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Chania, Crete, has the full package!

Updated: May 14

The Western part of Crete Island is a unique place, with hundreds of thousands of fans ready

to visit the place again & again,

or even start a new life here, if given the chance.

What really attracts all these people to Chania?

Why is Chania truly worth visiting?

I moved from Athens to Crete, back in 2005 & since then, I have been living in & exploring Chania & the island of Crete as a whole. My family, from my father's side, connects me with this beautiful island & I have in fact been visiting Chania for many years, since I was a small kid. Every year, it is getting clearer & clearer to me why Chania, Crete, has the full package among the other cities of the island.

With a population of approximately 160.000 people, Chania has almost half of Heraklion’s population, which is the modern capital of the island. Yet, the Chania prefecture is only a touch smaller geographically than Heraklion ( 2.376 vs 2.641 ). That means that in Heraklion, the population density is 121people/, while in Chania it is 67 people/ Fewer people & lower density mean smaller cities, fewer buildings, more open space & natural areas.

The variety of landscapes in the Chania prefecture is impressively rich. Namely: a fertile mountain plateau, a massive mountain range with over 30 peaks over 2.000 meters altitude, NATURA 2000 protected areas of great importance, one of the longest gorges in all Europe (Samaria Gorge), some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, underwater caves, the one & only freshwater lake of Crete and a palette of biodiversity that hosts some unique species of flora & fauna, found nowhere else in Crete.

Chania crete, has the full package.

Let's have a closer look & go a little deeper...

1. Mountains, Gorges & Hiking paths

- The White Mountains of Chania are a mountain range visible from almost everywhere in the prefecture. It covers more than half the surface area of Chania perfecture. Its highest peak is at 2.453 meters, the second tallest in Crete, surpassed only by 3 meters in height by Psiloritis Mountain in Rethymno. There are many mountain villages to explore in Chania, where time seems to have stopped & plus the impressive mountain range itself.

Samaria Gorge Chania

- There are tenths of Gorges in Chania of varying difficulty levels, lengths & terrain making the destination an absolute must for all hiking lovers. The most famous among all is the Samaria Gorge. With 13kms. length from entrance to exit, it is one of the longest in all Europe. Samaria Gorge is part of National Park Of Samaria since 1962. Thousands of people cross the gorge every year including many repeaters. The gorge opens its gates to visitors around the beginning of May according to the weather conditions & closes them at the end of October before the rainy season begins.

Other famour gorges are Imbros, Agia Irini, Aradena, Diktamos, etc. Together they create an impressive network that you simply cannot miss discovering.

E4 Path in Chania

With its 10.450kms in length (11.773kms including detours & alternatives routes), this is the longest European trail.

On Crete Island, it starts from Kastelli-Kissamos (North-West Chania),

follows the west coast and heads to the south coast of Chania. Then, it crosses the island of Crete, all the way to the East. Many parts of the trail, especially along the south coast of Chania, are highly demanding, requiring a lot of experience in hiking and/or a local guide.

2. The Blue Sea Water & Amazing Beaches

We count over 100 beaches along the Chania coast line, from the North coast (borders with Rethymno) to the West coast & all the way down to the South coast, including the amazingly beautiful island of Gavdos, the southernmost point of Europe.

In Chania, there are some of the most beautiful, sensitive, famous and undiscovered beaches of the whole island. Many of them, thankfully, are already under the NATURA 2000 seal of protection - but it is not clear yet, if this is enough, as the over tourism phenomenon is more than visible and has it's harmful effects even in these areas.

Read about the problems that over tourism has create to our beaches here:

Chania Snorkeling

The crystal clear waters, the shallow water and the sea life (among them sea-turtles, seals, etc.), the attract thousands of people every year who love swimming, beach life, free camping, water activities, snorkeling, diving, and such water activities.

The South coast line by the Libyan Sea & the North coast line by the Cretan Sea have shores settled with the endemic Cretan Juniper, archaeological sites by the sea and hidden fjords accessible sometimes only by boat. These are only a few of the hidden gems that you'll discover if you have enough time to explore the island, as plenty of time is needed for a proper discovery.

No matter if you travel alone, with friends, your family and kids, you like nudism or free camping under the night stars, the variety of Chania beaches will cover your needs.

3. The Mediterranean Diet and Cuisine

The Mediterranean Diet, the world’s healthiest according to scientists, is a nutritious eating plan. This diet is based on the traditional recipes of Greece, Italy & other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Its biggest distinctions among other diets is the ingredients & the cooking methods used.

Plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, are the foundations of the diet. Olive oil is the diet's King and the main source of added fat.

Fish, seafood, dairy and poultry are included in moderation.

Red meat and sweets are eaten on occasion only, in social or religious celebrations. (However, this is no longer the case nowadays where meat is often consumed daily.)

Chania and Crete in general have a large production of virgin olive oil. Olive picking by whole families it is still a common activity in the Autumn and Winter season, just like the old days. Thankfully, the old methods of growing trees & producing olive oil are still popular.

Recently we released our Eat & Crete Food Tour [out of the box] in Chania's White Mountains. An ode to Cretan gastronomy, the local culture & the people still living in the villages. A lifetime experience!

4. Beer, Wine, Tsikoudia (Raki)

The tradition of making your own home made wine or tsikoudia spirit (known also as raki) has very deep roots in local society. For several years now, beer home brewing is also an activity which is getting bigger and bigger, along with the beer quality.

Craft Beer Tours Chania

- Home brewing experience & the growing love for good beer has made way today to count 5 breweries in Chania of different sizes: from a one-man-show brewery, to family breweries and big scale brewer that produce enough beer to cover distribution throughout the whole island of Crete.

You may find detailed information about

Chania Breweries in our blog:

Being travellers & beer lovers ourselves at Bonnie and Clyde Urban Tours,

we created back in 2021 the first ever

Craft Beer Walking Tours of Greece which take place in Chania & Rethymno.

Craft beer community is growing in Chania. We now have collaborations between brewers, a couple of bottle shops that take craft beer seriously & some restaurants who realize that having a craft beer catalogue in their menu offers a competitve advantage & higher sales.

We, at Bonnie and Clyde Urban Tours, are specialists in creating craft beer menus, according to the restaurant profile, the foods presented in their menu and even train their staff concerning beer, its secrets & how to pair them with food.

Our vision is to create a modern & lively network for all of us who love the Craft Beers of Greece & bring them to the world stage!

- Wine production in Chania is an impressive chapter. There are many wineries to visit, like

(let us know in the comments if we need to add others to this list): Karavitakis, Anoskeli, Dourakis , Pneumatikakis, Paterakis & Manousakis.

There must positively be tenths of smaller scale wineries and countless home winemakers all around the prefecture. All together, they make Chania a top destination for wine lovers.

- Tsikoudia the distilled spirit of Crete (also known as raki, the name given by the Ottomans during Crete's occupation) is a must-have in every home, tavern, restaurant or coffee shop.

The whole distilling process is like a mystagogy (mystery).

The distilation season takes place around late September & October. If you are lucky enough to be invited in a kazani (the name from the distilling boiler) gathering, you will also taste goat meat, salads, a big variation of mezes (tapas), home made wine etc. with spontaneous singing, music & dancing which simply makes the whole experience unforgettable!

5. Micro-Climates that Create Natural Beauties

The unique geographical position of Crete, right in the middle of Europe, Africa and Asia, the island's orientation & oblong shape, the high mountains, the exposure to sea & strong winds blowing all year round from every direction, all have created through centuries a rare & complicated system of different microclimates. In a very short distance, the scenery can change completely.

This phenomenon is more obvious on the Western & Eastern edges of the island, where the winds are stronger.

Cretan Juniper NATURA 2000

In Chania, we find thick snow and ice on the White Mountains range during Winter, sensitive eco-systems with sea lagoons and shallow waters on the North and South coasts, desert sand, Mediterranean Juniper trees by the sea, rich flora of herbs, flowers, mushrooms or trees, small rivers, gorges everywhere and the only freshwater lake of Crete; Lake of Kournas.

Chania's wild goat in White Mountains

The biggest temperature differences are observed when ascending the mountainsides, heading away from the sea. For every 100ms of altitude climbed, the temperature drops by 0.6 to 1°C.

6. Cretan Hospitality: Part of the local DNA (at least the elders)

In Chania (and Crete in general) you can still say “Γεια - Yeia - Hello!” or “Καλημέρα - Kalimera - Good morning” to local people (mostly in the villages) or share a big smile with them & which they will return wholeheartedly immediately.

Even though people are changing a lot year after year, especially the years we live in now, Cretan hospitality has proven to have very deep roots. It is standing the test of time & challenges of a modern world.

To be offered wine, coffee or tsikoudia simply because you entered a coffee shop while the locals are there drinking or chatting, is just magical. This generous habit is still alive mostly in the small mountain villages, and occasionally in the big cities.

No need to mention the epic arguments in small coffee shops and country taverns when the bill comes, as everyone wants to pay for everybody else!

A visit to Crete will help you understand the true meaning of hospitality, even to this day.


In other words, if you're still wondering “Why Chania?”...

- Irresistible natural beauty, gorges & hiking paths.

- Varierty of micro-climates all around the island.

- Delicious cuisine bases on the olive oil, a health super-food.

- Local production of craft beer, wine & tsikoudia.

- Beautiful beaches which cover the whole palette of desires.

- Local hospitality.

- Last but not least: the iconic Venetian Harbour of Chania, is just the icing on the cake.

In our Tours in Chania & Rethymno we are promoting a non-touristy way of travel - away from an out-of-date model of over tourism, big Tour Operators & huge all-inclusive resorts -

while creating memorable experiences that stay with us.

We prefer to collaborate with local businesses & choose local products to present to our guests (like the craft beers & the food during our tours) with eco-responsibility at the core. By respecting the Earth & Sea which surround us and acting with sustainable criteria, we give ourselves the chance to live a quality life and rescue our planet landscape for the future generations.

So what are you waiting for? Come on down, Chania is a great place to VISIT!

Ya maste! Cheers!

- Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde Urban Tours Chania Crete Greece

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2 comentarios

12 abr 2023

Must-visit island in Greece! sounds like the most amazing Greek island! would you recommend spending a whole week or more there?

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Bonnie and Clyde Urban Tours
Bonnie and Clyde Urban Tours
12 abr 2023
Contestando a

A week is the minimum stay for Crete as the island is huge. Probably you'll end up visiting the must-touristy sites & not get the Cretan feeling that we described.

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