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Travel Guide: Places to Visit In Chania During Your Vacation In Crete, Greece

Updated on June 11, 2013

The Beauty of Nature In Chania

The Chania region is a place full of natural beauty, history and memories from the past, as well as a of high cultural interest.
Long sand covered beach fronts and sea crystal clear water, hard to reach but worth visiting canyons, rivers and green valleys full of olive trees, combine with a rich world of rare animals and birds.

The visitor will live in the Cretan soul and culture, experience the world renowned Cretan hospitality and meet happy, smiling people, will taste the best elements of Mediterranean cuisine through foods and recipes some of which date deep back in the Medieval age and will live his vacation to the full.

The old harbor in Chania, Crete. Clouds and rain are a rare occasion in an island which has sunshine for 9 months of the year.
The old harbor in Chania, Crete. Clouds and rain are a rare occasion in an island which has sunshine for 9 months of the year.

Chania City

Chania is the capital city of the Chania Municipality, a modern city built around the old, tradiitonal one. Boasting on excellent town planning, open streets, beautiful and large squares and renovated buildings from the last century, Chania can still offer all services a modern city should offer, without being too large and hard to explore as a whole.

The old, Enetian harbor has been renovated, along with all the buildings around it, with traditional building materials and is the favourite meeting place for visitors and locals. At its numerous cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants the visitor will experience an active, yet not wild nightlife. During day hours, one could pay a low price ticket and board a small boat with glass bottom which will sail around the harbor and even venture deeper in the ocean. Through such boats scattered at main tourist attractions of the region, people can experience scuba diving or simply visit smaller, almost unexplored islands in the Cretan Sea.

The city is easy to explore on foot, but there are regular bus services, taxis and cars/bikes for rent if you feel like driving yourself. The streets are generally easy to drive into and the Cretan drives are, more or less, safe drivers.

Samaria Canyon

The Samaria canyon is probably the most famous canyon in Greece. Nature has done its best delivering an astounding beauty for the visitor's eyes.
The Samaria canyon is probably the most famous canyon in Greece. Nature has done its best delivering an astounding beauty for the visitor's eyes.

The White Mountains And The Canyons In Chania

The White Mountain (Lefko Oros), sometimes referred to in plural form as "Lefka Ori" is the highest place in the Chania region and considered the spine of the area; the tallest part of it is Pachnes at 2,454 m. Numerous canyons such as Samaria, Agia Marina, Aradena, Imvros will involve some walking and effort to discover, but will offer a lifetime experience to any visitor. Climbing excursions, as well as hunting occurs in the area.

Many natural springs in the surroundings create rivers which attract wild life, some of which are endemic and cannot be found at anywhere else in the World. The largest rivers are Platanias and Koiliaris.

The islands which technically belong to the Chania municipality are small and have no inhabitants - the Souda island, Aghioi Theodoroi, Imeri and Agria Gramvousa can all be visited. Gavdos, on the other hand, which is the southernmost part of Greece, has houses and permanent habitants and is located directly across Sfakia.

The only lake in the whole Crete is Kourna and is also situated at the Chania region; it is a place with a serious amount of different kinds of animals and plants.

Santa Marina is a tourist attraction of the Chania region, with organized beaches, clean waters and good nightlife.
Santa Marina is a tourist attraction of the Chania region, with organized beaches, clean waters and good nightlife.

Tourist Attractions

Particular places in the Chania municipality attract many tourists due to sightseeing areas, clean seas and luxurious accommodation in the forms of rental houses (fully furnished) , hotels and cottages.

Santa Marina (Aghia Marina for the locals) is one of them; numerous hotels, luxurious villas or cheaper motels can be booked. Here you will have the chance to visit a great sightseeing area, the watercave (Nerospilia) with its ancient cave formings and narrow, underground paths. Exploring the cave can take a while but is surely worth your time.
Across Santa Marina is the Aghioi Theodoroi island, where a local, endemic form of wild goat is raised, called "egagros". The island can only be visited with written permission from the Forestry Offices, however.

Two smaller villages, Stalos and Kato Stalos, which have less tourists but offer picturesque roads and traditionally built houses based on the Cretan Architecture are situated near Santa Marina.
Platanias is another village preferred by tourists; in walking distance form Santa Marina, this is the place where you will find souvenirs, handmade items and delicacies you would probably want to bring back home when your vacations are complete. When moving from the city of Chania towards the West through the seafront highway, Platanias seems almost connected to Santa Marina.

At the shores of the Libyan Sea and not far from the Samaria canyon exit are Aghia Roumeli and Akrotiri, where the airport is.
In a valley full of citrus family trees is the beautiful village Alikianos, where you should visit the Aghia lake, a wetland which attracts various kinds of wild life and in particular birds. Aghia lake is not a natural lake but a man made one.
Almirida is situated at a small bay with blue green waters and Anopoli is located in the outskirts of the White Mountain; near Anopoli you will have the chance to discover and explore the astounding Aradena and Eligia canyons.

Picturesque, Traditional Villages And Sightseeing Areas

Many villages with unbelievable natural beauty, traditional stone-built houses and great view are situated all around the Chania region. The more you have the chance to visit, the more you will feel in connection with the Cretan people and culture; worth mentioning are Vrises, Epanohori, Voukolies, Kissamos, Kefali, Meskla, Perivolia and Vamos.

Villages with higher tourist presence and atractions are Galatas and Georgioupoli, near which you should check Almyros river. Daratso is full of luxurious hotels and villas and can be the origin for all your daily trips while you venture to other areas worth visiting. Do not miss to check Aghioi Apostoloi near Daratso and the Elafonisi, a place which seems like heaven on earth - across it, if you have a chance and sufficient time, you could opt to visit Kedrodasos.

Kalives and Kolympari are seaside villages with clean beaches and waters, many quality restaurants and tavernas which serve fresh fish right out of the ocean.

Maleme is also a place worth your visit; a place where history brings back memories. Do not forget to enter the German cemetery, where 4,465 German soldiers, most of whom were paratroopers, have been buried after their death during the German invasion in Crete in may of 1941. At the museum, you will learn the great impact of the Cretan resistance against the Axis powers during World War 2, and the significance of it in the general war events of the time.

The Askifou plateau is a large area targetted by climbers, due to numerous paths and its climbers haven. A cave of impressive natural beauty is Tzanis cave, situated at the Tzanis plateau. At Fragokastelo, you will visit an excellent sightseeing area, the old Venetian castle and the beautiful village next to it.
For those who would like to venture a bit into places of religious interest, a great choice is Chrisoskalitisa, a picturesque village named after the Orthodox monastery of the area, dedicated to Holy Mary. At such a wonderful scenery, one could feel in connection with their inner self and the nature.

Maleme Village

Maleme is a traditional, seaside village which is particularly popular due to its German Cemetery - the place where thousands of nameless tombs are left to show the historic significance of the Cretan resistance to Hitler's Germany.
Maleme is a traditional, seaside village which is particularly popular due to its German Cemetery - the place where thousands of nameless tombs are left to show the historic significance of the Cretan resistance to Hitler's Germany.

Have You Ever Had The Chance To Visit Chania?

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Sfakia City - Food Heaven

Sfakia is a small historic city, famous for some great elements of traditional architecture, as well as traditional cuisine. Even though you can taste local delicacies at any good restaurant or taverna in the Chania city or the villages, you would be missing much if you didn't try some standard traditional Cretan recipes in Sfakia, due to the fact that their version is altered a bit. Sfakiani tourta, snails, mpoureki, octopus salad are all dishes which you can't afford to miss. Sfakia is also famous for the "vendetta" custom; opposing families carry hatred and arguments from old years over matters long ago forgotten, and that often leads to fights, even murders. This is just another "cultural theme" which has its roots deep in the Cretan history.

Seasons And How To Reach

The Chania city and the villages all around the west side of Crete are an excellent vacation choice for anyone. High season is considered to be the dates between middle of July and middle of August, but in general, due to having great weather and sunshine around 9 months of the year, any time between April and November would be excellent if you plan to pay a visit.

The island is reached through flights from Athens and Thessaloniki, and some direct flights from large European cities. Additionally, the ferry sails from Peiraeus harbor (Athens) to Chania everyday.

The whole Crete island, and Chania in particular, are surely worth your time and money.

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