Chania Town Greece: Always the first thing you hear about Chania – the Venetian Harbor, the old port, the narrow shopping streets and waterfront restaurants.
Chania is also one of the two places you are most likely to see on arriving in Crete. It is beautiful – that is to say much of the Chania you will want to see is clustered close to the harbor – old buildings, museums, churches and crafts shops (some with genuinely interesting and sometimes local, products on offer).
Food is offered in great variety and sometimes great similarity – there are many restaurants and also cafes, at which to reflect upon the experiences of places you have just explored together with the enjoyment of some tasty food – we have suggestions for restaurants further on.
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The atmosphere has a touch of Florence and Venice (a few years ago when those cities still had some room to walk), combined with the culture and character of Cretan people and traditions. The Chania harbor is wonderful and at any particular time of day the light produces a different result, creating a “different place”. This is the best chance to see some of the old buildings – of Venetian and Turkish design, that Crete once had across the island – many have since been destroyed by the ravages of war and plunder.
Chania is surrounded by numerous rich options for sightseeing, exploration and discovery. Mountain villages provide a view into the “inner Crete”. The Samaria and many other gorges can be hiked, archaeological sites abound.
How to get there.
Chania has an international airport with scheduled flights year round and abundant charter flights serving much of Europe during the season – April to October. If you’re not driving, you should take a taxi or minibus.
Ferries sail to and from Athens (Pireas) daily – the port for ferries for Chania is at Souda, a few kilometers away. When the ferry arrives, if you manage to scamper onto the bus in time, this will take you to Chania. But it is best to plan to take a taxi.
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What to see & do
Explore the waterfront and streets just behind. Walk along the harbor wall to the Venetian Lighthouse.
Visit the wonderful Naval Museum (Maritime Museum) – it delivers a superb introduction to the History of Crete and is by no means only for maritime mavens, you will learn more here in half an hour than most could teach you, about the events that filled Crete’s moving past. Excellent, well done. Open: 10.00 to 14.00 daily, except Monday. Tel: 28210-91875. Admission: 2.50 euros.
The Archaeological Museum on Halidon Street is smaller than its grand Heraklion cousin, though well worth visiting and appealing even to non archaeologists. Open: 8.00 to 17.00 (to 19.30 April-October) daily, except Monday. Tel: 28210-90334. Admission: 1.5 euros Historical Archives (museum): Open 9.00 to 13.00, Monday to Friday. Tel: 28210-52606. Admission: Free. Byzantine Museum. Open: 8.30 to 14.00 daily, except Monday. Tel: 28210-96046. Near the waterfront (at the back of the Naval museum).
Visit Venizelos Graves, which has magnificent views from among the trees, on a hill above Chania, across the the town, Venetian harbor and sweeping over the sea & beyond.
Visit Tabakaria a district with old leather processing houses found on the rocky eastern side of the city of Chania. The area was chosen for the following reasons: the abundant brackish subterranean waters used to soften leather, and its relative closeness to the city. Today some of the leather processing houses are still in operation. Adjusted to the natural properties of the land, the buildings have only one floor on the side of the street and two or three floors on the side of the sea. They are made of stone with tile roofs. They are built close to each other with very narrow, steep passages and steps going down to the sea. Tabakaria constitute a unique architectural complex.
Visit villages near Chania, where the old men talk, argue, discuss, play cards at their local kafeneio or simply find a stretch of beach and immerse the cares of yesterday in the waters of today. With children you might treat them to a visit to the water park at Limnoupolis.
Rethymno, Crete’s other Venetian town is an hour away with a car.
The Therissos Gorge, Kolymbari and its monastery, the wide sweep of Falassarna beach, boat trips to Gramvousa & Balos, a longer and most scenic trip to Elafonissi and villages en route – the list is long enough to fill many days.