Chania - a visitor's guide to Greece's most beautiful city

View of Chania harbour

The city of Chania is the second largest in Crete with a population of approximately 60.000. It is also the prettiest town of Crete (although some will argue that Rethymnon deserves that award - it is a close call) and definitely a place that you must visit if you come to the West of Crete.

Chania has been inhabited since neolithic times and the current town is built upon many layers of past civilizations. The Venetians who occupied Crete from the 13th to the 17th century probably left the most visible marks in the old town but you will also note many signs of the more recent Turkish occupation. There are also a number of important Minoan excavations.

The modern city extends well beyond the old town but much of what visitors will want to see is located within the Venetian fortification wall in the old town: the Venetian harbour and its many cafés and restaurants, museums, churches, Minoan excavations, narrow alleys with picturesque houses, the famous lighthouse, the covered market and many shops, some of which offer very interesting products.

 

Chania is very easy to reach from everywhere on the island. It has its own airport 16km out of town and its own port (at Souda) connecting it to the Greek mainland by daily ferryboats. It is also well connected by public buses and roads. The only thing that might be a problem if you drive your own car is finding a place to park it once you are in town. But there are car parks (some are free, some are not) and importantly if you want to visit the old town two of the areas where you can park your car are right by the Venetian walls (two car parks near the eastern wall and several parking areas on the road leading along the western wall). Avoid parking illegally, it can cost you a lot of money.

Chania probably has the widest choice of hotels of any city in Crete. They range from simple, cheap rooms to luxury boutique hotels. You can start your search for accommodation in Chania here

As Chania is the capital city of western Crete it will be "open" all year around but many hotels and tourist shops will be closed in the winter season (between November and the end of March). But if you want to experience Chania in winter and walk in peace in the labyrinth of the old town you will still find plenty of hotels and restaurants open to cater to your needs.

In the summer it can get very busy, especially right on the sea front in the evening but the atmosphere remains very pleasant.

If you want to get to know the town better there are two really useful booklets about Chania: the excellent Fenny's Hania by the late Tony Fennymore and a new booklet called Discover Chania on foot which is very nicely designed and might be easier to find in Chania's bookshops than Tony's booklet.

 

 

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Crete photo of the day
Crete Photo of the Day