Chania is on the northwest coast of Crete and it’s the island’s second biggest city. There’s a modern part to it, but the Venetian old town really shows off its history – especially around the harbour with its old lighthouse and fort, not to mention an ancient mosque. And the waterfront and the streets leading off it come alive at night with bars, clubs and restaurants. Oh, and there’s a nice stretch of beach here, too.
A beach duo
A 5-minute walk west of the harbour takes you to Chania’s beach. You’ve got a good stretch of sand here with sunbeds and umbrellas, as well as cafés and tavernas along the front. As for the water, it’s calm and shallow. Being the nearest beach, it can get quite busy but there’s a second, quieter stretch of sand and shingle at Kladisos Beach, just across the bridge by the harbour.
The old town
The old town really illustrates Chania’s history. Its Venetian past can be seen in the lighthouse out at sea as well as the waterfront Firkas Fortress, which is now a maritime museum. Also by the sea is a Turkish mosque – no longer in use as a religious building, it often hosts art exhibitions. These are the main landmarks, but the whole of the old town is filled with lovely old Venetian buildings.
Getting out and about
The Akrotiri peninsula begins about 25 minutes’ drive away and is great for discovering tucked-away monasteries. There’s the 16th-century Moni Gouverneto, with its Venetian-style interior and nearby Bear Cave – the massive stalagmite inside gives a clue to its name. You also have the abandoned monastery of Katholiko set across a small gorge close to the sea. Or if you’re loving the Venetian-style architecture of Chania, there’s more at Rethymnon, about an hour away.