TRAVEL

    CHANIA: CRETE'S MOST CHARMING REGION

    BY MARIA SIDERI

    Of all the Greek islands, Crete is one of the most distinctive, not only because it’s the largest one, but also because it has its own unmistakable culture. See history come to life before your eyes from the world-famous Venetian harbour in the city of Chania, where the most charming area of the cretan civilization meets the originality of the people and the landscapes.

     

    Crete's former capital is the island's best-looking town. Despite all the tourists, it's fairly sophisticated and attracts a happy mix of foreigners and Greeks. Although badly bombed in the Second World War, its sizable old quarter contains many superb buildings from its complicated past - crumbling Venetian palaces, minarets, Turkish baths and Ottoman mansions with overhanging wooden balconies.

    The beautiful harbour is divided into an outer half lined with a continuous row of cafes and restaurants, and an inner half with a few fishing boats, grand Venetian dry dockyards, trendy bars and more authentic tavernas. The lanes behind the outer harbour are crammed with more places to eat and drink and tasteful crafts shops.

    Behind the inner harbour lies residential Kastelli, with Minoan excavations and a section of old city walls embedded with classical masonry. Nea Chora, a sandy beach with a very Greek atmosphere, is about a mile west of the town centre. And if you find yourself in the mood, rent a car to explore the area around Chania. There you will experience the absolute blue of the sea and taste the hospitality of the locals who still drink raki and treat any visitor to oranges and figs.

    Where to stay in Chania

    Ammos Hotel | A welcome splash of style among the drab resorts of west Chania, this seaside hotel has a whitewashed exterior concealing bold colours and striking details within: Bisazza tiles, Marimekko fabrics and Paola Navone chairs. Owner Nikos Tsepetis makes a point of getting to know his guests personally. It's especially good for young families.
    Ammos Hotel, Irakli Avgoula Str., 73100, T : 28210 33003

    Where to eat in Chania

    Akroyiali Seafood Restaurant | Chania's top seafood restaurant by Nea Chora's beach, which serves magnificent, carefully presented fish and excellent local wine.
    Akroyiali, Akti Papanikoli 17, Chania 731 31, T: 28210 73110

    Karnayio Fish Restaurant | Wide variety of seafood dishes and an eclectic menu from all around Greece with a strong presence of Cretan specialties.  Delicious Cretan pies and a good wine list, behind the inner harbour.
    Karnayio, 8 Katehaki Square, Old Port, T: 28210 53366

    Where to shop in Chania

    For amazing Greek designer’s apparel, go to Boutique Blue 17 (Chalidon 17, T: 2821 506559) and discover The Motley Goat’s collection as well. Exantos Art Space (Zampeliou Str. 23) is full of works that distil the local colour. Across the city centre in Splantzia, the Vineria Delicatessen (Daskalogianni 70, T: 28210 27068) hosts tastings of wine and other local produce. Chania’s Market , on the site of the ancient Agora, has been a raucous retail venue for centuries; the current edition, was modelled on the main marché in Marseille and takes in the shape of a cross. It opened in 1913, the same year that Crete was united with Greece. The hours are roughly 7am-9pm daily except Sunday.

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