Lying on the north coast of Crete just west of Heraklion, Chania is Crete’s most charming old town and also one of its most historic areas. Mosques, synagogues and churches exist side by side, and a tumble of photogenic buildings with Roman, Jewish, Moorish, Turkish and Venetian origins cluster around a harbor where life goes on at a leisurely pace. Beyond this ancient core is a thriving modern city and a backdrop of mountains peaks.
The old town has three distinct areas: the Venetian, Turkish and Jewish quarters are each well preserved. Chania’s old port curls within its rampart walls in from a lighthouse that was built by the Venetians in the 16th century and reconstructed in Islamic style a couple of hundred years later.
Bars and restaurants line the waterfront alongside the bubble-shaped Mosque of Hassan Pasha and the Venetian Great Arsenal, where the main attraction is the brightly painted replica Minoan boat built for the Athens Olympics in 2004.