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City Guide

They say Chania is the most beautiful town on the island of Crete. It is a mix of old and new, distinctive architectural styles ranging from Venetian and Ottoman to traditional and more modern Cretan. Many residential homes were repurposed as tavernas and cafes or for quirky souvenirs and fashion shops. The local farmers’ and fishing markets are attractions in their own right, featuring the freshest of the indigenous produce, homemade goods, and even artisan crafts.

Spend an afternoon in the Venetian harbor of Chania and take in the views. You’ll see the landmark lighthouse of the city safeguarding the passage of tourist tour boats in and out. Dine at a fishing taverna or sip Greek coffee at a café and watch the constant flux of tourists passing you by in a rush to buy sponges and other souvenirs. Walk the promenade or take a horse-drawn carriage ride if you are more romantically inclined. Go bar hopping, shopping, or seek peace and tranquility in a church or monastery in the area. There are enough activities to satisfy all ages. Snap as many pictures as you please; they’ll all turn out like pretty postcards of Crete.

You don’t have to leave the city to have a sun-filled day at the beach. Here are the most convenient spots.
Chania’s architecture is a testament to history, endurance, and spirit. Discover the island’s gem of a city.
For a sense of sacred, art, scenery, nature, and serenity: the monasteries of Crete are true edens.
Simple, honest food rooted in tradition. Welcome to the world’s best-known diet.
You can always party until dawn in one of these venues - and expect atmosphere, trendy beats, and friendly people every time.
That next best souvenir is just around the corner. Have fun browsing.
Chania is a child-friendly destination and the blissful Cretan nature will keep them busy for hours. Here are the top attractions.
The whole island beckons with fantastic itineraries. Where do you go next? Our top picks are here:
There’s no dull moment on Crete but if you need inspiration, we’ve got you covered.
Nea Chora Beach - Hydramis Palace

Nea Chora Beach

From the harbor, walk about one kilometer west to find the beaches of Nea Chora. There are excellent amenities here to make your stay pleasant and stress-free. You get to rent a sun lounger and umbrella, grab a cold drink, and relax on a clean, well-groomed stretch of sand. The beach is rocky in places, so wear appropriate beach shoes. The water is clean, safe for swimming. Families with young children are the common visitors of Nea Chora.

If you are lucky to be there during the Sardine Festival, you get to sample free fish and experience music and fun like a local. Try a traditional fish taverna close to the beach if you miss the festival.


Address: Akti Papanikoli 23, Chania 731 31
Kum Kapi Beach - Hydramis Palace

Kum Kapi Beach

If you don’t want to drive out of Chania city but you do want to swim and sunbathe, Kum Kapi is a good beach to visit. It is not organized, so come prepared: bring beach essentials and a good supply of water. Although the locals don’t trust swimming here, because the water was dirty in the past, the swimming conditions are excellent today due to a cleaning effort by the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority of Chania.

The beach takes its name from the Turkish phrase Kum Kapisi, which means “gate of sand.” You’ll find it in the Bedouins district, under the pedestrian road, along Akti Miaouli. Here you will also find several bars and clubs too if you want to linger past your beach time for a late night out.


Address: Akti Miaouli 22, Chania 731 32
Kouloura - Hydramis Palace

Kouloura

Kouloura is a natural pond close to the Agia Kyriaki beach in the Halepa district of Chania. The locals know it well and there are not too many tourists around if you want to swim here. The water is clear and warm, very deep, excellent for diving. A shower and changing cabin are available on-site, but there are no other facilities. The rocky terrain and minute stretch of sand make sunbathing impossible, but the scenic views are worth taking in.
Address: Agia Kyriaki, Halepa, Chania
Lighthouse of Chania - Hydramis Palace
Lighthouse of Chania

Stroll down the promenade of the Old Town in Chania and observe the architecture. You’ll find the typical houses facing the sea, some housing tavernas or hotels, all in different colors that give the old port its unique appearance.

A walk to the lighthouse is well worth it for the sea and the harbor’s spellbinding views from a distance: the lighthouse it Chania’s city symbol and its most photographed attraction.

Erected by the Venetians in the 16th century to protect the city against the Ottoman threat, the architectural structure was modified under the Egyptian occupation in 1839. The base of the monument is the original Venetian construction, while the rest is the work of the 19th century reconstruction.

Today, the lighthouse safeguards the harbor standing 21 meters above the waves of the Sea of Crete. It is no longer in operation, but it makes for a romantic spot if you take the walk. The interior of the lighthouse is closed to the general public.

Firkas Fortress (Revellino del Porto) - Hydramis Palace
Firkas Fortress (Revellino del Porto)

Firkas Fortress, or Revellino del Porto, is the most imposing fortification of the Venetian town of Chania. Erected by the Venetians in 1204-1669 to protect Chania’s port against the Ottomans’ constant threat, the monument is more than an architectural and historic landmark - it is a symbol of freedom for Cretans.

On December 1st, 1913, the Greek Prime Minister, Eleftherios Venizelos, and the King of Greece, Constantine I, raised the Greek flag for the first time after 800 years of slavery, in celebration of the annexation of Crete to the Kingdom of Greece.

Today, the fortress houses the Nautical Museum of Crete, founded 1973, on the 32st anniversary of the Battle of Crete. The museum has three sections documenting the Battle of Crete, the marine environment, and the permanent collection of traditional shipbuilding in Shipyard Moro - where you will also see a replica of a Minoan vessel.

The museum is closed on Sundays and public holidays, while the shipyard is only closed on public holidays.

Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque - Hydramis Palace
Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque

Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque (Yali Mosque or Giali Tzamisi) is the only surviving mosque in Chania, although the city had several erected during the Ottoman ocupation of Crete. After the lighthouse, the temple is the second most important architectural and historic landmark of the port of Chania.

The mosque dates from 1645 when the Turks built it to celebrate Chania’s fall under Ottoman rule. Only the large spherical dome and the main body of the temple still stand, its minaret being demolished in 1939.

In 1923, Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque ceased to operate as a place of worship. The Cretans used it to house the Archaeological Museum of Chania in World War II, and subsequently as a storehouse, folklore museum, and tourist information center. Today, the building is an exhibition hall for local artists.

Agia Triada Tzagaroli Monastery - Hydramis Palace
Agia Triada Tzagaroli Monastery

Close to the Chania International Airport "Daskalogiannis" (IATA: CHQ) and about 15 kilometers drive from Chania town, you will find one of Crete's richest and most beautiful monasteries: Agia Triada Tzagaroli. Dedicated to the Holy Trinity, this place of worship owns its existence to Venetian-Cretan noblemen Jeremiah and Lawrence Tzagarolo. They erected it here in the 17th century over the ruins of a former church.

During the Ottoman occupation of Crete, the Turks called it Selvili Manastir, "the monastery with the cypress trees," a worthy moniker given the nature surrounding the temple at the time. A road lined up with cypress trees still leads to the entrance of the monastery.

During its history, Agia Triada Tzagaroli served a vital role in the development of Cretan education, and today contributes significantly to the local tourism and economy. The monks produce olive oil, wine, and soap of exceptional quality, which you can purchase from the monastic shop on the premises.

During a tour of the complex, you can visit the olive oil mill and the wine cellar, as well as a small monastic museum exhibiting religious artwork, clothing, crucifixes, and documents of great value. Some of the most noteworthy exhibits include a portable icon of St John the Theologian from the 1500s, a manuscript on a parchment roll with the mass of St. Basil, a portable icon from 1855 with the Hospitality of Abraham, and the Zoodochos Pege (Fountain of Life) icon from the 17th century.

Gouverneto Monastery - Hydramis Palace
Gouverneto Monastery

About 19 kilometers east of Chania town and less than three kilometers from Agia Triada Tzagaroli, you will find another one of Crete's monastic pearls: Gouverneto Monastery. The complex stands at the entrance of the Avlaki Gorge, 290 meters above sea level, in a natural area of rare beauty.

It is a fortified monastic complex, probably founded by the monks of the nearby Katholiko Monastery, who retired here to escape pirates' attacks. Constructed sometime before 1537, Gouverneto is one of Crete's oldest religious sites of its kind still in operation. Because the church of the complex is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the monastery is sometimes called Kyria ton Agelon (Lady of the Angels Monastery). The church has a beautifully ornate Venetian façade, with an entrance decorated with relief depictions of monsters.

You will also find two small chapels in the courtyard of the monastery, one dedicated to Agii Deka (Saints Ten) and the other to Saint John the Hermit, who died in the nearby cave at Katholiko Monastery in the 11th century. In one of the chapels, you can see the remains of some of the oldest frescoes on the island.

If you visit Gouverneto Monastery, plan ahead and wear sturdy hiking shoes if you want to see the Katholiko Monastery. This is in the Avlaki Gorge, at the end of a steep cobblestoned trail that passes Church of St. Anthony and the Cave of Panagia Arkoudiotissa.

Katholiko Monastery - Hydramis Palace
Katholiko Monastery

Katholiko Monastery is about 20 kilometers east of Chania, in the Avlaki Gorge - a wild area full of caves, not far from the sea, on Cape Akrotiri. The cave where Saint John the Hermit died in the 11th century became one of Crete's ascetic places, and, in time, a place of pilgrimage. Its popularity grew so much that in the 17th century, Venetian nobleman Jeremiah Tzagarolo was commissioned to build a monastic complex of impressive complexity.

Today you can only see the ruins of the edifice, with the bridge over the gorge's river, hermits' cells, and several other structures.

To reach Katholiko Monastery, follow the cobbled trail that starts at the Gouverneto Monastery and walk about 800 meters. Mind your footwear, as the walk is steep. On your way, you will pass the Church of St. Anthony and the Cave of Panagia Arkoudiotissa (also known as Cave Arkoudospilios or the Bear Cave) - both worth visiting.

Tholos Restaurant - Hydramis Palace
Tholos Restaurant

Tholos Restaurant in the Old Town is quite a charming fixture in Chania’s culinary scene. The building housing the eatery is on a narrow street behind the Presentation of the Virgin Mary Holy Metropolitan Church. You’ll recognize it quickly, as the restaurant didn’t renovate it entirely, allowing part of the ruins to create an unusual décor. The restaurant has a capacity of about 150 diners; you can usually walk in without a reservation.

Tholos is known for its friendly staff, rustic-romantic atmosphere, fresh food cooked traditionally, and reasonable prices. They serve fish but try their grilled meats rather than seafood, which you can enjoy better in a port taverna watching the sea. Some must-try dishes at Tholos include goat with wild greens, pilafi, and rabbit in wine sauce.

A good selection of wines completes the experience.


Address: Ag. Deka 36
Phone: +30 2821 046725
Semiramis Restaurant - Hydramis Palace
Semiramis Restaurant

Semiramis Restaurant is a rustic address in the Old Town of Chania. It has a décor typical of Cretan countryside tavernas, and, true to this concept, serves authentic Cretan fare. The menu features some dishes usually found in restaurants in the mountains of Crete - unusual for towns and villages close to the sea. Try their rabbit, grilled meats, fava, and meze. Everything is prepared with fresh, local produce in season, as well as extra virgin olive oil. A well-selected wine list completes the dining experience.

Semiramis Restaurant attracts diners with live music nights and a friendly party atmosphere.


Address: Skoufon 8
Phone: +30 2821 098650
Tamam Restaurant - Hydramis Palace
Tamam Restaurant

An Old Port fixture since 1982, Tamam offers culinary revelations inspired by Greek traditions. Its menu features strictly homemade dishes, ranging from traditional cheese pie with honey, and continuing with crowd-pleasers like Greek salad, rusks with tomatoes and feta, tzatziki, and starters to share. For your main dish, choose something prepared in the oven: boneless lamb in tomato sauce served with yogurt and pita bread will satisfy your hunger and give you an idea about traditional Cretan cuisine. They also serve pasta, grilled meats, and seafood. The wine list doesn’t disappoint either.

Another interesting aspect of dining at Tamam is the location: the building housing the eatery dates from the 1400s when the Venetians built is as a public bathhouse. During the Turkish occupation, with some architectural alterations, the edifice became a hamam.

When you visit the restaurant, don’t be surprised if you catch a performance of sorts. They often host live music, theatre, art exhibitions, and other events.


Address: Zampeliou 49
Phone: +30 2821 096080
Municipal Market of Chania - Hydramis Palace
Municipal Market of Chania

An indoor shopping destination of impressive proportions, the Municipal Market of Chania is a historic monument too. Its building started in 1911 and ended in the second half of 1913. On December 4, 1913, the Greek Prime Minister, Eleftherios Venizelos, declared the market officially open for the public. It was just three days after Crete’s unification with Greece.

Shopping at the Municipal Market will be a rewarding experience if you are seeking insight into the lifestyle of the locals. Besides grocery stores, the market has many shops selling authentic crafts and souvenirs. You can find here leather and lace made in Chania, and several other artifacts to remind you of your trip to Crete.


Address: Pl. Agoras 69
Kurkuta - Hydramis Palace
Kurkuta

Kurkuta is a souvenir shop selling unique and imaginative items, many made in Greece without plastic. You will also find products from recycled materials. Go for funky t-shirts, mugs, accessories, jewelry, and paper products like notebooks, cards, posters, bookmarks, and even toys.This is a shopping address for those who like to support small producers instead of mainstream corporations.


Address: Isodion 6
Phone: +30 697 254 1828
Cretan Knives Skalidakis - Hydramis Palace
Cretan Knives Skalidakis

This company, based in Chania, produces authentic Cretan knives since 1938. The current owners are the third generation of knife makers. They have an in-store workshop to sharpen everything that cuts too.

It’s worth seeing what a traditional shop looks like, but Cretan Knives Skalidakis also sell branded knives from other origins. Ask before you buy.

It is a big shop where you will also find some leather goods and kitchen items like pots and pans, graters, and much more.


Address: Georgiou Karaiskaki 13-15
Phone: +30 2821 098827
Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete - Hydramis Palace
Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete

Founded only in October 2004 after a fire decimated the olive groves and orchards in the area, the Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete emerged like a phoenix from the ashes of a natural disaster. They are the Marinakis family’s gift to the island - “a botanical park for trekking, education, and recreation” - but also a popular tourist attraction.

The park opened its gates officially in 2009, and it quickly ascended to the top of the world’s best botanical destinations, according to The Guardian.

There is no other botanical garden like this in Europe: winding paths take you from a mountain top on a steep hike down to a charming little lake. There you’ll find the donkeys and Cretan wild goats. Peacocks roam freely all over the park - peaceful birds with stunning plumage that add a plus of magic to your hike.

Birdwatchers will appreciate the park too - several species found an ideal habitat in the Mediterranean and Tropical sections of the garden. Observe the butterflies and other insects while you stroll along.

Be advised to wear hiking footwear and to have plenty of water with you. While not long, the hike can be strenuous under the scorching summer sun, for the elderly, people suffering from challenging illnesses, and toddlers. The park is not wheelchair accessible.

At the end of your visit, reward yourself with a meal at the restaurant of the gardens. They serve proper Cretan mountain fare. There’s also a shop selling all kinds of products made with herbs and fruit gathered from the Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete.


Address: Epar.Od. Chanion-Omalou, Fournes 730 05
Phone: +30 2821200770
Aqua Creta Limnoupolis Waterpark - Hydramis Palace
Aqua Creta Limnoupolis Waterpark

Children of all ages will love spending time at Aqua Creta Limnoupolis. While not by the sea, the water park challenges visitors with slides sets like the Crazy River slide for the younger visitors, then for older children, a 5-color multi-slide, the Black Hole Slider, and the Giant Slide. For daredevils, the park has two slides: the Triple Twist Sliders and the Free Fall 55 meters - both guaranteed to deliver the adrenaline rush you seek.

If you want to relax, the central swimming pool of Aqua Creta Limnoupolis is a true oasis of bliss. Float on the water or grab a lounger by the pool and take in the sun.

An unpretentious restaurant caters to your needs if you are feeling parched or hungry.

Aqua Creta Limnoupolis is in Varipetro, just fifteen minutes’ drive from Chania town.


Address: Varipetro, Chania 731 00
Phone: +30 2821 033246
Lake Kournas - Hydramis Palace
Lake Kournas

A day trip from Hydramis Palace to Lake Kournas will reward you with fabulous sea views, authentic Cretan mountain fare, and donkey rides.

Lake Kournas is Crete’s only natural freshwater lake and a protected nature area. You are not allowed to swim, but pedalos are available should you want to glide on the surface of the lake.

This destination is a godsend to people who want authentic Cretan experiences: you can either choose the tourist path, sunbathing or hiking around the lake, purchasing ceramics and souvenirs, dining, or driving to the village to see the hearth of Crete.

The village of Kournas has only one major attraction: the historic Church of St. George (Church of Ayios Georgios) - a Byzantine temple of the 12th century. The interiors of the temple are spectacular, and the views of the surrounding Cretan landscapes are breathtaking.

Enjoy the church’s courtyard with all its herbs and lovely views stretching down to the sea.

If you visit with kids, take a ride on the train or drive up to Kournas village to walk with the donkeys. Mind you, arrive before 10 am, for they start tours early. Check in at Mandali.

Samaria Gorge - Hydramis Palace
Samaria Gorge

Nothing quite compares to the natural splendor of this destination. In the heart of Crete’s only national park, the gorge winds its way down from the majestic White Mountains to Agia Roumeli on the azure Libyan Sea in the far south of Chania Prefecture. Samaria Gorge is Europe’s longest at sixteen kilometers and one of the most awe-inspiring in all of Greece. The hike down from an altitude of 1,230 meters altitude is a challenging one, but doable by even novice hikers at a slow pace.

Visitors to the gorge will discover an Eden-like world of rare species of flora and fauna. Make sure to wear good quality hiking or running shoes, and take plenty of drinking water is always recommended for hikes on Crete, even though many springs emanate from the gorge’s cliffs along the way. First-time hikers are often amazed by the diversity and geology of the canyon. Even its dimensions are unique. At its widest point, the gorge is 150 meters, and then at the point known as Pórtes (also called “Iron Gates”), the cliff walls narrow to only three meters. The trek takes between six and eight hours, and the terrain is sometimes very rugged and challenging, without being perilous.

Elafonisi - Hydramis Palace
Elafonisi

An ocean of dunes leads to a crystal sea of delight at one of Europe’s most exotic beaches. A Natura 2000 protected area, Elafonisi stretches across a wild oblong peninsula at the southwesternmost tip of Crete. Sea daffodils dot the seascape while the most transparent waters you’ve ever seen kiss the pink beach sands.

Visitors to Elafonisi beach are sometimes awestruck by the stillness of the place. The shallow waters offshore are a wonder, perfect for families with kids since the depth in most areas does not exceed one meter. Loggerhead sea turtles and other rare animals make Elafonisi their home, and the plants are so priceless it is forbidden to remove them. Even the seashells here are out of reach if you respect the law.

As unbelievable as Elafonisi is, the drive to this remote part of Crete is as astounding. Along the 1.5 hours serpentine drive from Chania town, you will take in a magnificent landscape, the lush green of Elos Village, and the imposing cragginess of Topolia Gorge. Even though Elafonisi is isolated from civilization, there are good services, beach umbrellas, shops, lifeguards, and snack bars onshore.

Splendid - Hydramis Palace
Splendid
Splendid is the most popular party club in Platanias and one of the best in all Crete. The party here gets started right before midnight and continues into the early hours. Expect the usual drinks and cocktails, a lively young crowd, a sterling venue, and the best dance tunes of the moment. This is a chic bar, an atmospheric nightclub, and a VIP experience - all under one roof.
Address: Platanias, Chania, Crete 730 14
Phone: +30 2821 060346
Eclipse Bar - Hydramis Palace
Eclipse Bar
Eclipse Bar is a Platanias party spot that is popular with locals and visitors to Crete. Open from April until October every year, the club is known for wild parties and specialty cocktails to go along with popular DJ action. The off the beach bar features two beautiful terraces and an energetic twenty-something vibe.
Address: Platanias Square, Platanias 730 14
Phone: +30 2821 068139
Ammos & Ilios - Hydramis Palace
Ammos & Ilios
In Agia Marina, the Ammos & Ilios beach bar is well known for sporting the best local and international DJs. At night, this beach bar transforms into a wide-open dance club serving stunning cocktails and lots of be-seen spirit. The club runs hot throughout the summer, both day and night.
Address: Agia Marina 730 14
Phone: +30 2821 060045
Kitesurfing - Hydramis Palace
Kitesurfing

Wherever on Crete the winds blow, Poseidon’s breath renders your freedom sublime. Unfurl your kite, take up your board, and fly with ancient legends. Chania Prefecture’s countless beaches are well-suited for kitesurfing. The best of these, by far, is Falasarna Beach in the far east of the region where there are exceptional swell and wind conditions. Picturesque Elafonisi Beach farther south is another popular spot if more distant time-wise.

In the wider Chania region, many surf clubs offer lessons and equipment for every level of expertise. Agia Marina and the other beaches of Platanias serve the community of kitesurfers well too. Be advised, there are hundreds of beaches in this part of Crete, some more suitable than others for a great kitesurfing experience. It is always good to check with the locals for wind and sea conditions, and local regulations. They are always friendly and happy to lend a helping hand.

Safari - Hydramis Palace
Safari

Someone once said Crete is like a continent all its own. Well, what better way to explore the secret and secluded places of a continent than by an all-terrain vehicle? The Cretan countryside is perfect for adventures into some of Europe’s last remaining untouched areas.

The unique landscapes of Crete island will be etched in memory, and these safaris are the best and most reasonable way to experience them. Unless you’re an avid hiker and outdoorsman, or even if you are, the many safari groups serving Chania can help you create a most memorable day ever for the whole family.

On most safari excursions you get to see more of Crete than most travelers expect: The animals, flowers, and herbs, the Cretan people with their rare brand of hospitality and friendliness, and landscapes so stunning they’ll take your breath.

Ride in comfort the high mountain trails, in places where only donkeys and goats usually travel to. Some suggested excursions include luxury safari tours to Samaria Gorge and the surrounds, the Apokoronas Villages, and the White Mountains.

Sailing in Chania - Hydramis Palace
Sailing in Chania

When pirates roamed the waters surrounding Crete, they were set to plunder the riches of antiquity, but they were also rewarded by the island’s breathtaking geography. Exploring Crete from the sea is the only way to truly understanding this awe-inspiring island. So many beaches, bays, coves, and watersports are inaccessible or otherwise impossible to enjoy from landward.

Chania has many yacht excursions, sailing tours, day trips, fishing, and charter opportunities. There is a different adventure waiting at Chania’s Old Harbour or any of the region’s many marinas. Take a private sailing cruise with lunch, or coast along the northern shore of Crete on a romantic excursion to Gramvousa and Balos.

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