It might be Crete’s second city, but Chania is indisputably the island’s number one for looks courtesy of a cobblestone old town and Venetian harbourfront.
No wonder, then, that this atmospheric west-coast port is fast emerging as a destination in its own right, with new hotels complementing lesser-known beaches, gorgeous gorge hikes and superb restaurants.
Old town Immersion
As bewitching as a Greek goddess, Chania’s mesmerising old town offers numerous experiences. You can people-watch on the quayside whilst waves gently lap below, or watch glistening, freshly-caught seafood be hurried into nearby fish tavernas. Trawl narrow alleyways, and rummage in shops selling silver jewellery, locally-designed clothes or leather goods. Then walk the harbour walls to a 16th century lighthouse built by the Venetians, and learn more at the Naval Museum. Or you can follow your nose, hunting down freshly-baked bread and bougatsa in bakeries.
Hiking & History
Hikers are well served in this Cretan corner. Just north of town begins the Akrotiri peninsula, on which you can ramble to the impressive Cave of St. John the Hermit – containing stalactites and stalagmites – and then on to a pretty inlet of turquoise waters. To the south are the White Mountains and some of Crete’s famous gorges, including the incredibly narrow Samaria and far quieter Agia Irini, filled with trees and fragrant herbs. If history’s more your bag, venture a little east to the Souda Bay War Cemetery, which commemorates 1,500 servicemen from the Commonwealth.
Half an hour’s drive along the Akrotiri headland, Marathi Beach promises gentle, crystal-clear waters, sheltered soft sands and several seaside fish tavernas. About 90 minutes away, Falassarna combines a wide sandy bay with windsurfing and good family facilities while Elafonissi island’s shore has memorably pinkish sands.
Where to Stay
Beach Resort: Domes Noruz Chania
It series of sandy domes blending beautifully into the landscape, Crete’s best new beach hotel is a striking designed adults-only getaway. Rooms are decorated in calming neutral colours and feature reams of natural light plus advanced smart lighting systems. The icing on the cake is the inclusion of private plunge pools or jacuzzis as standard. Spend days sunning yourself by the pair of pools or unwinding at the Soma Spa. By night, enjoy contemporary cuisine and sip sundowners as the resident DJs provide a soothing soundtrack.
From £870 per person, 7 nights, B&B including flights and transfers.
City Hotel: Casa Delfino
Just a few steps from the heart of the harbour you’ll find this 17th century Venetian mansion turned elegant guesthouse. Sensitively restored by sixth generation descendants of the original owners, its 24 rooms feature vaulted ceilings, marble floors and handmade Italian furniture. It’s worth plumping for a balcony room, but otherwise the glorious views of the harbour from the roof terrace bar are the perfect aperitif accompaniment. Enjoy Cretan pastries and fresh fruit in the shaded courtyard at breakfast, while staff will recommend the best spots for dinner.
From £735 per person, 7 nights, B&B including flights and transfers.
Getting there: Direct seasonal flights to Chania are offered by both British Airways & EasyJet and take just 4 hours.
When to go: Crete’s southerly position ensures a long, hot summer. Spring and autumn ideal times for pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds.
Call us on 0207 359 3938 or contact us to book your trip now.