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.
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!
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.
Visit the Archaeological museum in Knossos
close to Heraklion Open Tuesday – Sunday from 09:00 till 19:00. Visit by far the world's largest collection of Minoan artefacts.
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.
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).
One Man's folly is another's delight
On the way out of the village of Kalyves going West to Kalami there is a sign and arrow to Koumos. This place is worth a visit and is known as one man's folly. A collection of buildings including a taverna and a chapel with a domed roof all built from local small misshapen stones. This eclectic mix of buildings are all made from small rocks and all built by one man over a period of 10 years. There are mosaics on the paths; whilst walls display images of fish, snakes and various animals. There are also stone tables and chairs. If you just want to wander around, take photographs or just be amazed,pop along as there is no admission charge. Look out for the occasional ostrich or even a llama - quite surreal as these weren't made out of stone!
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.
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!
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.
If it gets too hot down by the sea, drive up to Spili a picturesque village located at an altitude of 430 metres, 28 kilometres south-east of Rethymno.Due to its altitude the village offers an astonishing view. It is surrounded by verdant vegetation and is filled with trees, fountains, springs and chapels and churches with wonderful murals. The main square of the village is lovely and has a fine stone fountain constituted by a row of stone carved lion heads from where crystal-clear water flows.The water guarantees that the air is fresh, cool and pure. It is also known for a unique type of weaving and has a few tavernas and an old fashioned atmosphere.
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!
No cars in the tiny village of Loutro
Only approached by boat from Hora Sfakia in the South, this amazing tiny village has a simplicity of lifestyle and an incredible beauty untouched by the outside world. It is a town consisting of three rows of white-washed, blue-roofed hotels, restaurants and homes built around the edge of a beautiful bay. There are no tides, but simply long hot days of water, swimming and kayaking. It's probably too far to try for a day trip, but check out the small pensions there and stay overnight - it's magical!There are no cars or motorcycles there, only boats that peacefully come and go from the little town.
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!
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.
Have a splashy day out at "Water Park "
This water park is past Heraklion so a bit of a drive but it is a great fun day out for couples or parents with children! Plan to go for the day and take food and drink as it can be pricey. We're advised by some experts (average age 8-10) that the best slides are Sidewinder, Hyper race, Te Black hole, Kamikazee and Freefall. Beware of the Turbo guns, the white one is so slow you have to push yourself along - you have been warned!
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
Stretch the legs and explore the ancient site of Aptera
Here you can visit the remains of a very important city dating back to the 5th century BC. It really is a lovely walk, and with there being no admission charge, a great cheap day out!
Get on the local bus
Go up to the Main Street, opposite the Maleme supermarket. Luxury local buses come every half an hour. The bus goes to the bus terminus Chania. It takes 45 minutes and stops at different resorts along the way. This bus will also allow you to go to nearby sandy beaches, last bus back from Chania is around 10.30pm. To return go to the bus terminus and get off outside Maleme supermarket again.
Wine tasting at the Manousakis Winery Vatolakos
The Manousakis Winery is the culmination of the dream and passion of founder Theodore Manousakis. Ted, as he is more frequently called, was born in Vatolakkos in 1943, and spent his early childhood years in the village until the age of 11. For reasons much beyond his control and much too complex for a young boy to understand, he left his home to find a better future in the far away “Promised Land”, America. Following his university education in the U.S., he entered business and was successful in a number of business endeavours including industrial security, real estate development, and hotels. Meanwhile, he assimilated in the great melting pot of the world, America, and nearly forgot his native language and Cretan traditions. Yet during the years away from his native village he always yearned to return home and find his roots; if not permanently, certainly more than as a mere visitor. Wine was a way of life in the village for as long as he could remember from his boyhood years. What a way to pay tribute to and honour the Cretan traditions and way of life, he thought. And, what a wonderful and civilized way to bring people together to enjoy the simple joys of life! The combination of nostalgia or “nostos”, as the ancient Greeks made reference, along with the perfect soil, sun, and weather conditions of Crete were the driving forces behind our first vineyards in the foothills above Vatolakkos. For Ted, the Manousakis Winery represents his roots; his yearning to return, his tradition, his heritage, and, above all, his family. Our logo with the three flowers called “Manousakia” in the Cretan dialect, (from which our name is derived), represents his three daughters. It is only fitting that the inspiration of this symbol is a blending of the beauty and exquisite fragrance of nature and the warmth and comfort of family! Ted Manousakis has his permanent home in Washington, D.C., but the winery remains a family-run business. His youngest daughter, Alexandra, moved to Chania in 2007 following studies at New York University, and now manages the Manousakis Winery. - See more at: http://nostoswines.com
Chania is the capital of the Prefecture of the same name and the second biggest town in Crete, with a population of 60.000 inhabitants. Chania is one of the nicest towns of Crete with wonderful houses, parks and squares. The old city has preserved the charm of the Venetian and Turkish periods. Entire Venetian, Turkish and Jewish quarters are saved, with many well preserved buildings in the narrow picturesque streets. On Leather Lane near the harbour selling all kinds and qualities of leather goods and a really interesting indoor covered market Chania Town is worth a visit just for the shopping. The harbour is beautiful with an old mosque providing interesting architecture. Museums from the Naval Museum to the Byzantine Museum there is something for everyone. Restaurants and Taverna`s Surround the harbour and Boats leave from here for 2-3hr trips and you can also catch a horse and buggy. Have a wonder around the back streets, they are mainly pedestrianised and the houses and shops are very Interesting and pretty, with little restaurants and Café`s tucked away in corners - very romantic.
Fancy a samba?
A rare thing to find is a South American cafe/bar and restaurant in Crete! Bossa Nova is that rare thing, This wonderful restaurant is within 5-8 minutes drive of the Blue Sea - but don't take our word for it -here is one of the recommendations on Trip Advisor : "The restaurant is placed in a small village between Gerani and Platanias, in a little grove along the road. It's not as much a Greek restaurant as it is a Brazilian jazz bar. The menu however offers both a traditional Greek cuisine with a variety of Souvlaki, Moussaka and Gyros as well as grill, pizza and pasta, which for the record is excellent. Over all the food was very good and the desserts (espresso chocolate cheesecake speaks for itself) was mind blowing. The staff is very welcoming and adds conviviality to the atmosphere and does not hesitate to spoil you with some ice cream or sweets on the house. If you just want to sit in the bar and take a beer or a cocktail this is also the place to be. With a large menu of beers (since it's actually a beer bar), wine and nice cocktails to affordable prices it's perfect. I can recommend this to everyone who wants to take a beer and chat with your friends at the bar or to have a romantic meal. The cosiness and the nice jazzy lounge music in the background will make you to want to come back.
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!
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