Greece

Chania: 7 Days in Western Crete

I visited Crete for a week in June 2019, using public transport to get around. In my posts I focus on points of historical interest, as well as good places for food, costs, and travel.

Click through for posts on the other visits of the trip:

RETHYMNO; HERAKLION AND KNOSSOS; SAMARIA GORGE as well as ALTERNATE PLANS we made if we had more time.

CHANIA

HISTORY:

Chania is a very pretty city, the old town being the highlight. The inter-winding streets allow minimal car access, and cute, colourful buildings of different time periods and styles (dependant on who was occupying the island at the time) tower over you as you explore. The large walls, built during Venetian rule in the 16th/17th century, enclose the old town.

The old town area has very much been overtaken with appeal to tourists. Most houses appeared to be holiday properties, tavernas serving identical menus, art shops, or tat shops.

TO SEE:

The old streets leading to the Venetian Harbour are full of character. The buildings had been converted into tasteful art shops, artificial ivy was merged to create a canopy and keep happy eaters shaded from the 30 degree heat.The buildings around the harbour were equally interesting to explore.

The shore of the harbour is filled with tavernas, occasionally broken up with shops selling Cretan gifts. An old mosque, from the time of Ottoman rule, has been converted into an art gallery, while behind the remains of other buildings stand in ruins, a sign alongside explaining how the city was bombed by Germans during WWII, with this building being one of the many damaged.

The lighthouse in the harbour, which sits at the end of a crescent, makes for a pretty walk. The lighthouse is from the Venitian occupation and offers a view over the harbour onto the old town. Other buildings are occupied with cafes and restaurants, whilst carrying on further along the walls takes you out of the main tourist area, with a more tranquil pace.

You can visit the Presentation of the Virgin Mary Holy Metropolitan Orthodox Church near the archaeology museum in the centre of the old town. Please remember when visiting Greek Orthodox churches, that it is respectful to not wear shorts, uncovered shoulders, or hats.

The old town is large and beautiful, and a day just exploring the little streets at a slow pace, stopping for drinks and food, is very much worth it.

The Maritime Museum in the harbour is worth a visit. Covering the history of naval battles in the area, from ancient times to the Battle for Crete in WWII, the museum presents the islands’ long sea-faring history in an informed and interesting way. Entry is €3.

For souvenir hunting, I found the cheapest souvenirs in Chania to be on the harbour front (though other places in Crete better for souvenirs in terms of cost and variety). One souvenir shop in the alley ways was in an old converted mosque with exposed glassed over excavations in its floor- worth checking out.

TO EAT:

Chrisostomos – a classic taverna a bit outside the touristy areas. We had a meal consisting of stuffed vine leaves and courgette flowers, roasted pork, and a complimentary raki to shot whilst we ate a plate of complementary syrupy pastries. This was located near the city walls, away from the harbour.

FUNKYS’ – a 24 hour joint near the bus station that served coffee, fresh pizza, and freshly made stuffed sandwiches for very cheap. This became our port of call most mornings and for light meals.

To Koutourouki– relatively good prices and drinks came in wine jugs. Interesting food, small menu, and situated down a very gorgeous alley.

Sinagogi– old synagogue converted into a bar. Serving cocktails (€8 – 10 euros). Happy hour coffee and soft drinks during the day.

GRYOS– Gyros in the town were good, we found several spots such as KOSTAS. Got a bottle of wine from the supermarket and enjoyed sitting on our balcony watching the world go by.

COSTS:

Bus from Chania airport – €2.50, and takes around 30 minutes, stopping in the large bus station in the middle of town.

The bus station, a five minute walk from our accommodation, is easy to navigate for someone who cannot read any Greek.

3 thoughts on “Chania: 7 Days in Western Crete”

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