Chania is the second largest city on Crete and the island's former capital. Chania is known for its intersection of histories and cultures. Once under Byzantine rule, Chania was taken over by the Venetians in the 13th century and by the Ottomans in the 17th century and still contains many traces of these different cultures today.
The Old Town of Chania is the most popular destination for tourists and is made up of various areas, including the Jewish and Turkish Quarters. The buildings of Chania reflect its diverse history as you can find the Mosque of Kioutsouk Hassan, the first and oldest mosque on Crete, built in 1649; the Etz Hayyim Synagogue, the last standing Jewish monument on Crete after World War II; and the old fortress and walls built by the Venetians.
Chania is also a great place to stay if you're interested in exploring the southern and western parts of Crete, which some argue are home to the best beaches on the island. Many travelers staying in Chania set off for the beaches of Elafonisi, Falassarna, and Marmara while those interested in an outdoor adventure might trek to the Samaria Gorge or the less known but equally stunning Aradena Gorge.
Chania is accessible either by plane or ferry from various points in Greece. It's most easily reached by Athens, which offers multiple flights and ferry options to the city. You can also fly to Chania from Thessaloniki. If you're traveling within Europe, there are a number of European and British cities that fly directly to Chania as well.
Piraeus, the major port of Athens, offers a number of ferries to Chania. While other Greek islands don't offer direct ferries to Chania, it is possible to take a ferry from another island to Heraklion, the capital of Crete, and from there arrange for a car rental, taxi or private transfer to get to Chania.
When planning your trip, consider this 9-day itinerary that will take you around Chania and the incredible sights of Western Crete, including Samaria Gorge, the village of Vamos, and Kournas Lake.
From Athens by Plane
Duration: 50 minutes, plus travel to/from airports
There are direct flights from the Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) to the airport in Chania. The Athens airport is about 30 minutes from the city center and can be easily reached by taxi, private transfer, bus or metro.
It is also possible to fly from Thessaloniki to Chania, although direct options are not available as these flights include a stop in Athens.
A number of locations in Europe and the UK also offer direct flights to Chania. London, Helsinki and Brussels are a few of the cities that fly directly to Chania.
Chania's Old Town is a 20-minute drive from the airport and can be reached by taxi, private transfer, rental car or bus, but note that the bus will be the slowest option.
From Athens by Ferry
Duration: 6.5 - 9 hours, plus travel to/from ports
For a more leisurely way to get to Crete, you can take a fast or slow ferry from Piraeus, the main port of Athens. Piraeus is about 25 minutes driving from the city center and you can take a taxi, private transfer, bus or metro to get there.
Ferry schedules can be more limited in the low season (mid-June through mid-September). Economy and business class seats, as well as cabins, are available for these journeys and the ferry can be a nice way to take in the wonderful sights of the Greek islands.
From Other Greek Islands by Ferry
Duration: 2 - 9.5 hours, depending on your starting location, plus 2 hours driving to Chania
Although other Greek islands don't offer direct ferries to Chania, it is possible to take a slow or fast ferry directly to Heraklion and from there, arrange for a rental car, taxi or private transfer to take you two hours west to Chania.
Mykonos, Naxos and Paros are some of the Cycladic islands that offer direct ferries to Heraklion while other islands such as Amorgos, Syros and Folegandros have "indirect" ferry options, which will stop at other islands along the way.
The port of Heraklion is serviced by ferries from a variety of island groups, not just the Cyclades, so if you find yourself on another Greek island and wanting to travel to Chania, consider this less direct route to get there.
For seasick-prone travelers, slower ferries may be a preferable option as they are larger and have more outdoor space, so the rides on these ferries can be less bumpy, and you can even sleep the night away, while being transfered to Chania.
Economy and business class tickets are available for all ferries and many offer private cabin options as well. You can bring transportation on board, which will increase your ticket price depending on whether you bring a car or motorbike.
From Other Greek Islands by Plane
Duration: 2 hours or more, depending on your starting location
If you're on another Greek island and want to travel to Chania, you can potentially fly there. Not all Greek islands have airports but most of the larger and more popular ones do, such as Corfu, Mykonos and Lesvos.
All flights to the Greek islands go through Athens, so be aware that you will have a stop in Athens if you choose to fly to Chania once you're in Greece. For these short flights, only economy tickets are available.
This can be a convenient way to get to Chania, especially if you're traveling during the low season or would rather not rely on ferries, which can be affected by weather in the winter and fall.