A chic harbour city that’s more than earned its stripes on the cultural front, Chania is finally cementing its place as Crete’s capital of cool. The island’s former capital and historic melting pot, Chania has a special place in Cretans’ hearts. Now, it’s got more than the locals falling for its charms. The city sits around a picture-perfect harbour, framed by elegant Venetian and Ottoman houses and a string of waterfront bars and tavernas. Interested? Here’s the lowdown.
Culture & history
At Chania’s heart is its atmospheric old quarter. It hums with activity; an artistic jumble of Venetian, Turkish and Greek architecture curved around the pretty harbour. It’s filled with lovely twisty streets with restored townhouses, artisan shops and super-chic nightlife venues.
There’s plenty for the culturally inclined to get their teeth into. The harbour is flanked by impressive Venetian fortifications, and the town’s crowning glory is its handsome lighthouse. Standing guard of the harbour, it’s particularly striking lit up after dark, with the lights reflecting in the glassy waters.
Wining & dining
Tipped as the new Mykonos by those in the know, Chania’s after-hours entertainment can be as full-throttle or low-key as you like. You’ve got a line-up of exclusive beach bars that roll out the big-name DJs and champagne once the sun’s gone down, with a mix of classy bars and Greek restaurants lighting up the harbour around sunset.
The vibrant party scene fits Chania’s old soul like a glove. There’s a real trend of restaurants and bars setting up shop in historic buildings (think a former Turkish bathhouse and a converted monastery), while the pedestrianised Chatzimichali Daliani is the go-to for local fare.
Chania is widely considered the best place to shop in Crete. Its labyrinth of streets and bijou city centre are bursting with tiny handicraft stores, boutiques and markets. The covered market in the heart of the old town is good for local flair. You’ll find Cretan honey, cheeses and olives here, as well as handmade trinkets and souvenirs.
Take a stroll down leatherworker’s lane Skridolf Street for quality, handmade (and amazingly affordable) leather goods, including beautiful purses, handbags and shoes. Glassware and ceramics are a big trade in Chania, too, and make great gifts and souvenirs.
Where to stay
Located just 15 minutes from Chania’s old town, the Domes Noruz Chania is a brand-new boutique hotel from the same people who created Domes of Elounda (one of Crete’s finest hotels). It’s adults only, very design-led and features a pair of swimming pools and sandy beach. Although we love the champagne and seafood bar, our favourite thing about Domes Noruz is the fact that every single room comes with its own private plunge pool or al fresco Jacuzzi®.