Out of Town & Activities
Any place in Western Crete (and many farther afield) is accessible as a day trip or shorter excursion. A car is clearly the best way to get around though there us a network of intercity buses that reach all but the most inaccessible beaches and villages, see here.
Our brief guide does not aim to be exhaustive. It lists and briefly outlines some of the region’s more popular and interesting places. To a great extent the joys of Crete, its people, climate and scenery, are present all around you. Taking a car, bus or boat in practically any direction will bring you beautiful nature, inquisitive and hospitable people, and interesting places. We will be glad to provide further information before or after your arrival and help you to plan your trips.
A nearby destination which can be managed in a morning, the Akrotiri peninsula (on which Chania’s airport is located), contains a number of popular beaches (see below) as well as historical churches and working monasteries which can be visited, the best known being Aghia Triada and Gouvernetou. In addition, the Cave of Panagia Arkoudiotisa, a natural wonder, has been a place of mystery and worship since Mycenae times.
Therisso and Zourva
A pleasant round trip out of Chania takes you through Therisso Gorge, the nearest gorge to Chania and one that can be negotiated by car as well as on foot. The gorge is cool, leafy and beautiful. Therisso itself is a small, historical town which won fame as a centre of resistance to Ottoman rule and also for the Therisso Revolt of 1905 that ousted Prince George of Greece as regent of Crete and finally won Crete union with Greece.
There are a number of restaurants popular with day trippers though following the road on through Therisso takes you to Zourva where Amelia’s restaurant serves heavenly braised goat or lamb and homemade sausages (see recommendations). Also in Zourva is a small war monument testifying to man’s folly that can bring conflict to such remote areas of beauty. Chania can be reached by the following the windy road down through further villages, looking out for the occasional herd of goats or sheep or a sheep shearer doing his shearing by the roadside.
A 20 minute drive west, Kolymbari is nowadays mainly a resort town. The route there passes highly developed tourism and a coast lined with hotels. A stop at Galatas, just off the coastal road, is a pleasant detour with its sleepy town square, as much a bend in the road as an open space, where a small and touching museum commemorates the WWII battle that took place there. Kolymbari is worth a visit for an excellent meal at Argentina which serves a spectacular lobster spaghetti (call ahead) and unusual salads.
Limnoupolis Water Park
Great fun for the young in body or spirit, Limnoupolis includes giant water slides, an artificial river, free fall routes, etc – as many ways as you can imagine of getting wet and thrown around.
Twenty minutes from Chania and worth spending half a day.
Perhaps Crete’s most famous sight after the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Visiting Samaria Gorge is for the fit and strong limbed. It is a long and rewarding walk through a rugged landscape full of local wildlife and flora. The walk, 13 km in the gorge itself and 3 km downhill to the village of Aghia Roumeli, takes some 4-6 hours. You are rewarded at Aghia Roumeli with the chance of a swim, a rest or a meal before catching a boat back to near your starting point. It is recommended to join an organised coach tour due to logistic problems leaving and re-accessing your car.
Full day trip or overnight stay Aghia Roumeli. Early start.
South Coast Ferries
The ferry that serves Aghia Roumeli and the Samaria Gorge is one of a handful serving the south coast. Any stop along the short route is worthwhile for a sleepy atmosphere and a swim and one can even steam from Chora Sfakion to Gavdos Island, Europe’s southernmost place.
Rethimnon, Crete’s third largest city, is not far – perhaps an hour’s drive. Less damaged than Chania during the war it has one of Crete’s best preserved old towns. Points of interest are the Venetian Fortezza or citadel, a small Venetian harbour, Piazza Rimondi, the loggia, Great Gate and Neradze Mosque. A walk West from the Venetian harbour along the sea front will take you past an excellent mezze restaurant perched on the hillside overlooking the sea.
Much has been written about Knossos and there is little for us to add. It is in the outskirts of Heraklion some two hours’ drive from Chania. Go early or late to avoid crowds and leave time to visit Heraklion’s archeological museum where the major finds from Knossos are exhibited.
Allow a day for the complete trip – back in Chania for a drink at la Maison Ottomane and dinner.
Aghios Nikolaos, Elounda, Spinalonga
Further long the north coast, past Heraklion, a long day trip will take you past Aghios Nikolaos, a pleasant and highly developed town with a beautiful enclosed harbour. Further on are Elounda, a village famous as the setting for the British film serial Who Pays rthe Ferryman, and Spianlonga a pretty island which was Europe’s last leper colony.
Those travelling direct to Crete and with time to spare, should remember that our island is well connected to other exciting destinations in Greece: Santorini, with its stunning views and black sand beaches and Athens with its cultural treasures are both well served by regular ferries; from Chania Airport you can fly to Athens in half an hour and to Thessaloniki in an hour.
We have selected a number of local service providers that we believe give an excellent level of service. We do not seek or take commission from these persons or companies and aim only to give unbiased recommendations and our possible discounted prices to our guests.
La Maison Ottomane will be delighted to help you organize any of the activities listed below or to research others for you:
- 4 x 4 mountain village tour
- Boat trips
- Sailing and Private yachts
- Cooking class
- Vinery tour
- Yoga classes
- Mountain Biking