Chania

A feast of experiences that capture the soul of Crete
Venetian port of Chania
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From the old town to exotic Balos beach and the famous Samaria Gorge, Chania will treat you to unforgettable adventures (and a little home-brewed raki)

Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans… all came through here, creating a multicultural corner of Crete. Wandering around the port of Chania, you’ll encounter the Venetian lighthouse, the Grand Arsenal, Kum Kapi and Halepa.  And beyond the town of Chania into the region that has the same name are the famous beaches of Agia Marina, Stalos and Platanias. Go a little further and you’ll find exotic Balos and Falasarna. In southern Chania, the world-famous Samaria Gorge invites you to explore it. So much to do, so little time!

What to do in Chania

The Old Town of Chania

You’ll discover its secrets step by step: the picture-perfect lighthouse at the port, the Küçük Hasan mosque, the renovated Grand Arsenal, the Splanzia ruins and the Kum Kapi at Miaouli Beach.

Lose yourself in the aristocratic suburb of Halepa, with its neoclassical buildings that once hosted the consulates of the Great Powers. You’ll feel as if you’re in a different era: the school of “San Joseph”, the Russian church of Saint Mary Magdelene, the Palace of Prince George… and so much more.

An afternoon in Kastelli

Kastelli Hill was once ancient Kydonia and, later, a Byzantine castle. Eventually, a city was built around it, with new walls erected by the Venetians. That’s the history you’ll encounter today. You’ll see the Byzantine walls on Karaoli Dimitriou Street and the excavated Proto-Minoan settlement on Kanevaro Street. Make your way to the edge of the Kastelli citadel to watch the sunset, which gives the old town a technicolour evening charm.

The citadel of faith 

East of Chania, Akrotiri and its old monasteries await. You can walk to the monasteries of Agia Triada Tsagarolon (17th century) and Gouverneto (16th century), and to the ruins of a Catholic monastery believed to be the oldest in Crete (11th century). And then there is Panagia Arkoudiotissa, whose altar is hidden in the dark of the so-called Arkoudospilias (Bear Cave), named after a bear-shaped stalactite. Its religious history dates back to ancient times when the goddess Artemis was worshipped here.

Cretan cuisine 

You’ll understand why Cretan cuisine has gained worldwide acclaim. In the fish tavernas, rakadika and historic cafes, the flavours of Crete will win you over. For a more innovative culinary experience, try Chania’s gourmet restaurants, where renowned chefs have elevated the island’s traditional cuisine. 

And it’s worth visiting the Apokoronas villages, about 20 minutes outside town: Armeni, Vamos, Xirosterni, Kefalos, Gavalohori and Agios Pavlos… some of the most beautiful villages in Crete. Here you’ll experience authentic Cretan cuisine, sampling local recipes such as tsigariasto, boureki, kalitsounia, pilafi, dakos, as well as all sorts of delicious grilled meat.

The unforgettable Samaria Gorge

The Samaria Gorge has rightly earned legendary status from hikers. It’s worth devoting a day to exploring its 16km length, especially the narrow passage (only 3m wide and over 100m tall) towards the end of the gorge called Portes (also known as the Iron Gates). Your five-hour hike will end in Agia Roumeli, where you’ll be rewarded with a refreshing. And keep an eye out for the elusive and rare wild Cretan goat as you go.

Two exotic excursions: Falasarna and Balos 

Excursion 1 - Chania-Falasarna: 58km from Chania town and you’re in paradise. White sand, emerald water and magical sunsets. Endless beauty at one of the most stunning beaches in the Mediterranean, 3km long, north of which is Ancient Falarsana.

Excursion 2 - Balos: 52km from Chania (or you can take a caique from Kissamos) and you find yourself in one of the most photographed beaches in Crete, the heavenly saltwater lagoon of Balos. Relax in its shallow blue-green water and sink your feet into the luminescent sand made up of thousands of broken seashells. Across the way, two islets, Gramvousa and Agria Gramvousa, form a protective perimeter.

Hidden gems of Chania

Hora Sfakion, Loutro, and Frangokastello

You’ll arrive at Hora Sfakion travelling south from Chania through the beautiful Aradaina Gorge. Discover the history and the legend surrounding the impressive Frangokastello Castle, built by the Venetians in 1371. In May 1866 a bloody battle took place here, between Mustafa Pasha’s soldiers and 338 of Hatzimichalis Dalianis’ warriors. It is said that the morning shadows, or Drosoulites, that cross the plain every May and June are the restless spirits of these warriors come to re-enact the conflict

The museums 

The Centre of Mediterranean Architecture, housed in the Grand Arsenal, has exceptional exhibitions and events. The building was the last dry dock erected by the Venetians in 1600 and its rebuilding began in 1941. As for other museums, be sure to put as many as you can in your itinerary: the Archaeological Museum, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection, Nautical Museum of Crete (the second oldest in Greece), Typography Museum in the Park of Local Industries, and Arts & Crafts Village in Souda with its ceramic, mosaic, silversmith and glass-blowing workshops.

The cobblestone alleys of the old town

This is where you’ll encounter local tradition and folklore. Tabakaria is the centre for traditional leather production. At Skrydlof Street (also called Leather Lane), you will find the traditional high Cretan boots called stivania. In Karaoli Dimitriou, you can buy authentic Cretan knives, but beware of imitations – the real thing doesn’t cost less than 200 euros.

The lighthouse at the old port of Chania

Experience the best of Chania

There are plenty of wineries to choose from, in the foothills of the White Mountains and around the Apokoronas villages

A culinary tour of Chania

Vineyards, olive presses and cookery lessons… everywhere you turn in Chania is a gastronomic experience and, once you’ve sampled it all, you’ll have discovered the...
Containing 450 species of plant and animal life, the Samaria Gorge is a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve

Hiking the spectacular Samaria Gorge in Chania

Crossing the Samaria Gorge takes you through some of the most magical scenery in Europe, as well as abandoned villages and other historical highlights, and...
Strolling around Douliana village charming alleyways

Village-hop through Chania at its most authentic

It doesn’t matter how well you think you know Crete, if you haven’t visited the Apokoronas villages in northern Chania, you haven’t experienced it at...
The magical blend of blues you’re presented with as you approach Balos from above

Prepare to be mesmerised at Crete's Balos beach

Balos captures your heart twice over: Once with a heart-stopping view that blends blues in a way that scarcely seems possible, and then from up...
Elafonissi is an island you can easily wade to through knee-deep water

The dreamscape of Crete’s Elafonisi beach

An island-lagoon in southwestern Crete, Elafonisi wows its visitors with exotic blues, whites and pinks during a dreamy day out on the beach
  • The Old Town of Chania
  • The unforgettable Samaria Gorge
  • The museums
  • The citadel of faith
Highlights
8-day road trip to experience the best of Chania
From its incredible landscape and culture to its legendary food and village life, Chania captures the soul of Crete. And once you’ve experienced it, it never fails to become a part of you.
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Elafonisi beach
Discover a world of adventure in Chania
It’s impossible to be in Chania and not be overcome by the urge to get active. So prepare to set out with the wind in your sails and experience the best that Crete has to offer
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Samaria is the longest gorge in Greece and forms part of the E4 hiking trail that traverses Europe

Plan your trip

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