Turkish medieval fortress at Ancient Aptera in Chania, Crete, Greece.; Shutterstock ID 1575956149; your: Barbara Di Castro; gl: 65050; netsuite: digital; full: poi

Shutterstock / Georgios Tsichlis


Top choice in Hania Province

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.

In the 12th century, the monastery of St John the Theologian was established; the reconstructed monastery is the centre of the site. Excavations have exposed the remains of a fortified tower, a city gate and a massive wall that surrounded the city. You can also see Roman cisterns, an amphitheatre and a 2nd-century-BC Greek temple. At the western end of the site, a Turkish fortress, built in 1872, enjoys a panoramic view of Souda Bay. The fortress was built as part of a large Turkish fortress-building program during a period when the Cretans were in an almost constant state of insurrection. Notice the ‘Wall of the Inscriptions’ – this was probably part of an important public building and was excavated in 1862 by French archaeologists.

If you arrive outside the opening hours, the only section open to the public will be the ruins of a Roman house.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Hania Province attractions

1. 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…

2. Folklore Museum

4.55 MILES

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…

3. Allied War Cemetery

5.42 MILES

This striking war memorial with white crosses against a backdrop of Souda Bay holds the graves of 1500 Commonwealth soldiers who died during WWI and, in…

4. Seitan Limania

6.49 MILES

While it might be a white-knuckle drive down hairpin bends to get here, the incredibly vivid turquoise waters of this secret cove are more than worth it…

5. 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…

7. Historical Museum & Archives

7.46 MILES

The Historical Museum & Archives of Hania, about a 1.5km walk southeast of the old harbour, traces Crete’s war-torn history with a series of exhibits…

8. Greek National Football Museum

7.87 MILES

This tiny museum might look like a shop, but it's actually crammed with more than 2000 items of soccer memorabilia. Run by Nikos, the passionate president…