First time in Crete, Chania (Greece)

Almost weekend! I’m hopping over to Crete tomorrow so I thought I would pop in a short throwback post from two years ago.

It was my first time in Crete, we went in April and were quite lucky with the weather. The name of the game was a cheap holiday, so we snapped up 40 eur return flights PaphosChania and a deal with an all-inclusive hotel for 150 eur for two people at Crispy World (I know, the name says it all!).

The hotel wasn’t actually all that bad, food was decent and the rooms spacious.

The only problem was that it was a long bus journey away from civilization, restaurants or any kind of human contact.

We took regular buses to Chania and taxis on the way back. You can rent a car, if you’re brave enough to make your way through the crazy traffic.

There is a decent beach close to the hotel and few seaside tavernas, most of which are still closed that time of year.

The area was really quiet and peaceful, no beaches overcrowded with tourists and plenty of time for people and fruit watching.

PS: that’s the first time I saw kiwi growing on tree, excuse my excitement!

The main sight in Chania is of course the old Venetian harbor and old port. During the day, you’ll see local families strolling around with their kids, old men fishing and locals enjoying their morning coffee with the newspaper.

At night, it becomes a busy spot with lots of music and teenagers running around. If you’re after good food, this is also the area to avoid.

Venture into the small narrow streets and in a moment you’ll feel like you’re walking down a street in Venice (at the time when it still wasn’t overcrowded by tourists).

There are plenty of authentic restaurants in Chania, and you will stumble upon few just by walking around.

That’s how we found Ela (translates into “Come” from Greek). Residing in a soap factory building from 1650, this place also served as a distillery, school and cheese processing factory.

Now, a trendy open roof restaurant serving traditional Cretan cuisine with a twist. You may be discouraged by seeing blackboards displaying the menu just outside the restaurant, but don’t let that mislead you and step in! It’s well worth it.

This may be the highlight of my trip. Just a short walk away from Ela restaurant was this pretty alley with wisteria tree.

I couldn’t believe my luck that we were there exact time it was blooming.

Something out of a fairy tale. And yes, I got carried away with the pictures!

If you’re after some recommendations what to see in Chania, I will have to disappoint you – we spent most of our time walking, drinking and eating.

No museums, historic sites or tourist traps. It was one of the most relaxing holidays ever.

Few tips if you’re looking to book a stay in Chania:

  • there are a lot of small boutique hotels in the area of the old harbor with a lot of character and you will find some unique accommodation options also on AirBnb
  • cheap all inclusive hotels and big resorts are a drive away from the Chania port area. There are regular buses running every 30 minutes or so which cost few euros and get you to the harbor and back
  • if you’re looking for a cheap option, fly out of season – March, April, sometime even in May you find a good deal. The weather was pretty decent during our stay which was end of April, I believe it didnt rain at all
  • book a pickup from the airport from your hotel, ours was really cheap as we booked it direct through the hotel and it was a mini bus
  • try and taste a lot of Cretan wines, there are some of the best ones I’ve tried – you can also book a winery visit, the closest one to Chania is Manousakis Winery
  • local food is very similar to the food in Cyprus, few things that I particularly liked were: dakos (bruschetta with cheese and tomatoes), Cretan cheese, Raki (Cretan brandy with taste similar to Ouzo), honey and fish
  • if you want to buy some souvenirs, there are lots of art and craft shops around Chania
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