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My Favorite Places of Chania, Crete

The list of places to see in Chania is endless. I've been living in the city for a while now and I can't help from noticing that many visitors miss them. They come to Crete with a list of must-see landmarks, sometimes including very distant places.

Being at Crete, the biggest of the Greek islands, trying to visit everything in a short time turns into an impossible quest that can only bring frustration. If you are also of the idea that less is more, take a look at the places you can see in the city of Chania in a stress-free walking tour of the city.

The more I walk around the city, the more I fall for it. It's impossible not to love Chania, the second city of Crete. All its stories, myths and facts add to its incredible charm. Wandering the streets of the city allows discovering secret gardens and hidden monastery yards. Shady squares and fragrant alleys adorned with bougainvillea.

Among all the neighborhoods in town, for me, Splantzia comes first. It has an authentic Chaniotic atmosphere made of tranquil corners, old-fashioned kafenia, and a distinctive suburban flair.

Modern city life in the Old Town mostly takes place along Halidon street in Chania or by the sea, in the Old Harbor. However, Splantzia used to be its true beating heart. Locals would gather in cafés and shops, or in the current Plateia 1821, still commonly known as Splantzia.

The neighborhood was at its best at the beginning of the XIX century, when it received hundreds of families coming from Asia Minor. On the other hand, though,  Splantzia also underwent a tremendous devastation during the Nazi occupation of the island.

Splantzia will give visitors a sense of an authentic intimate atmosphere, walking along any of the tiny alleys (e.g.: Gerasimou) going uptown, the first place we come across is Plateia 1821, the focal area of the neighborhood, with the magnificent church of Agios Nikolaos. The church offers the most unusual sight with its building containing both a minaret and a tower bell.

Agios Nikolaos is part of the main church of a former Dominican monastery, dating back to 1320. During the Ottoman occupation, the Turkish turned the monastery into a mosque known as Hunkar Camii.

Right in front of the church, a historic kafenio, simply known as To Kafenio, is the best place in the city to try authentic Greek mezedes (small food dishes similar to the better-known Spanish tapas) and generous shots of raki. All of it seasoned with a generous dose of Cretan hospitality. Several bars now populate Splantzia, but To Kafenio remains the star.

Not far from the square, you can walk the alleys belonging to the Turkish quarter, beautiful restaurants with Ottoman flavors, chairs on the streets, flowerpots, and the chapel of Agia Eirini, dating back to the 13th Century. The Holy Temple of Agia Eirini is right in the center of the Turkish district of Splantzia, surrounded by a maze of streets full of lively colors and austere Ottoman buildings.

Splantzia is also home to some very interesting bookstores, being considered the bohemian district of the city, books couldn't be missing.

About 100 meters away from the square, Tο μικρό καράβι (The Small Boat) is a boutique bookshop selling new editions and classics. Here, an inviting sofa offers a pleasant angle to discover new readings. The bookstore also sells books dedicated to the history and the geography of Chania, as well as photography books.

Going further towards the Street of the Knives, a new place, Φοβ (from the French "fauve" - wild beast) is both a cafè and a bookshop where to buy classic literature, but also books about Philosophy and bilingual editions of Greek authors.

A bit further, Maxairadika is another place to visit. The street of the knives, probably one of the most colorful streets of Chania, is home to some of the only remaining knife artisans of the island, still producing and selling traditional Cretan knives. The importance of knives has always been primary for Cretans, not only in terms of use. In the past, men would carry two different knives: one for food, one to kill the enemy.

On this street, Plaka is a place where to spend some time too. Easy to spot thanks to the vivid decorations on its walls and the music. They offer a wide menu of Cretan and Greek beer labels that are changing the vibrant scenario of Greek microbreweries.

If you are more into wine than beer, then walk a bit more and reach Miden Agan (Mηδέν άγαν, or "Nothing in excess"). This wine store is the temple of local wine. The place to learn valuable lessons about wine tasting and local varieties.

Michalis Restaurant/Tavern Old Port Chania

Michalis Restaurant/Tavern Old Port Chania

For private sea cruises at Chania contact cretaluxurycruises1@gmail for a free quote. 


Gabi is a translator, journalist and travel writer. She collaborates with several magazines writing about travel, gastronomy, and hospitality in Europe. She has published several travel guides about Greek destinations and works in the promotion of tourism in Greece.

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