Archeological sites. There are many archeological sites in Aptera, a Doric city-state of strategic importance. Its location allowed the control of the commercial and financial activities of the area. The walls are still preserved, so as the tanks (of a later period), the double temple (5th – 4th century), the tombs (Geometric period) and the buildings (of the Byzantine era). Polyrrinia, near the homonymous village, one of the oldest cities in Crete, where we see the walls, tombs and remnants of the Roman aqueduct. The ancient city of Falasarna, near today’s resort, the ancient Lissos, a religious hub where remnants of the temple of Asclepios, a theater and carved tombs are located. In Agia Roumeli (Tara) we see remnants of a sanctuary, while in Ancient Anopoli we admire the impressive walls. The archeological tour continues to Ancient Diktynna, which was dedicated to Artemida Britomarti, in Kourna, where we can study the domed tomb, and then in Maleme for another domed tomb, which has a pyramid shape peak.
Churches – Monasteries. The Monastery of Agia Triada Tsagkarolon in Akrotiri is one of the most impressive and distinctive samples of Cretan architecture, with influences from the Italian Renaissance. At the end of the 19th century, it operated as a seminary with prominent teachers and boasted a rich library with rare editions. In the same area, you will see the Monastery of Gouvernetou (Lady of the Angels) with a peculiar -for a monastery- architecture, since it was built like a Venetian fortress in order to repel all attacks. The third most important monastery in Akrotiri is the nunnery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos, which is less impressive architecturally, but very peaceful and with immersive devoutness. The Gonia Monastery, built on top of the ancient temple of Diktyna Vritomartida Artemis in Kolymbari, was the center of the Greek resistance (during the Greek revolution), while the Orthodox Academy of Crete –a modern religious and cultural foundation- is also located nearby. Additionally, you should definitely visit the Monastery of Panagia Chrysoskalitissa, in the southwest with the panoramic view, which got its name from a legend according to which one of its 90 steps –visible only to the ones who have not sinned- is made of gold. The Monastery of Chryssopigi is located in the city of Chania and has displayed significant action (hagiography, embroidery, preservation of old books, book binding, beekeeping, waxwork, incense and soap production, publishing, organic cultivation, programs of environmental conscience etc.). Nowadays it continues this tradition, since this monastery played a substantial role during the Turkish and German occupation.
The museums. The Archeological, Folk Art and the Maritime Museum are located in Chania, at the old port. This is where you will see the Mosque of Janissaries, where exhibitions and events are taking place during the summer, as well as the houses of Venizelos. Impressive and unique is the model of the Minoan Ship in Neoria, while in the city you can check out the Byzantine Collection and the War Museum, in a distinctive building at the edge of the old port. You should also visit the Byzantine and the Folk Art Museum Spilias in Kissamos, the Museums of Chemistry and Typography in Souda, as well as the Museum of National Resistance in historical Therissos.
Other attractions. If you stroll at the old port, by the marina, you will pass by the Center of Mediterranean Architecture, which is an excellent sample of blending a traditional building into the everyday life of a modern city, since it hosts many exhibitions and events in a perfectly preserved space, next to Neoria, which are also being used for events.
In the center of the city, you will see the Municipal Market, from where you can buy excellent local products and also eat in the traditional taverns. Unique is the Institute of Cretan Law, while the Municipal Garden is beautiful, with its summer open theater, a small zoo –where you can admire the Cretan wild goat, and a nice café. The picturesque narrow streets of the Old Town nest the Synagogue, while at the old port the Venetian Lighthouse prevails, as the city’s landmark just across from Firka’s hand. In the same area, you should discover the Turkish Bath, the Municipal Gallery, the Mosque and the city’s metropolitan church. While you are in Chania, tour the neighborhoods of the old city and of Splantzia, for a trip down memory lane, and the Koum Kapi, with the successive seaside cafes and taverns with the lovely view. Nea Hora is a modern seaside neighborhood of the city, with fish taverns, while another hub of the modern city is the big square 1966, but also the impressive Courthouse Square. The location of Halepa extends from the water to where the old tanneries are and ascends towards the hill to the limits of the city, offering an amazing view to the residents. This is justifiable considered one of the best neighborhoods in Chania. A visit to the Tombs of the Venizelos family in Kounoupidiana is usually combined with the delicious pastries at the nearby cafes that offer a scintillating view to the entire city.
In the wider prefectural area. A very distinctive characteristic of the prefecture of Chania and of Crete is that the development, the tradition and the history are not only preserved in the urban centers. While you are in the prefecture of Chania, visit Maleme, with the German cemetery, and Therissos, the historical village whose access is through a beautiful gorge, while you can combine this visit with a stop at the village’s taverns, known for their delicious meat and sweet wine. The prefecture’s landmark is the Samaria Gorge (National Park), one of the biggest in Europe, located in Lefka Ori and starts from the Omalos plateau and ends up in Agia Roumeli. In Agia Roumeli, you can conclude this unforgettable hike with a swim in the Libyan Sea. Other gorges are this of Aradaina, of an impressive wild beauty where bungee-jumping events are often organized, of Polyrrinia (or Sirikariano) and that of Agia Eirini. The Lakes of Agia and Kourna offer a different landscape to the visitor, while in Stylo you can visit the cave of Samona. Fragkokastelo is a place of unique beauty and so are the impressive Gramvoussa and the village of Vrysson. From Platania you can see the island of Agioi Theodoroi, which is a national park of a massive environmental importance, where only organized visits can be scheduled, even though the scientific community emphasizes on the complications of human intervention in the life of wild fauna of the island, which includes the unique Kri Kri (Cretan wild goat).
Lefka Ori, Omalos and Askyfou plateaus as well as the cave of Agia Sofia are of unique beauty. If you like to hike, you should definitely go through the European trail Ε4. The acclaimed and picturesque Milia is a sample of mild tourism activity. It’s an abandoned village which was restored with utmost respect to the character and the ambiance of the slopes, where a traditional guesthouse energy autonomous (at the old times the rooms and the little houses had power during specific hours only, while candles and a fireplace were used for the rest of the day) operates. In its restaurant, you can eat freshly cooked dishes with local ingredients of their own production. There are more traditional mountainous villages in the prefecture, like Kokkino Horio, as well as magical beaches, like Elafonisos. Gavdos, the island of Kalypso, also belongs to the prefecture of Chania and you can visit it with a boat from Palaiohora or Sfakia.
Chania – Akrotiri: Akrotiri is ideal for short excursions from Chania. This is where the Stavros Cave is located, where the movie Zorbas was shot and it’s ideal for swimming near the city. You can also visit the monasteries of Agia Triada Tzagkarolon, Agios Ioannis Prodromos and Gouvernetos, from where you can continue through the hiking trail to descend to an isolated beach.
Chania - Kolymbari – Kissamos – Falasarna (64 km): Heading towards the west part of the island, you go through the popular Agioi Apostoloi, Agia Marina, Platanias, that have many organized beaches and vibrant night and day life, while on the left you will enjoy the Aegean blue. You will then reach Gerani, where the known refreshments are manufactured, Maleme, Tavronitis and Kolymbari. You can visit the Monastery of Odigitria Kyria Gonia and relax in the Ravdouha, with the beautiful beach and the unique taverns. Continuing on the seaside, we pass by Kissamos and after that the mostly photographed peninsula of Gramvoussa appears as a paradise on earth. On the west, the beautiful beach of Falasarna looks appealing, not only for swimming, but also for lunch and a visit to the archeological site.
Chania – Kantanos - Palaiohora: You follow the route from Chania towards Kissamos and after about 19 kilometers (there are signs) take a turn to Voukolies-Kastano. Once you reach Kantano, make a stop at the central pastry shop, for homemade sweets. Once you reach Palaiohora, enjoy the nearby beaches of the Libyan Sea and the well-organized settlement. Many organized excursions start from there towards the nearby attractions.
Chania – Therissos – Karanou – Omalos – Sougia (89 km): If you head over to Therissos from Chania, you shall cross the charming evergreen gorge, while in the village you will find out about its historic importance and taste the exceptional meat. The route and especially the descend can be a pleasurable hike. The route towards the south goes through the villages of Meskla, Fourne and Lakkoi. You will then reach Karanou, with the renowned wine and the traditional café. You can then ascend towards Omalos with the impressive plateau head over to the Samaria Gorge. If you are prepared, you can attempt to cross it. Alternatively, you can descend to Sougia, a more relaxed choice, and enjoy the beautiful long beach, as well as the small settlement, which overlooks the Libyan Sea.
Chania - Sfakia (68 km): To reach Sfakia, where the famous pies got their name from, you should head over from Chania to Rethymno. If you slightly deviate from the main route, you can visit the picturesque Vamos, a village with traditional architecture, well preserved mansions and a remarkable tourism development, promoted by a group of locals that returned to their roots from Athens. Their effort was quite successful. In Vrysses you shall turn right (south) towards Sfakia, go through the Askyfos plateau and descend along the amazing Imbros Gorge to end up in the traditional seaside settlement, with the local legends and stories about its ambiance. There you can enjoy the nearby beaches, which overlook the Libyan Sea and also take the boat to go to Gavdos.