Chania Travel Guide

Chania in Greece

Chania is the capital of the prefecture of Chania and the second largest city in the island of Crete, after Herakleion. It lies in the northwestern part of the island and it has a population of 53,910 inhabitants as of 2011.

The region that today hosts the city of Chania has been inhabited since the Neolithic period and it has been a very important region since the Bronze Age, when it hosted the ancient Greek city-state of Kydonia. Kydonia was founded by King Kydon (or Cydon), son of Hermes and Akakallis, the daughter of King Minos.

Today, the city of Chania is consisted of two distinct parts. The picturesque old town, built around the old Venetian port, and the new part of the city extending to the south, east and west of the old town. Despite the fact that the new city is by far larger and hosts most commerce and residential quarters, one may say that the old town is still the core of Chania, and especially when it comes to entertainment. This is where most restaurants, cafes and night clubs are found and the place-to-be, especially in the summer.

One should definitely not miss the Municipal market, which is located in the south border of the old town and where one can find fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and fish, cheese, herbs and spices as well as groceries. 

Places to visit in the city of Chania

  • The picturesque Old Town of Chania built by the old Venetian port
  • The Kasteli Hill (Lofos Kasteli) in the west part of the old town next to the Turkish mosque. This is where the acropolis of the ancient Greek town of Kydonia was situated during the Minoan era of Chania.
  • The quarter of Kum Kapi (from Kum Kapisi, meaning “Sand Gate in Turkish), located outside the eastern walls of the old city of Chania, where most of the city's entertainment and nightlife goes on
  • The Municipal market of Chania, situated in the old town of Chania, next to its south border with the new part of the city
  • The Municipal Garden (designed in 1870), located in the heart of the city, with its famous clock tower built in the years 1923–1927

Places to visit around the city of Chania

  • The Gorge of Samaria is the second longest gorge in Europe and more than 300 thousand people hike through it every year. The scenery is outstanding and features rare geomorphic structures. The unique habitat of the canyon is rich in flora and fauna and it hosts the rare wild-goat species of Crete, called kri-kri. The Gorge of Samaria has been declared a protected National Park since 1962 and since then it has received several awards, such as for being a “region of particular natural beauty”, and it is inscribed in the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) of UNESCO. Its length is 12.8 Km until the border of the National Park and another 3.2 Km until the seaside village of Aghia Roumeli. The gorge can be visited from the 1st of May until the 15th of October, provided that the weather is good
  • Several other smaller —yet beautiful— gorges, such as those of Elygia, Improu, Trypiti, Klados, Kavi or Iligga, Theriso and Aradaina
  • The particularly beautiful beach and lagoon of Balos situated west of Chania near Cape Gramvousa
  • The beautiful beach of Falasarna located west of Chania
  • The region of Chania boasts very important caves that are worth-visiting by those interested in nature, such as the Cave of the Elephants, the Cave of the Bear, the Cave of Tzanis, the Cave in Sfakia-Asfentos, the Cave of Saint John the Hermit and the Cave of Aghia Sophia
  • The Lake Kourna, a unique natural lake that is created by subterranean water coming down from the mountain range of Lefka Ori (White Mountains) and being blocked in a cavity in the ground because of the impermeable nature of the subterranean structure
  • The Lake of Aghia, situated near the city of Chania, creates a protected water habitat, which is the only place that hosts a particular endangered frog species

Monuments and Museums to visit

  • The old Venetian port (built in the fourteenth century) in the old town of Chania and the Lighthouse built in the nineteenth century on the base of the old Venetian lighthouse
  • The Fortress of Firka in the east part of the old town
  • The Museum of Naval History at the port of the Old Town
  • The Historical Archives of Crete, with a library hosting 6,500 books and approximately 700,000 documents from the nineteenth and twentieth century
  • The Byzantine Museum of Chania housed in the former Franciscan monastery of San Salvatore, built in the fifteenth century
  • The Nautical Museum of Chania housed in the Venetian fortress of Firka
  • The Archaeological Museum of Chania housed in the former church of San Salvatore in the homonymous monastery
  • The Military and War Museum of Chania, situated next to the Municipal Garden in the city centre of Chania
  • The Museum of Chemistry, hosted in the same building as the State General Laboratory
  • The Archaeological Museum of Kissamos near the city of Chania, housed in the former Venetian/Turkish Residency

Food and Drinks to taste

  • Cretan myzithra, a type of soft cheese produced in the island of Crete from ewe's milk (occasionally from goat's milk too)
  • Cretan paximadia, traditionally prepared types of rusk made with barley or wheat flour
  • Takos or dakos, a type of salad made with grated fresh tomato topped with Cretan myzithra cheese, olive oil and oregano, served on a round barley Cretan rusk
  • kalitsounia, a type of small pies filled with Cretan myzithra cheese or wild greens and herbs
  • Apaki and sygklino are two types of cured and smoked (over a fire of various herbs) pork meat without fat
  • Chochlioi boubouristoi, shallow-fried snails seasoned with rosemary
  • Goat with stamnagkathi, a dish prepared with goat meat and wild chicory
  • Tsikoudia, a type of clear distilled spirit made from grapes or blackberries
  • Staka and stakovoutyro are dairy products prepared by mixing lightly salted cream usually coming from ewe's milk with a small amount of flour and gently heating until the fat (stakovoutyro) separates from the cream/flour mixture (staka). Stakovoutyro is actually a type of clarified butter, while the creamy staka is a delicacy that one can enjoy with fried eggs, pasta, rice or in traditional pies
  • Excellent olives and extra-virgin olive oil
  • The region is particularly rich in various types of herbs used in cooking and in herbal teas

Map of Chania with accommodations

The blue markers shows the location of various accommodations in Chania. The letter in the marker describes the accommodation types: H for Hotel, A for Apartment, R for Resort, B for Bed & Breakfast and O for Other (e.g. pension, villa). Click on the blue marker for more information on the accommodation.

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