The Crossroad of Minoan and Venetian Civilization
George Papadellis | SG Head
Sophia Parastatidou | SG Team | MA Candidate - ACG Apprentice
Chania (also called Hania) is the capital city of the regional unit of Chania Crete. The city is extraordinary as it combines unaltered medieval aesthetics from the Venetian Rule times and modern activities and places to visit. The city is in the old area of Minoan Kidonia and it is the largest city of Crete after Heraklion. A walk in the Chania Old Town can be a time-traveling experience in the Venetian era, just by looking at the historical monuments, mansions, and churches of those times, with some influences from the Ottoman occupation era. Except for the beautiful architecture, Chania beaches, nature, historical spots, and entertainment, Chania is also known for its unique options in tasting Chania Crete cuisine and is the perfect place for food lovers!
To begin with Chania weather and climate, it is crucial to know the conditions and the best time to visit to have a top experience. Chania has a Mediterranean climate, consisting of hot and dry summer days. The best time to visit this fantastic city is from mid-May to June (average temperature 20°C) or from September to October, as it has warmer waters and enhanced nature landscapes. The hottest month is July, with an average temperature of 30°C.
The city of Chania is fantastic to visit. It is a holistic experience of sightseeing, gastronomic tasting, and authentic life. The area is well known for having some of the best beaches in Europe, some incredible gorges, the White Mountains, and spots that are breathtaking in general. Also, Chania has one of the oldest lighthouses globally, built between 1595 to 1601. The Venetians created the Chania lighthouse base but it is also known as the ‘Egyptian’ Chania lighthouse; when it was built, Chania Crete was occupied by Egyptians who supported the Ottoman Empire. During the Ottoman occupation, between 1824 and 1832, there have been some changes in the architecture of the Chania lighthouse. The bombings of World War II and some earthquakes did massive damage to the original structure, but in 2005 the renovation made the Chania lighthouse as close as the original and as good as new.
In the city there are more things to do and places to visit, and it is essential to understand its structure. Walls separate the old from the new town, and as a result, the city consists of five different areas surrounding the Venetian port. The first is the Splantzia (or Plaza), with the Aghii Anargiri Church and the Sintrivani Square. The second is the Neoria (or Chiones), in the city’s northeast area. The third is the Kasteli (or Castello Vecchio) in the Chania Old Town, famous for the Byzantine citadel and its unique architecture. The fourth is the southeast spot, Ovraika. The fifth is district Chalides, where the Folklore Museum of Chania and the Archaeological Museum of Chania are located. Also, it has an Ottoman bath (chamam), several shops with traditional items and souvenirs, and the church, Aghios Fragkiskos. The northern side is more luxurious, with organized beaches, while the southern is more conventional, with unorganized beaches. This place is perfect for experiencing authentic Greek life, historical trips, and natural sightseeing. The Chania beaches one should visit are Balos, Elafonissi, and Falassarna, but there are many more worth searching too. For medieval lovers, there are also castles, old paths among the forest, and relevant local museums to get an essence of the ancient times of this place.
To be more specific about beaches in Chania, there are some credible suggestions. First comes Balos beach which offers an exotic landscape with pink sand, perfect for photography lovers. Second, Elafonisi Beach is very strange, with organized and unorganized options, shallow turquoise waters, and white, clean sand. Third, the Marathi beach (or Old Souda), 17 km from Chania center, has two organized beaches, with Greek taverns separated from a small port. Next is Sougia beach, the favorite spot of alternative, nature lovers and hippies because of the wild nature and the small village. Undoubtedly, Falassarna beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches of Chania Crete. It contains five parts, with the most famous called Pahia Ammos, in which there are several beach activities, water sports, and canteens provided. Some last options that should also be mentioned are Chrissi Akti (or Golden Bay), Stavros Beach, Seitan Limania beach and Platanias beach.
Another critical thing to mention about Chania is the cuisine and the best places to experience Chania Crete’s gastronomy. There are some foods to try before leaving Chania, such as local Cretan cheeses (graviera, pichtogalo Chanion and mizithra), Dakos (also called koukouvagia which means owl), Chochlii boubouristi (fried snails), Kaltsounia (Cretan cheese pies), Lamb with Stamnagathi, Gamopilafo, Askordoulaki (mountain bulbs), Hirino Apaki (smoked pork), Sfakiani Pita (Sfakia pie), and of course Raki (the Cretan brandy). These options could be found almost in every tavern, but some specific places taste pay more attention to quality. Some recommended Chania restaurants are: To Antikristo, Oinoa Wine Chania Restaurant, Colombo Kitchen & Bar, Theodosi Chania Restaurant, Salavantes – Garden Chania Restaurant & Bar, Talos Chania Restaurant, The Five Chania Restaurant, Pulse Vegan-Vegetarian, To Mikio Taverna, and Ta Meraklikia tou Boureksi. For sure, there are more places to discover with international or alternative options. Still, the suggestions above are a good starting point to Chania Crete cuisine's complete and authentic gastronomic experience.
Visit | Taste | Learn
When it comes to summer vacay, the nightlife is on the top of the list, especially in Chania! The best part of the city to enjoy bars, clubs, and parties in the northeast coast, Hersonissos. For chill drinks and good music, there are several bars to visit, like Peacock Tail Bar, Sinagogi Bar, Avalon Rock Pub, Adava Bar, Chania Irish Pub Conor Pass, Bazaki, Kibar: The Monastery of Karolos, Miden Agan, Bororo, and more. For options that combine coffee and nightlife are Ride Cycle Culture Café, Aeriko Café-Bar, CoME Café Bar, and more. Last, for clubbing and parties, one should definitely visit Villa Club and Mylos, which are the best options for both locals and tourists, with great music, vibes, and drinks!
Except for things to do, the food and the beautiful Chania beaches, for a better experience it is essential to find the right place to stay. In general, the best locations to stay in Chania are Splantzia (for a first-time visit), Nea Hora (for on a budget visit), Halepa (for families) and Kastelli (for nightlife lovers). When searching for some friendly Chania hotels and rooms to rent, several options are located in the areas mentioned above, suitable for all incomes and preferences. Such options are Royal Sun, Porto Antico, Plaza 1866 Superior City Rooms, Sevach Apartments, Irene Chania Hotel, Yakinthos Chania Hotel, Polyxeny’s Suites, Porto Kalamaki Chania Hotel, and Ellinis Chania Hotel, with approximate price per night from 30 to 50 euro. For more luxury and expensive options, there is Kydon The Heart City Chania Hotel, Corinna Mare Suites & Studios, Kriti Chania Hotel, Porto Veneziano Chania Hotel, Elia Bettolo, Elia Fatma Hanoum Boutique Chania Hotel, Alcaena Boutique Chania Hotel, and Irida Chania Hotel, with approximate price per night from 60 to 90 euro.
There are several ways to get to this blue paradise, and one must find the most suitable one. The first way is via sea, from Athens port in Piraeus to the port of Chania, which provides morning and night routes. There aren't any ferries for trips to other islands from Chania, but one can go from Kissamos port to Kithyra, Antikithyra, and Gythio, or from Paleochora port to Gavdos. Another way to go to Chania is by airplane, from Athens or Thessaloniki airport to Chania Airport “Ioannis Daskalogiannis”. This is the fastest way, as it lasts only 45 minutes, but the Chania airport is 14 km away from the center, and it is necessary to take a cab to go there. Moreover, Chania airport is considered one of the six busiest airports in Greece, and it handles about 2 million passengers per year.
Closing, the magical city of Chania is a must-go destination for someone that loves wild nature, the sea, extraordinary landscapes, Greek food, and new, extreme experiences. Many more things to do when visiting Chania are sea sports, discover hidden streets and find beautiful natural places. The best things to do are to smell the fresh air, drink the local raki, and enjoy local festivals, music, and products. Chania Crete is a whole experience that combines all human senses.
The Corinna Mare Hotel is a complex of 50 rooms (suites and studios) that lies on the head of a small peninsula, built, literally, on edge of the sea. In the background, the island of Thodorou is the perfect scenery for a magic sunset. Serene colours, abstract lines, comfortable and functional spaces, low romantic lighting, will carry you away. Corinna Mare Hotel is accommodating in every sense, making your stay one of total and uttermost relaxation.
Elia Fatma Boutique
Elia Fatma Hotel is an old mansion that harmoniously combines the Venetian and Ottoman architecture, located in a narrow alley in the heart of the Old Harbour of Chania. The hotel has been renovated with care and attention to detail and has been lovingly restored to its former glory. The modern design and facilities are combined with the romance of the era and the spirit of the picturesque old town of Chania. The architectural mix of wood and stone of the old building, the twinkling lights, the warm colours and the modern furnishings create an effect of romantic elegance, warmth and an intimate atmosphere that both relaxes and refreshes.
Porto Antico provides 11 rooms in total, 6 of which enjoy majestic sea-front views of the Venetian harbor, the lighthouse, “Firka” Fortress and “Giali Tzamisi” (Mosque of the Seaside). It also offers 3 apartments of 2 bedrooms each, located a few metres away from the hotel main building. All rooms and apartments feature: new mattresses, individually controlled cooling/heating, LCD satellite TV, high speed free Wi-Fi Internet, mini fridge, safety deposit box, WC, shower, hairdryer, toiletries and either a balcony or windows, offering unique views of the picturesque Venetian harbour and its romantic surrounding backstreets. All the apartments also feature fully equipped kitchen.
Porto Veneziano is a 51 rooms and 6 suites hotel with views of the Venetian Port, the Cretan Sea, the Old Town, the White Mountains, and its blossomy patio, where, during summer, exceptional artists are performing to offer its clients outstanding musical experiences. The hotel has been awarded with the “Green Key”, being respectful and sensible towards the environment with a complete geothermal heating and cooling system. Smoking is not allowed in the closed spaces. The hotel has been also awarded with the “Bike Friendly” certificate, promoting cycling tourism for visitors who are environmentally aware and wish to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
The Chop Street Food
Unique street food in Chania City, very kind personnel and very quick service. They served chopped pork and ham, within tasty pies. Very different tastes. Very clean and always full. Go early in the afternoon to find a table.
Excellent seafood, quick and polite service. The restaurant is just next to the unique beach of Marathi. We had a marvellous experience, tasting exactly what you expect next to a beautiful beach (fish, salad, tzatziki and more). Our kids liked the food a lot. The meal ended with an excellent frozen raki.
Excellent restaurant on the road to Elafonisi Beach, outside Voulgaro village. The food is marvellous with meat, potatoes, salads and many more. The environment is peaceful although by the road. The owners are great people, kind, polite and warm. They give an excellent raki with cinammon at the end as a present. At the other side of the road there are goats that you can feed and let the children play with.