Chania Attractions

Chania attractions include the old town of Chania, Firkas fortress, Venetian lighthouse, Janisarries Mosque, and the Samaria Gorge.

Chania’s Old Town is generally regarded as one of Crete’s most beautiful areas, highlighted by its Venetian harbor.

Best way to tour the district is to start from the main square, Eleftherios Venizelos square, which is also a center for tourism activities in the area.

The square is located within a section of the city called “Kasteli“, an area inhabited since the Neolithic era.

From west of Eleftherios Venizelos square, you’ll find Topanas, a Christian district during the Ottoman rule of Chania.

As an area, Topanas is particularly picturesque, with its narrow alleyways and streets, and, on the other hand…

…the place has a number of good restaurants and bars, making Topanas a major entertainment center in the city.

Old town’s Venetian harbor, by itself, is an exceptional area, which features many of the district’s major attractions, and the harbor area is also an important entertainment center in Chania.

To get back from the old town of Chania to the modern city center, you can walk, for example, via Halidon street.

Firkas fortress, meanwhile, is the city’s most popular tourist attraction, and built in 1629 to protect the harbor from foreign armies.

Firka“, in Turkish, means “military department”, the reason for the name being use of the fortress as a garrison for Ottoman troops in the city.

Today, the Firkas fortress houses the Nautical Museum of Crete(odysseus.culture.gr), which exhibits objects from the Greek maritime history, including the Venetian period, from 13th to 17th century, which was exceptionally important to Chania.

From the fortress, you’ll have panoramic views over the Venetian harbor of Chania, and most of the landscape postcards of the city, in fact, showing this exact view.

Venetian lighthouse, “Faros“, is a landmark marking the entrance to the port of Chania, added to the location in the 16th century.

At the time, the lighthouse was built by Venetian rulers, but much of the current shape of the lighthouse comes from Chania’s period under Egyptian rule, from 1821-1841.

Changes made during that period include the minaret-shape of the lighthouse, and the elegant staircase leading up to the lighthouse observation platform and the glass tower.

Today, however, the lighthouse is closed to the public, and can be admired only for its exteriors.

Chania attractions also feature the Janisarries Mosque, also known asKucjk Hassan Mosque, the oldest building from the Ottoman period in Crete.

The mosque, which stands out from its surroundings especially due to its unusual architecture, including a dome-like roof, was built in 1645, after the Ottoman conquest of Chania.

The building was used as a mosque until 1923, but today, it is used (from time to time) as, for example, an exhibition space.

Finally, Samaria Gorge is one of most important natural Chania attractions, formed over centuries by a small river, which flows between the White Mountains (Lefká Óri) and Volakias mountain.

A walk through the gorge has an overall length of 13 km, ending at the Libyan sea, in Agia Roumeli, making the gorge Europe’s longest and deepest of its kind.

The most impressive highlight of the walk is a section called “Iron Gates”, where the edges of the gorge are just four meters (13 ft) from each other, rising up to 500 meters (1,640 ft) around the walker.

The walking trail commences from Omalos village, which is accessible by buses, while from the end point of Agia Roumeli, in turn, has boats to larger population centers, from where you can get back to Chania.