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The city of Chania is one of the 3 main cities in Crete, it is located in the gulf where it takes the name from, in the westernmost point of the island near the peninsula of Akrotiri. Chania is Crete’s old capital and it has a very particular style because of the Venetian and Ottoman influence that there was in the past.
In Chania besides visiting the nearby beaches of Balos and Platanias you will also have the chance to discover this wonderful town's history while walking on the shore. This city will certainly surprise you thanks to its magical atmosphere, small alleys, colours and vibrant lifestyle.
Chania has an airport that is easy to reach from most european airports (especially from Italian ones) through low cost flights to Crete. Chania also has daily ferries from the port of Piraeus (Athens port) to Souda (7 km).
Why choose Crete and Chania?
If you choose to visit Crete a trip to Chania is a must for its historical importance, crystal clear sea, fascinating alleys and peaceful local lifestyle. Spending an afternoon in this city immersed in a mix of Venetian, Ottoman and Greek culture will help you forget the big resorts and cement that have taken over most of the rest of the island.
The beaches are equipped for most water sports and are absolutely stunning. If you decide to spend some time in Chania remember to visit the old city located between the port and the walls that used to protect the city. This was a Venetian city and in it you’ll still be able to see the amazing architectural style of the time.
The western coast of Chania has long, wide, golden beaches with crystal clear waters and soft sand where you can find many activities to choose from. Going towards the western part you will find other beautiful beaches that have helped Crete become one of Greece’s most visited islands.
Balos beach is also very famous and it is about 50 km west from Chania and has turquoise sea besides the golden sand and is one of the best beaches in crete
Stalos beach is about 7 km from Chania, here you’ll find golden sand, a long sea shore and many equipped structures for practicing tennis, beach volleyball or water sports. On this beach you will certainly have fun also thanks to the active nightlife of the close villages of Agia Marina and Platanias. The sea is crystal clear and not very deep, perfect for children and families. It can be easily reached from Chania with a bus that stops every 15 minutes or by car. From here you can also visit the tiny island of Theodori.
Platanias beach is at about 11 km west from the city of Chania. This beach is great if you like beach volleyball and water sports. This beach is famous because it received the blue flag, an important recognition given only to the beaches that have certain requirements. The sea is crystal clear and very shallow.
Elafonisi (or Elafonissos) is a small islet connected to the rest of the island of Crete by a shallow cliff which can be crossed with calm seas. This islet is located 82 km north-west of the city of Chania (Chania) and can be reached by boat from Paleohora or by car from the village of Vathi, to a point and then cross what appears to be a coral reef.
The beach is of fine white sand, with crystal clear water: one of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Crete if not all of the Mediterranean.
Seitan Limania beach
A small cove nestled between the rocks of the high coast just outside the city of Chania. The sandy and pebbly beach is not easy to access because to reach it you need to descend along a small rock wall. Let's say it is not suitable for families with young children. Once you reach it, you can enjoy a small but spectacular beach.
Be careful though: make sure there is no rough sea (you will notice it immediately by looking at the beach from above): in case of rough sea it will not be easy to swim in this small but spectacular cove.
To the east there are the most peaceful and ideal beaches for those in search of relaxation . Some are more difficult to reach, due to the territory becoming inhospitable, but the vision of the turquoise sea will repay the effort, as well as the opportunity to live them in solitude.
What to do in Chania? There are multiple points of interest in this city. Certainly one of the first places to visit is the Venetian port built between 1320 and 1356. There is also the iconic boathouse located in the western part of city that has many shops, restaurants and tables where to admire the landscape from. On the eastern side of Chania there is the old Venetian armory and some objects that were used to build the old prison.
Old Venetian lighthouse, symbol of the city
There is also an old Venetian lighthouse at the entrance of the port that has now been restored and can be seen from outside. In the old city there is also Kastelli neighbourhood, the oldest center of the old city that was fortified to defend the locals from the attacks of the Turks. Around the port there is the old city that was surrounded by some tall walls, doors and bulwarks. The bulwarks that have been conserved better are: San Salvatore, Schiavo and Sabbionara.
Churches and mosques
In the neighbourhood of Splantza inside the old city there is the church of San Nicola, built in 1320 by the Domenican monks. It was first converted into a Mosque by the Turks and then became an orthodox church. In the same square there is also the church of San Rocco built in the typical renaissance style that wasn’t modified at all during the years.
The old St. Francis convent was also transformed into a mosque by the Turks and here nowadays you can find the archeological museum that has a collection of objects that date back to prehistory until the roman empire that were found in the area of La Canea.
Another point of interest is Giannizeri’s mosque located on the western side of the boathouse. This was built in the XVII century on a preexisting church. Nowadays it is used as an event center and for art shows. Between the port and the city walls there is the old city of Chania and has some beautiful Venetian style buildings.
The city’s small alleys remind those of Venice. If you come here you must also visit the old Jewish neighbourhood where you can find the new synagogue, the fruit market and other museums (navy and folklore museum).
Moving around Chania is very easy since the roads are very good and there is even a motorway. In fact renting a car or a scooter is the best way to travel around the island. There are many places in Chania where you can rent a vehicle with a wide range of prices and offers. There is also a very efficient bus route.
The central station is in Chania and the bus service is called KTEL. The busses connect Chania to the nearby cities of Heraklion and Rethymo and are very frequent. There are also busses to explore Chania’s prefecture.
There are also many taxis in the city center and outskirts of Chania. There are many taxi stations around the island otherwise you will have to phone them to arrange the meeting point, most prices are pre-determined so you should ask before leaving to have an idea of the price.
How to reach Chania? Very easy! Chania has a local airport that receives flights from a lot of European countries (especially Italy). The international airport of Ioannis Daskalogiannis is at about 14 km from Chania in the region of Akrotiri. Here you can get flights for Athens and Thessaloniki besides many charter flights for most European airports. During most of the year (except summertime) it can be difficult to find a low-cost flight for Chania. For flying from Athens to Chania you can get a Ryanair flight that takes about 45 minutes.
If you want to travel by sea there are daily and night ferries from the port of Piraeus (Athens) to Chania. These ferries usually travel during the night and arrive in the morning, in the high season there are also daily ferries for Chania.
The port of Chania is in Souda at about 4 km from the main city. Unfortunately there arent any direct ferries from Chania to other islands. On the western side of Crete, at about an hours distance by car from Chania, there is Kissamos port that has ferries for Kythira, Antikiyhera and Gythio three times a week. On the southern part of the island there is the small port of Paleochora where you can catch a ferry for Gavdos island three times a week.
From Chania you can reach Rethymno after about an hour drive by car or bus. Heraklion, the capital, can be reached in two hours and a half thanks to the Motorway on the island.
There are many small hotels and residences in Chanian where to spend the night and where to start your adventure from. The areas near Chania have a vast offer of hotels and accommodations, especially in the nearby villages of Agia Marina, Platanias and Stalos with their famous beaches.
In Chania you can find beautifully restored Venetian houses and buildings that mix in with the classic Greek architecture to create a wonderful village with many boutiques, hotels, spas and shops. Near the port and along the beach there are structures of medium and high level where you will find rooms with a view on the sea.
A lot of the hotels may seem a bit out of date from the outside but are completely different once inside. Many of them also offer a restaurant service.