From the old town, to exotic Balos beach and the famous Samaria Gorge, Chania will treat you to raki and unforgettable adventures
Chania will steal your heart. Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Venetians, Ottomans… all came through here, creating a multicultural corner of Crete. Wandering around the port, you’ll encounter the Venetian lighthouse, the Grand Arsenal, Kum Kapi and Halepa. You’ll enjoy luxurious accommodation in elegant villas, pulsating bars and restaurants, as well as significant cultural sites.
Beyond the town of Chania are the famous beaches of Agia Marina, Stalos and Platanias. Go a little further and you’ll find the exotic beaches of 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 alleys are full of surprises and every stroll is an experience. Stand next to the picture-perfect lighthouse at the port, a 16th-century Venetian construction. Walk among the impressive buildings and attractions: the Küçük Hasan mosque, the renovated Grand Arsenal, the Splanzia ruins and the Kum Kapi at Miaouli Beach.
Get lost in the ambience of 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… Chania’s old town will sweep you off your feet.
The Lighthouse Of The Old Port In Chania
The Egyptian Lightouse which dominates the Old Port has a height of 21 m. and it is the oldest in the world. It was first constructed by the Venetians during the Venetian conquest of the island, but with the passage of time it suffered lots of damage. More than 200 years passed, until the decade 1830-40, when the Egyptians reconstructed it according to the Egyptian architecture. The basis of the Lighthouse is shaped as an octagon, its middle part has 16 angles and its top is circular and looks like a minaret.
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 turns the old town into a technicolour dream.
The citadel of faith in Chania
East of Chania, Akrotiri and its old monasteries await you. Walk to the monastery of Agia Triada Tsagarolon (17th century), the Gouverneto monastery (16th century), the ruins of the Catholic monastery, considered the oldest in Crete (11th century), and Panagia Arkoudiotissa. Its 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. The goddess Artemis was also worshipped here.
Here you’ll understand why Cretan cuisine has gained worldwide acclaim. In the fish tavernas, rakadika, and historic cafes with their VIP clientele, the flavours of Crete will win you over. For a more innovative gastronomical experience, try Chania’s gourmet restaurants, where renowned chefs have elevated the island’s traditional cuisine, winning many awards and accolades in the process (such as the Golden Chef’s Toque).
It’s worth visiting the villages of Apokoronas, about 20 minutes outside of town: Armeni, Vamos, Xirosterni, Kefalos, Gavalohori, and Agios Pavlos are some of the most beautiful villages in Crete, and promise to be great culinary journeys. Here you will experience authentic Cretan cuisine, sampling local recipes such as tsigariasto, boureki, kalitsounia, pilafi, dakos, as well as all sorts of delicious grilled meat.\
Stivanadika Street In The Old City Of Chania
Stivanadika street got its name from the several shops which many years ago produced the Cretans’ traditional boots called “stivania”. Today in Stivanadika you can buy folk art souvenirs, herbs, olive oil, jewels and leather products. Stivanadika is a great place for a walk in the afternoon which will make you feel like you made a journey back to time.
Samaria Gorge – One of the best Chania Highlights
Samaria Gorge is one of many beautiful gorges in Crete and one of the major tourist attractions of Chania. The gorge has a length of 16 km, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m., in Chrysoskalo and ending on the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. It is quite long (4 to 6 hours hiking), so you should be prepared for a quite rough route. The gorge was declared as a national park in 1962 mainly because it is a shelter for the rare Kri-Kri (Cretan Ibex).
The famous “Samaria” water has been produced since 1978 and got its name from the famous gorge. It stems from the highest sierra of Lefka Ori (White Mountains), it is filtered naturally and it’s one of the most salutary waters in the world. This year it was awarded in the second position between 125 participations globally.
Wonderful Beaches In Chania
In Chania you are able to choose among a variety of beaches, most of them having fine sand and crystal waters. At the north coastal side of the city there are cosmopolitan beaches with beach bars (Agia Marina, Platanias, Kolympari, Loutraki, Marathi).
Exotic beaches with blue water, some of them wild and isolated (Falassarna, Paleochora, Kedrodasos). In Chania there are the two famous beaches with pink sand, Elafonissi and Balos, which have been included many times in the best beaches of the world.