It doesn’t take long to fall in love with Chania- one of the most beautiful cities in Greece. With a long and amazing history, a spectacular old town surrounding the Venetian harbour and not to mention some of the most breathtaking beaches Europe has to offer- it’s no wonder so many people rate it as one of their favourite holiday spots in Greece.
Chania is the second-largest city in Crete, which is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth-largest in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you can explore glorious beaches, impressive mountains, fertile valleys and steep gorges- not to mention the island’s rich gastronomical culture.
Wandering around the Old Town’s maze-like alleys, beautiful Venetian buildings, fountains and elaborate churches will help you discover well-preserved historical monuments. You can easily become familiar with the city of Chania by wandering around aimlessly in its streets, visiting museums and admiring the different architectural styles that are on display throughout the entire town.
Chania is definitely a paradise for food and wine lovers- here you can taste famous Cretan cuisine with a glass of fine local wine. For all you wine connoisseurs, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the many wineries, where you will get to know the special varieties available from this part of town.
The Cretan gastronomy includes lots of mouthwatering dishes and when we speak of Chania, let’s not forget the outstanding Cretan hospitality, music and dance, which the locals are known for and so passionate about.
Although all this beauty means the Old Town is packed with tourists during the warmer months, it’s still a great place to relax and unwind. It really is perfect for people of all ages and whether you are travelling solo, with a group of friends, on a romantic getaway, or on a family holiday with young children- there is something in Chania for everyone.
Ria Tsagraki, a proud and passionate Cretan who spends time between Athens and her family home in Chania, has shared with GCT some secret spots and a list of ‘must-see’s and do’s’ when visiting her stunning hometown.
We have no doubt this will make your stay in Chania an even more memorable one and a destination, which will remain in your heart forever.
- Seitan Limani is the local’s secret beach, boasting magical views and pristine water. It’s a bit of a hike to get there and you need to walk down quite a few steps to go for a swim, so may be best for people without children. Please note it’s a remote location with no shops around, so don’t forget to take water, snacks and other essentials with you.
- For a morning swim and for a great frappe, go to Loutraki beach, with lots of sunbeds, you can sit back and relax all day.
- For those who love their beach parties go to Agia Marina where the music is blaring and the crowd is there to have fun. And when the sun goes down, you can kick on at Villa Mercedes, the most popular night club in Chania, which is also located here.
- Marathi is an amazing beach for people with young children as you have all the family-friendly facilities you need. From easy parking to shops, taverns and bathrooms all close by and for families- don’t forget to add to your list Falasarna and Stavros Beach (where Zorba the Greek was filmed).
- Balos Lagoon, Elafonisi and Gramvousa Islet are by far Chania’s most photographed and picturesque beaches and you shouldn’t leave Chania until you have at least been to one.
- Bougatsa tou Iordani in Chania Town, make famous bougatsa (pastry with filling) using fresh Cretan Mizithra. This famous type of bougatsa can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
- Sea urchin (achinous) may be rare to come across in your average restaurant but in Chania you will surely find them in nearly every Fish Tavern (psarotaverna) you go to.
- Gamopilafo is traditional wedding rice dish, that has now been included in most Cretan tavern menus and is like a deluxe risotto prepared in a rich meat broth.
- Fried snails (saligaria tiganita) are very much loved by the locals and are served as mezedakia.
- Stamnagathis are a type of greens, which are boiled and served with olive oil and lemon juice, it is a specific kind of Xorta (greens) that are grown locally.
- Cretan Dakos is a rye dusk topped with juicy grated tomatoes and crumbled feta, it is eaten here anytime of the day and is very popular.
- Kaltsounia are Cretan cheese pies with handmade pastry dough and can be found in each and every every Creatan bakery you come across.
- Arni me Stamnagathi is lamb with a wild green, where the meat is sautéed in hot olive oil and oregano, then served with either avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce) or a squeeze of lemon juice- it is served in most Creatan restaurants.
- If you love cheese, you should definitely try Graviera, which is a hard type, Pichtogalo Chanion, which has AOC protection and Myzithra, a young Cretan whey cheese.
- Raki or Tsikoudia is a Cretan Brandy made locally. Distilled from grapes and served in every Cretan taverna and kafeneio, this traditional beverage is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
- Nea Chora is a wonderful waterfront location filled with traditional fish taverns, which are popular with the locals. These include Akrogiali, Volakas and Achilleas.
- Taverna Mpourakis is situated in Kounoupidiana and its specialty is Xoirino Kotsi (pork hog), which is baked for hours and all their traditional Cretan appetizers are also delicious.
- Patrelantonis Fish Tavern and cafe Metaksi Mas are located at Marathi Beach and have amazing mezedes and souvlaki, so if you are after a casual lunch or dinner this is the place to go.
- Ta Chalkina is a sensational restaurant at the Port, which offers the complete Cretan experience- from stunning views, to live music and traditional cuisine- you really can’t go wrong here.
- Tamam inset in the Old Town, where the décor is rustic, the vibe is cool and wine is plentiful. The menu consists of a wide variety of traditional dishes.
- In Kaliviani village, which is on your way to or from Gramvousa Islet you will find Gramvousa Taverna. Here you can eat after a long swim and make sure to try the Dakos salad, stuffed zucchini flowers, local prawns, grilled octopus or handmade chips, which are all simple but absolutely mouthwatering.