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Minoan of origin and later under Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman rule, Chania—Crete’s second-largest city and former capital—has had millennia to accrue a rich historical patina. That heritage is evident in its Old Town, home to a Venetian port (including the Lighthouse of Chania), the Nautical Museum of Crete, and the Firkas Fortress—visiting is among the top things to do in Chania. And although the Nea Chora beach is convenient for those staying in town, it’s worth journeying to the postcard-ready Balos and Falasarna beaches; meanwhile, the Samaria Gorge is Crete at its most ruggedly beautiful.
For a sunseeker’s dream destination, head to Chania, especially in summer. July typically sees daily sunshine, with average highs of 90°F (32°C). Summer is also when the crowds are most likely to descend on this coastal, Mediterranean city. To enjoy warm—but not scorching—temperatures, and calmer sightseeing, aim for shoulder season months of May, September, and October.
Chania is served by the Chania International Airport, which connects to central Chania via bus and taxi services. Bus routes also operate in the city and link it to tourist destinations such as the Samaria Gorge and to surrounding villages. Chania, especially its Old Town, is very walkable, while taxis offer another transit option and a way to access slightly farther-flung beaches. Guided tours also make it easy to tour the region’s highlights.
While Chania’s seafront and local beaches offer more than enough bounty for those seeking sun and surf, they’re not the region’s only aquatic attractions. It’s worth making a diversion to visit Lake Kournas, the only freshwater lake in Crete, located less than an hour’s drive from Chania. It offers spectacular views, hiking trails, pebbly beaches, and boat rentals, as well as a wealth of wildlife.
A small city in western Crete, Chania is the capital of the prefecture (regional unit) of the same name. It’s known for its pretty old town, with brightly colored houses and relics from different waves of occupation, including an Ottoman-era mosque and the Old Venetian harbor, home to historic shipyards....More
Chania is a lovely city to explore on foot: Savor local specialties, taste wine, and browse the many stylish boutiques. Don’t miss the picture-perfect Old Venetian harbor. The Hassan Pascha Mosque often hosts interesting art exhibitions, and the naval museum in the old Venetian fortress is worth a look....More
It depends. The unspoiled old town makes Chania more attractive than Heraklion, but Heraklion is Crete’s capital and largest city, so there’s more happening. The Palace of Knossos and Heraklion Archaeological Museum mean Heraklion is better for ancient attractions. Chania, on the other hand, offers access to gorgeous beaches....More
Chania can be a party town, but it isn’t as exuberant as Malia. There’s more to Chania than bars and clubs, and the nightlife leans upscale. But you can party till dawn in some of the waterfront clubs, while the old town offers a wealth of bars and restaurants....More
Plan for at least three days in and around Chania. Allow one day for the city and one or more days for western Crete’s beautiful beaches. Plan to spend a day in nature, perhaps exploring the White Mountains, hiking the 10-mile (16-kilometer) Samaria Gorge, or ambling around Lake Kournas....More
Yes, both Chania city and Chania prefecture are worth visiting. Chania city has Crete’s most atmospheric old town, a pretty historic harbor, and a food, shopping, and nightlife scene. Chania prefecture offers the Samaria Gorge, Elafonisi Beach, Balos Beach and Lagoon, and the White Mountains, plus olive groves and vineyards....More
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