Chanià, Crete

I know Greece as that ‘postcard perfect’ destination where all travellers dream to go to at least once in their life. 

But there’s quite a lot more to it. Greece is actually at the intersection of Europe, Asia and Africa. While it is popular for its stunning beaches and shorelines, it is important to note that Greece is 80% mountainous and semi – mountainous, so there’s much more to see in this country than just beaches and clear blue water. I was in the charming city of Chanià for a weekend in May 2018 , which boasts a unique charm to its visitors.  It is beautiful – that is to say much of the Chanià you will want to see is clustered close to the harbour – old buildings, museums, churches and crafts shops (some with genuinely interesting and sometimes local, products on offer).  Chanià is also surrounded by numerous rich options for sightseeing, exploration and discovery . The atmosphere has a touch of Florence and Venice (a few years ago when those cities still had some room to walk), combined with the culture and character of Cretan people and traditions . Chanià is  known to be the multicultural place in Crete as the Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Venetians, Ottomans and a whole lot more came here and left their own piece of culture behind. 

Chanià, can be reached by air as it has an international airport. The airport is situated northeast of the city,there’s one small and simple terminal. The distance from Chania Airport to the centre of Chanià is 15 kilometres

There are two transfer options to get from Chanià airport to its city centre: taxi or bus. The bus –Chania Airport transportation-is the cheapest but slowest transfer option. It costs only 2.50€ for a one way ticket, but it takes 90 minutes, including waiting time. Taking a Crete airport taxi will only take 25 minutes, but costs a flat rate fee of 30€. It’s easy to fall in love with Chanià. This Cretan harbour town has a lot going for it: small local shops, waterside restaurants and lots of little alleys to get lost in. The best part is the historical old town as most of the sights are located there.

Not convinced? Here are a few things to do in Chanià:

  • Visit the Maritime Museum of Crete: the Nautical Museum of Crete exhibits just about anything related to life at sea from the bronze age until the present. The collection includes ship models, nautical instruments and photographs, among other things. It’s housed in the Firkas Fortress, on the opposite end of the harbour from the Venetian Lighthouse;
  • Go shopping at the market hall:  if you’d like to try out some more typical Cretan food, head to the Market Hall. Here you’ll find olives, meat and typical Cretan pastries like ‘kalitsounia’, a salty or sweet cheese pie;
  • Visit Tabakaria a district with old leather processing houses found on the rocky eastern side of the city of Chania; 
  • Visit the Greek Orthodox Cathedral: the Greek Orthodox Cathedral at Plateia Mitropoleos was built on the same spot where a Venetian church used to be. When the Ottoman Turks invaded Chanià,, they’d turned that churched into a soap factory. Nothing was saved, except for one statue of the Virgin Mary. It may have been karma or not, but the factory went out of business. When it did, the owner decided to give the building back to the city of Chanià, and a new church was built, holding the Mary statue from the original church. The Cathedral is also known as the Panagia Trimartiri because it has three aisles, one dedicated to the Virgin Mary, one to Saint Nicholas and one to the Three Cappadocian Fathers; 
  • Walk along the Venetian Harbour: the Venetian Harbour was built by the Venetians between 1320 and 1356. It doesn’t serve as a port for the large ships anymore now, you will find only fishing boats, yachts and sailing boats. There are many restaurants and cafes around the harbour where you can sit and enjoy the breathtaking sunset; 
  • For beautiful photos: it’s best to walk to the other end of the harbour, from where you have a great view of the Venetian Lighthouse;
  • What to buy: for local food products like cheese, honey, olives and olive oil (Crete is famous for its olive oil) you can pay a visit to the market hall. From the numerous shops around the alleys, you can buy traditional local products like pottery, Raki (traditional alcoholic drink), leather goods and knives (many shops can engrave whatever you want in your traditional Cretan knife) and any kind. of souvenir.
  • Where to eat in Chanià
    • Arismari Cretan Creative: best greek breakast I have ever had in front of a deep blu sea with cofee, orange juice, fresh bread and local honey and marmelade! You will find it at Akti Kountourioti 55
    • Tamam :  nice restaurant squeezed in an alley behind the Venetian port serving traditional food from Micra Asia and Crete. You will find it at Zampeliou 49
    • Enetikon Restaurant: beautiful atmosphere and above all excellent grilled octopus with Whan ite Greek Wine, at  57 Zampeliou Str
  • Where to sleep: there are different kind of accomodation in Chanià, the easisest way to find the best one that fits your need is to book on booking.com. There are lots of nice hotels in the Old Town, that is the best area where to stay because you have all around

Greece has a way of capturing my heart! 

Enjoy it ! 

Stefania

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