The prefecture Chania is for 60 % of its ground a mountainous area where hardly any Cretans live. Most of the Chaniotes about 93.000 inhabitants live in the capital and the villages. Another area where many locals live is Apokoronas, which is east of Chania, between Georgioupoli and Kalives. Many ex pats have settled down here to live in their first or second house. There are already villages with more foreigners than locals. It’s a beautiful area with good walking routes through the traditional villages and the pine tree forest. In the village Vamos, architects have founded a tourist company that rents out traditional holiday houses for visitors.
Going south towards Sfakia we pass the Imbros gorge, a nice walk and a good alternative for the longer Samaria gorge. Be sure you stop here at the war museum of Kares, you’ll be surprised…
The area around the Venetian Castle of Frangokastello in the south of the prefecture is a remote area of the island, but there’s no reason not to visit it, since here we find not only the castle from the 14th century, but also some very good beaches. Accommodation is available but remember there’s not so much nightlife or shops. Let the locals tell you the story about the ghost army of Drossoulites.
The Akrotiri is the peninsula to the East of the city of Chania. There are two very interesting monasteries to visit: Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) and Gouvernetso or St.John the Baptist. The apostle lived for 1 winter in a cave nearby and when he continued his journey to Rome, he capsized en route (so the story goes). The beach at the village Stavros is a nice place to relax; it was here that Zorba the Greek (Anthony Quinn) danced the sirtaki with Alan Bates.
Chania is the prefecture for the walking fans. Surely you’ll plan a hike through the popular Samaria gorge or the easier Imbros gorge, the spectacular Aradena or the green Irini gorge on the eastern and western slopes of the White Mountains. There are walks to the highest peaks of the Lefka Ori, up till 2453 Meter, but we advise you to go with a local guide. Just be aware that of all these gorges, the longest one, which is Samaria, is not open in the winter.
Therisso is a nice village south of Chania, with an interesting museum dedicated to the great politician Eleftherios Venizelos. Higher in the mountains you must visit the botanical gardens at the village Laki. For family fun visit the only water park in the prefecture, Limnoupolis only 4 km. from the capital.
We focus now on the most western point of the prefecture, where we find the lovely fishermen’s village Paleochora and the lagoon beaches at Elafonissi. The sand of the beach looks pink or Rosa because of the fine coral mixed by nature with the sand. Again a “lonely” area, with some houses offering studios and apartments. The Monastery of Chrissokalitsa is nearby and if you pass the last steps up to the central building and you notice that the last steps are turning into gold, than you are without sins.... but this, I am afraid to say it, hardly happens.
Kissamos or Kastelli, 2 names for the same city on the north coast is a well-organized tourist resort but you don’t find it in many Tour operators’ brochures. Maybe that’s why the “Cretan insiders” choose this place for their holidays. Here nice good hotels and usually small and family-run studios and apartments. A tourist site in this area that’s well worth a visit is the island of Gramvousa with Balos lagoon. In the summer you will find transfer boats from the Kissamos harbor. The beaches of Falassarna are great for tourist looking for peace and nature.
The City of Chania is for many Greeks and visitors the most beautiful city of GREECE. The old centre offers the biggest traditional harbour from our country and it’s surrounded by many small alleys with shops for souvenirs, art, handicrafts, but also for your stomach; so if you are hungry you’ll find always a good place to eat the Cretan and Greek dishes. In the heart of the city the daily open market where you can buy fresh spices, herbs, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, souvenirs etc. A little outside the city, towards the Akrotiri you’ll find a memorial park for the great Statesmen of Crete, Eleftherios Venizelos. It was because of him that Crete was reunited with Greece in 1913 after centuries of occupation by other nations.
Generally the prefecture Chania is an area for people that look for relaxation, tradition, activity (walking) and the chance to get in touch with the local population.