When thinking about holidays in Greece and Greek islands the majority of people undoubtedly would organize such a trip somewhere between May to late September. However, few know that there are many interesting points to explore in the beautiful country during the rest of the months as well. Let’s take the picturesque city of Chania in Crete for example.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands located in Mediterranean Sea, south of the Peloponnese. Crete consists of four prefectures: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lasithi. Chania is a beautiful port town located on the North West coast of Crete full of cultural and historical elements which reflect the rich heritage from its Turkish and Venetian past.
Chania city constitutes a very famous destination for people from all over the world during the summer months (May to September). In winter time the city is quitter and the main population is locals. The rhythm of everyday life becomes slower and the city reveals another aspect of its unique face. Below you may find only some of the reasons why we love this city all year round!
1 Weather: Although considered to be autumn, in October and November weather is quite good! Temperature varies from 19 to 28 °C the last few years and there are some slight chances of rain. The main problem during these months is the raise of the humidity levels which makes you feel much colder than the actual temperature is. You can still visit the famous beaches of Chania and enjoy the crystal clear sea as the average temperature sets at 22 °C which makes it perfect for swimming even at night! October and November are considered to be the two benign, mild and wet autumn months typical for Crete climate.
The next months to follow Chania keeps it pretty much at same pattern except of the rain and maybe some wind. Make sure to pack an umbrella with you! The worst you will get here during the winter months is some wind, clouds and a fair bit of rain. The temperature is between 11 °C to 14°C, the days are quiet short with an average of 4 hours sunshine. The temperature of the sea sets at 16 °C which makes it possible for the winter swimmers to enjoy the Aegean Sea. For the rest it might not be suitable even for dipping any toes in it but the landscape is still breathtaking.
All in all winter in Chania is totally suitable for those who cannot withstand the heatwaves and overcrowded places. The weather definitely won’t be an obstacle if you are an active visitor who likes to explore. If you don’t mind some rain Chania is a very interesting destination to be visited during the off season period.
2 Life in the city: Without a second thought you will definitely enjoy the city of Chania better without the crowd of the summer months. It is perfect time to visit museum, famous archaeological sites and just have a walk at the beautiful narrow streets of the old Venetian town. Shops, restaurants, local café in the town center are open all year round so you might still enjoy all the Cretan hospitality and maybe even better as you will be noticed and treated as a visitor and a guest and not as a faceless number in the crowds.
3 Places to visit:
The Venetian port: probably the most famous attraction of the city. There is not a single person who visit Chania and doesn’t visit the picturesque port which is one of the most beautiful in all country. Not only tourists adore this spectacular scenery . You will see many locals stroll up and down on cool summer evenings. When visiting the old port of Chania make sure to walk all the way until the light house and go all the way up to enjoy a breathtaking view of the entire harbor. Among the many picturesque streets our favorite is the Aggelou street which is probably the most photographed alley in the old town.
Chania Municipal Market: the municipal market of Chania is also known as agora. It was built in 1913 by the architect K. Drandakis and has shape of a cross. The market was initially constructed as vegetable, fish and meat market for the city of Chania and today it operates at the same pattern with the main representative local products such as olives and olive oil, Cretan herbs, local meat, fresh fish, some traditional tavernas and souvenirs stores.
Churches in Chania: Greeks are Christian Orthodox and therefore anywhere you go you will see many beautiful churches in many spots of each city. In Chania the Cathedral Trimartiri which is located on Chalidon street which leads you to the old town of Chania. The church was built in 1860 during the Ottoman rule at the island and its architectural style has influences from the Venetian style. A famous church in the city is the church of Saint Nicolas who is supposed to be the protector of sailors, merchants, children etc. This church is located on Daskalogianni street which also leads you to the old town of Chania. During the Ottoman occupation this church was turned into a mosque. In front of the church there is a small square with nice shadow and local kafenio and patisseries. In this area you will also see many minarets. However, you should not stay only in Chania if you want to see extraordinary churches. The most beautiful and the oldest ones are in the villages of Chania such as Vamos, Vouves, Skordalou Theriso, Akrotiri peninsula, Armeni and many others.
Venizelos Family tomb: This area is situated on a hill above the city also known as Profitis Ilias and has a panoramic view of the entire city. Eleftherios Venizelos was a remarkable politician of the 20th century and was born in Chania. His tomb and his family’s is inside the park near the small church inside. The best time to visit it is during the evening hours just before the sunset.
Hiking in Crete: Samaria Gorge is a must who adore hiking. Enjoy nature at its best but make sure to wear good quality walking shoes. It is a day trip which begins at Xyloskalo and ends at Roumeli Village. From there you take a ferry boat either to Sougia village or Sfakia where the busses are waiting for you for your departure to Chania city. However, be careful as it is closed at the end of October. After that period till te end of November you might alternatively visit the Botanical park of Crete. 20 hectares of land are waiting for you to explore Cretan nature, herbs and plants in a park way different from the others that you have visited. The beautiful scenery is paradise for many animals also.
Villages in Chania: if you visit Chania and do not visit a village you might consider your trip incomplete. Winter is the best time to enjoy a plate of meze and some good Cretan wine nearby a fireplace at Omalos village. Theriso village is well known for the very nice route until you reach the village and some of the best tavernas in the town. Vamos, Armeni, ancient Aptera, Kolimbari, Elos, Sfakia are some of the representative Cretan villages that you might visit.
Beaches in Chania: winter is a great time to go to places like Elafonisi or Balos which are the most famous destinations in the city during the summer time. You will have the opportunity to surround yourself at this beautiful beaches and not being frustrated from the crowd as in the summer months. The temperature of the water is still suitable on some shiny days for swimming. On your way to Elafonisi you may visit also the Milia village which is famous for its alternative and really traditional way of leaving or Kolimbari and Kasteli to your way to Balos lagoon.
All in all, it is definitely worth to visit the beautiful city of Chania in winter time. The climate still allows you to enjoy and explore the beauty of the city and the most famous beaches without the crowd of tourists that you will meet in the summer time. The life in the city is at normal levels and there are plenty of things to do and see to make the most out of your visit to Chania city.