Chania is the westernmost region of Crete and arguably one of the most interesting places to visit on the island.
The landscape of Chania is dominated by the majestic peaks of the White Mountains, covered in snow during the winter. On the other hand, the extensive coast of Chania harbors some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The region is home to unique mountain villages, guardians of legends and stories deeply related to the battles for freedom that took place on Crete for centuries.
From a geographic viewpoint, the region hosts one of the largest gorges in Europe as well as the continent’s southernmost island, Gavdos.
The chief town of the region is the gorgeous city of Chania with a nostalgic Venetian atmosphere, a logical consequence of more than 400 years of Venetian occupation.
Map of Chania
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When to Visit Chania
Summers all over the island tend to be dry and extremely hot, and still, the peak season is July and August. These are the best months for a super entertaining holiday, ideal to meet people, discover the vibrant nightlife of the city, and to enjoy Chania’s pristine beaches if you don’t mind the crowds.
If you are interested in a more relaxing holiday, full of outdoor adventures and exploring days, Spring remains an ideal moment of the year to travel to Chania. The weather is mild with just a few occasional showers, while the mountain landscape is at its best. The months of May and June are great to enjoy trekking, hiking, or simply pleasant walks surrounded by blossomed trees and the fragrance of local herbs.
Fall is a wonderful period to discover Chania too. The weather remains incredibly warm and the most obvious advantage is not that the crowds have already left, but also prices tend to be more convenient. The roads and the beaches are emptier while the sea is still very warm after the summer sun has raised its temperature.
Finally, Chania’s short Winters offer a great occasion to explore the most authentic side of the region. The weather is colder and sometimes rainy, but this doesn’t stop locals from attending the endless village festivals, going skiing in the mountains, and celebrate Christmas or Epiphany with traditional rituals, delicious food, family, and friends.
How to Get to Chania
The local international airport (CHQ) is located on the Akrotiri Peninsula, about 15 km from the center of town. There are daily international flights as well as charter flights from most European cities during June, July and August.
Frequencies are reduced during the shoulder season (from April-May and September-October) while it’s necessary to land in Athens first to connect with a national flight during winter (Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air).
Both Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air have daily connections to Chania from the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki, in mainland Greece.
Flights from the U.S., Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East better reach Chania via the capital of Greece, Athens.
Once at the airport, it’s possible to get to the center of town with a public bus, hiring a taxi, or renting a car in one of the several rental offices located in the Arrivals lounge or just outside the airport.
Chania’s main port is located in the natural bay of Souda, a bit less than 7 km from the center of town. There are night ferries departing from the main port of Greece, Piraeus, all year round.
These ferries depart at night and arrive in Chania very early in the morning. During the high season, there are also daytime services.
The companies reaching the port of Chania are ANEK Lines and Minoan Lines.
Once at the port, you can reach the center of town with the local bus or with a taxi.
Chania’s Bus Station is quite close to the center of the city, a couple of blocks away from 1866 Square, just meters away from the pedestrian Halidon Street, the main road in the Old Town.
Buses arrive daily from the capital of Crete, Heraklion, as well as from the city of Rethymnon. To travel from Agios Nikolaos to Chania, it’s necessary to change bus in the station of Heraklion, sometimes it might even be necessary to change buses in Rethymnon.
From the station it’s also possible to reach different destinations within the region, including beach resorts and villages. For a detailed timetable of buses arriving to and departing from the Bus Station of Chania, as well as the bus service for the port and the airport check the KTEL website.
How to Move Around in CHania
The most comfortable way to visit the island remains car rental. It offers greater freedom of movement and also allows to visit several places otherwise impossible to reach by bus. There are several off-the-beaten-track destinations in the region that are impossible to visit without your own vehicle. Of course, it’s always possible to hire a taxi or private transfer, but prices are more reasonable when you drive your own rental car. Several car rental offices also offer motorcycles and bicycles for rent.
Remember that most of the Old Town is pedestrian and therefore not accessible by car during any time of the day. There are two free parking lots on the opposite extremes of the old town, one of them close to the Firkas Fortress (west of the old town), and the other one close to Porta Sabbionara (east of the old town). There are private parking lots around the old town as well. When parking on the nearby streets, always check for a parking meter.
Taxis are a convenient way to travel when you cover short distances. There’s usually an extra fair for night trips and for a piece of baggage. Always check the price with the driver before getting in a taxi and always ask for the meter to be running.
Local buses are blue and usually depart from 1866 Square or right on the Agora Square. They are comfortable and convenient to reach different neighborhoods around the old town (Chalepa, Akrotiri, Nea Chora, etc.), nearby beaches (Agia Marina, Platanias, Stavros). Tickets can be purchased from the automatic vending machines located in the main stations, or directly on the bus paying a small extra amount.
Luggage storage is available at the Bust Station. The service is €2 for 8 hours, or €3 for 24 hours.
What to See and Do in Chania Town
BEST THINGS TO DO IN CHANIA
Discover the 10 best things you can do in Chania’s Old Town. The old Venetian port, the lighthouse, the mansions. Check Chania’s different neighborhoods, the churches, the mosques, and the last remaining synagogue in Crete.
Chania itinerary for 1-3 days
In this article, there are different itinerary ideas for a short stay in town. Check the top things to do in the city and different ideas for day-trips in the region, including the beaches of Chania and excursions in the mountains.
The Turkish Quarter
Splantzia, also known as the Turkish neighborhood is one of the best-preserved areas of the old town. Check the romantic alleys, the churches and unique minarets, and the fantastic bohemian atmosphere in this colorful corner of Chania.
One of the most magic, as well as mysterious places in Chania, is the old abandoned quarter of Tabakarià. The seaside district where the local tanneries used to be. Today, this fascinating area is a remarkable place for photography, especially at sunset.
The Municipal Market
Beating heart of the old town, Chania’s Municipal Market is the best place where to start exploring the city. The Agora treasures Crete’s culinary tradition, from stands selling fresh local products to tasty dishes served in its restaurants
Etz Hayyim Synagogue
One of Chania’s lesser-known landmarks is Etz Hayyim, the last remaining synagogue on the island. Discover the past of the once striving Jewish community of Crete, as well as the secrets of the Jewish quarter, Zudecca.
WHERE TO STAY in Chania
Chania Accommodation Guide
In this guide you can find where to stay in the city and in nearby neighborhoods as well. The guide has different budget categories and outlines the best characteristics of each place to stay in Chania.
Beautiful boutique hotels
This article tells you the story behind the elegant boutique hotels in Chania Old Town. Unique Venetian palazzi and Turkish mansions full of legends and mystery, which have been turned into unique places to stay and enjoy.
WHERE TO EAT in Chania
Grab a bite on the go
If you’re sightseeing, in a hurry, or just lazily lounging at the hotel, not in the mood for a big meal, this list of casual places where to eat Chania’s best street food is all you need. Some of these places will even deliver your meal to your hotel!
I’ve come up with this complete guide of the best places to eat in town. Whether it’s a fine dining place, a taverna by the sea, or a traditional restaurant, this guide will help you book the best table in town.
Best BEACHES OF CHANIA
Considered one of Crete’s most gorgeous shores, the pink sand beach of Elafonisi is located on the southern coast of Chania, about 70 km from the center of town. Check this complete guide to visiting the area.
Balos Beach & Lagoon
Pristine sea, white sand, and breathtaking beauty are the key elements of this unique beach in the region. Balos Beach is one of the most popular spots on the island, use this guide to prepare your trip there.
The westernmost coast of Chania hosts the fantastic wide bay of Falassarna. The beach is in a very quiet area with a magnificent mountainous backdrop and boasts the best point on the island to watch the sunset.
Beaches of Akrotiri
Cape Akrotiri is just a few minutes away from the center of the city and is home to some spectacular beaches, a few of them quite unknown to mass tourism. Use this guide to discover the amazing coves of Akrotiri.
Best Beaches in Chania
This unique, comprehensive guide includes insider details and clear information to discover the beaches of West Crete. You will also find the GPS coordinates and essential tips to spend a day in any of Chania’s best shores.
More Things to see and do in Chania region
Discover Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Enjoy a visit to a traditional mill where the excellent Extra Virgin Olive Oil made on the island is still produced using an ancient stone mill. Discover the key characteristics of Crete’s top quality olive oil.
Botanical Park & Gardens
Explore the local flora spending a day away from the city center. The Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete also features a variety of gardens with plants from all over the world. In their restaurant, all dishes are prepared with fresh vegetables from the gardens.
This guide to Chania is updated regularly with new content.
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About the Author
Hola! I’m Gabi. I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round.
I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.
I’m a beach freak and on this island, I’ve found heaven on earth!
The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog