My Greek experience in Chania!
As a true lover of Crete I just had to visit the islands second largest city, Chania! Chania is a beautiful city divided in the old- and new town, with lots of historical sites in both parts and famous for its lighthouse and harbor.
It was quite late in the evening when I arrived in Chania for the first time. The streets were still very lively and the atmosphere was great. The main square is surrounded by restaurants and taverna’s, where both tourists and locals were enjoying their diner and drinks. We chose to have diner in one of the restaurants near the water, from there we had a perfect view over the traditional and characteristic lighthouse, which lightens up during the evening and night. After having an amazing souvlaki diner and downing the ouzo shots you get if you receive the bill (it is impolite if you don’t drink them, since it is a gift from the restaurant!) we decided to walk around for a bit.
Near the main square you can find an impressive building that has been bombed during the Second World War. In the old town you can find many historical sites that are related to the Second World War. You will also see some Turkish influence, near the harbour you can find a Turkish Mosque that is used as an indoor market and art gallery nowadays.
After seeing some cultural sites by night, it was time to explore the nightlife in Chania. Most bars are located at the main square. The crowd was mixed, Greek but also many internationals. Most bars look very classy but you can also find some ‘rougher’ cafes if you’re into that. If you prefer live music and traditional dancing you might be interested in joining a Greek night, these nights are organised at the main square, a couple of days per week. During your meal you can listen to the live music and later in the evening you will be forced to join the dancers and other guests to dance the sirtaki all together.
The next day I discovered that the houses in Chania are very traditional and colourful. From a hill just out of the centre you can have an amazing view of all these colours together. There are some beautiful churches in Chania as well. These churches are very traditional; you can find things that you will only see in Greek Orthodox churches, for example the typical Greek icons or the offering images.
Surprisingly, I also found out that Chania is perfect for shopping! In contrast to most cities in Crete, you could find many modern shops and shops from larger retail chains. If you would like to see more traditional shops, you will love the old part of the city where you can find many little traditional shops and small streets with markets. There also is a leather market, where you can buy traditional souvenirs. Between the old and the new town, there is a large indoor market where you can buy almost everything. From food to souvenirs, from Raki to sea sponges.
If you are staying in Chania, you are at the perfect base to travel around the island. Many beautiful places and cities are easy to reach by car or bus. If you travel to the West, you can easily reach the stunning mountains and beaches of Gramvousa (40 minutes by car), or the beautiful Elafonisi, a white sandy beach area with palmtrees and clear blue water (1,5 hours by car). If you would travel from Chania to the East, you can easily reach the city Rethymnon (1 hour by car) or the islands capital Heraklion (2 hours by car).
I would love to visit Chania again, whether it is for a whole week or just for a day trip if I stay somewhere else at the island, I will definitely go there again.