Crete is rich in history, have great outdoor restaurants and bars, full of beautiful beaches. This island is a perfect destination from spring until autumn with warm climate.
The north coast is the most populated area and well known for tourists. South coast is less visited therefore offers isolated villages and beaches.
Brief history; Crete was the centre of the Minoan civilisation, back to Bronze Age 2600 – 1150 BC.
Chania; or also named as Hania, is the 2nd largest town. The old city centre is very convenient to walk around, and very picturesque. The Venetian, Turkish and Turkish quarters are well preserved.
Since the ancient times, the city of Chania has faced many conquerors and the influences of many civilizations through time, evident on the city monuments. This beautiful city managed to preserve its original historical character, despite the fast-growing tourist industry. It is considered as one of the most beautiful cities of Greece and the most picturesque city of Crete.
The old city leads to the harbour and a lighthouse. It was built at 16th century to protect the harbour, one of the oldest lighthouses in Mediterrinean. Also named as Egyptian Lighthouse, its height is 21 meters. In case of a threat, the Venetians shut down the entrance of the port, using a chain that was tied to the base of the Egyptian Lighthouse and to the Firka Fortress.
At the east part of the seaside, there is a great chill out bar.
A nice restaurant in old city is Sinagogi.
Our hotel is the west part of Chania, outside of the old city, 30 minutes walk. Klinakis Hotel is only one star, simple hotel with a great sea view, especially sunset.
There is also a small beach in front of the hotel, good swimming until the rocks.
In the evening, take a walk in the old city, nice small stone houses and small streets. We head to Koum Kapi, sea side bars and cafes. We had typical Greek iced coffee.
Chania is a lively city at night.
Drive to Balos Lagoon (day trip)
One of the best beaches in the island, only 1 hour driving distance from Chania. First 30 minutes is driving at the main road, afterwards smaller road.
There are two ways to get to Balos: by road and by sea (unless you have your own boat it will have to be on a boat excursion from the town of Kissamos)
Walking down to the beach takes about 20 to 30 minutes on an easy path from the car park. (Around 4 km walking) The view will be amazing during this walk. This is a reason to go to this lagoon by car not by boat.
In the high season, the beach is crowded but very clean. There is one cafe and toilet. The sea water is shallow and make is very warm.
On the way back to Chania, we stopped at Falasarna, there is tropical reggae bar here and a beer at seaside watching the sunset is the best.
Here is a recommendation if you have a rental car and would like to drive 3-4 days around the west south part of the island.
Start with driving to Elafonissi. The road is very narrow, there are curves and cliffs. Amazing view along the road. You arrive to Elafonissi after 2 hours driving. The sand is white to pink and the sea is turquoise blue here.
In the afternoon we drive to Palaiochora, a small village in south part. This part is not touristic, the prices for hotel and dinner is very reasonable. We had sea food, fish and ouzo, best flavours in Crete.
Next day, you can also drive to nice and calm beaches nearby.
Final destination in our trip is Rethymno. On the way, you had a lunch break at riverside and have been eating grilled lamb.
Wonderful town with shops, restaurants, bars, old city and old castle. The harbour in the old town is crowded in the evenings, popular with seafood, greek souvlaki or moussaka. Chania and Rethymno are 2 best preserved towns in Crete, with signs of different civilisations and conquerers.
Heraklion or Iraklion is the main city in Crete and quite busy with traffic. Due to Olympics, it has been reconstructed nicely. It is also major cruise destination.
Apart from shopping and the designer clothes on Daedalou Street (“Daydaloo”), there are many small shops off all the main streets which sell those local products. Just have a look along 1866 Street and the side streets. We did not go to Heraklion in our trip.
You’ll find plenty of things to keep you busy in Crete. The ones who like history will enjoy a visit to the Palace of Knossos and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Sun-seekers will enjoy along the island’s sandy coasts and turquoise water. Outdoors types can hike out at Samaria Gorge in Chania, and the new who like shopping will love the boutique-lined boulevards of Agios Nikolaus.