The town of Chania is the second largest town of Crete and the capital of Chania. This beautiful historical settlement is located 60 km away from Rethymnon and 145 km from Heraklion Town.
Chania is one of the oldest towns in Crete, with lots of history behind it. Famous for its preservable settlement with the remarkable monuments and houses from the Venetian times, this authentic town is considered quite lively and definitely picturesque for its mystical character and traditional beauty. Chania consists of two settlements, the old and the new town which still exist to this day.
It combines tradition with tourism and suits for all types of holiday. The friendly atmosphere and warm hospitality of Chania guarantee a unique holiday experience. The Venetian port lies in the heart of the old town town, surrounded by picturesque alleys and streets creating an idyllic area and unique atmosphere.
The old town consists of well preserved and restored mansions that have been converted to tavernas, local shops and restaurants. The old town has many quarters and squares to walk surrounded by ancient buildings and mosques which are worth admiring. The aristocratic neighborhood is full of beautiful Venetian buildings worthseeing.
Chania offers many types of accommodations, numerous international restaurants and Greek traditional tavernas, excellent pastry shops, traditional cafes, lively bars, clubs and pubs, all mostly located in the harbour area, cinemas, theatres and places for concerts and exhibitions, and plenty of cultural activities that take place in the beautiful town.
The historical village of Sfakia is built on the hills, overlooking the bay. It is situated around the White Mountains range and the Samaria Gorge. Sfakia lies 72 km south east of Chania town. Most of the inhabitants here are involved in fishing and goat raining producing delightful cheeses such as anthotiri or mizithra. The main town of Sfakia constitutes an excellent place to start your exploration of the southern coast of Crete. The village is very traditional and authentic and its calm atmosphere is only interrupted during the afternoon by the arrivals of hikers coming from the Samaria Gorge with small boats.
The village is known for its local cuisine and a few excellent restaurants can be found on the seafront and inside Chora. The picturesque port of Sfakia is surrounded by many cafes and fish tavernas and nearby is the main beach of Sfakia which is an excellent choice for swimming. This part of Crete is linked regularly with the town of Chania.
Frangokastello is an important historical monument in the region of Chania, Crete. This castle was built between the period 1371-1374 BC. The construction work started by the Venetians, who had conquered Crete that time. In fact, this castle was set up to maintain a military base for the Venetian army. Apart from protecting the area and the properties of the noblemen from pirates and enemy attacks, this castle would also be used as a base for attacks in the inland of Crete, who was still resisting to the Venetian conquerors. At first, the castle was named Castle of Saint Nikitas to honor a close church, but later it was named Frangokastello by the locals, which means the Castle of the Franks (Venetians).
The Venetians constructed Frangokastello in a rectangular shape. They built strong and massive towers at each of the four corners. On the huge gate, they built a coat of arms symbolizing the Venetian bravery. However, all the buildings and fortifications that we see today inside the castle walls were completed by the Turks during the Ottoman rule (17th-19th centuries). Another legend connected to Frangokastello is the story of Drossoulites. In 1828, the Cretans had revolved against the Turks and 600 men from Epirus under Hatzi Michalis Dalianis had come to help the Cretan Revolution. In May 1828, they locked themselves in Frangokastello, rejecting the advice of the Cretans that this was not a safe location. Outside the walls, there were 8,000 Turkish soldiers fighting them.
Balos is among the best beaches in Greece and one of the most beautiful beaches in Crete and lies 60 km north west of Chania Town. It is seen as a lagoon from the hills above the beach. Balos has white sand and crystal waters. Opposite the beach, there is a rocky island called Gramvoussa and on top of this island, there is a steep Venetian castle with gorgeous view to the region and the sea. Balos is reached trough a track raod from Kaliviani, a village close to Kissamos. This track road is about 10 km and can be crossed by a 4-wheel car. Otherwise, visitors can go by excursion boat from Kissamos.
The Samaria Gorge lies on the south side of Chania and is a great place for hikers. Visitors from all over the world attempt trekking at this gorge. In 1962, Samaria Gorge was declared a National Park for the survival of the endangered species kri kri, the rare Cretan wild goat that lives only in Samaria. Apart from the kri-kri, many other endemic and rare species of flora and fauna live in this gorge. A small village used to be there, Samaria village, but it was abandoned by all its inhabitants in 1962, to make the gorge a national park. The village and the gorge were named after the church of Santa Maria that is found inside the gorge.
The length of this gorge is 16 km and it is said to be the longest gorge in Europe. It has been created by a river that runs between the enormous White Mountains and Mount Volakias.
The gorge begins below the northern side of Omalos Plateau and ends in the shores of the Lybian Sea, at the village of Agia Roumeli. The actual distance of this long trek in the park itself is 13 km, but from the exit point of the park one has to walk another 3 km to reach the village of Agia Roumeli, from where one can get transportation services, thus making it a total of 16 km long trek. At the highest points these looming mountain walls reach to a height of 500 m above sea level. The time taken to complete the trek differs from 4 to 7 hrs, depending on the capacity of every trekker.
Trekking begins from Xyloskalo, the steep stone pathway bordered with wooden rails. This is the access point of the gorge. For the first 6 km, the gorge is wide and spacious up to the deserted village of Samaria. After that, you will notice that the gorge tends to narrow down and when you reach 11 km mark, the gorge at this point is only 3.5 m apart. This part is known as the Iron Gates. The gorge ends at 13 km mark. But trekking does not stop here. You have to walk another 3 km to the seaside resort of Agia Roumeli, where there are plenty of local ferries to take you to the village to Hora Sfakion. From this village, you can take the bus to go back to Chania.