The Prefecture of Chania (also spelled Haniá) is the western most division of the island of Crete. The Prefecture of Rethymno forms its eastern border, whilst sea lap its remaining areas. The inhabited islands of Gavdos and Gavdopoula, which are located at a distance of 20 miles south from Chania, in Liviko Sea, also come under Chania.
The major cities of the prefecture are Chania, the capital of the prefecture, and Kastelli in Kisamos. Among the most important villages are Paleochora and Kantanos in Selino, the Chora of Sfakion in Sfakia.
The Prefecture of Chania provides tourist services and activities of all kinds, satisfying all the choices. The city of Chania maintains unaltered all of its characteristics, from the time of the Venetian Rule up until today.
The region of Chania is dominated by the impressive White Mountains (in Greek: Lefká Óri) and its famous National Park, which occupy the largest part of the region.
The White Mountains’ National Park, expanding around Samaria Gorge, is the biggest and most imposing gorge in Greece. You need about seven hours to cross it but the rich landscape and rare flora and fauna will definitely reward you. There are also many other smaller gorges for you to hike (Aradaina, Agia Irini, Imbros and Polyrhenia) as well as beautiful walking trails (from Hrysoskalitissa to Elafonissi, from Palaiohóra to Souyiá and from Ayia Rouméli to Hóra Sfakion), which make Chania a beloved destination among nature enthusiasts from all over the world. On the edge of a gloriously scenic turquoise lagoon lies the islet of Elafonissi with its ancient-old Cedar Forest.
Need more action? Go mountaineering on White Mountains (there are 4 shelters), climbing on the amazingly vertical slope of Mt. Gigilos, or canoying down the Kládos, Sapounás and Thérissos gorges.
Turquoise waters lap against the white sandy beaches, that lie to the west of the city: Hrissi Akti, Ayia Marina, Áyioi Apóstoloi, Máleme, Kalathás, Stavrós, Plataniás, Kolympári, Falássarna, Ayia Rouméli, Souyiá, Ammoúdi, Fínikas, Vótsala, Loutró, Áyios Pávlos, Pahiá Ámmos, Fragokástello and Gávdos are only some of the beaches where you can bask in the sun. On the islet of Elafonissi, a beach with crystal clear waters and white sand dunes will take your breath away! The whole area forms part of the NATURA network.
A plethora of religious and cultural festivals take place all year long, inviting both locals and visitors to experience the Cretan way of celebrating. Local products have their own prominent position in Chania’s cultural life: participate in the Chestnut Festival in Élos, the Rosewater Festival in Foúrni, or the Wine Festival in Voúves. In May takes place a glorious commemoration of the Battle of Crete in all the municipalities of the region. The Agricultural August is an exhibition of Cretan agricultural products and folklore artefacts. Also, several festivals, conferences or sport events (Venizeleia athletics competition) are organised between May and September, most of which are hosted at a beautiful outdoor theatre located in the east bulwark of the Old Town (“Anatolikí Táfros").
No visit to Chania is complete unless you have sampled traditional local specialties: eggs with stáka, Cretan kalitsoúnia (sweet mini cheese pies), lamb served with spiny chicory, dácos (the traditional hard Cretan bread accompanied with tomato, mizithra cheese and plenty of virgin Cretan oil), snails boubouristí(popping fried snails), haniótiko bouréki (patty from Chania, a vegetable specialty), kserotígana (honey dipped spiral pastries) wedding cookies, dry bread wreaths, yraviéra cheese (full fat sheep’s cheese with appellation of controlled origin), sweet smelling anthótyros from Sfakiá (fresh, soft, white cheese made of either sheep’s or goat’s milk), fresh stáka butter (the cream of the butter) for the Cretan wedding rice (rice cooked in meat broth), roasted goat or sea food delights – special ingredients blended in delicious sea-urchin salads, or divine fish soups! Accompany your dinner with a glass of deep-red Cretan wine, the divine marouvás, or drink after your meal an ice-cold rakí, a traditional Cretan spirit distilled from pomace, with a delicate aroma of ripe grapes.