Best shores in Chania: South Coast Swimming Options

We have previously talked about vacations in Crete, with our hotel being the center for your holidays in Chania. Our location is prominent, making it easy to spend your summer holidays on some of the best shores and beaches in Chania. The north coast is one of the most touristically advanced parts of our island, although many of our hotel guests are also visiting the south part of Crete. 

Why choose a beach on the South coast of Crete.

Having your vacations in Crete is one of the most fun, versatile and polymorphic experiences that you will come across. Amazing wildlife, vivid nightlife as well as untouched and preserved wilderness in addition to top beaches make Crete and Chania a top destination.

Although, many tourists are coming to Crete to find peacefulness and tranquility. The north coast is an excellent opportunity to admire pure Crete and off-the-beaten-path leisure moments. 

Best shores in Chania- Beaches in Crete- Souda Bay- Despina Studios

Best shores in Chania- Beaches in Crete- Souda Bay- Despina Studios

In addition to that, the amazing crystal clear waters, sandy beaches in combination with rocky beaches, the lack of tourist crowds, and the special microclimate of the south (which is near Africa) make the South coast a top priority for many travelers. Access to the Libyan sea, as well as to Gavdos island is another reason that South Crete is also a commendable place for swimming.

South Crete Beaches- Sfakia: Swimming in Heaven.

An excellent choice for those who have a car is Sfakia (Chora Sfakion )region: There is a peaceful small beach in the port of Sfakia that you can enjoy a rewarding bath. Although, a better option is to take direction and head to the road that leads you to Anopoli. Just 5 minutes after you depart from the port of Sfakia you can park by the roadside and head to “Glyka Nera” beach.

This beach is only accessible by boat, and on foot, after a small half-hour walk on the cliffs of south Crete. The path walk is well recognizable, and there are also signs just in case. Feel tired? We suggest that you insist, as the privacy and the beauty of this beach is well worth it.

North Crete Beach- Sougia Beach

Agia Roumeli shore: A desolate beach for privacy seekers!

If you desire some added privacy during your road trip to Crete,  then we recommend Agia Roumeli village. This remote fisherman’s village is accessible only by boat as it is located on the exit of Samaria Gorge on the edgy shore cliffs of the south coast of Crete. 

Being so remote and reachable only by boat, or by passing through the Samaria Gorge this village is perfect for relaxation and peacefulness. It is a great side quest for those going to the gorge, as you can enjoy a relaxing and rewarding swim afterward.

Moreover, if you don’t like hiking, access to the village is easy either by the ports of Sougia, Paleochora, or Sfakia as the boat tickets are inexpensive and the routes frequent

Agia Roumeli Beach

Agia Roumeli Beach and Village

Sougia Beach: A South Crete jewel.

Sougia is another small and peaceful village on the south coast of Chania. In this case, access to the village is possible by car and is a nice opportunity to head there after you visit some of the most picturesque villages of Chania mainland, such as Kandanos, Temenia, Palaia Roumata, and many more. 

Sougia beach has mostly pebbles and its untouched clear waters will give you an unforgettable swim over the South Coast. There are also many taverns and shops nearby on which you can enjoy authentic Cretan food and traditional meals.

Sougia Beach North Crete

Sougia Beach Chania

Paleochora Beach: An all-time classic beach shore in Chania.

Out of all the beaches, shores, and swimming opportunities we already discussed, the area of Paleochora seems to be the most vivid choice. Paleochora is an established tourist area in the South Crete region. Many shops, taverns, and hotels are there for your holidays. Its unique location, with two small gulfs (east and west), can guarantee you a pleasant swim – no matter the wind direction- and the crystal clear waters of the south shore will be remembered for years to come.

Enjoy South Crete with our hotel and our guided tours!

South Crete has endless beauties and untouched places that are best known to locals. We collaborate with experienced hikers and tour guides to offer customers having holidays in Chania with us the essence of pure and Authentic Crete. You can contact us for more information about tailor-made private excursions, as well as car rentals and driving tips for an ultimate journey.

Vacations in Crete- North Crete

Vacations in Crete- North Crete

Despina Studios sea-view hotel in Chania has a unique location, just 30m away from the sandy Agia Marina beach, and is also an excellent option for those who want to explore South Crete. Its proximity to the big interchange and the west parts of Crete makes it easy to transport yourselves from North to South in less than 90 minutes. We invite you to explore our island and reach the shores, beaches, and mountain regions described in this post. Check our online availability and enjoy Crete with us

Samaria Gorge 2023 Comprehensive Guide (+4 Hiking Tips)

This comprehensive guide is about travelling in Chania and is to be considered as a comprehensive guide for Samaria Gorge. Many of our visitors in our beachfront Hotel in Chania are coming for vacations in Crete solely to pass Samaria Gorge. There are lots of people who love hiking in Chania, and Samaria Gorge is for sure at the top of their list as it is the biggest gorge of Greece, and the second biggest in Europe , second only after the gorge of verdon in France . This comprehensive guide will guide you through much needed information, tips, hints and everything in between for a successful full-day journey to the Gorge.

Samaria Gorge Comprehensive Guide: First things First.

Samaria Gorge is situated in Omalos Plateau, which is in the heart of the White Mountains of Crete. Most visitors of the Samaria Gorge are staying in beachfront hotels in Chania area or in tourist areas such as Platanias and Agia Marina, or in luxury Villas in the vicinity. Samaria Gorge is a good hour drive from the north beach shores of Chania, thus you have to get there either by hiring a car, by going there by bus, or by taking an organized tour with a bus or tour guide. 

We recommend the 2 latter options, as it’s preferred not to go to the gorge with your car because it’s harder to reach it afterwards. It is much more convenient to get a safe transfer with a bus, travel agency, or taxi and then take another bus on your way back to your hotel in Chania.

The entrance of Samaria Gorge is situated in “Xiloskalo” ( Greek Denomination: Ξυλόσκαλο) which is has an altitude of 1300 m. There are some local shops that can serve you your breakfast, some Cretan traditional products, and the necessary for the long hike. The area is called Xiloskalo because the first kilometers of the gorge have a big descent and there are many wooden steps that help with the gradual descent. Those wooden steps are called “Ξύλινα Σκαλιά “ in Greek, and this is why the entrance of the Samaria Gorge is named after this. 

Samaria Gorge Ksiloskalo/ Xyloskalo wooden step- Samaria Gorge Entrance at Xyloskalo -Omalos

Samaria Gorge Ksiloskalo/ Xyloskalo wooden step- Samaria Gorge Entrance at Xyloskalo -Omalos

Samaria Gorge Hiking: The Basics.

The entrance costs 5 euros per person and you can access the Gorge as early as 7 A.M. We say as early because we definitely insist on going to the Samaria Gorge as early as possible. You will avoid the tourist crowds, especially in July – August, you will have plenty of time for taking photographs and sightseeing and you will have plenty of time to rest on the various stops that are available through the Samaria Gorge. Furthermore, you may need more time for passing the gorge, and starting early gives you an advantage in case you need to take your time.

Samaria Gorge has a length of 16 kilometers. Technically the length of the gorge is 13 kilometers and there are another 3 kilometers after the long hike which is a paved road that leads you to the North coast and Agia Roumeli Village which is a fishermen’s village only accessible by boat. 

Passing the Gorge is a strenuous and tedious process. Traveling in Crete may be a nice experience but many times the weather is unforgiving and this is why Samaria Gorge is open only through the mild seasons of spring and summer. Normally the Gorge is open from May till October, with some mild changes every year depending on the presence of water and snow inside the gorge that alternates its difficulty. 

Samaria Gorge Ticket Price.

Samaria Gorge Ticket Information and Price.

Hiking in Crete: What to be careful of.

As a general rule of thumb, hiking in Crete is an activity that many tourists are doing as Crete and especially Chania area has many gorges, hiking paths, and trails. However, you have to know that especially Hiking in the Samaria Gorge is a difficult task, and is advised that people with health problems, obese people, or pregnant women have to be extremely careful with this task. 

Especially on hot summer days, you need to have protective clothing (hats, sunglasses, sunscreen e.t.c.) and be careful of your condition as well as your environment as it is easy for you to get disoriented or have a mild heatstroke. Although in the Samaria Gorge there is an organized footpath you have to be careful and concentrated in order to avoid any problems.

This is only a reminder in order to enjoy your vacations in Crete to the fullest. There is trained staff inside the gorge in various places ready to assist you and also mules if anything happens and you can’t walk further. There is also a medical station in the middle of Samaria Gorge’s path, right where the old Samaria Settlement was before the gorge was nominated as a national park back in 1962.

Samaria Gorge- Mountain Gigilos in Chania

Mountain Gigilos in Chania, seen inside of Samaria Gorge.


Samaria Gorge Hiking tips: What to bring.

After you have organized your transfer to the gorge and you have bought tickets at the Samaria Gorge entrance you start your hike. We recommend that you always carry a backpack through the gorge with all the essentials. Experienced hikers always carry with them: Sunscreen, a hat, socks,  some medicine for bees and wasps bites, some extra pairs of comfy clothing, dry food and fruits and water. Loads of water.

There are many natural sources throughout Samaria Gorge where you can drink water but carrying some extra liters in your backpack is surely a must as you may need it in any case of emergency. Hydration is key, this is why Despina Studios is insisting on keeping your water reserves full and drinking water from the sources when needed. 

The crucial element is comfy anatomic hiking boots. We strongly recommend that you avoid sporty running shoes on this long hike in Chania. It may sound like a good idea but we definitely believe that the extra cushioning, extra comfort, and excellent ankle protection of hiking boots are really paramount here. 

Charged cell phones and photo cameras are also a must in order to take unforgettable pictures of the gorge and in order to contact someone if needed. You also need to take with you the best mood for the hike. The duration of the hike is between 4 to 7 hours depending on your pace.

Samaria Gorge White Mountains in Chania Crete- Pine Trees

Samaria Gorge White Mountains in Chania Crete- Pine Trees

Samaria Gorge: What not to bring.

Those 6-7 hours that you normally need for passing the Samaria Gorge is for sure a difficult task and you definitely don’t need to bring heavy and unwanted items with you. Large amounts of food is not necessary, as there are plenty of taverns and shops with local specialties on the Village of Agia Roumeli on your way out of the gorge. Big backpacks and camping gear is also unwanted, as camping is prohibited, and large bags will put extra stress on your body which is unwanted. You need to pack light and if you have  company it’s better to split between groups of 2-3 persons in order to be more focused, enjoy nature better and protect yourselves if something happens.

Samaria Gorge Private Tour in Chania

Samaria Gorge Hiking: Navigating yourself.

As we said you start your hike from a point of 1300m. You will descend for 16 kilometers until you reach the sea which has an altitude of 0m. This is the route that almost everyone gets to hike, and especially tourists that are on vacation in Chania.

However, if you are an extreme sports enthusiast you can take it the other way around. Reach Agia Roumeli Village and enter the gorge from the opposite direction, thus ascending from 0 to 1300 meters. You will see some athletes or trained soldiers doing this but it is an activity not for the faint-hearted, and 99 % of the visitors in Chania are not capable of doing. We will focus on the normal route through the Samaria Gorge.

During those 13 kilometers of the path there are plenty of stops offering you the much-needed shade from the sun and water. Typically there are spaced 1-2 kilometers between each other, so by the time you feel exhausted you will have the opportunity to relax and take your time. There are 8 stopping points on the gorge. We recommend that you eat some of your snacks during those stops and stay hydrated. You may also consider changing socks in order to avoid any blisters or funghi on your feet.

Goats of Crete

Goats of Crete- Take a close look at the gorge’s mountains. Goats, Sheep, and Kri – Kri’s might be nearby!

By the time you have reached the end of Samaria gorge, you will be congratulated by a sign and a guard that will take your ticket for safety purposes. Every day the number of tickets has to be counted in order to make sure that the entrance and the exit have the same number. Otherwise, someone might be in danger or lost inside the gorge. There are some shops right after the gorge’s exit offering you refreshing orange juice, traditional Sfakian Pie (sweet pastry with Cretan Cheese and Honey).

The exit of the Gorge is on the place where the old village of Agia Roumeli was established. Because of the severe rainfalls and water streams that passed through the Samaria Gorge in winter this village was constantly affected by damages because of the weather and this is why it was relocated on the beach shore, 3 kilometers south. However, there are many relics of the past, some old churches, and sheepfolds that bond you with the local folklore tradition and way of living.

After half an hour of your exit from Samaria Gorge, you will eventually reach Agia Roumeli village and the north shore of Crete with views over Libyan Sea. We recommend that you take your time, enjoy a nice swim on the crystal blue waters and then take the boat that will get you to the nearest village which has a bus in order to get back to Chania centre or your hotel- if you have an organized tour already booked.  The boat usually departs early in the afternoon (5-6 p.m), so if you enter Samaria Gorge early, most probably you will have plenty of time in order to pass the Samaria Gorge and Relax in Agia Roumeli village afterward.

Agia Roumeli Village-sea view

Agia Roumeli Village Sea View – Where Samaria Gorge is ending and meets the sea.


Samaria Gorge Journey: Travel Tips 

In case you didn’t know, Samaria Gorge is a place where endangered species live. Both flora and Fauna. This means that you don’t take anything with you (including rocks as souvenirs)  and you need to preserve the natural beauty of our homeland. The most famous species of animal that lives in the Samaria Gorge is the Cretan Wild Goat- Best known as Kri- Kri. They are protected by law and are prohibited to hunt them as they are nearly extinct.

There is a big chance that you see some Kri – Kri on the old Settlement of Samaria, where the biggest stop of the route and the doctor’s office are. We recommend you pass some time there and look carefully at the mountains and the nearby river. You might be lucky and spot some wildlife. 

Portes- the most famous spot of Samaria Gorge in Chania

Doors (Portes): The most famous spot of Samaria Gorge in Chania

Leave Samaria Gorge last!

We believe that everyone has to pass through our nation’s biggest gorge at least one, and especially people who are on vacation in Chania. However, because many of us are not well trained, we may be exhausted and have swollen muscles and feet. This may continue for a few days which means that you will not be 100 % active for the next few days. We recommend that you visit Samaria Gorge on the very last days of your holidays and just rest on your way back home. By doing this you will have more time exploring Crete rather than resting in your hotel room.

Pay a tribute to the Helipad in Agia Roumeli

Just before you reach Agia Roumeli village center you will see a helipad, used for emergencies (medical, fires etc) for the locals that live in the village which has no roads. In the helipad, there is also a monument for a tragic event that happened to a soldier around 20 years ago. During a military exercise hike, he had a severe health condition that needed medical attention. Because of the desolation of the place and the wilderness he, unfortunately, died on his way to the hospital.

We insist that you pay a tribute to the memorial inside the helipad. This is a way of respecting his memory and understanding how tough the climate is on the White Mountains, and how demanding is daily life in this impeccably beautiful but desolate part of Crete.

Visit Samaria Gorge through our Beachfront Hotel in Chania.

Despina Studios is a beachfront hotel in Chania and is only an hour’s drive from Samaria Gorge entrance.  We cooperate with reputable travel agencies that are organizing daily trips (private or group) to the Samaria gorge offering you impeccable views and the essence of wilderness that pure wild Crete has to offer you. For more information about Samaria Gorge Hiking Tours please contact us,  or search for hotel availability online! 

Leaving Samaria Gorge from the port of Agia Roumeli.

Leaving Samaria Gorge from the port of Agia Roumeli- Despina Studios Beachfront Hotel in Chania/ Agia Marina

Did you know? Samaria Gorge alternative Routes!

Although this comprehensive guide is full of information about passing the Samaria Gorge that suits 99 % of the hikers in Crete, there are also some alternative routes that can be combined with passing from the gorge. They are indicative of people that have already passed the gorge many times or want a more adventurous and competitive journey. Skilled hikers with years of experience are amongst the people who are most likely to take the following routes.

Loukoumades- Traditional Cretan pastry- Deep fried dough with honey and sesame

A nice rewarding dessert after passing the gorge is a must. Traditional “Loukoumades” Greek pastry- Deep fried dough with honey and sesame seeds

You can reach Samaria Gorge from Paleochora, Sougia Or Sfakia by car, taxi or bus. After you have to take the boat that leads you to Agia Roumeli Village and afterward you can take the “reverse” Samaria gorge way, which leads you to the ascending route from 0 altitude all the way up to 1300 meters. For those who want a smaller hiking experience, you can reach the famous “Doors-Portes” point in an hour of hiking and then return back to Agia Roumeli. If you decide to ascend all the way up to Xyloskalo you need to start very early in the morning and be heavily trained, as the last kilometers have a serious incline.

There is also another route close to the entrance of the Gorge from Ksiloskalo which leads to the neighboring mountain called “Gigilos” (i.e. Rotten, in Greek) which is also very famous amongst experienced hikers with the necessary hiking equipment. Another popular route and part of the E4 European Long Distance Path is to take the route to Kallergi Mountain Shelter and see Samaria Gorge from above. Whatever you decide to do, it is certain that the experience will be remembered for a lifetime!

When does Samaria Gorge open? Operating Season Information

Samaria Gorge due to its untouched environment is prone to weather conditions. Therefore, heavy snow during the wintertime can alter the opening dates of Samaria Gorge. Usually, the Samaria Gorge opens from April 20 and Closes for winter in Late October/ Early November

Chania Road Trip: Eating Journey in Chania by car.

Car is an excellent way of exploring the Cretan countryside.  Many tourists are staying with us who also rent a car with our collaborators to discover Crete. The fact that most of the distances are a close distance and reachable by regular cars makes exploration a must. Most of the time car journeys can be combined with a tryout of  Cretan delicacies found in local taverns and shops.  

Chania road trip: Explore our traditional Cretan food on your vacation journey!

Twenty kilometers east of Agia Marina where our beachfront and sea view hotel in Chania is located lies the traditional beachfront village of Kalyves. After a short ride, guests can enjoy a nice snack or dinner by the sea, overlooking the gulf of Souda. A 5-minute drive to the south and you can find the traditional and picturesque village of Armenoi. The village is well known for its profound food taverns and the excellent climate as a river passes through the village and can be found at a close distance. 

Road Trip in Chania Journey by car-Despina Studios Agia Marina Chania Crete

Road Trip in Chania Journey by car-Despina Studios Agia Marina Chania Crete

However, if you like to experience lunch or dinner by the river it is a perfect alternative to visit the villages of Vrysses or Stylos which is in the Apokoronas Region not very far away from the villages stated above. A handful of quality and approved taverns can also be found approaching the Chania- Rethimnon border, heading east. Kournas lake is commonplace for friends and families that seek a quiet and peaceful retreat from the city center, or the busy tourist attractions. You can adore the only natural sweet water lake in Crete and have the opportunity to rent a boat and enjoy the lake’s flora and fauna. After, you can enjoy your food at the neighboring local taverns.

Road Trip- Crete from Above- White Mountains

Road Trip- Crete from Above- White Mountains – Despina Studios Agia Marina, Chania Crete

For those who have a lot of time, they can stretch their excursion and drive an additional 20 kilometers using the main road that connects Chania and Rethymnon. In the region of Episkopi, you can turn right and follow the road to the village of Argyroupolis. There you can also enjoy some fine dining and you will have the chance to see the famous Argyroupolis Springs, the beginning of a local river, in a place full of running water, excessive forestation and some taverns with local quality delicacies. 

Chania journey by car: Small road trip options.

However, for those not willing to drive all the way to the Rethymnon border to relax and eat locally, there is a nice alternative just 15 kilometers from Chania center. There lies the traditional village of Therisso. The scenery is full of trees, the nature is untouched and the little taverns there offer well-known Cretan delicacies, such as Antikristo, which is traditional Cretan meat, prepared in charcoal but in a very special way. 

Therisso Gorge Chania

Therisso Gorge Chania

Apart from that, the village of Therisso has also a historical standpoint, as it was the base, and the starting point of the so-called Therissos Revolution, back in 1905 in which many people of the later political Greek history demanded the union with the Greek nation, as at the time Crete was autonomous as a Cretan ‘state’. There also lies the house they first gathered for the revolution which is now a museum and can be also accessed.

Inside Therisso Gorge- Φαράγγι Θερίσου

Inside Therisso Gorge- Φαράγγι Θερίσου

Car options in the region are plentiful considering prices, vehicle types, and duration of rent. More information and exclusive low rates for car hire in Chania can be found by asking the staff in the reception area or during your room reservation by clicking  “extras’ ‘ on our booking page.

Museums in Chania and best places of interest for your vacation

For those who desire to wander around Chania town center on foot, our town offers some unique experiences at a very close distance. There are many museums in Chania area and other places of historical and folklore interest ready to assure you an unforgettable journey with Despina Studios being your starting point.

Museums in Chania: First things first. 

Assuming you decide to walk to the old Venetian port, there is a big, bulky burgundy-colored building. That is the Chania naval museum and for big measure· facing the lighthouse, it is the building on its left. At a nominal cost, you can visit the naval museum and adore some maritime thesaurus from Greek maritime history and tradition and learn about the types of boats and equipment from many centuries ago.

Naval Museum and Egyptian Lighthouse on the Venetian Harbor in Chania, Crete.

Naval Museum, Firkas Castle, and Egyptian Lighthouse on the Venetian Harbor in Chania, Crete.

Walking just outside the naval museum in Chania old Venetian port, you will have the chance to step on Firkas Castle which also has a historic value, as it was the castle on which the Greek flag was lifted on 1 December 1913, celebrating the long-suffering desire to connect with the Greek nation as a whole. 

After finishing your tour of the museum and Firkas Castle we truly suggest that you walk to the other side of the old Venetian port facing east. There you can find a row of some old long and narrow buildings called Neoria in which we used to repair and refurbish ships and boats the previous centuries. By approaching the end of the old Venetian harbor (opposed side of the naval museum) you will find 3 conjoint Neoria, one of them is fully renovated and operates as a cafeteria. Right next to it there is a fully renovated replica of the famous ancient Greek ship called Trihrhs or Trireme.

Neoria- Chania old Harbor

Neoria- Chania old Harbor- Despina Studios Agia Marina Chania

This specific ship took part in the transfer of the Olympic Flame from Crete to Athens mainland during the Olympic games of 2004, so it also has a historic value. You can also admire many more exhibits in the area, as it operates as a maritime and traditional shipbuilding museum. 

Vacation in Chania: Visiting Picturesque districts and museums in Chania. 

You can also extend your walk on foot or by taking a short ride on a taxi or bus to Chalepa Area, a picturesque and historically upper-class neighborhood 3 kilometers from the old Venetian port. The new Archeological Museum of Chania has opened its doors in 2022 in the area of Halepa too,  and is also a must-see!

Tampakaria Chania- Ταμπακαριά Χανιά

Tampakaria Chania- Chalepa Region – Ταμπακαριά Χανιά

Most of the embassies and many houses of politicians were in this area in the past century, and now the area is full of hotels, shops, and taverns. What matters is that you can also explore the house of one of the most prominent Greek politicians named Eleftherios Venizelos 

This politician was so famous throughout Greek Contemporary history that he doubled Greece in size after the Balkan wars and World War One. Needless to say that our initial central airport in our capital, Athens is named after him. 

Eleftherios Venizelos and Venizelos Graves: A sightseeing in Chania opportunity.

His house is in a very central part of Chalepa and now operates as a museum, having many historical documents and personal items of the person who was accountable for the unification of Crete with Greece. Highlights of your visit will be the admiration of the original blood-stained jacket he wore in the assassination attempt which happened in Paris in 1920, and also the original car with intact bullet holes up to this date of the second assassination attempt against him,  which happened in 1933 in Athens.

Venizelos Graves-Panoramic View of the city of Chania

Venizelos Graves-Panoramic View of the city of Chania- Museums in Chania are in close vicinity. 

Eleftherios Venizelos died in 1936 and is Buried 4 kilometers away from his Chalepa house on top of Profitis Ilias hill, in a place well known as Venizelos Tombs, which is another sightseeing opportunity in Chania as there lies also his son, Sofoklis Venizelos, a well-known politician of the onward era.

We suggest that you hire a taxi or take a bus for the short ascending ride, as the panoramic view of Chania is breathtaking and also you can stop for a small snack with an impeccable view in the various local cafeterias which are at a close distance from the tomb site. 

Guided tours of Chania area, of our island’s military and contemporary history, are being organized by a certified historian (BA In contemporary History) and you can extend your knowledge about our island and its history by reserving one of the journeys that we offer through our beachfront hotel in Chania.

Monasteries in Chania and Religious Tourism

Apart from all the other experiences, one can experience in the Chania region there are many monasteries in Chania established centuries ago which are rich in Historic, folklore, and archaeological interest.   Our municipality offers many religious-related sights that allow guests to interact and explore our nation’s Orthodox history, culture, morals, and customs. Furthermore, more of the sights presented below can be accessed free of charge, and being orthodox is optional, so this activity is ideal for the multinational crowd as well. 

Monasteries in Chania: Starting with the most prominent.

Gouverneto and Agia Triada Monasteries are amongst the most well-known Monasteries in the vicinity and information, as well as exclusive hints for the excursion, are readily available on our blog update about the alternative hike routes

Agia Triada Monastery Chania-Front View Entrance- Monasteries in Chania

Agia Triada Monastery Chania-Front View Entrance- Monasteries in Chania

Very close to the old Venetian Port of Chania you can experience the big and famous Orthodox Church called Trimartiri at Halidon Street. Something most tourists don’t know is that the exact opposite of this church there also is a Catholic Church and a Folklore Museum in immaculate condition. In order to find them all, you have to do is to follow the stoned arcade exactly opposite the big Trimartiri church we talked about earlier. 

Catholic Church in Chania

Catholic Church in Chania- Despina Studios Agia Marina, Chania, Crete

Unknown monasteries in Chania- Our top picks.

Going further away from Chania’s old centre -but not very far away-, in 5 kilometres distance we find another orthodox Monastery called Moni Chrysopigis which is also available for pilgrims daily.

Monasteries of Chania Private Tour

Very close to Chrysopigis monastery, and actually part of the monastery’s assets is the priory of Saint Kyriaki. Saint Kyriaki Priori is close distance from your Chrisopigi Monastery and is also a nice opportunity for hiking as numerous caves were transformed as places of worship and a natural environment ideal for hiking, relaxation, and worshipping god. You can see the location of the monastery as well as the numerous caves, shrines, and small chapels that surround it to broaden your trip around the numerous monasteries in Chania 

Korakies Monastery in Chania, Akrotiri- Religious Tourism in Chania

Korakies Monastery in Chania, Akrotiri- Religious Tourism in Chania

Searching for monasteries in Chania: Going further away…

 Stretching our journey further away near the Akrotiri area, you can also find another diligent Monastery which is known to locals by the name Korakies. The small park that surrounds the monastery makes it ideal for a family retreat.

Korakies Monastery in Chania

Korakies Monastery in Chania

Now, if you don’t want to spend much time away from Despina Studios you can travel short distances to the west near the Kolymvari area, where you can visit the Orthodox Academy of Crete which played a vital role for orthodoxy as it hosted the 2015 Pan orthodox session with Ecumenical Patriarch present.

Combine Monasteries in Crete with astounding beaches in Chania!  

For those who want to explore north Crete and especially visit   Elafonisi beach, we truly suggest a stop at Chrysoskalitisa Monastery which is a historical monastery build in the 17th century. The state of the monastery leaves guests in awe, especially because it combines the religious part with the untouched environment, as well as the unobstructed views of the Libyan sea. We suggest that you visit a couple of those places during your stay, especially in addition to some other places on a part of a daily excursion.

Orthodox Church and Monastery in Chania- Trimartiri Church

Orthodox Church and Monastery in Chania- Trimartiri Church

The best way to explore this part of our multifarious region is by car, and you can ask the hotel manager in the reception area for exclusive prices on car deals with car companies we collaborate on. Despina Studios is located in a very central location in the prefecture of Chania, making it an ideal beachfront and sea view hotel for any type of excursion, especially when seeking monasteries in Chania. We invite you to make a room reservation and explore the undiscovered Crete with us!

Hiking in Chania: Mini Hiking options while on Vacation.

Unkown Hiking Tours in Chania:

    Without a doubt, Chania offers a wide variety of options for hiking in Chania and for those who seek adventure. Samaria Gorge and Irini Gorge belong to Cretan natural heritage and are places that cannot be seen elsewhere in the European region and can be booked at an honest price from the reception desk during your stay in Despina Studios.

Samaria Gorge by Bus from Chania


Hiking in Chania: The unknown -off the beaten path- hiking options.

  However, the peculiarity of the Cretan soil offers some little-known hiking and climbing opportunities that will remain unforgettable. Despina Studios lies in a strategic place for small trips to some very interesting hiking sites. We can suggest two mostly unknown routes in the Akrotiri region in which guests can experience some moderate difficulty hiking and combine it with some ecstatic sightseeing and some lunch in local taverns by the side. Akrotiri region is on the north of Chania and it’s the land that surrounds Souda Bay. It is also the region where the main airport is located, from whom you most likely landed in Crete. 

Agia Triada Monastery Chania-Front View Entrance- Monasteries in Chania

Agia Triada Monastery Chania-Front View Entrance- Byzantine Monasteries and hiking  in Chania

Hiking and Relaxation visiting Monasteries in Chania: 

In this region, and a close distance from the airport heading north you can reach the small but very historic Agia Triada Monastery dating back to the 17th century A.D. You can enter the small but well cared for monastery for a nominal cost and you can enjoy some wine tasting or buy some bio olive oil from the monastery shop that sells original traditional made monastery products. Guests can also wander and experience the vast vineyard areas that belong to the monastery and are at a proximate distance, right in front of the monastery. 

Agia Triada Monastery- Gouverneto Monastery

Agia Triada Monastery- Gouverneto Monastery

By continuing the journey north for a couple of kilometers in rural roads you can also visit the Gouverneto Monastery which has been there since the 16th century A.D.   Very close to the monastery premises there is a path that leads to the unknown Avlaki Gorge in which you can hike in a medium difficulty path. This Gorge can be finished in 1 hour approximately and is in descending order that leads to the ancient first monastery and a cave in which a well-known hermit-saint lived all his life.

Continuing the gorge in descending order guests will be driven to a small unknown cove that monastics used to transfer goods via boats. There is an excellent chance to have a bath and enjoy a homemade snack on some crystal clear waters. After your bath, we suggest two options: 

Sea View -Hiking in Chania - Gouverneto Gorge Akrotiri

Sea View -Hiking in Chania  – Gouverneto Gorge Akrotiri

  The first is to ascend the same Gorge you hiked on your way to the sea and leads to the Gouverneto Monastery with an approximate time of travel to be 1.5 hours and then continue your exploration by car. The other alternative is to take another small path near the beach, which is the end of the gorge, and head west to the famous Stavros beach, the exact site where many Zorba the Greek scenes were filmed.

Approximate hike time is an added 1-1.5 hours and guests should bear in mind that they have to assure transportation from Stavros because the choice of traveling all the way back to the Gouverneto Monastery,  if you came there with your rental car, is excruciating because of the ascend and total distance, making it an unpopular tourist choice. Whichever option you choose, the natural habitat, the scenery, and the sea views will guarantee you a cheap but unforgettable excursion.

Gouverneto Monastery Gorge- Avlaki Gorge Chania

Gouverneto Monastery Gorge- Avlaki Gorge Chania- Way to the chapel “Arkoudiotissa”

For more information, and for transfer options such as guided transfer or car rental options, guests can reach the hotel manager in the reception desk area or stay with us and choose your extras on our reservations page. 



Things to do in Chania- Battle of Crete Historical Journey

 Chania is without a doubt amongst the most famous tourist attractions in Europe. There are many activities on Crete and most of our tourists adore and admire the island’s tranquility, traditions, nightlife.  the majestic Greek sun, and beaches. Yet, for many Battle of Crete is on top of the things that they want to do in Chania, and we now elaborate further, 

Things to do in Chania: Enjoy the contemporary history.

However, the things that one can do in Chania region are plentiful. For those especially interested in the past and history, Chania has to offer the chance to visit the sites where the famous Battle of Crete occurred in World War 2. The almost intact environment contributes to the whole experience and is a must for history enthusiasts or for many people whose relatives may have participated in this famous battle, especially people from the British Commonwealth.

Things to do in Chania: Visit Maleme Airport Commemoration for world war 2 - Battle of Crete military vehicles

Maleme Airport Commemoration for World War 2 – Battle of Crete Military Vehicles

 The fact that distances between sites of interest in Chania are very proximate makes the retreat fast, easy, and a perfect idea for a half a day tour. In a very proximate distance from Agia Marina, heading west is Platanias where guests can visit the famous  War Shelter of Platanias.  Guests can see a variety of WW2 military equipment such as artillery, shovels, original military uniforms, and various ammunition and also have a chance to wander the 170 meters long· war shelter. Guests can also continue their journey heading 5 kilometres west in the battle sight from which the Battle of Crete is more pronounced. 

Chania Battle of Crete Private Tour with a private historian

History speaks for itself: The airfield of Maleme in Chania

The Airfield of Maleme is the main entrance in which most German paratroopers landed in WW2 in order to occupy the island.  Maleme Airport is still present to this day and most of the property now belongs to the Greek Special Forces, however, guests can visit it and also can visit the British commemorative monument which is at a close distance.

Maleme Airport Battle of Crete- Αεροδρόμιο Μάλεμε- Μάχη της Κρήτης

Maleme Airport Battle of Crete-Despina Studios Beachfront Hotel in Agia Marina, Chania, Crete

South of the airfield there lies Hill 107 which is the burial ground of the axle forces and is well known as the Maleme German War cemetery where approximately 4. 500 German Soldiers are rested. The cemetery is well cared for and guests can see a panoramic view of the Maleme Airfield which lies in front of them facing north.  For those who have time for a daily excursion, we also recommend a visit to Galatas Village where the famous Battle of Galatas occurred and played a vital role in the war flow of things. 

Meleme World War 2 German Cemetery in Maleme, Chania, Crete- Battle of Crete 1941-1944 Deutscher Soldatenfriedhod- Maleme-

Meleme World War 2 German Cemetery in Maleme, Chania, Crete- Battle of Crete 1941-1944 Deutscher Soldatenfriedhod- Maleme-

Lest we Forget:  Battle of Crete Commonwealth war cemetery. 

Later in the evening guests can travel to Souda Bay where the CommonWealth War Cemetery lies and is the corresponding burial ground for approximately 1500 allied soldiers. Guests can finish their day by sightseeing at the beautiful Souda Bay and have a meal at many of the neighbouring local taverns present there.

British Commonwealth war Cemetery Chania Crete- Souda Bay

British Commonwealth war Cemetery Chania Crete- Souda Bay

The Battle of Crete is considered amongst historians as a Pyrrhic Victory of the Germans. Even though they accomplished their goal of the island occupation, their casualties were so immense they had a strategic impact on the axle forces in WW2 onward.  This happened primarily due to the courage and strength that locals and allies showed during the battles in various villages of Chania inland.   

Maleme Airport Battle of Crete Memorial

Maleme Airport Battle of Crete Memorial

Guided tours with a professional guide with a BA in Contemporary history can also be arranged upon request and combined with your vacation stay. You can organize your trip at the reception desk upon your arrival.

Museums in Chania- Sfakia world war 2 private museum

Museums in Chania- Sfakia world war 2 private museum


Nightlife in Chania: Chania by Night Vacation Options

For many, nightlife in Chania is alone one of the reasons to visit Crete. Many shops, picturesque alleys, excellent food, and a sunset like no other are only a few of the things that stand out. 

Despina Studios is situated in Chania with lots of nightlife options. Agia Marina, where our studios in Chania are located, is close to Chania town center, only 20 minutes drive from our beachfront hotel. Although Agia Marina and the neighboring area of Platanias are offering many entertainment options for adults, couples, and small families, many of our guests are optioning for going into Chania town for their entertainment. In this guide, we will point out the best areas of town for the best experience.

Agora square chania- Chania Market Square by night

Agora square Chania- Chania Market Square by night- Despina Studios Agia Marina Chania

Nightlife in Chania: The basics.

When we refer to going out in Chania town center, and especially for people coming to our town during the summer for their vacations, the old Venetian Harbour is a top choice. Many beachfront cafeterias, restaurants, and fish taverns are offering you a nice view of the Venetian harbor in Chania and the Aegyptian lighthouse.  

Chania Lighthouse- Egyptian Lighthouse in Chania

Chania Lighthouse- Egyptian Lighthouse in Chania

We can certainly recommend that you enjoy a refreshing orange juice or a quick coffee and then head for the long way up to the Venetian lighthouse which is approachable on foot. For a meal, we recommend that you avoid the harbor-front shops as they are usually overpriced and the food is not so good due to the attractiveness of the place. 

On the contrary, we suggest that you get lost in our small passages and small alleys of our old town in Chania, where you can find peacefulness, tranquility, better services, a nice and cozy environment, and local people. Watch out for “Splantzia Square” and its neighboring alleys for the perfect experience.

When should you experience the best night out in Chania?

When going for your night out in Chania, especially in the summer, every day will be a perfect opportunity for entertainment because of the popularity of our destination. Although, if you like to bond more with locals you should choose the days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Those are the days that locals specifically go out to have fun and this is because many businesses in Greece don’t work on the weekends, so this is a Class A opportunity for us to go out. 

The best times for nightlife in Chania start right after the sun sets and last till the very early hours of the morning, as Chania is pretty famous for its nightlife. You can all together enjoy a fine romantic sunset walk in our old town, experience a good cocktail or a nice beer, and then head out to one of our clubs or pubs until early in the morning.

Chania: Where locals go.

If you want to experience a more local- and nontouristy- approach to your nightlife options then there are some specific places in our town that locals specifically choose for many decades. Splantzia Square is a safe option, as there are many “mezedopolia” (small restaurants with “by the side” dishes) that locals always prefer for their night out. The atmosphere is friendly and quiet and the majority of people attending the square, although a minute away from busy touristic areas, are Greek.

Another area with nice dinner options that locals (especially on Saturdays) choose to spend their time on is Chatzimichali Daliani Street, in a close distance from the Splantzia Square mentioned above.

Chania nightlife- Chatzimichali Daliani Street

Chania nightlife- Chatzimichali Daliani Street- Despina Studios  

If you are in the west part of town, and near the Naval Museum of Crete then the Nea Chora area is another place that locals are fond of. Nice traditional beachfront taverns are offering you fresh fish and nightlife in Chania is taking off with regular live music from wanderers or from -in the restaurant- musicians. 

The area of Chalepa is another option where locals go and is usually not that crowded making it an ideal option for our clients that want quiet and privacy on their night out in Chania. 

Chania night out- Chalidon Street to the Venetian Harbor of Chania

Chania night out- Chalidon Street to the Venetian Harbor of Chania

A small hint for going out in Chania town.

Despina Studios Hotel in Chania is situated in Agia Marina, in one of the most touristically advanced and beautiful areas of our town. Having so many tourists, the local bus service now organizes many bus routes from Chania town to Agia Marina and Platanias around the clock. 

That means that you don‘t have to worry about your way back into our studios in Agia Marina as most possibly you will find a bus route suitable for you at all times. You are kindly requested to be informed about the bus and taxi routes for your perfect nightlife in Chania experience!


Beaches in Chania: 3 Best free beaches to discover on vacation!

   Despina Studios beachfront hotel is situated in Agia Marina Chania. It is only 30 meters away from one of the best beaches in Chania,  the – awarded with Blue FlagAgia Marina beach. Most of our beloved guests of our hotel are always choosing the sea which is only a minute away from our hotel for their swimming and sunbathing session, on the sea or in our hotel’s pool. 

  However, people that are choosing vacation in Chania are usually not used to staying in the same place and on the same beach for the whole duration of their holidays. In this post from our travel blog for vacations in Greece we will disclose another 3 beaches that you can enjoy in a close distance from Despina Studios. There are also extremely clean, with plenty of sand for comfortable swimming and very close to infrastructure such as shops , restaurants and Taverns ideal for your vacations.

  Beaches in Chania on the North coast.

  In this blog we will specifically talk about beaches in Chania on the north Coast. Crete is an island full of wonderful beaches all over, so we will focus on the south coast beaches on another post

  If you are looking for beaches in Chania with huge infrastructure, tourist traffic and close to everything you will need, as well as the nightlife of Chania then the North coast is for you. On the other hand, the South Coast may be ideal for nature lovers, peacefulness seekers and people who like non touristy areas and off the beaten path adventures. Whatever you like to do, vacation in Chania has it all , and Despina Studios Sea view hotel in Chania is ready to facilitate your experience .

Souda Bay Area, Chania- Taken from Kalami beach

Souda Bay Area, Chania- Taken from Kalami beach

  Maleme beach in Chania: Vast and with historic background.

    Maleme beach is only 5 kilometers away from Agia Marina and our hotel . Maleme beach has sandy beach parts as well as rocky beach parts thus making it ideal for everyone and every taste. It has enormous length towards east and west which means that you will have no problems finding a quiet spot for your relaxation. Not only the beach has fantastic water but is one of the beaches in Chania that have a huge historic background as well.

At some point in Maleme beach you can  still see a German observatory which was used on the operations of the Battle of Crete in world war 2  . The observatory is right at the front of the beach and is in good condition, as it is preserved as a war relic. Ironically enough, there are many tourists that are finding nice shade on the sides of the observatory post which many years ago had a completely different usage.

Beaches in Chania - Maleme beach, Chania- German Bunker in Maleme Beach

Beaches in Chania – Maleme beach, Chania- German Bunker in Maleme Beach

  Chrisi Akti : A beaches in Chania Pinnacle!

  Right next to Chania town centre is the area of Agii Apostoli. There are plenty of parks and outdoor activities to do there, thus it is considered one of the best free beaches in Chania. It is fair to say that even locals are choosing this beach for their casual swim , as it is clean, sandy, with nice views over Cretan Sea and the gulfs of Agii Apostoli, and also having tourism infrastructure and also wheelchair accessible spots. 

Agii Apostoli Beach Chania

Agii Apostoli Beach Chania- Despina Studios Beachfront Hotel- Agia Marina Chania, Crete


  This is the reason why we suggest Chrisi Akti and the other Beaches in Agii Apostoli- Chania beach complex.  There are ideal beaches for people with disabilities and people with wheelchairs and special needs. There also lies  special equipment in order for people with wheelchairs to enter the sea and also there are lifeguards always on duty for security reasons. To sum up, Chrisi Akti is one of the beaches in Chania that is close to everything and suitable for all kinds of Vacations in Crete, whether this be a family vacation, a romantic couple vacation or a vacation of people with special needs in Chania.


Nea Chora Beach in Chania: Right in the town centre!

  If you are in the town centre strolling around the city and you are craving a rewarding swim then Nea Chora area is for you. Nea Chora literally translates into “ New Town” which means that as ages came by, the old town was expanded into bigger areas and “Nea Chora” is one of them. Nea Chora is only 7 kilometers away from Despina Studios, facing east and is a long sandy beach in between the areas of Chania town and Agii Apostoli Beach in Chania which we already talked about. 

Tampakaria Chania- Ταμπακαριά Χανιά

Tampakaria Chania- Combine a swim in Nea Chora Downtown Chania with a stroll in the picturesque neighbouring “Tampakaria Area”

  It is a beachfront beach with clear waters , sandy beach and right next to fish taverns that can treat you with fresh fish after your swim. It is in walking distance from Chania town center, so it is a nice alternative to combine your city center sightseeing or nightlife with a swim to the crystal clear waters of Nea Chora beach. 

  A hint from Despina Studios on Nudism.

  Our years of experience in the tourism industry have already shown that many of our guests that are coming for vacation in Crete are searching for beaches in Chania ideal for nudism. Although it may be OK for most people to be nude on every beach, the beaches that we disclosed in this topic are not ideal for nudism , as they welcome people of all tastes and interests.

  As you understand, nudism is a sensitive subject and we insist on being nude only on deserted beaches far away from tourist crowds. There are plenty of beach shores in the Paleochora area, Agia Roumeli Village or even Gavdos Island , which is an island that nudists and relaxation seekers always love. 

   You can contact us or stay with us in order to experience the best beaches in Crete, explore the Cretan countryside , enjoy Hiking  or simply enjoy the sea views from the balconies of our beachfront hotel in Chania. Whatever you like most, we always got you covered !


Sightseeing in Chania: Presenting you the lake of Agia

   There are many sightseeing options in Chania for people who are locals and for tourists who love to have vacation in Chania. Centuries of history, folklore tradition, natural beauty, gorges  , mountains and unknown beaches  ideal for the perfect summer vacation in Greece and in Chania. 

  The majority of tourists that are coming for Vacation are staying in beach shore properties like our beachfront hotel and  sightseeing in Chania is something that many people are looking forward to doing on their vacation. In this blog from our tourist blog series about vacation in Chania we will present to you one of only two lakes that we have in our vicinity. Distance from our hotel is only a few kilometers, which means that you can enjoy sightseeing in Chania in minimum time, as well as combine sightseeing with other activities while on vacation in Chania area.

  Lake of Agia: A perfect sightseeing in Chania opportunity!

   Lake of Agia is situated in the suburbs of  Chania town, just 10 kilometers away from town center. In our prefecture we only have two lakes, the Lake of Agia, and the lake of Kournas , which is situated in Georgioupoli, near the border with the prefecture of Rethimnon

Agias Lake in Chania

Agias Lake in Chania- Sightseeing in Chania region- Despina Studios Agia Marina

  Contrary to the lake of Kournas, which is a natural sweet water lake in the vicinity of Chania, the lake of Agia or the lake of Agyia (both names are correct) is an artificial lake. It is situated in the village of Agia, hence its name. This lake was built in this area due to the fact that it is rich in underwater currents and also this area is ideal for cultivations. Large citrus trees and avocado fields are everywhere in the area. 

  Many picturesque and -off tourist – villages are found nearby which are also a nice “sightseeing in Chania “ opportunity, especially if you are driving by car. To name a few villages in the vicinity, those are : Alikianos, Fournes, Skines, Kyrtomado, Skordalou, Omalos Plateau, Meskla and Therisso , all reachable by car in about half an hour.

Lake in Chania- the Lake of Agia

Lakes in Chania- the Lake of Agia

Lake of Agia : How and Why it started.

  The artificial lake of Agia was constructed by the electricity company of Greece in the early 20th century when it converted a large water swamp into the lake we know of today. The electricity company of Greece established this lake in order to give a steady and fierce water stream for its neighbouring water powered electricity factory. Water from the lake gave power to the water turbines that then gave motion to electricity generators in order to produce power for the -then- small city of Chania.

As years went by and the population, as the electricity consumption increased, there were some bigger fuel generated power stations in Crete and then the Lake of Agia and its power plant were no longer needed. 

Lake of Agia from a nearby cafeteria with an overlooking view on the lake in Chania

Lake of Agia from a nearby cafeteria with an overlooking view on the lake in Chania

 However, we can still see the old water powered electricity factory just 200 meters away from the lake , facing west , as well as the large water tunnels forcing water into this direction.

Lake of Agia: A Nowadays Approach.

 Nowadays the lake of Agia is a picturesque and natural bio habitat that is a perfect place for sightseeing in Chania. It is a resting place for many immigrating birds as it is now a stop over for them in order to find shelter and rest for their long journey into warmer climates when autumn approaches. 

sightseeing in Chania - Ducks and Geese in the lake of Agia

Sightseeing in Chania – Ducks and Geese in the lake of Agia

  It is also a Natura 2000 area, which means that is heavily protected environmental area where hunting and fishing is not allowed in order to preserve the natural habitat. 

  Lake of Agia is a top choice for those who like to go sightseeing in Chania as a free activity, but also for nature lovers and bird watchers, as lake of agia has a big amount of wild birds that are migrating and this lake is a temporary shelter to them. There are several observatory posts in the lake, so we strongly insist on taking your time and enjoy the bird watching on your vacation in Chania.

   Lake of Agia : What to do there.

  There is a nice walkway and a big area where you can admire the dimensions of the lake, as well as a big metal bridge in order to see the estuary of the lake that leads to the power station (now a museum) that we already talked about. Plenty of photo opportunities, bird watching and nature admiration activities for holidaymakers in Chania.

   If  you continue your way after the bridge which is on the lake of Agia you can now reach a path that circumnavigated the whole perimeter of the lake which will take you about an hour of relaxed walking and sightseeing in order to finish it. A lovely romantic stroll and sightseeing / birdwatching opportunity lies in this path and is relatively unknown to many tourists and even locals. This procedure might seem tedious but it is relaxing and rewarding instead. 

  A hint from Despina Studios Beachfront Hotel in Agia Marina

  We believe that you should at least pass 3-4 hours in the lake of Agia when on vacation in Chania. You can observe wildlife in their natural habitat, make a nice romantic sightseeing walk around the lake and last but not least – enjoy a nice meal overlooking the lake! 

  There are only two small cafeterias in the area with impeccable views towards the lake, and we insist that after your sightseeing in the lake you should rest for a bit there and enjoy a nice dessert, a healthy snack or a small meal. The view will be totally worth it, and we at Despina Studios categorize this activity as one of the best free things to do in Chania while on Vacation in our beautiful place!  Our exclusive Special Offers will make you crave for a vacation in Crete now!