Chania is Crete’s second largest town and is the lively capital of the western half of this long, narrow Greek island. It is very ancient: 4,000 years ago Chania was called Cydonia. It preserves many handsome signs of a long history as a possession of Venice. The Old Town, alongside the Old Harbour, is enclosed by Venetian ramparts and guarded by a waterside Venetian fortress, Fort Firca.
The modern city centre, just outside the old ramparts, offers the energy and character of a vibrant, authentic Greek town. Here are numerous shops, bars, restaurants and street life that are fun to explore. Chania is the focal point of western Crete’s coastline of small and charming beach resorts. Each resort has its own appeal, and all are just minutes from Chania by car or bus along the seashore highway that runs at the foot of high craggy peaks and rolling foothills green with olive groves.
The harbour is hard to miss, being one of the attractions essential to Chania vacationers. Here, historic buildings are occupied by buzzing seafood restaurants and cafes, and a waterside promenade takes you on a journey through time - some parts of the fortifications date back to the 16th century.
The calm ruins of Venetian defence structures remain standing all around the Chania harbour, with the best-conserved bit being the Western part of the wall. Its fascinating Naval Museum (next door) recalls Chania’s maritime tradition. The fortress is also where the Greek flag first was raised.
The lively bar and nightclub is located in Platanias (west of Chania), and invites holidaymakers to a fun night of drinks and dancing all throughout the summer season (April-October). The atmosphere is rather casual, the vibes gradually shifting from bar to club as the evening progresses.
Good to know
From 6 am to 6 pm, public buses serve the coast road to and from Chania, stopping at the resorts. In Chania, town buses serve the modern districts, but the Old Town is small enough to walk around, and its lanes are too narrow for buses.