Walking in Chania Town
Discover Chania by strolling in the Old Town and at the waterfront
The only problem with walking in the attractive city of Chania is that there is too much to see! There are however a few pointers.
The heart of Chania is the fascinating Venetian-era waterfront where you could literally spend all day and most of the evening in one of the many cafes and tavernas along the crescent.
You also cannot miss a stroll through the winding alleyways of the Old Town, where shops, cafes and tavernas mingle in an intimate medieval tangle. The centre of Chania also features elegant 19th century mansions built in neoclassical style, reminders of when the city was a flourishing trade centre.
For the ideal cycling target, go east out of town following the signs for the airport – but after a steep, swerving climb, turn off when you see a sign for the Venizelos Tombs.
This leads you to an area of parkland that includes the impressive tomb of Eleftherios Venizelos, one of the most long-standing Greek premiers. There are excellent views back across the bay to Chania.
Keep in mind that in Chania town and in the surrounding area, there are splendid villas for rent, catering to the eclectic traveller.
Stay in Souda port, nearby to the Chania town
Walking in Heraklion Town
Trust your…feet and discover the many secrets of Heraklion
Heraklion today is living between the fast moving currents of regeneration and a deep desire to maintain links with a past, both these strands defining its character. The ‘old town’ areas of the city, established in medieval times, now offer visitors some fantastic walks in the heart of the city.
Such a nice walk may start at the fishing harbor close to the Rocca al Mare, now known by its Turkish name, Koules, for centuries used as protection against invaders. At the sea front there are several cafes and restaurants, mostly of the “touristy” variety. But to sit by the sea, with the fortress in view may well be worthwhile.
You will also see Heraklion city’s commendable effort to improve the waterfront, which is now accessible, paved – even has a new square and fountain!
This renewed area stretches from the marina (at the bottom of 25th of August street) going west in the direction of the Olympic Stadium and Ammoudara beach area. Looking back towards the city you will see the strong arches which housed boats under repair and were used as an arsenal for storing guns and gunpowder.
The greatest threat to the Venetian stronghold of Heraklion, or Candia, as it was named, was thought to come from the seaward side of the city, and indeed, many naval skirmishes were fought off this coast.
The view northward takes in the uninhabited island of Dia, where evidence of a ancient Minoan settlement (approx 2700-1450 BC) was found by the explorer, Jacques Cousteau. Boat trips can be booked from travel shops throughout central Heraklion, as can excursions to various places of interest.
Walking in Rethymno Town
Discover Rethymno and immerse in its rich history
Although Rethymnon is not a big city, there is much to discover and the best way to do this is on foot!
The most well known part is the old town, with its small Venetian harbour fringed with fresh fish tavernas and cafes, beautiful Venetian and Turkish mansions, the Fortezza, churches and mosques and many tiny hidden alleys that attract thousands of visitors every year.
On the outskirts of the old town you find the public garden and impressive ruins of factories and other hidden monuments. At the new harbour you find fishermen selling their freshly caught fish and the paleontological museum of Rethymnon is housed in an old renovated mosque.
The old town of Rethymno starts just north of the main commercial high steet and extends to the great Fortezza castle on the seafront. Somehow every stroll through Rethymno old town steers you to the Rimondi Fountain, built in 1628 and gushing water ever since.
It is hard to resist being photographed in front of its old marble columns and fountain mouths, with the surrounding Renaissance type architecture lending an air of authenticity to your experience.
A short climb up a steep street brings you to the entrance of the Fortezza, which offers a stunning view of the Aegean Sea. For dinner we suggest walking a few hundred yards east from the castle base to the many seaside fish restaurants in the old town.
When searching for accommodation, keep in mind that in Rethymno town and in the surrounding area, there are splendid villas for rent, catering to the eclectic traveller.
The old town of Chania
Chania is the picture-postcard city of Crete, a true blend of cultures
Chania, one of the most beautiful cities of Greece, managed to preserve its original colors and historical character, despite the fast-growing tourist industry.
Old elements are harmoniously intertwined with modern ones: the legendary Minoan splendor with the Venetian sophistication, the Turkish simplicity with the medieval beauty, the plain architectural style with the intricate synthesis.
To get a feeling of the rich history of Chania, it is highly recommended to stroll in the city centre, starting at the Municipal Market or Agora in the heart of the city. The old city walls more or less define the area of interest to visitors.
The inner core, known as Kastelli, includes Minoan ruins. Just to the east, Splanzia is the former Turkish quarter. Not to miss is the Hassan Pasha Mosque, an old Ottoman edifice, today the local tourism office.
The picture-postcard heart of Chania is the old town Venetian harbor, lined with strikingly painted old buildings. Here’s where the restaurants and bars are and where the social life of the city evolves.
Keep in mind that in Chania town and in the surrounding area, there are splendid villas for rent, catering to the discerning traveller.
The old town of Rethymno
Let yourself get carried away by the old Rethymnon aura
Although it is the third largest town in Crete, Rethymnon does not feel like a city as Chania and Heraklion do. Instead, it has a provincial air, it moves slowly, and, most important, it preserves much of its Venetian and Turkish heritage.
There are two sides to Rethymno catering to two styles of visitors: the endless big beach hotel strip that stretches from the east end of Rethymno, lapping up the coastal “villages” of Perivolia, Platanias, Adelianos Kambos – and – the old town Rethymno with its mix of architecture and history.
The Fortress (Fortezza) dominates the city and makes Rethymno very photogenic, its pedestrian streets, strewn with charming old buildings. Venetian influences abound and the minarets and domed mosques remind of the Turkish influence long gone.
Not to miss is the Venetian Loggia, an elegant building of the 16th century, that used to be a Venetian gentlemens’ club and today houses offices of the ministry of culture.
Another important site is the Neratzes mosque formerly the Holy Virgin church, converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. Today it is a music conservatory. And what best place to stay in this romantic environment than a villa that you can rent in the wider Rethymno area.
The old port of Rethymno
Rethymno port emanates the atmosphere of an old Venetian settlement
Like all Cretan coastal towns, the port of Rethymno lies in the shadow of a Venetian-era castle. The castle, called the Fortezza was built by the Venetians in the 13thcentury and is in remarkably good condition after all this time.
The Fortezza actually divides the port in two sections. The eastern section is the larger, and has the most cafes and fish tavernas.
Small passenger ships and freighters put in on the less-used west side, while the yachts and fishing boats crowd the longer eastern stretch, adding a pleasant backdrop to your beer-sipping or bathing.
From Rethymno port leave small boats for day trips to the nearby beaches and some of them are built like old wooden sailing boats, adding to the general feeling of nostalgia that is prevalent in the Venetian port.
At the end of the port pier proudly stands the beacon, which is not of Venetian but Turkish origin, built in the 18th century. The Rethymno port is the ideal spot to start a walk in old Rethymno town.
If you are looking for good accommodation in the wider area, explore the rent-a-villa opportunities offering high end services.
The Port of Souda In Chania
Souda has some warships and aircrafts activity at times of escalating Mediterranean tensions.
If you take the ferry to Chania, on arrival you enter Souda Bay, where the passenger ships tie up. Souda itself is at the inmost point of the long bay, with passenger docks at one end and a military and naval base at the other.
From Souda it’s a short 15-minute drive into Chania proper. There are plenty of taxis and buses available. The yacht marina of Souda is pretty impressive, often harbouring the floating palaces of the rich and famous. At the western end of Souda Bay lies the Allied War Cemetery that commemorates the Battle of Crete of May 1941.