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Chania will steal your heart. Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Venetians, Ottomans... all came here, creating a multicultural Cretan corner. Wandering around the port, you will come across the Venetian Lighthouse, the Great Arsenal, Kum Kapi and Halepa. You can stay in luxury accommodation in elegant villas, entertain in lively bars and restaurants, as well as important cultural sites.

Beyond the city of Chania lie the famous beaches of Agia Marina, Stalos and Platanias. Go a little further and you will 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 city of Chania

You will discover its secrets step by step. The alleys are full of surprises and each walk is a unique experience. Approach the lighthouse, perfect for a photograph at the port, a 16th-century Venetian construction. Stroll among the impressive buildings and attractions: the Küçük Hasan mosque, the restored Great Arsenal, the ruins of Splanzia and the Kum Kapi in Miaouli beach.

Lose yourself in the atmosphere of the aristocratic suburb of Halepa, with its neoclassical buildings that once housed the consulates of the great powers. You will feel as if you were in another era: the school of “St. Joseph”, the Russian church of Santa Maria Magdalena, the palace of Prince George… The old town of Chania will make you swoon from under your feet.

An afternoon in Kastelli

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. This is the story you will be facing today. You will see the Byzantine walls on Karaoli Dimitriou street and the excavated Proto-Minoan settlement on Kanevaro street. Head to the edge of the Kastelli citadel to watch the sunset, which transforms the old city into a Technicolor dream.

Boutique inns, historic hospitality

In the old town of Chania, the Venetian and neoclassical villas of past generations and emblematic buildings with their rich history have been transformed into luxurious boutique guesthouses. Enjoy elegant design details, high standards of service, terraces and balconies with incredible views, well-maintained gardens, pools and fountains. Here, the sophisticated ambiance of the past is combined with modern comforts, making Chania an  ideal destination for luxury holidays .

The citadel of faith in Chania

East of Chania, Akrotiri and its old monasteries await you. Take a walk to the monastery of Agia Triada Tsagarolon (17th century), the monastery of Gouverneto (16th century), the ruins of the Catholic monastery, considered the oldest in Crete (11th century), and the church of Panagia Arkoudiotissa. Its altar is hidden in the darkness 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 worshiped there.

Cretan cuisine

Here you will finally understand why Cretan cuisine has gained worldwide acclaim. In fish taverns, rakadikas and historic cafés with their VIP clientele, the flavors of Crete will win you over. For a more innovative dining experience , try Chania's gourmet restaurants, where renowned chefs have raised the bar on the island's traditional cuisine, winning many awards and accolades (such as the Golden Chef's Toque).

The villages of Apokoronas, about 20 minutes from the city, are worth a visit: Armeni, Vamos, Xirosterni, Kefalos, Gavalohori and Agios Pavlos are some of the prettiest villages in Crete and promise great gastronomic adventures. Here you will taste authentic Cretan cuisine, tasting local recipes such as tsigariasto, boureki, kalitsounia, pilafi, dakos and all kinds of delicious grilled meats.

Beach parties

Just ten minutes from Chania, beach parties are happening left, right and centre. In Agia Marina, Platanias and Stalos, you will find beaches with turquoise waters, sun loungers, bars, hotels and taverns right by the sea. If you want to dance until dawn, don't miss the parties in Platanias, where the summer nights never end.

Beach fun in Chania: Falasarna and Balos

Two nearby excursions will take you to exotic destinations:

Excursion 1  Chania-Falasarna: 58 km and you will find yourself in paradise. White sand between your toes, emerald water and magical sunsets. Endless beauty in  one of the most amazing beaches in the Mediterranean , 3 km long, north of which is the ancient Falarsana.

Excursion 2  Balos: 52 km from Chania (or you can take a gulet from Kissamos) and you will find yourself in one of the most photographed beaches of Crete, the paradisiacal salt water lagoon of Balos. Relax in its shallow blue-green water, sinking your feet into the luminous sand made from thousands of broken shells. Along the way, two islets, Gramvousa and Agria Gramvousa form a protective perimeter.

Samaria gorges, an unforgettable experience in Crete

A few kilometers from Chania is the renowned Farangas (Gorge), the largest and most famous gorge of Crete. Take a day to explore its 18km and see nature in all its glory. You may also come across the elusive and rare wild Cretan goat. When you reach the narrow passage (only 3 meters wide) at the far end of the gorge, called the Portes (also known as the Iron Gates), your adrenaline will skyrocket, as will the rock walls on each side, reaching a height of 300m. Your five hour excursion will end in Agia Roumeli where you will be rewarded with the swim of a lifetime.

Hidden jewels of Chania

Hora Sfakion, Loutro and Frangokastello

You will arrive in Hora Sfakion by traveling south from Chania through the stunning Aradaina Gorge. Discover the stories and legend surrounding the imposing castle of Frangokastello, built by the Venetians in 1371. In May 1866, a bloody battle took place between the soldiers of Mustafa Pasha and 338 warriors of Hatzimichalis Dalianis. The morning shadows, or drosoulites, that cross the plain each May and June are said to be the restless spirits of these warriors who come to relive the conflict.

Center of Mediterranean Architecture and Museums of Chania

This hidden but important cultural centre, with outstanding exhibitions and events, is housed in the Grand Arsenale. The building was the last dry dock built by the Venetians in the 1600s and its reconstruction began in 1941. As for museums, make sure they are all included in your itinerary: the Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection, the Nautical Museum of Crete (the second oldest in Greece), the Museum of Typography in the Park of Local Industries and the village of Arts and Crafts in Souda with its pottery, mosaic, silverware and glass blowing workshops.

The cobbled alleyways of the old town

Here you will encounter local tradition and folklore. Tabakaria is the center of traditional leather production. In Skrydlof street (also called Leather Alley), you will find traditional Cretan high boots called stivania. In Karaoli Dimitriou, you can buy authentic Cretan knives, but beware of imitations, the original ones cost no less than 200 euros.

Source: www.discovergreece.com