For centuries, different civilisations fought for control of Chania – and it’s not hard to see why. A balmy, beautiful city on the northern coast of Crete, Chania is an unforgettable mix of scenic vistas, perfectly preserved history, and modern luxury. Whether you prefer the seaside or the spa, Chania is the ideal holiday destination.
There are few places in the world as scenic as Chania in the summertime. Approaching Chania’s historic Venetian harbour by boat, travellers are treated to a breath-taking view of pristinely preserved Venetian and Turkish architecture, winding pedestrian alleys, and plenty of well-tanned onlookers enjoying coffees and cocktails, just basking in the view. The best part? Chania only gets better from there. Stroll through the city’s picturesque avenues, taking plenty of time to linger at one of the many enticing restaurants or tavernas; explore the region’s centuries of history at the city’s museums and architectural sites; or adventure into Crete’s lush natural world and hike through the famous Samaria Gorge. And if all that exploring wears you out? Grab your sandals: crystal clear waters and endless stretches of beautiful beach are easy to find and even easier to enjoy.
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When is the best time to visit Chania?
As with many Mediterranean destinations, Chania tends to experience hot, sunny weather in the summer and mild temperatures with some precipitation in the winter months. As Chania is a popular tourist hotspot, many experienced travellers recommend visiting during the late spring (late May and June) or the early autumn (late September and October). Temperatures will still be sunny and warm with minimal precipitation, but avoiding the high tourist season of July and August will provide for less crowded beaches and lower hotel prices.
What is the best way to get around Chania?
Many travellers will find that walking is a great way to navigate the city when staying in Chania itself. Local buses operate for traveling to more outlying areas, though service may vary by season and so all schedules should be confirmed in advance. Renting a car is generally the best option for travellers interested in seeing other parts of Crete. Regional buses shuttling customers between Crete’s major cities do run, but many travellers find that a rented vehicle provides greater convenience and comfort. That said, tourists should be aware that while many areas of Crete have signage in both English and Greek, some of the more rural regions only have signage in Greek, meaning that it is important to review the route in advance.
What currency do they use in Chania?
The currency of Greece is the euro. In Chania, major credit cards should be accepted at hotels, retailers, and restaurants, but travellers visiting rural areas would be wise to carry some cash as well.
Uncover the treasures of Chania
Inhabited since the Neolithic era, Chania is no stranger to history: from the sixteenth-century lighthouse overlooking Chania’s scenic waterfront to the labyrinthine alleys of the city’s Old Town, Chania provides an unforgettable insight into centuries of human history. Chania’s remarkable architecture serves as a testament to the diverse cultures that have occupied the city throughout history. Visitors will marvel at the always-evolving history of the jewel of Crete, from the sixteenth-century Venetian arsenals, once the home of the most fearsome fleet in the Mediterranean, to the Chania Cathedral, an austere and imposing structure dating back to 1879.
History of Chania
To escape the sun, head to one of the city’s many fascinating museums: the Maritime Museum is the best way to understand the ships and seafaring culture of Crete, while the more intimate Folklore Museum provides a window into life on the island in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There’s no shortage of history to uncover, so choose wisely.
- The Maritime Museum
- The Archaeological Museum
- Museum of Typography (Souda)
- Monastery of Panagia Chrissoskalitissa
- Ottoman Baths
For travellers more interested in seizing the moment than ancient history, it’s time to get out and enjoy the weather. Work up a sweat hiking the scenic Samaria Gorge or, for those seeking a challenge, climb the region’s majestic White Mountains – and then rinse off at one of Chania’s many beaches. Hitting the beach on Crete doesn’t just have to be about working on your tan, either: from scuba diving to the legendary beach parties at the nearby beach destination of Platanias that don’t end until the break of dawn, your perfect seaside paradise awaits.
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Explore Chania’s unique culinary scene
With such a diversity of influences and so many years to develop, Chania was bound to wind up with some tantalising food. Traditional Greek staples such as rich yoghurt, mouth-watering honey, and fresh seafood are present, but travellers interested in sampling more typical dishes will want to try some of the island’s renowned goat or lamb, one of the signature fresh cheeses, or some of the island’s treasured olive oil. Settle in at a classic Greek taverna and treat yourself – no matter what you choose, a fresh and flavourful meal awaits.
Leave the ouzo on the mainland
While the rest of Greece might be drinking ouzo, don’t make the faux pas of assuming Chanians are quite as fond of the stuff. Crete’s preferred tipple is tsikoudia, a stiff and fragrant pomace brandy, distilled using the leftovers from wine-making grapes. The best tsikoudia is to be procured from home distillers: should you sample some on your travels that you take a shining to, ask politely if you can purchase some – you may be surprised at their reaction.
Dance the stress away
Want to get a taste of Chania’s nightlife? Find your tribe: travellers looking for a more relaxed experience may choose to take in some live music at one of the city’s lively tavernas, while those looking to break in their dancing shoes will likely want to pay a visit to the busy harbourfront nightclubs. And for the visitors looking for a younger, more energetic crowd? The beach resort of Platanias, just west of town, is infamous for its party scene.
Shop like a Chanian
Skridlof Street offers some of the best souvenirs in Chania. Also known as Chania’s Leather Lane, it offers a selection of renowned leather goods that make excellent souvenirs.