Holidaymakers looking to dive head-first into Crete’s local traditions and culture should make a beeline to the pretty city of Chania. Crete’s second city is a beauty. Plenty consider Chania among the most impressive cities in Greece, which is saying something. When you first arrive in Chania, the city’s Venetian Harbour immediately catches the eye. The port is a hub of activity. You’ll see old buildings, restaurants, churches and souvenir shops all clustered around the harbour. It’s one of the key features that makes Chania so easy on the eye, along with the beaches, mountains and forests which surround the city. But there is more to Chania than simply photo opportunities. There are museums, markets and nightlife to enjoy here. If you feel like relaxing, then you can just lounge around on Chania’s beaches.
It’s a great idea to hire a car in Chania and explore the neighbouring towns and villages. Some of the nearby beaches on Crete’s northern coasts are well worth the short drive. Here you can work on your tan on golden sands or splash around in clear blue waves. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can even have a go at watersports. Holidaymakers who have packed their sea legs can raise the anchor and hop aboard one of the boat cruises which run from Chania. There’s the chance to tour nearby islands or even hop to the Greek mainland.
Beach-goers will be perfectly content in Chania. The city’s main beach has plenty of sun loungers and nearby tavernas, while the quieter Kladisos Beach is just a footbridge away. But if you’re looking for a change of scenery, then it only takes a 20-minute stroll to reach the beach at Agio Apostoli. It’s a beautiful and sheltered spot, with plenty of watersports on offer.
Many island hoppers land in Crete by taking the ferry to the port of Souda - just a few minutes down the coast from Chania. There’s a direct ferry service to the Greek capital Athens from here. If you fancy heading a little further afield, then it’s something to think about. History buffs will also be interested in a World War II cemetery in Souda. You’ll see the graves of Allied soldiers who died on the battlefield in Crete.
Just six miles from Chania, the town of Akrotiri is a top spot for both beach lovers and culture vultures. Akrotiri’s Stavros beach is a stunner with its soft sands and clear waters. You can also admire a Bronze Age cave on the beach, and that’s just one of many historical sites in Akrotiri. Interesting museums and monuments are packed in the narrow alleys of the pretty village.
After several days basking on the beaches in Crete, you might fancy learning a little more about the island. You’re in luck as Chania has several excellent museums which tell you more about Crete’s history. They include the naval museum, which provides a good introduction to Crete’s recent past. If you want to head even further back in time, try the Archaeological Museum. It’s smaller than its cousin in the capital of Heraklion, yet there are plenty of ancient exhibits.
Holidaymakers who have previously enjoyed a jaunt in Italy might sense a little bit of Florence or Venice in Chania. The harbour has that sort of feeling. It’s a wonderful place with plenty of old buildings. You can walk along the harbour wall to reach the Venetian Lighthouse which is another well-preserved example of Chania’s past.
Whether you’re searching for a souvenir, present or simply fancy a bit of window-shopping, then you’ve come to the right place in Chania. There are plenty of gift shops found around the harbour, but one of the best places to grab a delicious memento is Chania’s covered market. There are almost 80 shops selling local grub, such as wine, honey and herbs. If you fancy some craftwork, then head over to the stores in the old quarter.
Beaches in Chania
It’ll only take you five minutes to stroll from the harbour to Chania’s main beach. There’s a generous stretch of sand here, along with sunbeds and umbrellas. When you get peckish, it’s only a few steps to the cafes and tavernas on the seafront. If you fancy a quieter day on the sand, then you’ll find more room on the other side of the harbour at Kladisos Beach.
A holiday bulge will be the last of your worries on a trip to Crete, with the island’s grub renowned for being healthy. This is great news when you’re spending the day lying around! Fresh fish, olive oil, vegetables, salad, local wine and a little bit of meat combine for a balanced diet. One of the dishes which might take you by surprise in Crete is snails. It’s not only the French that love them. Pluck up your courage and order a plate.
Restaurants in Chania
Those restaurants surrounding the harbour in Chania are generally the more touristy ones. You’ll find plenty of waiters beckoning you to take a table. If you’re looking for more authentic local grub, then head to the back streets of Chania. That’s where you’ll find the more traditional (and cheaper) dishes on offer.
If you want to do more on your holiday to Crete than simply lie on the beach or splash around in the swimming pool, then Chania is a brilliant option. It’s a pretty city with loads to do, yet the beaches in and around Chania are top spots to relax. To book your holiday to Chania, then look no further than easyJet holidays to reach this must-see destination. You can even save a few quid by booking your hotel and flight together with easyJet holidays.
Not convinced? Then take a peek at our other Crete destination guides for inspiration.