Holidays to the Chania area serve up ancient sites, glitzy harbours and blue flag beaches in equal measure – it's one of Crete's top holiday spots.

Superstar sands

The Chania Area plays a strong hand in the beach game. It’s got more Blue Flags prodded into its sands than Santorini and Samos combined – with the sun-splashed total standing at 12. They start at low-key Platanias, and tick off the likes of Aghia Marina and Kalamaki as you follow the shoreline towards a mushroom-shaped peninsula. The peaceful curve of Stavros Beach is the last of the bunch, but it’s anything but least.

Signature sights

This place is more than just a one-trick-pony, and the beaches have learned to share centre-stage with Chania Town’s heap of historic baggage. The old quarter’s neatly wrapped by weather-worn Byzantine walls, and there’s a Roman Catholic cathedral squirrelled away among the peach-coloured rooftops. Artisan crafts and teetering tables of food line the covered market. The port’s a real looker, too. A Venetian lighthouse – one of the oldest in Greece – peers down on the café-strewn promenade, and long-standing stone dock buildings huddle around the water’s edge.

Scenic Samaria Gorge

While the sands and city sights go hammer and tongs beside the coast, Crete’s big ticket attraction keeps things serene inland. The Samaria Gorge is the largest natural canyon of its kind in the whole of Europe, with Crayola-coloured flowers and glass-like spring waters threaded through it. If you’re going the whole hog, it’ll take between four and six hours to walk the route from start to finish. Less intense strolls are just as common, but there are two things which slip into the must-take tray – a sturdy pair of shoes and a camera.

At a Glance

  • Sprawl out on a sandy beach
  • Hop between traditional villages
  • Shop for souvenirs at a local market

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