Chania is one of the most beautiful cities on the island of Crete. When you hear about Chania, talk is about the Venetian Harbor, the old port, the narrow shopping streets and waterfront restaurants. Weaving a tapestry of awe and wonder, Chania is a centuries-old mix of Minoan myths, well-preserved Venetian mansions, a mesmerizing Old Town complete with labyrinthine passageways, and atmospheric Kastelli Hill, once the site of a Roman acropolis.
Chania is a port city located along Crete Island’s north coast. Chania is Crete’s 2nd largest city, after island’s capital Heraklion. Ferries and large cruise ships to Chania dock at Port Souda; approx 2.5 miles to the southeast from Chania.
Chania is easily divided into 2 parts: the modern city (the larger one) and the picturesque old town (next to the old harbor) the whole urban area has been developed around it. The old town used to be surrounded by Venetian fortifications built in the 16th century.
Despite being heavily bombed during WW2 (1939-1945), the Old Town is Crete’s most beautiful urban district, especially the old Venetian harbor. Old Town’s borders are defined by the mostly destroyed Venetian wall. The Old Town’s central part is the heart of tourist activities in the region. A most distinctive area of the old harbor. Its seafront districts all feature historical buildings and thriving nightlife. Halidon Street (the city’s main street) connects the modern with the old town.
The Chania harbor is wonderful and at any particular time of day the light produces a different result, creating a “different place”. This is the best chance to see some of the old buildings of Venetian and Turkish design, which Crete once had across the island. See how these cultures interweave when you explore Old Town, with its Venetian Harbor, 16th-century Turkish prison, 17th-century mosque, Greek Orthodox Chania Cathedral and more.
The disabled cruiser visiting Chania will find the terrain mostly friendly. The Old Harbor and Old Town are adjacent to each other and the area is quite compact. The Old Harbor is very charming and worth exploring, consisting of quite narrow, pedestrian streets. In these streets are restaurants, café and tourist shops. From the harbor the roads slope upwards, the steepness of which depends on which roads you go down. Halidon, one of the main streets, wasn’t too steep.
In the Old Town is the Archaeology Museum which is step free. Also in the Old Town is Cathedral of Eisodion Tis Theotokou, a Greek Orthodox Church, which is ornately decorated and is accessible via a ramp. The restaurants in the Old Harbor and Old Town tend to have step free outdoor seat and indoor seating which usually involves one or two stairs without a handrail to enter.
The Modern Town Center has lots of drop curbs. It’s a busy modern town center and where the bus station is located. There is a public market, which has food and gift stalls and a few cafes. It has a step free main entrance and there are small ramps into many of the individual shops.
Inside the city you will find free, step free with accessible ramp, public accessible toilets with a single grab rail. Accessible toilet signage shows the way. Most restaurants do not have accessible toilets.
Where You’re Docked
Most (especially larger) cruise ships and ferries to Chania dock at Port Souda, located approx 2.5 miles to the southeast from Chania. Buses are used for passenger transportation between Souda and Chania. Based on Souda port’s cruise ship schedule, buses leave every 5 min. However, the shuttle service costs extra.
Good to Know
The lighthouse at the mouth of the Venetian Harbor stands at nearly 70 feet and has been a landmark in Chania since the 16th century.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The Euro (EUR), the currency of the European Union, is the official currency of Greece. Many stores and restaurants also accept major credit cards, which usually offer you a good exchange rate. When shopping, remember there is a Value-Added Tax added to most purchases.
The local language is Greek. Say “Good Afternoon” in Greek: “Kalispera.” English is spoken.
Skridloff (Leather Street) is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Chaniá and features a large selection of leather goods and souvenirs. For something more unique, venture into the shops along Anghelou or Halidon Street or visit the Local Artistic Handicrafts Association at the juncture of the old and new harbors.
Enjoy typical Mediterranean dishes made from fresh, seasonal ingredients and packed with flavor. Be sure to try kalitsounia, small cheese or herb pies. Food is offered in great variety and sometimes great similarity; there are many restaurants and also cafes, at which to reflect upon the experiences of places you have just explored together with the enjoyment of some tasty food.
Be sure to stop by Bougatsa Iordanis the originators of the Chaniá bougatsa. Bougatsa, phyllo pastry filled with a creamy cheese filling, is a local favorite. Chaniá bougatsa is unique from other bougatsa in Greece, perhaps because of its use of fresh, sweet mizithra cheese.
Points of Interest
- Heraklion Archaeological Museum – The museum has a unique record and collection of the Minoan Civilization & treasures from all areas of Crete.
- Heraklion – Heraklion is the island’s capital and the fourth largest city in Greece. Arab refugees from Al Andalus in Spain founded the city; the Republic of Venice governed Heraklion for four centuries.
- Knossos Palace – Home to King Minos, Knossos Palace is one of the most important archeological sites of the Bronze Age. Dating back 7,000 years, it was excavated by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900 and boasts 1,200 rooms.
- Archaeological Museum – on Halidon Street is smaller than its grand Heraklion cousin, though well worth visiting and appealing even to non-archaeologists.
- Maritime Museum – on the west side of the port and walk along the port till Arsenali where is situated the Arsenali Center of Mediterranean Architecture. It delivers a superb introduction to the History of Crete and is by no means only for maritime mavens, you will learn more here in half an hour than most could teach you, about the events that filled Crete’s moving past.
- Venizelos Graves – which has magnificent views from amongst the trees, on a hill above Chania, across the town, Venetian harbor and sweeping over the sea & beyond. Best place to pause & enjoy the view, Ostria cafe.
Chania Accessible Excursions
There are currently no organized accessible shore excursions in Chania.