka port guide: What do do & see

our guide

The vibe

Sitka is the only major city on Alaska's Baranof island. Its intriguing history and cultural appeal is matched by an embarrassment of riches when it come to scenery.

Perched at the edge of Sitka Sound, the city has been influenced by Tlingit, Russian and U.S. culture, and visitors will find signs of all three throughout the region.

With about 9,000 residents, Sitka is the fourth-largest city by population in Alaska. Though it's accessible only by boat or plane, it's easy to navigate once you arrive because the majority of its attractions are located in one compact area.

Among  Sitka's most dominant natural features is 3,200-foot (980 meters) Mt. Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano that last erupted in about 2200 B.C. (so not to worry).

The town is rich in history, including the 19th century era when the town was a territory of Russia. And if you'd like to see bear cubs, raptors, or other wildlife native to the region, you're in for a treat.

Cruise ships that call on Sitka

Top reasons to go

  • Eclectic history. Tlingit and Russian cultures have been interwoven in Sitka history since the 18th century, providing a rich cultural experience for visitors to tap into.
  • Animals up-close. The Alaska Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bear give humans a chance to see and learn about some of Alaska's most coveted wildlife.
  • Sitka National Historical Park. There's something for everyone here: a scenic trail set with totem poles, the Russian Bishop's house, the site of the last war between western Europeans and Alaskan Natives and a coastal rainforest rife with flora and fauna.

Top things to do & see in Sitka

History & culture

At Baranof Castle Hill State Historic Site, often called simply Castle Hill, history lovers can take a walk back in time to 1867 when Alaska was transferred from Russia to the United States. The Russian flag was lowered and the American flag officially raised here. And in 1959, when Alaska became the 49th State, the first 49-star American flag was officially raised here. For a glimpse into pre-U.S. Alaska, visitors can stroll through the Russian Bishop's House. The original log structure was built in 1843 and is one of the last remaining buildings from the Russian colonial period. The Bishop's house is part of, but about a 10-minute walk from,  Sitka National Historical Park, which also includes a totem-pole trail and historic fort site. 

Sitka Harbor is always bustling with boats.
BrianAdams / Courtesy of State of AlaskaSitka Harbor is always bustling with boats.

Birds, bears & fish

The Sitka Sound Science Center is located on the waterfront and operates an educational fish hatchery and the Molly Ahlgren Aquarium. Fortress of the Bear, a brown bear rescue, education and viewing center, is one place where viewing bear cubs is almost guaranteed. Bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons and owls can be seen at the Alaska Raptor Center, established in 1980 to care for injured raptors and to educate humans about these magnificent birds.  

Sitka is compact and easy to walk around. The town has walking maps available with many of the most popular sites listed and within an easy walk of one another. Because Sitka is in a rainforest, there are also many hiking trails, but don't forget your rain jacket. 

Dining

Head to Ludvig's Bistro for "exceptional seafood cooked with Mediterranean flair," raves Porthole Cruise magazine. 

Fun facts

  • Sitka is the only large Alaskan city directly facing the Pacific Ocean, giving it an oceanic climate with moderate, but generally cool, temperatures.
  • Originally settled by Tlingit Indians, Sitka's Russian history began in 1799 when Alexander Baranof of the Russian American Company made Sitka the Russian capital of Alaska. Sitka was Alaska's official capital from 1808 until 1906, when the seat of government was moved to Juneau. 

When you arrive

Docking information

Sitka has a cruise ship dock capable of handling ships up to panamax size. Locals call it the Old Sitka Dock. The facility provides free shuttle service to the core downtown core area. Some ships, such as those from Holland America and Silversea, still tender

Free wi-fi

Some cafes and also the local McDonald's (913 Halibut Point Road) offer complimentary wi-fi. It’s best you check it out locally.

Special dress code

Bring your umbrella and rain jacket! Statistically it rains 255 days a year in Sitka. This should give you an indication of how to dress for your day on shore. We also recommend that you dress in layers as it can be cold and windy one minute, and then when the sun comes out it can warm up quickly.

Need to know

Store hours: Stores are typically open Monday through Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm.

Tipping: All service professionals (waiters, taxi drivers, etc.) expect a 10% to 15% tip for good service.

Safety: Sitka is considered a safe and peaceful town. As always, be aware of your surroundings and lock up your valuables.

ShoreFox contributed to this guide.

Your take

How about you? Have you been to Sitka, or planning to go? We'd love to hear about your experience.  

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