The postcard-perfect town of Chania is famous for its 14th-century Venetian harbour. On the northwest coast of the island of Crete in Greece, the town is a collection of traditional tavernas, cool new cafés and age-old craft shops in a tangle of cobbled streets. Its rich history tells of Egyptians, Ottomans and Venetians who left behind crumbling fortresses and impressive churches. Here you can sail Greece's glittering coastline by day, then find rooftop bars for views of the sea and the 400-year-old lighthouse at sunset.
Stay in a Chania hostel steps from the shore or by the waters of the harbour. You'll find a complex on the beach with outdoor pools and bars serving icy cocktails, or you can go eco-friendly at a family-run hostel in the Old Town. For a modern Afro-Cretan culture vibe and a café bar serving delectable coffees, there's a hostel housed in a historic villa. Most Chania hostels have free Wi-Fi and air con, which is ideal in the hot summers.
Chania is roughly divided into neighbourhoods rich with their own histories. Its heart is the Venetian harbour in Syntrivani, home to an art gallery inside a historic mosque and lined with waterfront tavernas. You can wander the maze of cobbled passages and browse quaint shops selling local lace and jewellery. Evraiki, the Jewish quarter, has the island's only synagogue and narrow lanes of workshops. Head south to Ovriaki and Odos Skridlof, the leather street, where fine leather goods have been produced for generations.
Spend days discovering Roman floor mosaics at the Archaeological Museum of Chania, or climb to the top of Firka Fortress for views over the town. Originally built to protect the harbour from pirates, the fort now houses the Maritime Museum of Crete. There's also the distinctive Church Agios Nikolaos (with parts dating back to 1320), known for its bell tower and barrel-vaulted ceiling adorned with bronze chandeliers. For souvenirs like local Cretan honey or sweet raki liqueur, stop by Agora, the city's cross-shaped market hall.
Chania is home to one of Crete's two airports and receives flights year-round to and from Europe. To reach the city from Chania International Airport, the easiest route is via taxi or car rental. To the island from Athens (Pireas) you can take a ferry, which will dock at nearby Souda. Due to the city's small size, the quickest way to travel is by foot or bike. Try hiring a boat for a day from the Old Harbour to visit some of the nearby beaches and hidden coves.