Xara
Great things to do near Xara
Visit the main indoor market in the heart of Chania
This vast "agora" is a bustling noisy colourful place, where the abundance of fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, meat and everything edible is spread out over four sections fashioned like a cross. It is based on the famous marketplace of Marseille. There are plenty of bargains to haggle and great for barbecues!


Ela - where?
Elafonisi (Island of Deer) is like paradise on earth, and posessess a wonderful beach with pink coral sand and crystalline waters, a small islet connected to the rest of Crete by a shallow reef that can be crossed when the sea is calm. This islet is lying on the south-west corner of Crete, the journey itself is amazing, with a narrow tunnel and stunning wild Cretan scenery. Beware in high season, it can get very busy, but is so large, there is always a peaceful spot to be found. There is an excellent taverna at the beginning of the sand dunes


Try the Cretan hooch!
Raki or Tsikoudia is distilled from the stalks and skins of grapes left over from wine pressing. It is drunk widely and you are likely to be offered a thimble-full glass of raki wherever you go. It can contain anything between 35-65% alcohol – you have been warned!


Fancy Phaistos?
This is one of the best Minoan palaces to visit. It has been less "enhanced" than Knossos that makes it easier to imagine it in days gone by. The scenery on the drive up to it is beautiful and its location is stunning. Information panels are all all around to help you make sense of it all, although a guide book can be handy. One thing is that there is not much shade, so if you are there in the summer maybe get there early before the day heats up. There is a nice snack bar to refresh you once you have seen it all, and a good size gift shop to stock up on souvenirs.


Peddaloes across Kournas lake
This breath-taking lake is the only one in Crete, and the brillliant aquamarine waters are a wonderful backdrop for a spot of lunch. Afterwards, you can rent peddaloes or a small boat for half an hour and row yourself around the lake, and work up an appetite for supper!


Try the three Greek"O"s Olives, Octopus and Ouzo!
Treat yourself to a typical Meze a series of tiny dishes that accompany the aniseed based liquor, you can try an Ouzerie, that is similar to a Spanish Tapas bar a great way to spend a lazy afternoon, there are plenty in Chania Town in the old sector - try " To Avgo tou Kokkora" - behind the big church, Mitropoli, off Halidon.


Get Reading
The Cretan Runner written by Giorgos Psychoundakis is a great book describing some of the heroic exploits the Cretan resistance along with British soldiers and pilots got up to during the second world war. Giorgios was originally a shepherd but became a member of the resistance after the German invasion. His heroic and selfless exploits and the general population are described in the book. It is regarded as a classic book of its type. There are two British War cemeteries in Souda Bay, however, much of the action took place around Maleme where a large German War cemetery dedicated to German soldiers was until recently tended by Giorgos himself.


Zorba's dance
Take a drive to Stavros beach on the Akrotiri peninsula, not only is it a beautiful beach, but also famous as the beach that Anthony Quinn as the famous Greek Zorba, danced with Alan Bates. Check out the film and see if you can recognise any places!


Drive down South to
Frangokastelo to see the old fortress - or rather its surviving walls, followed by a must-do trip up to Anopolis - the village high above Chora Sfakia. .Close to the beginning of the village on the left is the Anopolis bakery - for some of the best sfakian pies and the chance to buy the delicious local sweet rusks, honey and other baked goods. Sit outside and have a mountainscape view and an elliniko (coffee).


Visit the palace of Knossos
Excavated in the year 1900 by an English archaeologist by the name of Sir Arthur Evans, this is a most impressive palace, and we recommend that you hire a guide in order to benefit from their wealth of information. This makes a great day out for all of the family.


Visit the Wetlands!
Ornothologists may spot the glossy Ibis, the crane, the white stork and a variety of egrets and herons, as well as warblers and wagtails. For the dedicated bird-spotters; Crete is one of the last strongholds in Europe of the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture – with a wingspan of almost 3 metres. There are 9 to 10 pairs on the island and they frequent higher altitudes.


Ask for Dakos –
A Cretan speciality served in most tavernas as a starter. Dried crusts soaked in tomatoes and topped with crumbled feta cheese – delicious!


Explore the back streets of Chania Harbour
Tiny streets come alive with shops with ceramics, leather, clothes, jewellery to browse through, and if you get tired, try a coffee and a pastry in the cafes lining the picturesque harbour front.


Go have a look at Souda
Souda Bay is one of the largest and deepest harbours in the Mediterranean. The word “souda” is derived from the Arabic language, and means narrow passage. This bay is now populated by the Greek Navy, NATO and a large American base and accounts for the eclectic and cosmopolitan feel to the former capital - Chania


Sail to historic Gramvousa and beautiful Balos
From May to October, you can take daily cruises from Kissamos port to Gramvousa and Balos (42 km west of Chania), leaving in the morning and returning in the evening.Gramvousa (also called Tigani peninsula) has a castle on top of the island built by the Venetians to protect Crete from a Turkish occupation. It was one of the last unconquered bastions and it was the first area of Crete to be liberated from the Turks in 1825 (Turks were expelled from all the rest of Crete only by 1898). 3000 Cretan rebels were planning operations from Gramvousa.During this period of turmoil, the residents of the island started looting boats passing through, which gained the island its pirate reputation! The Gramvousa/Balos region is a protected biotope. There are 400 different plants on Gramvousa, 26 of them endemic to Crete. The Anthemis glaberrima (a type of daisy), the Allium platakisi (a wild onion) and the Silene litegripetala are found only in this area and are protected species. In the shallow parts of the sea, the Mediterranean plant Posidonia oceanica thrives, providing shelter for marine life. 98 bird species have been reported in the area. 20 of them are protected and 14 of them are threatened species (like the vulture Europe Gypaetusbarbatus). The Mediterranean seal (Monachus Monachus) and the Caretta Caretta turtle find shelter in this area. Also, a flock of wild donkeys lives on the peninsula.!


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