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Chania (also spelled Hania) is the second largest city on the Greek island of Crete. Until 1971 it was the island's capital. That year the capital was moved to Heraklion. The cosy old centre is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Greece. Here it becomes clear that Crete has always been a crossroads of cultures. Near the old harbour there is still a 15th century Venetian lighthouse ('Faros') and a beautiful 18th century mosque. To the south of the centre there is a large indoor market.
The department of Chania covers the western part of Crete. The area is rich in archaeological finds.
The city has a little over 65,000 inhabitants. This includes the Akrotiri peninsula to the east of Chania which is becoming increasingly urbanised.
Chania is located on a plain on the northern coast of Crete in the western part of the island. The Bay of Chania is situated between the Akrotiri peninsula in the east and the Spatha peninsula in the west. The capital of Crete - Heraklion - is located 145 kilometres to the east. About halfway there is another important city, Rethymno.
Tourism plays a very important role in the local economy. The old Chania, the many picturesque towns in the interior, the rugged mountains further to the south, the beaches and the archaeological sites exert an enormous attraction on tourists.
In addition, there is trade in the products from the interior (primarily olives and oranges), which are shipped via the modern port of Souda (seven kilometres from Chania). Near the new port there is also a NATO naval base.
Furthermore, Chania is an educational centre, with a prominent Technical University, among other things.
The international Daskalogiannis airport is located on a peninsula to the east of Chania. Everyday there are a number of flights to Athens and during the summer there are many chartered flights to European cities. From the airport there is a bus connection to the city centre.
The airport of Heraklion is larger. It is located 140 kilometres to the east of Chania.
The central bus station is located to the south-west of the old city. During the summer there are buses to popular tourist destinations. Many cities and villages on Crete have a bus connection, but do not expect the bus to move fast. There are high-speed bus connections to the other large cities on Crete along the north side of the island, where the main road is.
From the modern port of Souda, there are daily ferries to Piraeus (near Athens).
Driving in the newer part of Chania is not difficult. Around the old city, near the old market and near the port there are parking areas where you can leave your rental car to explore the centre. Leave nothing of value behind in your car!
The main roads on Crete are in reasonable condition. Things become different when you decide to visit the mountainous south with its narrow winding roads. Always be prepared for the unexpected: sheep or goats on the road, holes in the road or a paved road suddenly becoming a dirt road. Some roads can even be slippery when they are dry.
In addition, many locals have a different driving style than you are used to. They often ignore traffic lights and signs. In short: drive carefully and keep your concentration. On rural roads, the speed limit is 90km/h.
Chania is a tourist centre, which means there are plenty of hotels. In the old city you will find cosy accommodations in restored buildings. To the east and to the west of the old city there are also hotels (near the beaches). During the summer (May - October) we strongly recommend booking your hotel room in advance. In other periods you will have no trouble finding accommodations, although some hotels may be closed.
For more information about Chania, we recommend Google, and the following sources: