Must see attractions in Hania Province

  • Sights in Sougia

    Lissos

    The ruins of ancient Lissos are a pleasant 3.5km hike from Sougia on the coastal (though not waterfront) path to Paleohora, which starts at the far end of Sougia’s small port. Lissos arose under the Dorians, flourished under the Byzantines and was destroyed by the Saracens in the 9th century. A port for inland Elyros (now gone), it was part of a league of city-states, led by ancient Gortyna, that minted its own gold coins inscribed with the word ‘Lission’.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Hania Province

    Elafonisi

    Tucked into Crete’s southwestern corner, this symphony of fine pink-white sand, turquoise water and gentle rose dunes looks like a magical dreamscape. As the water swirls across the sands, rainbows shimmer across its surface. Off Elafonisi's long, wide strand lies Elafonisi Islet, occasionally connected by a thin, sandy isthmus, which creates a lovely double beach; otherwise, it's easily reached by wading through 50m of knee-deep water.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Hania Province

    Aptera

    The ruins of the ancient city of Aptera, about 13.5km east of Hania, spread over two hills that lord grandly over Souda Bay. Founded in the 7th century BC, it was one of the most important city-states of western Crete and was continuously inhabited until an earthquake destroyed it in the 7th century AD. Aptera revived with the Byzantine reconquest of Crete in the 10th century, and became a bishopric. You'll need your own wheels to get here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Hania

    Hania Archaeological Museum

    The setting alone in the beautifully restored 16th-century Venetian Church of San Francisco is reason to visit this fine collection of artefacts from Neolithic to Roman times. Late-Minoan clay baths used as coffins catch the eye, along with a large glass case with an entire herd of clay bulls (used to worship Poseidon). Other standouts include Roman floor mosaics, Hellenistic gold jewellery, clay tablets with Linear A and Linear B script, and a marble sculpture of the head of Roman emperor Hadrian.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Hania

    Venetian Harbour

    There are few places where Hania's historic charm and grandeur are more palpable than in the old Venetian Harbour. It's lined by pastel-coloured buildings that punctuate a maze of narrow lanes lined with shops and tavernas. The eastern side is dominated by the domed Mosque of Kioutsouk Hasan, now an exhibition hall, while a few steps further east the impressively restored Grand Arsenal houses the Centre of Mediterranean Architecture.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Akrotiri Peninsula

    Moni Agias Triadas

    Akrotiri Peninsula’s major cultural site, the impressive and beautiful 17th-century Moni Agias Triadas, is an active monastery with a rich library and is well worth a visit for its altarpiece, Venetian-influenced domed facade and Cretan School icon paintings. It was founded by Venetian monks Jeremiah and Laurentio Giancarolo, who were converts to the Orthodox faith. In the store you can do tastings of the monastery’s fine wine, oil and raki before picking up a few bottles to take home.

  • Sights in Hania Province

    Cretan Brewery

    Established in 2007, Charma was the first beer to be produced in Hania and you can sample the excellent brews at the slick operation here, set up by a local. There's a covered terrace where you can enjoy the range of beers, from a blond lager to an excellent pale ale, along with seasonal brews, or opt for a tasting flight of five beers (€5). There's good beer-soaking pub grub on the menu and you can join a guided tour of the brewery; book ahead.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Hania Province

    Manousakis Winery

    A family-run business for over 25 years, this pretty winery in the village of Vatolakkos – 16km southwest of the centre of Hania – is well worth a visit. Taste the Nostos wines (the rosé is made blending the Romeiko grape, which is indigenous to Hania), take a free 15-minute tour of the winery production, or simply settle in for lunch or dinner with a bottle on the tree-shaded terrace set among olive groves and citrus trees.

  • Sights in Hania

    Firkas Fortress

    The Firkas Fortress at the western tip of the harbour heads the best-preserved section of the massive fortifications that were built by the Venetians to protect the city from marauding pirates and invading Turks. The Turks invaded anyway, in 1645, and turned the fortress into a barracks and a prison. Today, parts of it house the Maritime Museum of Crete. There's a great view of the harbour from the top.

  • Sights in Hora Sfakion

    Sweetwater Beach

    West of Hora Sfakion, lovely Sweetwater Beach is accessible by a small daily ferry, by taxi boat (one way/return €25/50) or on foot via a stony and partly vertiginous 3.5km coastal path starting at the first hairpin turn of the Anopoli road. A small cafe rents umbrellas and sun chairs.

  • Sights in Hania Province

    Polyrrinia

    The wonderful mountaintop ruins of the ancient city of Polyrrinia lie about 7km south of Kissamos (Kastelli), above the village of the same name. Sea, mountain and valley views from this defensible spire are stunning and the region is blanketed with wildflowers in spring. The site's most impressive feature is the acropolis, built by the Byzantines and Venetians. There’s also a church built on the foundations of a Hellenistic temple from the 4th century BC.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gramvousa Peninsula

    Balos

    The rugged Gramvousa Peninsula cradles the lagoon-like sandy beach of Balos, whose shallow, shimmering turquoise waters draw huge crowds in summer. This remote stretch features on many tourist brochures for Crete, and when it's at its best it's a heavenly scene, with lapping waters shimmering with darting fish. If the tide is out, the wind is whipping up or it's overrun by visitors off the cruise ferry, it can be something of a letdown.

  • Sights in Rodopou Peninsula

    Diktynna

    At the eastern tip of Rodopou Peninsula are the remains of a temple to Diktynna, Cretan goddess of hunting, who was worshipped fervently in the west of the island. The most important religious sanctuary in the region under the Romans, the temple was desecrated after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Now you’ll find foundations and a sacrificial altar at the site, as well as Roman cisterns. There’s also a lovely sandy beach.

  • Sights in Rodopou Peninsula

    Moni Gonias

    Founded in 1618, Moni Gonias was damaged by the Turks in 1645 but rebuilt in 1662 and extended in the 19th century. The monastery houses a unique collection of icons dating from the 15th to the 19th century in its impressive, well-presented museum. The most valuable icon is that of Agios Nikolaos, painted in 1637 by Palaiokapas. It exemplifies the Cretan school of icon painting that flourished in the 17th century.

  • Sights in Hania Province

    Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete

    On the main Hania–Omalos road south of Fournes, the excellent Botanical Park is well signposted about halfway between Fournes and Lakki. It was created by four brothers who transformed the family's 80 hectares of agricultural land into a hilly park of medicinal, tropical, ornamental and fruit trees, all well signed and beautifully arrayed from mountaintop to valley floor.

  • Sights in Hania

    Byzantine & Post-Byzantine Collection

    In the impressively restored Venetian Church of San Salvatore, this small but fascinating collection of artefacts, icons, jewellery and coins spans the period from AD 62 to 1913. Highlights include a segment of a mosaic floor from an early-Christian basilica, an icon of St George slaying the dragon, and a panel recently attributed to El Greco.

  • Sights in Hania Province

    Folklore Museum

    In the town of Gavalohori, the Folklore Museum is located in a renovated building that was constructed during Venetian rule and then extended by the Turks. The exhibits are well labelled in English and include examples of pottery, weaving, woodcarving, stonecutting and other Cretan crafts, including the fine kapaneli (intricately worked silk lace). Upstairs there's a historical section documenting Cretan struggles for independence. At the time of research there were plans to extend the museum into the neighbouring building.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Hania Province

    Falasarna

    This broad sweep of beach has magical-looking pink-cream sands and teal waters and is known for its stunning sunsets. Along with superb water clarity, Falasarna has wonderfully big waves: long rollers coming from the open Mediterranean. It gets busy from mid-July to mid-August, primarily with day trippers from Hania and Kissamos.

  • Sights in Akrotiri Peninsula

    Marathi Beach

    On the eastern side of Akrotiri Peninsula the pleasant beach of Marathi is a lovely spot beyond the NATO base with two sandy coves and turquoise waters on either side of a small pier. The ruins of Ancient Minoa are next to the car park. Marathi gets crowded with local families at weekends and has a couple of tavernas. Further south along this coastline you’ll find another nice swimming and snorkelling spot at the small white-stone cove of Loutraki.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Hania

    Maritime Museum of Crete

    Part of the hulking Venetian-built Firkas Fortress at the western port entrance, this museum celebrates Crete’s nautical tradition with model ships, naval instruments, paintings, photographs, maps and memorabilia. One room is dedicated to historical sea battles, while upstairs there’s thorough documentation of the WWII-era Battle of Crete. You might be lucky enough to see artists working on new model ships in the ship workroom.