About Chania Region
The Prefecture of Chania is at the westernmost part of Crete. The terrain is mountainous and the vegetation dense with oak, pine and chestnut trees. Steep mountains, home to the famous Samaria Gorge, tumble down to the sea to form beautiful beaches, like Aghia Roumeli, Sfakia and Sougia. In the north of the region, protected on three sides by the White Mountains, is the large plain of Chania, where olive trees, orange groves and vines grow in abundance.
Chania, Crete's second largest city, was the capital of Crete until 1972. It is the site of the Minoan settlement of Kydonia, which archaeologists believe was a palace site making Chania supremely important on Crete. Many of Chania's residents will tell you that the city is still the spiritual capital of Crete, even if the title is officially bestowed on Heraklion!
Chania is also one of the most impressive towns in Greece. The old walled town has a magnificent harbour and mediaeval quarters, consisting of houses and churches from both the Venetian and Turkish periods. This unique melting pot of history is part of its enduring charm. Around the crescent-shaped harbour you'll find many excellent restaurants, bars and little shops, as well as the famous cruciform shaped indoor market, with its fascinating array of provisions. Scattered north and west from Chania lie countless beautiful beaches along with many small villages and pretty coves.
South of Chania is the famous Samaria Gorge. This 18km long gorge, the longest in Europe, begins just below the Omalos plateau. Its width varies from 3m to 150m and its vertical walls reach 500m at the highest point. The gorge has an incredible number of wild flowers and is home to a large number of endangered species, including the Cretan wild goat, the kri-kri.
Lake Kournas is the only fresh water lake on Crete and is a haven for wildlife. The lake used to be called 'Korisia' after ancient 'Korion', a city thought to be in the area with a temple to Athena. Although it tends to be a popular area for holidaymakers it is still a lovely place to spend some time.
Frangokastello, on the south coast, is a long resort with fine sandy beaches. There are a number of tavernas, cafes, shops catering for most needs, and some specialist fish restaurants, which are much frequented by the locals. This area is noted for attractive gorges that delight keen walkers, and not far away is Chora Sfakion from where you can take a boat along the south coast to the west.
Georgioupolis has an idyllic setting between sea and mountain and lies between the towns of Rethymnon, a 30 minute journey by car, and Chania, a 45 minute drive away. This charming village, with its long stretch of sandy beach and river running into the sea, was until recently a sleepy little fishing village in an out-of-the-way place. Over the past 20 years though it has slowly grown into a very popular holiday resort, with a wide range of tavernas, shops, cafes, boutiques and other tourist amenities. The beautiful countryside surrounding the village is ideal for walkers, while the splendid sandy beach and relaxed seaside atmosphere make it ideal for beach lovers. There is an excellent bus service in all directions and this makes it possible to go quite far afield, for example to Heraklion (90min journey) or the south coast perhaps to visit Phaistos or Matala. Some distance outside the village a long row of hotels sits alongside the sweeping 10 km-long sandy beach, however a part of timeless old Georgioupolis remains very much in place. As in years gone by, the eucalyptus-tree-lined square remains the perfect place to sit and watch the villagers meet each other in the kafenions to exchange the news of the day over a coffee or ouzo.
Loutro is the sort of fishing village that visitors seek but rarely find. It is only accessible by boat or a long walk down from the village high above and along a cliffside path. The small village huddles around the harbour - here you will find a few simple tavernas, which offer some of the best cooking on the island. There are no cars, no nightlife, just a sense of tranquility. The village has a shingle beach and small coves with deep clear water, ideal for snorkelling. The rocky hillside, rising steeply from the harbour, is criss-crossed with paths that make it a walkers' paradise and quite close by there are archaeological remains to be explored. For energetic walkers there are challenging walks with stunning views of the mountains and out across the Libyan Sea.
Paleochora is situated on the south western coast of Crete. This former fishing village sits on a small peninsula jutting into the vast blue expanses of sea the backdrop of which is a lush green landscape with oleanders and olive trees. To the west is a long sandy beach. The small seaside town has a large selection of tavernas, shops and cafes, and on a summer’s evening the bustling streets become a much-loved strolling and meeting point. The area is ideal for beach lovers, or for walkers eager to explore the south-west coast and the surrounding mountains. From Paleochora, boats ply back and forth along the coast, stopping at a number of villages on the way to Chora Sfakion. It is also possible to take boat trips to see dolphins as well as the remote island of Gavdos, the most southerly point of Europe.
Falassarna has a winding mountain road leading down to the beach, offering a panoramic view of the whole bay. Fine white sandy beaches lie at the bottom of a steep rock-faced bay. In the rock structure lies the evidence of how much the sea level has dropped in this area since ancient times, witnessed by the remains of an old Roman harbour, now inland. Adjacent to the bay lies the old village of Phalassarna, where even today life is relatively untouched by tourism. There are two tavernas, one of which has a small shop. The village of Platanos, 5 kilometres away, offers a larger selection of shops. This area is ideal for those visitors looking for a quiet holiday, who love open spaces, crystal clear waters and silky sand beaches. This is a great place to experience the simple pleasures of Cretan life.
Where to visit
From Almyrida you can explore picturesque inland villages, dramatic mountain gorges and some of Crete's best beaches and bays.
Falassarna beach has won awards over the years and is part of the Natura 2000 network, due to its variety of flora and fauna.
This former fishing village on the south west coast sits on a small peninsula in the midst of a lush green landscape.
"This form can't convey how good we felt the service you provided was - each hotel seemed better than the last with the Palazzo Greco being absolute standout! The only complaint we had was the noise the night we stayed in Chania which went on until 5.00 am. If we did it again we wouldn't stay in the centre of Chania. The visit to Spinalonga was everything we anticipated and more."
J Hanson, UK, June, 2017