Spending your holidays in Chania means not knowing which attraction to visit first, on which beach to enjoy the sea, which gorge to walk through and in front of which monument to take a photo! This is one of the most “gifted” by nature and human regions of Greece, with monuments that tell the history of the place over time, and are kept in excellent condition, creating a very special “air” in the atmosphere for lovers of history and not only.
Meanwhile, during one’s vacation in Chania every visitor can see from up close some of the most spectacular beaches in Greece, with emerald or blue water, with sand in every shade or white pebbles, but also to discover hidden paradises waiting for new explorers. It is more than certain that in the villages of Chania, either inland or on the coast, you will enjoy the traditional Cretan hospitality, and especially the Cretan specialties, raki and music.
Terrabook.com gathered for you the top locations in each category in Chania, the ones that you cannot miss, regardless of the length of your vacations in the region. Naturally, everyone may develop his own «top» list, as the choices are truly endless, but the following suggestions will guide you at least to a very good start!
A massive rock off the shore, the blue sea and endless white sand compose a beautiful lagoon, shallow and clear, with small shells that in many places make the sand look pink… The beach is located in the northwestern part of Chania prefecture, just 17 kilometers from Kissamos. It is worth it to take the relatively passable dirt road and then descent the path in order to look at all this beauty from above, but there is also an easier and more comfortable way, which is none other than the boat that visits Balos daily and departs from Kissamos.
A magical place, with exotic beauty, sand dunes, cedars, white lilies, black rocks and natural crystal blue waters and bright white sand … The sandy peninsula joins the islet to the mainland, creating a landscape of incomparable beauty.
Take a walk around the island, with absolute respect to the plants and animals that you might find on your way and select your own secluded bay to swim in, or stay in the shallow lagoon, ideal for young kids as well as older ones who are in the mood for games with sand and water!
Elafonisi is located 76 kilometers to the southwest of Chania town, on the southwestern coast of Crete.
The bay of Falasarna with the blue waters and bright white sand and surrounded by a lush wilderness, is located 59 kilometers west of the town of Chania and 17 km west of Kissamos.
The beach offers endless sand and blue sea, where you will enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life, with the sun setting right in front of you in the sea… Falasarna has been awarded in the past as the best beach on Crete and one of the ten best in Europe.
Sights in the old town of Chania:
It is probably the most photographed spot of Chania, with the stunning Firkas fortress, the old Venetian castle, and the characteristic Egyptian Lighthouse. It attracts many tourists as well as locals, especially during the summer months, since there, by the sea you will find many restaurants, cafes and bars.
In the Venetian Harbor you will also find Santrivani, the central square of the old town of Chania with the fountain of white marble that dominates its center, Yali Tzamisi (mosque of the sea), the cubic building covered by a large dome which now hosts events and exhibitions. You can also visit the Venetian shipyards and the Great Arsenal.
During the period of Ottoman rule in Chania, Splantzia was the main Turkish district and has brought the atmosphere of past times to the present day.
On the main square 1821, you will see the church of Agios Nicholas, the only one in Greece that has both a belfry and a minaret, the Venetian church of Agios Roccos, the Turkish underground fountain and the huge plane tree, on which during the Turkish rule were hanged dozens of Greek Christians.
In recent years the district of Splantzia has been fully reformed and from a poor region with dark alleys, it has become one of the most popular districts of the city with dozens of cafes, taverns and restaurants.
The Municipal Market of Chania, the huge building of 4,000 sq.m. on Hatzimichalis Giannaris street, is one of the most important and modern monuments of the city of Chania, and has been the heart of the modern city since 1913 when it was built.
In the galleries you will find dozens of shops that offer local delicacies of the Cretan cuisine that will be hard to resist!
Sights of Chania:
You can visit the Tombs of Venizelos when leaving from Chania going east. It is the burial place of Eleftherios Venizelos and his son Sophocles Venizelos, at a sight that offers a panoramic view of the city. The specific place was indicated by Eleftherios Venizelos himself, as it is situated a few kilometers from his home in Halepa.
The Monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa is situated very close to the famous Elafonisi in the southwest of the prefecture.
The whitewashed monastery is built on a large rock 35 meters high and the view to the Libyan sea from there is amazing.
According to the religious tradition, one of the 90 steps which are carved in the rock and lead to the monastery is made of gold, but this gold step reveals itself only to the sinless!
The Monument of Kandanos is located in the central square of the historic village of Kandanos in Chania, in order to remind everyone, even those who are simply passing through the place of the martyrdom, of the atrocities of the Nazi Germans that took place there in June 1941.
The three marble slabs of the monument are replicas of the two wooden signs left by the Germans in the village entrance after the disaster and of a third one, marble, brought by the conquerors in 1943 but which they didn’t manage to install.
“Here was Kandanos – destroyed in reprisal for the murder of 25 German Soldiers, destroyed fundamentally so as never to be rebuilt” are the words that remind us how Kandanos was destroyed and burned to the ground by the Nazis because of the massive resistance of its inhabitants.
Frangokastello is the legendary castle of Sfakia, haunted by the legend of Drosoulites, the warriors killed in the battle against the Turks and whose shadows still appear on the castle walls some nights…
Frangokastello was built in 1371 by the Venetians and is a rectangular building with vertical walls and four-sided towers in its four corners, preserved in excellent condition.
The castle of Gramvousa is built at the highest point of Imeri Gramvousa, the small island on the northwestern coast of Chania.
Its construction began in 1584 and it can still be visited through the vaulted arcade that leads inside. One can visit the island by boat from Kissamos, and do not miss enjoying a swim on the island’s beach, next to the old shipwreck…
Eleftherios Venizelos was kept prisoner in its dungeons for 15 days, while during the dictatorship of Theodoros Pangalos in 1924, a large number of political opponents had the same fate.
Today on the ramparts of the fort you can watch concerts and other cultural events.
It is the ancestral house of Eleftherios Venizelos in Halepa, Chania, which was the Greek statesman home for thirty years.
It acquired its present form in 1927 and all rooms have been preserved as they were back then: furniture from the decade 1925 – 1935, chosen by him and his wife Elena, while mobile decorative items and period paintings, original photographs and personal items are part of the interior decoration of the house.
The museum is housed in a traditional building in Ano Vouves, a mountainous village of Platanias.
In its halls you can see all the details of the life of the inhabitants of the wider area regarding the olive tree, such as the planting, soil cultivation, pruning, the gathering of the precious fruit, storing, transportation to the oil mill and the elision of the fruit.
The Museum is also located next to the Monumental Olive Tree of Vouves, the oldest olive tree in the world.
The Monastery of Agia Triada Tzagarolon or Mourtaron is one of the richest and most beautiful monasteries of Crete and is located 15 km from the city of Chania, near the airport.
It has one of the richest collections of religious icons and utensils, while among the exhibits stands out a manuscript of the 12th century and the icons of the 16th-17th century: Agios Ioannis o Theologos, Agios Nicholas, the icon of the Enthronos Christos, of Zoodoxou Pigi and of the Second Coming.
The sights of nature:
Thousands of people travel from around the world, just to cross this “miracle” of nature in Chania, the 18 kilometers leading from Xyloskalo in Omalos plateau, to the blue sea of the beach of Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea . In the Gorge of Samaria live the wild goats of Crete, Kri – Kri, as well as many other species of animals and plants not found anywhere else.
During your descent you will find the small Byzantine church of Saint Maria built in 1379 that gave the gorge its name, the old village “Samaria”, which is now deserted, and the famous “Portes” (doors) – the narrowest point of the gorge just before its end, only three meters wide!
It is the only natural lake of fresh water in Crete, located just four kilometers from Georgioupolis and, apart from the stunning scenery, at Lake Kournas you can also enjoy swimming in the emerald waters!
With a total length of 15 km, it is considered one of the most famous gorges of Chania. It begins at the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and ends at the Libyan Sea, on Marmara beach, while the most popular entrance is near Anopolis Sfakion, in the deserted village Aradena, at the metal bridge.
In the coastal town, southwest of the town of Chania, you will enjoy the endless sandy shores and fantastic landscapes.
Paleochora is ideal for exploring the surrounding beaches of Chania, and is also one of the most popular summer resorts of the prefecture.
The port of Sfakia, in southern Chania, will enchant you with its traditional beauty, while the landscape is dominated by the vast sea and Madares, the naked peaks of the White Mountains.
The restaurants and shops of Sfakia serve the countless visitors and you can get to the beaches on foot.
Kokkino Chorio is located in Apokoronas, in the northeastern part of Chania and is one of the most traditional villages of the region, with stone houses, beautiful churches (Agios Georgios, Agia Ekaterini and the central church of Agios Charalambos) and a picturesque main square.
Very close you will find several mainly sandy beaches with crystal blue waters. Very near is also the “Cave of the Elephants” (Spileo Elephanton), a cave in the sea richly decorated, the tour of which is a unique experience.
It is one of the busiest summer resorts of Chania, situated in the northeast of the prefecture.
Built at the mouth of the rivers Perastikos and Almiros, on the edge of the vast sandy beach, surrounded by greenery and running waters, Georgioupoli is bustling with people, while a walk to the whitewashed chapel of Agios Nikolas located in the sea is mandatory!
The small island of:
One cannot come all the way to Chania and not visit the southern part of Greece, the exotic island of Gavdos. The tiny villages with the hospitable people, but especially the amazing beaches will definitely impress you.
Make sure that you visit the beach Agianni that the Discovery Channel declared as the second best beach in the world, Sarakiniko and Tripiti, while the endless blue of the sea as seen from Faros (lighthouse) will take your breath away! Gavdos can be reached by boat from Paleochora and Sfakia.