CHANIA - VILLAGES
Apart from the picturesque Town of Chania, this prefecture of Crete has many beautiful mountainous villages and seaside settlements. Kissamos, Paleochora and Sfakia are the most famous. They have all managed to escape mass tourism and keep their authenticity.
The town of Chania is the second largest town of Crete and the capitalof Chania municipality. This beautiful historical settlement is located37 miles away from Rethymnon and 90 miles from Heraklion Town. Chaniais one of the oldest towns in Crete, with a rich and long history.Famous for its preserved settlement, with remarkable monuments andhouses from the Venetian times, this authentic town is considered quitelively and definitely picturesque for its mystical character andtraditional beauty. Chania consists of two settlements, the old and thenew town which coexist harmoniously to this day. The modern town ofChania charms every visitor. It combines tradition with tourism. Thefriendly atmosphere and warm hospitality of Chania guarantee a uniquevacation experience. The Venetian port lies in the heart of the oldtown, surrounded by picturesque alleys and streets creating an idyllicarea and unique atmosphere. Well preserved and restored mansions thatadorn the ancient town of Chania have converted to Cretan taverns,local shops and restaurants.
The old town has many quarters and squares to walk surrounded by ancient buildings and mosques that are worth admiring. The aristocratic neighborhood is full of beautiful Venetian buildings worth seeing. Among them is a fortress called Firkas that stands at the southernmost point of Topanas, at the entrance of the harbor. It was built in 1629 and it houses the Naval Museum of Chania and a summer theatre. The 16th century Venetian lighthouse is the landmark of Chania and lies at the extreme end of the pier. It is the first thing a visitor sees when reaching the port, one of the most important historical sites in Chania. Chania offers many types of accommodations of various categories, numerous international restaurants and Greek traditional taverns, excellent pastry shops, traditional cafes, lively bars, clubs and pubs, all mostly located in the harbor area, cinemas, theatres and places for concerts and exhibitions, and plenty of cultural activities that take place in the beautiful town.
The unspoiled and historical village of Sfakia is built on the hill slopes, overlooking the natural bay. It is situated around the White Mountains range and the famous Samaria Gorge. Sfakia lies 45 miles southeast of Chania town. Most of the inhabitants here are involved in fishing and goat raising, producing delightful cheeses such as anthotiri or mizithra. The main town of Sfakia constitutes an excellent place to start your exploration of the southern coast of Crete. The village is very traditional and authentic and its calm atmosphere is only interrupted during the afternoon by the arrivals of hikers coming from the Samaria Gorge with small boats. The village is known for its local cuisine and a few excellent restaurants can be found on the seafront and inside Chora. The picturesque port of Sfakia is surrounded by many cafes and fish taverns and nearby is the main beach of Sfakia, which is an excellent choice for swimming. This part of Crete is linked regularly with the town of Chania. From Sfakia you can visit the remarkable cliffs of Imbros and Samaria gorge.
Paleohora is a lovely summer resort located 50 miles southwest of Chania town. The picturesque village lies between two coves where there is a lovely port from where boats depart from Sougia and other villages of Crete. The village consists of two wonderful beaches, one with soft sand and one with nice pebbles. Both are gifted with refreshing crystalline waters that are always protected from the strong winds. Paleochora is a popular summer destination and is extremely busy during the high season, but still there are many quiet places for those who care for some relaxation and tranquility. The village offers many types of accommodations, plenty of restaurants and taverns, shops and bars that remain open until the late hours. The Venetian fortress of Paleochora is called 'Selino' and stands at the top of the settlement. It was built in 1820. Among the things that captivate every visitor are the beautiful whitewashed little houses dressed in colorful flowers and picturesque alleys. Regular buses connect Chania Town with the village of Paleochora.
Kissamos is a beautiful town lying 26 miles west of Chania town, in one of the most fertile valleys of Crete. Today it counts on 3,000 inhabitants. It is famous for the production of wine. Kastelli Kissamou (Kissamos) is surrounded by a beautiful landscape with a gorgeous and calm beach that consists of golden soft sand and nice pebbles. The town keeps its authentic character and is built on the ancient city of Kissamos, which used to be the commercial center of western Crete. Due to this fact, Kissamos was always well protected by the strong fortification walls that the Venetians built.
Today, remains of the castle can still be seen in Kissamos. The Venetian fortress, called Castello, is actually the landmark of Kissamos and is built at the top of the settlement. Churches, monasteries and beautiful mansions are also part of the ancient Kissamos and are worth admiring in the town. Various accommodations of all categories can be found in Kissamos as well as camping sites, excellent taverns and traditional cafes. Regular local buses connect Kissamos to Chania town while ferries depart from the port of Kissamos to Gythion, the Pelloponese, and the island of Kythira. From Kastelli Kissamou one has access to the interesting archaeological sites of Polyrenia and Falassarna, the impressive gorges of Topolia, the isles Gramvoussa, also called Pirate Isles, the idyllic lagoon of Balos, the wonderful sandy beaches and their crystalline waters, and the numerous enchanting medieval villages.
Akrotiri lies 6 miles northeast of Chania town close to the second airport of Crete. Akrotiri is famous for its long history and heritage. The village is adorned with interesting museums and monuments and monasteries like Gouverneto, Agia Triada and Paxinos. In close distance is the seaside settlement of Kalathas, which has a beautiful sandy beach with crystalline waters. Other fine beaches can be found in Akrotiri, like Stavros beach, where, apart from the soft sand and the clear waters, visitors can admire a Neolithic cave that was used as a sanctuary from the Bronze Period and through all the Greek periods.