Chania prefecture, the westernmost prefecture of Crete island, is a very popular summer destination in Greece which combines exotic sandy beaches and landscapes of great natural beauty with a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Chania town (also known as Hania or Khania) is the capital of Chania Prefecture. This picturesque town, which consists of the old and the new town coexisting in a harmonious whole, is located on the north coast of west Crete overlooking the Sea of Crete. Chania is one of the oldest towns in Crete offering multiple Venetian and Ottoman monuments, such as the Old Venetian Harbour with the Egyptian Lighthouse, Firkas Fortress with the Maritime Museum, the Agora (Main Market) and Kucuk Hasan Mosque. This charming town is considered as an ideal place for romantic walks in the Venetian alleys of the Old Town or the Municipal Garden, sightseeing and nightlife. Extension of the city is the large coastal resort area of Platanias, Agia Marina and Stalos, which is considered as the most cosmopolitan resort of the prefecture since it offers multiple opportunities for entertainment as well as a long, well organized sandy beach that caters water sports.
Chania Prefecture offers a natural, privileged and well-protected environment featuring a combination of multiple beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountains, and deep gorges. Exotic beaches with crystal clear waters that can equally compete with the world’s best beaches await to offer unmatched calmness and relaxation. The sandy beaches of Elafonissi (with pink and white sand, turquoise waters and a small islet that can be reached by foot, 70 km south west of Chania), Falassarna (with the most magnificent sunset in Crete, 57 km west of Chania) and Mpalos (also known as Balos, an exotic beach in Gramvoussa with white and red sand that can be reached by boat or hiking, 60 km west from Chania) attract every year thousands of travellers who enjoy the azure, crystal waters of these subtropical beaches. Much more worth visiting beaches are offered such as Georgioupoli (a long, sandy beach located 43 km east of Chania), Kedrodassos (with a coastal forest of cedars, 2 km from Elafonissi beach), Sougia (a pebbled beach with crystal clear waters, located next to ancient Lissos, 60 km from Chania), Kalathas (a sandy beach with a small islet, 9 km from Chania) and Stavros (where “Zorbas” was filmed).
However, the natural beauty of Chania is not limited to the attractive beaches, since there are also unique opportunities for hiking and discovering breathtaking mountain views and traditional, picturesque villages. The famous, impressive gorges of Samaria and Aradaina are unique biotopes of many endemic species. Samaria Gorge is located in the south west of White Mountains (also referred to as Lefka Ori) and has a great ecological value. It leads to Agia Roumeli beach and hosts the endemic species Capra aegagrus cretica (Kri-kri) and some huge cypresses. Aradaina Gorge (also known as Aradena Gorge) is located near Sfakia. A metallic bridge that unites the two sides of the gorge over a tall cliff is offered for bungee jumping. The gorge leads to the Lybian Sea, towards the beaches of Lykos and Finikas. The outstanding wetland of Kournas Lake, the only natural lake of Crete, is ideal for swimming or boat trips. Some worth visiting villages are the villages of Almirida and Vamos in Apokoronas, Therisso village next to Therisso Gorge and the villages of Milia and Spilia in Kissamos. Not to be missed
are also the vibrant village of Paleochora (which is near the famous beaches of Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro, Chora Sfakion, Elafonisi and Gavdos) and Sfakia (a village of historic value, near the Venetian castle of Fragokastelo).
Above the entrance of the great harbor of Souda, near Megala Chorafia village, is located the extensive ruins of the ancient city of Aptera (also known as Apteria, Apterea or Aptaria). The name Aptera, according to one tradition, derives from Apteron, king of Crete, son of Kydon and father of Lappios, who is said to have lived in the time of Moses around 1800 BC.
The islet of Gavdos, which is located in the Libyan Sea, 45 km south of Chora Sfakion, is the southest point of Europe. It measures about 29 km2 and its 40 inhabitants live almost isolated. The former population once exceeded 8.000 people, but during the Venetian rule the island was abandoned due to the pirates. The island offers beautiful beaches such as Korfos, Sarakino, Agios Ioannis, Potamos, Lavraka and Tripiti. Trademark of Gavdos is the old lighthouse that was once towered over the rugged southwest coastline, called Aspes, with almost vertical cliffs for about ten kilometers.
Last but ton least, Chania offer many monasteries of historic and/or archaeological value such as the Monastery of Chrysoskalitissa (built in the rocks, 70 km from Chania), the Monastery of Agias Triadas Tzagarolon (the greatest monastery complex in Crete, 13 km from Chania).
Finally, you can travel to Chania by airplane and land at the International Airport of Chania (Ioannis Daskalogiannis airport) or by sea and as you reach Souda Bay you can observe the beauty of Chania unfolding.