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The second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania regional unit, Chania is a historic and significant presence on the island's northern shore. Its surrounding region covers the westernmost quarter of Crete, encompassing towns like Kounoupidaiana and Souda as well as the White Mountains and Samariá Gorge. Visit the area for its beautiful, resort-dotted beaches that stretch to the Mediterranean and Cretan Sea, and stay in Chania City to see its exquisite architecture preserved from the 13th century. Whether you want to relax on Chania's idyllic shores and indulge in fine Mediterranean cuisine or spend time exploring its rich history and natural heritage, Chania is packed with things to do.
Chania can be divided into the Old Town and Modern Town. The old town serves as a tourist hub for the city, while most locals live and work in the newer neighborhoods. Outside of the city, Chania is packed with natural wonders from idyllic beaches to majestic mountains.
Old Town - Built around the old Venetian Harbour, the Old Town of Chania is bordered by ancient Venetian fortifications dating back to the 13th century. The area is a popular tourist destination thanks to its well-preserved Venetian and Turkish architecture. Visit sights like the main plaza of Eleftherios Venizelos Square, the picturesque Topanas district, and the historic Jewish quarter also known as Evraiki.
Venetian Harbour - Chania's Venetian Harbour was built in the 14th century to protect the city from pirate raids. Today, the beautiful area features a mix of Cretan, Ottoman, and Venetian architecture that house bustling restaurants, tavernas, and shops. The harbor stretches along the Kountourioti, Tombazi, and Enoseos Coasts, with the Chania Lighthouse and Firkas Fortress acting as its bookends. Wander the charming streets to find the Nautical Museum of Crete and the seaside Kucuk Hasan Mosque.
Modern Town - The Modern Town of Chania has its own share of historic landmarks. The area is home to the former residence of Greek leader Eleftherios Venizelo, the 1882 palace of Prince George, and the picturesque district of Nea Hora, which dates to the 18th century. Step into the Agora, or Municipal Market of Chania, for a taste of local life, or take a stroll through the Kipos public gardens, where you can see endemic Ficus trees and even wild Cretan goats.
Chania's mix of architectural styles and seaside location gives it undeniable allure. Walk through the Old Town or along the Venetian Harbour to see a range of buildings in Venetian, Turkish, and Cretan styles. Take a peek into the past by visiting the Archaeological Museum of Chania, housed in the former Monastery of Saint Francis, or the Nautical Museum of Crete, where historic ships, instruments, photos, and relics are on display. While the waterfront of Chania City itself is an idyllic sunset spot, appreciate the views from the beaches throughout the Chania region, including the Balos Lagoon, golden Falassarna Beach, and the white sands of paradisiacal Elafonissi Beach.
The entire Chania region is packed with attractions both natural and manmade. Journey out of the city to the Samariá Gorge, a National Park of Greece and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Created by a river running between the majestic White Mountains, or Lefká Óri, and Mount Volakias, the gorge stretches 10 meters (16 km) long. Samariá Gorge is famous for Portes, or the Gates, where the gorge walls narrow to a width of merely 13 feet (4 m) and soar to a height of 984 feet (300 m). Also take time to visit Apokoronas, a lush region at the foothills of the White Mountains that's home to the scenic Kournas Lake—the only natural lake in Crete. On the western coast of the island lie some of Crete's most picturesque and most-frequented shores such as Elafonissi Beach, whose white sands and shallow, turquoise waters beckon visitors for a day of relaxation. In Chania city itself, let yourself be enamored by the fascinating history of the place as well as its modern charms. Like the rest of Crete, Chania is beloved for its food and drink. Spend time acquainting your palate with the viticulture of the region in the city, or venture into the Mediterranean countryside to pair sips of wine with fresh olives.