Chania city’s most iconic landmark is the Egyptian lighthouse of its Venetian harbor, facing the ottoman Mosque Yali Tzamisi. Even by description one can easily guess the city’s turbulent past. Every conqueror, every religious group that settled in this corner of the Mediterranean Sea was left their footprint on the city’s architectural and cultural landscape. It is an absolute: “Don’t’ miss”.

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The longest gorge of Europe, measuring 16km in total from start at Xyloskalo to finish at Agia Roumeli beach. It belongs to the Samaria National Park and it is protected by UNESCO because of its rare indigenous flora and flora, creating a unique habitat. The duration of the descent ranges from 4-8 hours depending upon the physical fitness and the trail is well mapped out and at the end your effort is rewarded with a swim and a meal at a local tavern.

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On the West tip of Chania and Crete in general, in the gulf of Kissamos, a complex of islets creates a unique coastal/maritime landscape, with the peninsula of Gramvoussa being the most astonishing. On the one side, there stands a Venetian castle while on the other, Balos beach mesmerizes the visiting crowds. Fine, bright white sand blends with warm, shallow waters to create a unique fluorescent turquoise sea color. Balos beach adds the exotic at Chania’s adjectives.

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Falassarna beach is timelessly among the top beaches of the entire continent. It is actually the name of the area which features five adjoining breaches separated by dunes and rocks facing the absolute west and the sun setting in flaming colors. Perhaps the most popular one is Pachia Ammos, a kilometer long pink sandy beach with all the facilities and amenities anyone may need. Popular beach bars and super relaxing sun beds create the perfect atmosphere for an entire day spent at the beach.

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Sougia beach is found on the southern part of Chania prefecture, 70km from Chania city, and was once a popular destination for hippies and bohemian youth. Sougia beach retains its authentic character, by not having umbrellas and sun loungers in its most part. Visitors seek shade under the tamarisk trees and cross the pebbly beach to dive into crystal waters of the Libyan sea. The village has some taverns, a mini market and a few small hotels to accommodate the visitors who choose Sougia for its peace, authenticity and natural landscape, ideal for trekking and cycling.

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Elafonisi beach is located on the western coast of Chania’s regional unit, 76km from Chania city and is ranked among the most beautiful and unique beaches of the world. Elafonisi is a narrow peninsula merely connected to the western coast of Crete by a white, sandy, strip of land that disappears and reappears depending on tide. It is a unique and protected ecosystem of indigenous sand lilies and sand dunes that grow wild among the black rocks and the pink/white sand. The water is turquoise blue, exotic looking and the small coves create small, succeeding beaches that feel so private. Add this beach in your itinerary.

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Kedrodasos means ‘Juniper Woods’ in Greek and the name takes after the many indigenous coastal Junipers that grow wild on this beach as well as in Elafonisi, just 1km away, and some other Cretan beaches. Juniperus oxycedrus and Juniperus phoenicea are the two subspecies that are found on this unspoiled beach as well as wild dunes and are protected by the Natura network. The landscape feels lunar and primitive. 110 acres of unspoiled land welcomes you and lures you with its unique and wild beauty. Being part of a virgin landscape, stripped by human intervention brings to the surface a true feeling of serenity and appreciation to Mother Nature. Bring water and snacks but please take your litter with you on your way back.

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Preveli beach is a one-of-a-kind site for sore eyes and it is found in the regional unit of Rethymnon, on the southern coast, not far from Preveli Convent. This sandy beach faces the Libyan sea, while at the backdrop, Kourtaliotis river runs down to the meet the sea, ripping the gorge where a palm tree forest offers ample shade to visitors. Adding to this landscape extravaganza, “the lovers’ stone” is a heart shaped rock standing free at sea. The visitor can choose to swim either at sea, in the river or at the lake. This is an unforgettable experience.

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Europe’s oldest city and Crete’s largest Bronze Age archaeological site is the ancient city of Knossos found in Heraklion regional unit. Human habitation on site goes back to Neolithic times (7000 BC). Around 2000 BC, the urban area reached a size of as many as 18.000 people. The central palace alone covered 3 acres of land, adding an extra 2 acres plot if one includes the surrounding buildings. It became the ceremonial and political centre of the entire Minoan civilization, and today is an astonishing testimony of how political and social life was structured as well as the opulence and the anthropocentric scale of the palatial architecture. Trade and art were thriving up until its destruction around 1370 BC. It is an incredible archaeological visit and definitely worth the effort and time to make that visit to Herakleion.

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