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Your Guide to Chania and Western Crete

Murray

Your Guide to Chania and Western Crete

Food scene
One of the joys of Western Crete is the excellent quality of the local cuisine and the numerous tavernas and restaurants where this can be sampled.
One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, still full of Venetian charm. The port at night is one of the most romantic places imaginable with many excellent tavernas and bars coming into their own in the later parts of the night. The 'Old' or inner harbour, has more of the excellent and less touristic tavernas.
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Chania
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One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, still full of Venetian charm. The port at night is one of the most romantic places imaginable with many excellent tavernas and bars coming into their own in the later parts of the night. The 'Old' or inner harbour, has more of the excellent and less touristic tavernas.
Only 30 minutes drive, charming seaside town with many excellent tavernas.
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Kolymvari
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Only 30 minutes drive, charming seaside town with many excellent tavernas.
Two supermarkets, several pharmacies, some local cafés make this port worth a visit. On the western side, as you drive down from Sternes, there is a cinema and bowling alley, and then two great fish tavernas on the beach. There are also two petrol stations!
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Souda
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Two supermarkets, several pharmacies, some local cafés make this port worth a visit. On the western side, as you drive down from Sternes, there is a cinema and bowling alley, and then two great fish tavernas on the beach. There are also two petrol stations!
West of Chania, with a string of hotels, beaches and tavernas. This is the night life scene, much loved by our daughters.
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Platanias
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West of Chania, with a string of hotels, beaches and tavernas. This is the night life scene, much loved by our daughters.
One of our best restaurants in Chania, food with a nod to Turkish cuisine.
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Tamam
51 Zampeliou
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One of our best restaurants in Chania, food with a nod to Turkish cuisine.
One of the most charming suburbs of Chania, on the Sternes side. There are two beautiful fish tavernas with wonderful views. Look for Oxo Nou, tucked away within the old tanning area (still in use) a theatre and atmospheric wine and coffee bar that offers snacks. Largely only known to locals.
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Halepa
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One of the most charming suburbs of Chania, on the Sternes side. There are two beautiful fish tavernas with wonderful views. Look for Oxo Nou, tucked away within the old tanning area (still in use) a theatre and atmospheric wine and coffee bar that offers snacks. Largely only known to locals.
One of our favourite restaurants. Wonderful food for when you want something a bit different. Founded by Jenny, and Englishwoman. Now run by the lady who was her head waitress for years. BOOK!
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The Well of the Turk
1 Sarpaki
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One of our favourite restaurants. Wonderful food for when you want something a bit different. Founded by Jenny, and Englishwoman. Now run by the lady who was her head waitress for years. BOOK!
For some of the best Greek food near the harbour, this is a must. Just in from the harbour. Don't go for the view but the ambience!
Restaurant Καρναγιο
8 Pl. Katechaki
For some of the best Greek food near the harbour, this is a must. Just in from the harbour. Don't go for the view but the ambience!
Remarkable restaurant in old town, built inside a roofless old soap factory! Looks like a tourist trap and isn't. (Avoid the tourist trap that runs up the street by the city walls, though! Ela's has an area outside where you can drink coffees and beers without dining, and that is a great meet up place if some want to go shopping! Portions are plentiful The goat is exquisite.
Ela
45 Kondilaki
Remarkable restaurant in old town, built inside a roofless old soap factory! Looks like a tourist trap and isn't. (Avoid the tourist trap that runs up the street by the city walls, though! Ela's has an area outside where you can drink coffees and beers without dining, and that is a great meet up place if some want to go shopping! Portions are plentiful The goat is exquisite.
This is a one hour drive, to the East. The road (National Highway) is pretty (and can be a little busy). Rethymno also has an old centre, with many elements of its Venetian and Ottoman past. A quick check with Tripadvisor or similar will reveal many good tavernas. It is a great place to simply wander. We highly recommend Prima Flora at the western end for location and excellent upmarket cuisine.
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Rethymno
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This is a one hour drive, to the East. The road (National Highway) is pretty (and can be a little busy). Rethymno also has an old centre, with many elements of its Venetian and Ottoman past. A quick check with Tripadvisor or similar will reveal many good tavernas. It is a great place to simply wander. We highly recommend Prima Flora at the western end for location and excellent upmarket cuisine.
Sightseeing
A spectacular archeological site, with Roman remains as well as a Turkish fort. The amphitheatre (recently unearthed) is beautifully preserved
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Aptera
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A spectacular archeological site, with Roman remains as well as a Turkish fort. The amphitheatre (recently unearthed) is beautifully preserved
Like Chania, a Venetian city, the fortes region has wonderful winding alleys and sudden sea views. The shops and tavernas are well worth a stroll. The Prima Flora sea front restaurant to the west is one of our all time favourites.
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Rethymno
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Like Chania, a Venetian city, the fortes region has wonderful winding alleys and sudden sea views. The shops and tavernas are well worth a stroll. The Prima Flora sea front restaurant to the west is one of our all time favourites.
World heritage site - a must visit at some point in your life. Two hours drive, but worth it as the journey itself is beautiful.
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Knossos
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World heritage site - a must visit at some point in your life. Two hours drive, but worth it as the journey itself is beautiful.
One of the world's best museums, and perhaps the best for Minoan remains. Contains the Phaistos disk. Needs two visits to do it full justice, but one visit is a must if you have an interest in the ancient Greek culture.
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Archäologische Museum Heraklion
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One of the world's best museums, and perhaps the best for Minoan remains. Contains the Phaistos disk. Needs two visits to do it full justice, but one visit is a must if you have an interest in the ancient Greek culture.
A lovely island located close to the southwestern corner of the Mediterranean island of Crete. When the weather is fine it is possible to walk to the island through the shallow water. The island is a protected nature reserve. It is known for its pink sand beaches, created by tidal and wave-induced deposits of pigmented microorganisms living in a symbiotic relationship with native seaweed.
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Elafonissi Strand
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A lovely island located close to the southwestern corner of the Mediterranean island of Crete. When the weather is fine it is possible to walk to the island through the shallow water. The island is a protected nature reserve. It is known for its pink sand beaches, created by tidal and wave-induced deposits of pigmented microorganisms living in a symbiotic relationship with native seaweed.
The Samariá Gorgehas been a National Park of Greece since 1962 on the island of Crete. It is a major tourist attraction of the island and a World's Biosphere Reserve. The gorge is in southwest Crete in the regional unit of Chania. Guided trips are available. Wear proper walking shoes please and make sure to plan how you get back!
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Samaria Gorge
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The Samariá Gorgehas been a National Park of Greece since 1962 on the island of Crete. It is a major tourist attraction of the island and a World's Biosphere Reserve. The gorge is in southwest Crete in the regional unit of Chania. Guided trips are available. Wear proper walking shoes please and make sure to plan how you get back!
The magnificent beach overlooks Kissamos Bay and is well worth the visit.
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Balos
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The magnificent beach overlooks Kissamos Bay and is well worth the visit.
This is your local beach. It is only a few minutes away by car or bus. You can even walk (get a bus or taxi back). there are the remains of a Minoan villa just by the Bach - don't miss that! Two excellent tavernas and two kafenia.
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Marathi
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This is your local beach. It is only a few minutes away by car or bus. You can even walk (get a bus or taxi back). there are the remains of a Minoan villa just by the Bach - don't miss that! Two excellent tavernas and two kafenia.
Charming seaside town at end of scenic drive. You can do there and back in a day, with a nice lunch. Overnight is recommended as the town comes to life, without cars, in the evening. It is truly magical.
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Paleochora
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Charming seaside town at end of scenic drive. You can do there and back in a day, with a nice lunch. Overnight is recommended as the town comes to life, without cars, in the evening. It is truly magical.
Another lovely day out. The final third of the drive is dramatic. The bakery by the car park at the tiny town's entrance is excellent for many things, not least coffee. Halfway up the main drag, (60 metres or so!) is a coffee spot with cakes to die with or die for! Pretty much all the tavernas are decent enough. From here you can get a boat to Loutro, which can only be reached by boat! Well worth it.
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Chora Sfakion
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Another lovely day out. The final third of the drive is dramatic. The bakery by the car park at the tiny town's entrance is excellent for many things, not least coffee. Halfway up the main drag, (60 metres or so!) is a coffee spot with cakes to die with or die for! Pretty much all the tavernas are decent enough. From here you can get a boat to Loutro, which can only be reached by boat! Well worth it.
One of the oldest monasteries in the area, it is full of history. The museum is excellent and the icons are truly fascinating. There is a lovely shop with local produce. Enjoy the courtyards, with their trees, flowers and kittens!
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Agia Triada Tzagaroli Monastery
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One of the oldest monasteries in the area, it is full of history. The museum is excellent and the icons are truly fascinating. There is a lovely shop with local produce. Enjoy the courtyards, with their trees, flowers and kittens!
Soft, sandy beach
This is a tourist mecca with plenty of touristic shops, a run of quite good tavernas and a splendid beach. There are plenty of sun brollies for those for whom being in the shade is more important than being bronzed (or worse!). The eastern end of town (and beach) has a large car park.
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Kalyves
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This is a tourist mecca with plenty of touristic shops, a run of quite good tavernas and a splendid beach. There are plenty of sun brollies for those for whom being in the shade is more important than being bronzed (or worse!). The eastern end of town (and beach) has a large car park.
We're mentioning this twice as it is so close. You have a choice of the larger Marathi beach or, on the way and to the right, the smaller Loutraki beach. Both are great. Don't miss the Minoan remains at Marathi (to the left when you reach the sea. It is crowded at weekends (with local Greeks) so maybe choose weekdays.
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Marathi Beach
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We're mentioning this twice as it is so close. You have a choice of the larger Marathi beach or, on the way and to the right, the smaller Loutraki beach. Both are great. Don't miss the Minoan remains at Marathi (to the left when you reach the sea. It is crowded at weekends (with local Greeks) so maybe choose weekdays.
Charm, charm, charm and only 4 minutes max from your room by car! Sun-beds and shade in abundance. The villa complex to the right has (I believe) free sun-beds if you buy a drink. Please check this. The restaurant has been consistently excellent over the years and has a fabulous view of the tiny bay. there is also a kaffenion for the all important morning coffee!
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Loutraki Beach
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Charm, charm, charm and only 4 minutes max from your room by car! Sun-beds and shade in abundance. The villa complex to the right has (I believe) free sun-beds if you buy a drink. Please check this. The restaurant has been consistently excellent over the years and has a fabulous view of the tiny bay. there is also a kaffenion for the all important morning coffee!
A bit further than Kalives (starting from here). totally charming spot for a day out. Get there early if shade is important to you. Gently sloping beach overlooked by some of the best tavernas in this part of the universe. Like Kalives, there are some pretty decent supermarkets if you need to top up on essentials.
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Almyrida
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A bit further than Kalives (starting from here). totally charming spot for a day out. Get there early if shade is important to you. Gently sloping beach overlooked by some of the best tavernas in this part of the universe. Like Kalives, there are some pretty decent supermarkets if you need to top up on essentials.
Neighborhoods
This is your local, closest town. It has several good fish shops (fresh). There is a hardware store and electrical goods shop. There are the three large supermarkets. On the way to Chania, past the airport (right) and base (left), through Aroni and then follow the signs to the right. At the end of the road, by the Silk Petrol Station, is a T junction. to the right (keeping left) is one supermarket. Turn left, at the petrol station and on your left about half a kilometre is Sy.nka and a bit further a second, larger, supermarket. All are good in their way, with good fresh produce.
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Kounoupidiana
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This is your local, closest town. It has several good fish shops (fresh). There is a hardware store and electrical goods shop. There are the three large supermarkets. On the way to Chania, past the airport (right) and base (left), through Aroni and then follow the signs to the right. At the end of the road, by the Silk Petrol Station, is a T junction. to the right (keeping left) is one supermarket. Turn left, at the petrol station and on your left about half a kilometre is Sy.nka and a bit further a second, larger, supermarket. All are good in their way, with good fresh produce.
Aroni (and Pithari) are your closest access to substantial shops. The MMS supermarket in Aroni, on your left, is simply excellent and almost a deli. The fresh fruit and vegetables are extensive and there is a lot of choice of other food stuffs (and essentials like toothpaste etc). Service is friendly. There is a substantial choice of beers and wines also, if that is your thing! The mini market half a kilometre further up the road is also good.
Pithari
Aroni (and Pithari) are your closest access to substantial shops. The MMS supermarket in Aroni, on your left, is simply excellent and almost a deli. The fresh fruit and vegetables are extensive and there is a lot of choice of other food stuffs (and essentials like toothpaste etc). Service is friendly. There is a substantial choice of beers and wines also, if that is your thing! The mini market half a kilometre further up the road is also good.
Well, simply this is home! You have, straight in front of the door to your bedroom, a view of one of the best local tavernas going, namely Niolos. Eva is the chef and she creates great Cretan food served (usually) by members of her family. The two chickens in our chicken coop (you will hear them when they lay an egg) came as a present from her. In the centre of the village is another excellent taverna open all the time except Monday lunch. This is my daughter's favourite. In the village (walk past the first turning on the right, and take the second road bearing left) you will find a decent mini market if you need essentials. Sofia runs this. Across the road is Niko's kafenion, great for coffee and an inexpensive lunch. We have a pharmacy open for most of the usual opening hours. There is a decent bakery on the main road. Just after the turning to the airport (about 400 metres or so) on the left, is a good take away (or eat in) food place that is a change from Greek fare, should you wish for that.
Sternes
Well, simply this is home! You have, straight in front of the door to your bedroom, a view of one of the best local tavernas going, namely Niolos. Eva is the chef and she creates great Cretan food served (usually) by members of her family. The two chickens in our chicken coop (you will hear them when they lay an egg) came as a present from her. In the centre of the village is another excellent taverna open all the time except Monday lunch. This is my daughter's favourite. In the village (walk past the first turning on the right, and take the second road bearing left) you will find a decent mini market if you need essentials. Sofia runs this. Across the road is Niko's kafenion, great for coffee and an inexpensive lunch. We have a pharmacy open for most of the usual opening hours. There is a decent bakery on the main road. Just after the turning to the airport (about 400 metres or so) on the left, is a good take away (or eat in) food place that is a change from Greek fare, should you wish for that.

Tipps für Reisende

Verkehrsmittel
You can walk most places. Bus station and taxis.
The bus station links to most main towns in Crete. Check out the bus timetable on KTEL. https://www.e-ktel.com/en/services/dromologia There are several places in the city where taxis queue. Plateia 1866 is one. Remember to take coffee at 13 (Theka Tria) opposite the taxi rank. Best coffee in Chania? Well one of many.
Nicht verpassen
Saturday market, Museums and harbour.
The Saturday Market in Minoos Street is great fun. Join the local intelligentsia near the harbour end for a kebab! Both the archeological museum and the nearby folklore museum off Halidon Street, are worth seeing. So is the naval museum. The synagogue reminds all visitors of the jewish community largely wiped out in WW2. Don't miss a trip of Captain Nick's glass bottomed boat, Mention you know me (Murray) you might get a discount. If you are interested in healing or meditation, let us know. We have contacts in those fields as well as yoga.
Lokale Bräuche & Kultur
Tips? Gia Sas
Largely, tips are not added on. They are welcome - anything that shows you liked the service. Needn't be 10% but something is good. Learn a few phrases - like Efaristo for thank you and Gia Sas for hellos and goodbyes.
So kannst du sparen
Walk. Take street food.
Avoid eating in the outer harbour to save money, the inner harbour places tend to be a little cheaper. For coffees try the roads parallel to the harbour for cheaper options. Also the bay towards Halepa (called Koum Kapi) has a run of coffee places that may be cheaper.
Buche vor der Abreise
No need!
Generally no need to book, almost anywhere. But to be sure of a table at Salis, Kariakis and Nektirida (perhaps the three most upmarket restaurants) booking will get the best tables. You do need to book for ferries in high season.
Was einpacken?
Walking boots
If you want to walk the gorges have proper footwear - that is a life protective item. Greece is pretty casual in the beach areas but not in the churches. No need for ties and you can get by without a large wardrobe. A wrap in the evening or light pullover can be useful at the' shoulders' of the hottest weather.
Nützliche Sätze
Pou einai ee toiletta
Best to get a little phrase book. Greek is not easy to read until you master the alphabet. English is very widely spoken. But often fluency is for the usual phrases and questions. So speak slowly and distinctly in English and often that will suffice. Yia Sas is the universal Hello and Goodbye and should be used. Oreste means welcome. Efaristo is thank you Pou einai ee toiletta is where is the toilet Zesto is hot Crio is cold Freddo is for a cold coffee!! Ti kanitee means how are you. Kala is the answer - meaning 'fine' Peragalo roughly means 'please' and also 'you're welcome'.