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Visiting Chania

One of the southern-most islands of Greece, Crete captivates you with its balmy climate, beautiful nature, sunny beaches, and delicious food. This mountainous island has its own unique character that leaves no visitor untouched.

Icelandair offers regular flights to Chania in northwestern Crete from North America and Iceland. Crete is known for its agreeable weather, rich history, and ancient ruins, and you’re sure to fall for its most adored city, Chania.

Before you delve into the Cretan lifestyle, why not extend your island hopping by visiting another isle from your bucket list? Book your flight to Crete with Icelandair and have a cool North Atlantic stopover before you start your Mediterranean vacation.

A cultural kaleidoscope

Throughout millennia, many civilizations have called Crete their home, the most famous being the Minoan civilization, dating back to 3500 BC. Many impressive ruins still exist from this age – the best known is the Palace of Knossos, close to Crete’s largest city of Heraklion.

During the Minoan age, Chania, then called Kydonia, flourished thanks to its good natural port. Millennia later this also attracted Venetian rule, which gave the city the European feel it’s known for today.

Modern-day Chania is a wonderful experience: wander the narrow streets, stop for a waterside coffee, then explore the crystal blue waters and pristine beaches. Nothing refreshes the spirit more than a deep breath of Cretan air.

Food for thought in Crete

It’s not surprising that philosophy has its roots in Greece – its abundance makes the country a paradise for easy living and deep contemplation. Olives, figs, honey, peaches, tomatoes, watermelon, eggplant, cucumber, prickly pears, oregano, mint grow aplenty – it’s a feast for both body and soul.

Crete is known for its unique cuisine, hearty and rustic. Look for a taverna and try dakos – a barley rusk topped with fresh tomatoes, feta, and olives, as well as plenty of olive oil. Saganaki is a Cretan cheese, like halloumi, fried till golden brown and best devoured with warm pita bread and a glass of ouzo. For a lighter meal, cretan salad is a hearty snack.

If you’re after something sweet, galaktoboureko might be the thing for you. It’s decadent custard in phyllo dough, drenched in citrus and cinnamon syrup.

Explore the Cretan lifestyle

For a true Cretan atmosphere, it's ideal to rent a car for a road trip. The popular Balos beach is a 90-minute drive west of Chania and the south coast is dotted with quaint little coves that are great for swimming. Golden Beach on Chrissi Island is thought to be one of Europe's best beaches. Boats depart from Ierapetra, a south coast town known for abundant produce.

If an action-packed vacation is what you’re after, the area around Chania offers endless possibilities. Go scuba-diving and explore underwater Crete. Sailing is also a popular pastime, with plenty of boat trips available from Chania’s old Venetian port. From there it’s fun to walk to the iconic Venetian lighthouse built in the 16th century. If hiking is your thing, head to the rugged trails of the 10-mile Samaria Gorge in southern Crete.

A number of theme parks are found close to Heraklion, the biggest city in Crete and a two-hour drive/bus ride from Chania. Limnoupolis water park is close to Chania and popular among children of any age.