Hania (or Chania GR: Χανιά) is the capital of the Prefecture of the same name and the second biggest town in Crete, with a population of 60.000 inhabitants. It lies (Coordinates 35°31' N 24°1' E ) along the North coast of the island, about 55 km west of Rethymnon and 140 km west of Iraklion (Heraklion). Hania's old town (although it was heavily bombed by Germans in World War II) is considered as Crete's most beautiful urban district, especially the Venetian harbour with its 16th century lighthouse and the Mosque of the Janissaries ("Giali Tzamissi", built 17th century). Many of the old buildings have been restored as hotels, restaurants, shops and bars, making the old town a lively and colourful place, especially during the tourist period.
The Samaria Gorge is one of the longest ravines in Europe (with a total length of 16 km) and offers one of the most spectacular hiking routes in Europe. Its width ranges from 150 m (widest part) to 3 m (narrowest part). The walk from Xyloskalo in the plateau of Omalos to the shores of Libyan sea at Agia Roumeli, takes 6 to 8 hours. The Samaria Gorge has been designated as a national park in order to protect its flora and fauna. It is one of the last shelters of the mountain goat of Crete (Cretan Ibex, common name : kri-kri). The flora is extensive, ranging from high cypress trees to flowers and herbs. The walking path follows the river which flows to small lakes and waterfalls. The Gorge is open to visitors from May to October.
On the south coast of Crete, on a magnificent white sandy beach, stands one of the most beautiful Venetian fortresses, Fragokastello, built in 1371. It is located approximately 170 km from Iraklion, 70 km from Rethimnon, and 70 Km from Hania. Today, Fragokastello is a small, but developing, community, with nice beaches covered in sand dunes, and limited, but increasing, tourist facilities.The Villages Patsianos and Kalikratis, the castle, the history of the place and the fenomenon of Drossoulites...
The pearl of the Libyan Sea! Paleochora (population~ 1500) is surrounded by mountains and is situated at the tip of a peninsular. Along the western side is a long sandy beach fringed by trees and tavernas. At the tip of the peninsular is the remains of an old Venetian (Selino Kasteli) fort and a marina. On the eastern side lies the old town, the ferry dock and a long pebble beach lined with tavernas. Paleochora becomes very busy during high season but still have places for those who want to get away from the crowd. Little boats are linking Paleohora with Agia Roumeli, Hora Sfakion and the small island of Gavdos. Regular buses per day are linking Paleohora to Chania (~75kms).
Sfakia are centred around the White Mountains mountain range, Madares, as they are called in Crete with 110 peaks and the most and biggest gorges. Sfakia remain the most wild and unspoiled landscape in all Crete. Hora Sfakion, the seaside capital of the county, is a coastal village located on the Southwestern coast of Crete, 70 km from the city of Hania and 150 km from Iraklion. In its picturesque, enclosed harbor, the small boats from Agia Roumeli dock in the summer, bringing the hikers from the Samaria Gorge. Visitors can enjoy the quiet and calm of the village , on the seaside cafes and tavernas...
The beautiful town of Kissamos is located 42 km west of Hania and it is the capital of the Kissamos county. Kissamos is surrounded by beautiful landscape and has about 3.000 inhabitants. Kissamos is not a crowdy tourist resort, its development is based mostly in the wine and oil produce, and the agricultural products. Kissamos is built along a wonderful sandy beach. It is located where the ancient city of Kissamos stood. With Kissamos as a starting point you can visit the archaeological sites of Falassarna and Polyrinia, the Gramvoussa isles (pirate isles), the beautiful Georges of Topolia, Sirikari, the lagoon of Balos, the medieval villages, etc.
The only inhabited island of Crete with approx. 40 permanent residents. There are some nice beaches with fine sand, a few rooms and apartments to rent and some taverns. Apart from the harbor Karave, there are three village on the islet, Kastri (the capital), Vatsiana and Ambelos. The landmark of Gavdos is the Light House built in 1880. According to Callimachus, this is the ancient isle of Ogygia where, as Homer claims in "Odyssey", the nymph Calypso lived. Distance from Sfakia 22 nautical miles and from Paleohora 32 n.miles. Ferry connection from Sfakia (Tel. 28250 91292) and Paleohora (Tel. 28230 41214).
Elafonissi is a small islet on the southwest of Crete. It is connected to the beach with a shallow reef (max. depth 1 meter) that allows crossing when the sea is calm. There are only a couple of cantinas on the beach and plenty of places for camping. The place can be accessed by car from the village of Vathi or by boat from Paleohora. There are no permanent inhabitants.
Due to its strategic location, Gramvoussa was fortified by the Venetians, who built a well-fortified castle on the top of a steepy rock at an altitude of 137 m. Construction on the castle of Gramvoussa started in 1579 and ended in 1582.
The monastery of Hrissoskalitissa (golden stair) is dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mother. It is located at the southwest part of Kissamos, 73km away from Hania. The monastery is built on a rock and pilgrims visiting have to follow a staircase carved on it with 98 steps. According to the tradition, the last one was made of gold but only faithful people could see it.