There are many places to visit both in Crete and in Chania, depending on your interests. Many visitors prefer to explore the nature and different places in Crete. Others are more interested in culture and want to visit museums and archaeological sites. Most tourists though prefer to relax under the sun, on a sandy beach with crystal blue waters. In the following sections I try to describe what to see and how to get to the attractions.
For your trips out of Chania, you can take the public or the travel agency bus for the main destinations. For public bus check timetable www.e-ktel.com. The difference between the public or the travel agency bus is in the price (public bus is 3-5 € cheaper) and location pick up (travel agencies bus pick up are closer to the hotels). Many public busses depart really early in the morning, which means getting to the Chania central bus station might need taking a taxi. George the owner also organises trips if there is a minimum 4 persons, the price is around 45 euro per person. Renting a car might be cheaper if you are 4 persons or more, but always add 20 € extra each day for the cost of gas. The best time to visit the beaches by car is before 11:00am and after 16:00pm because it’s the time before the tourist busses come and after they leave.
Chania old town
The first and most obvious place to explore is Chania itself. Chania is a very beautiful and interesting town to visit, with its old town, museums, attractions and restaurants. It is very close from the hotel, only 15 minutes by bus. The ticket costs 1.20 euro if you buy it before you get in the bus (we sell tickets at the reception) and 2 euro if you buy it in the bus. Itineraries start around from 7:00 in the morning until 23:00 in the evening. From June to August there is a night bus for Platanias every hour. For more information, please click on ‘Transports’ on our webpage. It’s always pleasant to wander in the small alleys of the old town, which was built by the Venetians. All around Chania the visitor can find many shops where he can buy souvenirs, traditional products, fashion items or food. In the old town there are also many restaurants to choose from, with delightfully relaxing views of the old port and lighthouse. Most sightseeings in Chanea are within walking distance. You can visit the old market which is built in the shape of a cross. There are also three major museums: the archaeological museum, the naval museum, and the foclore
museum. Please consult our hotel map that details all the attractions and is free of charge.
- The Old Town (stroll in the narrow alleys, smell and taste real Chania).
- Faros (the lighthouse, landmark of Chania).
- The museums (Naval, Archaeological, Cretan Culture, in Chania old town). The museums close around 15:00, its 5 € to get in.
- Halidon street and Trimartiry cathedral.
- The hill at Kasteli, particularly Prytania, with the best view of the old port.
- Splantzia square and St Nicolaos church with the minaret and bell tower.
- Agora (the indoor market in the shape of cross).
- Tabakaria (an area east of Chania, by the sea, close to Halepa, where the old tanneries used to be, spooky like going back in time, full of old buildings and factories).
- Halepa (an area east of Chania, close to Tabakaria, used to be aristocratic, with the houses of Venizelos, the ex-French school and other old mansions).
Elafonisi is located in the south western tip of Crete. It’s a small island which is connected with Crete by a strip of sand and forms a shallow lagoon, ideal for kids (safe) and adults (just lying on the crystal clear water). The whole area is a protected natural environment. One kilometer to the east is Kedrodassos, a nice idyllic beach filled with cedar trees. It is quieter than Elafonisi and popular with nudists and free campers.
Visit Elafonisi by car or bus, 1.5 and 2.5 hours respectively from Chania. By public bus its 25 € return, with a travel agency its 28 euro. Take the new national road from Chania towards Kasteli or Kissamos (it’s the same place) and before you reach this village follow the signs on the left that go south.
On the way don’t miss Agia Sofia cave, with the church inside, which is located in Topolia gorge, and Chrisoskalitisa monastery before you reach Elafonisi. Both are on the way to Elafonisi and need at least 30 minutes each to visit.
At Elafonisi there are small cantines on the beach for snacks and water. In the village 3km before there are a few restaurants. The best time to go to Elafonisi by car is before 11:00am and after 16:00pm because it’s the time before the tourist busses come and after they leave.
If you want to taste original Cretan food, away from the crowds, go to Gialites restaurant at Livadia, 15 minutes away from Elafonisi.
Gramvousa and Balos
Gramvousa area is at the north-western tip of Crete. Like Elafonisi, Balos is a small island which is connected with Crete by a strip of sand and forms a shallow lagoon, with Gramvousa island and castle opposite it. Gramvousa can be reached only by a boat from Kissamos port, while Balos by boat or car. Both places are of pristine beauty with rugged cliffs rising around the area. Balos is ideal for kids (safe) and adults (just lying on the crystal clear water). The whole area is a protected natural environment.
By bus its 45 minutes to the port of Kissamos from Chania and cost 14 euros return ticket. The boat leaves 10:00-12:00am from the port of Kissamos and cost 25 euros return (you buy the tickets from the kiosk in the harbor). The boat visits Gramvousa Island with the castle for 2 hours, then stops at the beach of Balos for 2-3 hours (a total of 4-5 hours on the beaches). Alternately with a car, continue for 40 minutes (15km) on a dirt road after Kaliviani. At the end of the road, park and walk on a path for 30 minutes (1 km) in Ballo. The path is distinct, with stairs downhill. The view is panoramic on the beach of Balos and more beautifull than the boat, with a magnificent sunset at about 19:00. You need sport shoes to hike down, and there is no shade, so take an umbrella or large hat. Excursions with a tour bus can be booked at the reception, and every second day. The tourist bus departs from the hotel while the public is better to go to Chania to take
it. All means of transport leave at 8:00, return is at 18:00. Buses always wait for the boat to return and then depart at approximately 17:00.
At Balos there is only one canteen, for a restaurant, you can eat at Gramvousa restaurant at Kaliviani or at the fish restaurants in front of the sea at Kasteli. The best time to go to Balos by car is before 11:00am and after 16:00pm because it’s the time before the boats come and after they leave.
Samaria Gorge is the most popular destination for nature lovers in Crete. It’s a well organised national park located in south-west Crete. The gorge is 14 km long and takes about 6 hours to cross it. In Samaria the visitor can see the terrain, the fauna and flora of Crete. You can drink the water from small springs in the rest areas or from the river that flows year round. You will need sport shoes and the hike is along a well marked path. Go as early as possible, so you can walk in the shade and have plenty of time.
Public busses depart at 6:00am and 7:45am, is 1 hour ride, and cost 25 euro return ticket. Travel agency busses cost 28 euro but have the advantage to pick you up at 6:00am close to your hotel. At 6:00 there are no busses to Chania and the only other option is to wait for the 7:00am bus to Chania and then catch the 7:45am bus to Samaria. There is a 5 euro entrance to the
After hiking for 6 hours you will reach the village of Agia Roumeli, by the sea, where you can eat in one of the restaurants, swim and buy the 11 euro boat ticket from the small kiosk (total price 41 with public bus, 44 with tourist bus). The boat will pick you up around 16:00pm and take you to village of Sfakia, where the busses wait for the boat to arrive, and will take you back to Chania.
In Chania prefecture, there are many large and small gorges. Nevertheless, few are accessible without private transport or guide.
Falassarna is a 6km long beach on the western coast, with crystal clear and deep waters.
It’s easy to reach by car or bus along the national road. Its 1 hour by car or 1,5 hour by bus. There are busses from 8:30am (we recomend to take this one), last bus is at 17:00, cost 15 euro return.
It’s an easy and quick option for a clean and pristine sandy beach. There are restaurants on the hill before you reach Falassarna, where you can enjoy an amazing sunset.
If you have a car, you can visit the ancient port of Falassarna, where you can see traces of the Minoan village which is located by the side of the mountain. Alternatively, on the way you can visit the old beautiful village of Polyrinia, and the Roman fort nearby with amazing views on the bay of Kissamos.
By bicycle to Agia lake
Crete is very mountainous and due to the summers’ high temperatures cycling is not recommended.
From Agii Apostoli though there is one easy and beautiful route you can take. You can rent a bicycle for 10 euro for one day, 8 euro per day if you rent for 3 days or more. Cycle to Galatas village, then to Stalos and finally to Agia lake. It’s a small rural road away from traffic, where you can see the original Crete with stone houses and fields filled with olive and orange trees. Agia lake is a popular spot for bird watchers, especially in April-May and September-October, as it is a passing ground for migrating birds. This should take you 1-1.5 hours cycling and can make small
diversions depending on what draws your attention.
On the way back you have two options. Either return along the same way, or take the road next to the river that flows to Gerani village. Before you reach Gerani and the old national road turn right and try to return along the secondary small farm roads. In any case avoid riding along the old national road, as it is filled with traffic, hotels, it’s noisy and not a pleasant ride.
For the stronger cyclers, continue from Agia towards Omalos and the village of Zourva 700m high, and then descent towards Therisso village and gorge. You will see unique mountain nature and life with panoramic views of Chania. In total its 5-6 hours of continued cycling without stops (including 1.5 hours downhill ride), and many steep difficult curves up to
Akrotiri is the peninsula north west of Chania, where the airport is located. At Akrotiri there are certain places of interest which you can visit mainly by car.
Two historic monasteries are worth to visit, Tsagarolon (Agia Triada) and Gouverneto. To reach them you need a car. The monasteries were built around the 16th century and are located in beautiful countryside filled with olive trees. From Gouverneto monastery there is a 40 minute easy well marked path towards the old monastery of Katholiko and Saint John cave.
Alternatively you can drive or catch a bus to the beautiful beach of Stavros, where Zorba the Greek was filmed. There are frequent busses from Chania and cost 7 € return.
On the way to Chania stop at Eleftherios Venizelos graves to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Chania, especially during sunset. The Venizelos graves is like a big park with 2 graves of the famous Greek politicians, a small church built by the Russian Tsar in 1900 and a statue of Kagiales, a symbol of Cretan resistance and the quest for freedom. Nearby there are cafes to sit, the best is Koukouvagia café.
Agia Irini gorge, Sougia and Lissos
The following route is nice if you want to combine a small gorge, sea and alternatively, antiquities.
Take the early first bus from Chania or drive to Sougia and stop at Agia Irini gorge entrance. Hike 2.5 hours through Agia Irini gorge until you reach the main road to Sougia and follow it. Bring your own water and snacks, or eat at Sougia. We recommend Polifimos restaurant on Sougias’ main road before you reach the beach.
Alternatively you can hike 45 minutes to Lissos, where there was an Asklepion (ancient medical healing centre), a spring, a small temple with nice mosaic and two nice old churches. To return you can take a water taxi after you contact Captain George from Sougia, who is easy to reach, just ask around Sougia.
To return to your car at Agia Irini, take the bus which departs at 18:00 from Sougia port, after the boat arrival and ask to be dropped off at the entrance to the gorge.
Therisso gorge, mountain villages and archaeology
Another nice route is to drive towards Therisso village through its beautiful gorge. Then go left towards Drakona village where is Dounias restaurant, the best in the area. Continue east to Stilos with its springs and then to Aptera. In Aptera there is a Turkish fort and an ancient Roman town with huge cisterns and spectacular views over Suda bay. Then either go east to Kalives for a swim, or drive along the mountain road to Malaxa on the west and enjoy the scenic route and return to Chania. Its one full day excursion.
Platanias and Agia Marina
Platanias and Agia Marina are located west of Chania, along the beach. There are plenty of hotels, shops, sun loungers on the beach, small bars and restaurants. They are the place to go for the younger generation as there are plenty of clubs and bars during summer. Young Greeks hang out in Agia Marina beach bars, namely at Ilios ke Ammos, Costa Costa, Okeanos, and Big Apple. These beach bars are a combination of bar, café, restaurant, sometimes with swimming pool, beach volley and water sport facilities. They are trendy and attract mainly young Greeks, between
10-19:00. In July and August Djs are invited and mini parties last between 18-23:00, free entrance. The biggest club is Mylos. Greeks usually go there after 1:00am, the music is mainstream and entrance is 10 euro with a drink.
To get there take bus, taxi or drive west of Chania, along the old national road. By bus its 30 minutes, 2.50 €, you buy the ticket on the bus, take one of the green long distance busses from Chania central bus station. From June to August there are night busses departing on the hour from Chania and returning on the half hour.
South- Western Crete
There are many picturesque villages doting the rugged coastline of southern Crete. If you are adventurous, want pristine crystal clear beaches and want to avoid the masses of tourists, this is the place to be.
Along the coastline there are many small shallow bays and beaches. Most of them are accessible by car, for others, you have to walk for a while. The most well known places and bases for excursions in south-western Crete are Paleohora, Sougia, Sfakia and Plakias, where you can find hotels and restaurants. They are around 2 hours from Chania by public bus and its 25
euro return. Along these villages and the southern coastline lies the European path E4. There is no direct road connecting them, and takes around 45 minutes by car, no bus connections, only by boat (11 euro per ticket). There you can hike, swim, go fishing, dive, or enjoy the tranquil atmosphere they offer, with splendid restaurants offering fresh fish. In the south Loutro and Agia Roumeli are also located (the exit of Samaria gorge) villages, which are accessible only by boat.
Visit to monumental olives, winery, microbrewery and olive press
It is worth a visit to the south of Tavronitis, 10 minutes by car distance from each other, a monumental olive, winery, small brewery and olive press. In Tavronitis is the olive oil mill Terra Creta www.terracreta.gr South in the village of Vouves is the ancient olives of the Vouves www.olivemuseumvouves.com A little further in Pontikiana is the winery of Karavitaki www.karavitakiswines.com and further east in Zounaki is the small brewery Cretan Beer www.cretanbeer.gr Finally south of the village of Anoskeli there is the homonym winery https://anoskeli.gr
Hiking and other activities in south-western Crete
At Paleohora there are nice beaches east and west of the village. The beach of Grammeno on the west, is quiet and filled with old small cedar trees. On the west there are more beaches but with small pebbles. Also hike to Anydri village, for 1 hour, east of Paliohora. Gyaliskari beach on the far east of Paliohora is ideal for nudists or those who want peace and quiet.
Sougia is a quiet hippy village, has a nice pebble beach. If you like hiking go to Agia Irini gorge, 4 hours long. Leave your car in the entrance, hike until you reach Sougia and take the afternoon bus (which takes the Samaria gorge hikers) to Chania and ask to make a stop at the entrance of Agia Irini, to return and pick up your car. Alternatively, drive to Sougia and hike 1 hour westwards, to Lissos archaeological place. In Sougia you can find Captain George, who can take you with his water taxi to nice beaches for around 5 euros, depending on weather and a minimum number of people. Just ask there how to find him.
At Agia Roumeli is the exit of Samaria gorge with a pebble beach, you can hike the easy way to Portes, the narrowest part of Samaria. Alternatively hike eastwards, to Agios Pavlos beach, one of the best and most quiet beaches of southern Crete.
At Loutro you can relax on the pebble beach or walk along many small hiking paths. It’s a small village inaccessible by car. At Sfakia there are very few small beaches. You can hike Imbros, Asfentou and Kalikratis gorges, around two hours one way. Imbros is the easiest to access. From Sfakia you can drive to Frangocastelo or other beaches eastward such as Kato Rodakino, Plakias or Preveli.
Sfakia is a region with high mountains, rugged coastline and deep gorges. The area is best explored by car.
You can visit 3 beautiful small gorges, Aradena, Imbros and Kalikratis gorges. You need around 2-3 hours hike one way. Many other hikes are possible in this area. Take water with you.
Sfakia is dotted with small beaches, but the best is eastwards, Fragocastelo with the old Venetian fort.
Paleohora is a small village with plenty of beaches to choose from. East and west of the village has nice beaches.
Further to the east is the hippy beach of Gyaliskari. If you drive 10 minutes to the west is Krios beach covered by cedar trees.
For small 2-hour hike (one way), walk through Anidri gorge.
Lefka Ori, or White Mountains, is the main mountainous landmass of western Crete. For the adventurous traveler who has its own transport, it’s the ideal area for discovering the genuine Cretan way of living, following centuries of traditions. Every village and every villager has a story to tell. It’s up to you to discover it!
Knossos and Heraklio
The archaeological site of Knossos is well known as it marked the beginning of the Greek (and European) civilization. Chania to Knossos is 2.5 hours by car. By public bus its 3 hour to Heraklio, depart every hour and cost 20 € euro one way, then change busses and pay an extra 2.50 euro, 20 minute ride to Knossos.
In Heraklio you could also visit the archaeological museum, which has many of Knossos artifacts and walk along the pedestrianised street where the main Venetian buildings are located. Don’t miss the Lions’ square and fountain.
Rethymno Prefecture and beaches
Rethymnon is a nice small city which many people would describe as a ‘miniature’ of Chania. There are busses from Chania every hour and cost 20 euro return ticket. To venture further south for the day is possible only by car.
South of Rethymno, on the mainland, the most beautiful villages are Argyroupoli and Spili, both famous for their springs and archaeological ruins.
If you wish to visit beaches, Rethymno offers many options. South of Rethymno is Preveli monastery and nearby Kourtaliotis river flows, filled with palm trees. If you drive west, you will come across Plakias, Kato Rodakino and Frangocastello villages. All have gorgeous sandy beaches and restaurants. If you want to be more isolated though, go east to Agia Fotini, Triopetra and Agios Pavlos beaches. There are many smaller beaches between the above places that is hard to describe how to get there as you have to drive along dirt roads.
Hiking in Chania perfecture
There are many places to go hiking, climbing, and mountaineering, depending on the season. The places listed here are located in Chania prefecture. There are many more places to go and see in the rest of Crete. George (the manager of the hotel) organizes himself hiking excursions to different destinations, depending on participation, the weather and his spare time!
Excursions are organised on a first come, first served basis, as we usually use a 7-seater car. Its 40-45 euro for excursions. For excursions on demand there are separate charges. Whatever your taste, don’t hesitate to ask George, he will be happy to give information on hikes and places of natural interest.
Regarding the equipment, you must have good mountain shoes, although in some cases sandals are fine, hat for the sun, plenty of water, and be well informed about the hike, as some parts of the European Hiking Path E4 are very badly signed and you can get lost!
No corals or wrecks. Not so spectacular dives. Cave diving is good, particularly in the south. In Chania town, try Blue Adventures Diving www.bluadventuresdiving.com and Chania Diving www.chaniadiving.gr . They dive around Lazareta island and Agios Fanourios, where you will find many amphoras and small caves.
At Kalyves are Omega Divers www.omegadivers.com and in Rethymno go to Paradise Divers (west of Rethymno) www.diving-center.gr . Paradise Divers dive in Elefantospileo (Elephants Cave), an underwater cave in north Crete, where you can see the stalactites in and out of the water, plus some remains of pre-historic elephant and a deer. You can see clearly the tusk and jaw of the elephant. The entrance of the cave is at 9m. It’s the best dive in north Crete and one of the best of its kind in Greece. In south Crete there are more caves and ‘wall’ dives. Diving centers exist
in Paliohora, Sfakia and Plakias.