A Rainy Chania Stopover

In this destination report I cover my short stopover in Chania on a rainy autumn day.

Half a day in Chania

After a remarkably pleasant Ryanair flight on an almost empty plane I arrived at Chania Airport in the early afternoon.

Given the fact that my onward Ryanair flight to Budapest was only departing in the evening, I basically had half a day to spend at leisure in the city.

As I already wrote in the introduction of this trip report I’m certainly no stranger to Chania, having lived for a year in this picturesque Cretan coastal city.

Of course, spending just half a day in Chania is way too little time in normal circumstances and I’m certainly not suggesting you should do the same.

However, for me it was a great opportunity to revisit some of my favourite places and to feel again the special vibe of one of Greece’s most iconic cities.

Therefore you should see this article as a collection of my impressions during my half-day stopover and not as a full guide to Chania (which I do hope to write in the near future).

chania apartment
The apartment where I lived in Chania. ©Paliparan

From the airport to Chania

Being one of the first off the plane I was through passport control in seconds.

As there was still plenty of time before the departure of the Chania airport bus to the city centre, I enjoyed a freddo espresso outside the terminal.

It was unfortunately a very rainy autumn day in Chania.

When the airport bus drove down the hill from the Akrotiri Peninsula on which the airport is located towards Souda Bay, the rain started again to fall from the sky.

It certainly wasn’t how I imagined my stopover in Chania to look like when I booked my ticket two weeks before.

ryanair boeing 737-800 review chania airport
My Ryanair Boeing 737-800 Chania Airport. ©Paliparan
freddo espresso
Waiting for the bus to Chania with a freddo espresso in hand. ©Paliparan
souda bay
Looking out the bus window towards Souda Bay. ©Paliparan
chania ktel bus station
Chania’s KTEL bus station. ©Paliparan

Ochi Day

From Chania’s KTEL bus station it’s a short walk to the old town, which was abuzz with activity despite the rainy weather.

I had completely forgotten that today was Ochi Day, a national holiday celebrated each year on 28th October throughout Greece.

On that day in 1940, Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini sent an ultimatum to Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas to allow Axis troops enter Greece and occupy some strategic locations throughout the country or face war.

The ultimatum was answered with a firm “ochi” (meaning ‘no’) by the Greeks, who managed to bravely hold off the subsequent Italian invasion until Nazi Germany sent in its own troops to aid their Italian allies.

rain
Despite the rainy weather, lots of people were walking the city streets. ©Paliparan
Presentation of the Virgin Mary Metropolitan Church
Presentation of the Virgin Mary Metropolitan Church. ©Paliparan
chania old town
Umbrellas were definitely needed today. ©Paliparan

Old Venetian Harbour

It being Ochi Day meant that lots of people were out for a walk on the city streets looking for a place to grab a family lunch.

As I was quite hungry, I decided to do the same and headed towards the old Venetian Harbour.

The old Venetian Port is one of Chania’s most beautiful areas and home to the city’s best-known landmarks.

At the tip of the harbour breakwater you can see Chania’s iconic 16th century Venetian lighthouse.

Opposite this lighthouse you can find Firka Fortress, which guards the entry to the port.

Besides the Venetians also the Ottomans left their legacy in Chania when they occupied Crete.

The Kyuchuk Hassan Mosque, also called the Mosque of the Janissaries, is perhaps the best example of this.

venetian port chania
Restaurants at the Venetian Port of Chania. ©Paliparan
chania venetian port
Venetian Port of Chania. ©Paliparan
horse-drawn carriage
The weather was that bad that even the horses required a raincoat. ©Paliparan
venetian port chania
Firka Fortress and the lighthouse guard the entrance to the old Venetian port. ©Paliparan
mosque janissaries
Walking along the quay towards the Mosque of the Janissaries. ©Paliparan
mosque of the janissaries chania
Mosque of the Janissaries. ©Paliparan

Lunch at the port

Although the restaurants lining the old Venetian Harbour have without doubt a fine view, they aren’t necessarily the best in Chania if you are looking for quality food.

Especially the restaurants along the western edge of the harbour are rather tourist-oriented.

In fact, when I lived in Chania I don’t think I actually ever ate at any of the restaurants around this part of the Venetian Harbour, although some of the taverns towards the eastern end of the old port are generally much better in quality and tailored more towards the locals.

However, during my short walk around the old town I quickly found that almost all of my favourite restaurants in this part of Chania were fully booked because of the national holiday.

When I therefore spotted an empty table under the canopy at one of the harbourside restaurants I therefore instantly decided to sit down.

Even if the food would disappoint, at least I could enjoy a fine view over the Venetian Port!

Fortunately, the food at the restaurant I chose (Michalis) was good.

I enjoyed some tasty dakos (barley rusk soaked in olive oil with chopped tomatoes, olives, cheese and herbs) followed by some calamari – all washed away with the local Charma draught beer.

As is customary on Crete, I also got a small dessert (brownie with ice cream) on the house as well as some complimentary tsikoudia (Cretan raki).

charma beer chania
Beer with a view. ©Paliparan
dakos crete
Some dakos as starter. ©Paliparan
calamari
Followed by some calamari. ©Paliparan
view chania port
Although the meal was good, the views were even better. ©Paliparan
tsikoudia
Complimentary dessert and tsikoudia after the meal. ©Paliparan

Walk along the quays

My favourite area of Chania’s harbour isn’t the circle-shaped Venetian Port but rather its eastern extension.

The quays here are dominated by warehouses, with some of them being converted to restaurants and others being abandoned.

Although you can normally walk on a path over the breakwater all the way towards the lighthouse, it was unfortunately closed temporarily because of some renovation work.

chania old harbour
Walking along the quays towards the eastern end of the port. ©Paliparan
old harbour
Warehouses along the old harbour. ©Paliparan
harbour warehouses
Harbour warehouses. ©Paliparan
slipway harbour chania
Slipway at the far eastern end of the old harbour. ©Paliparan
old venetian harbour chania stopover
The breakwater of Chania’s old Venetian Harbour. ©Paliparan

Chania viewpoint

The point in Chania with the finest views over the old town and the Venetian Harbour is not well-known among tourists and even a bit of a hidden secret.

From the warehouse area in the eastern part of the old port, you need to walk uphill to a place called Roza Nera.

Roza Nera is a building on a derelict courtyard where the local anarchist squatters reside.

Just walk to the far western side of this courtyard, climb over the wall, and you can enjoy some sweeping views over the Venetian Harbour.

This used to be one of my favourite spots in Chania to sit down with a cold beer, although unfortunately the rainy weather didn’t really make this a viable option.

roza nera view chania
View from Roza Nera over the Mosque of the Janissaries and Chania’s old Venetian Harbour. ©Paliparan
venetian harbour chania
Chania’s Venetian Harbour. ©Paliparan

Koum Kapi

If you walk alongside the sea towards the east and get out of the old town, you will arrive in the residential neighbourhood of Koum Kapi.

The name is derived from the Turkish word ‘kum kapisi’, which means Sand Gate as there used to be a fine sandy beach here.

There isn’t a beach to speak of anymore as the Koum Kapi seashore these days exists out of some breakwater rocks and a pleasant pedestrian promenade, which makes for a great spot for a coffee or drink.

As I used to live in this very neighbourhood, it was of course a must-stop on my Chania stopover to rekindle some memories.

seashore
The seashore east of the old town. The hills in the far distance are on the Akrotiri Peninsula on which Chania Airport is located. ©Paliparan
chania koum kapi
Koum Kapi. ©Paliparan

Cats of Chania

One thing I always love about Greece is the sheer amount of community cats roaming the streets.

During my walk through Chania I certainly encountered lots of Greek feline friends.

chania street cat
Sweet Chania street cat. ©Paliparan
cat petting
Petting the sweet cat. ©Paliparan
community cats
Two community cats at Roza Nera. ©Paliparan
greek street cat
Greek street cat. ©Paliparan
cat
When I encounter a cat, I just have to stop to pet it. ©Paliparan
cat roza nera
Another cute cat at Roza Nera. ©Paliparan
greek community cat
Greek community cat. ©Paliparan
cat café
Sleepy cat at a local café. ©Paliparan
greek cat
Hello there, beauty! ©Paliparan
community cats
Fortunately, many locals do take care after the community cats by providing food. ©Paliparan

Splantzia

Splantzia Square and the surrounding area forms one of other favourite areas of Chania.

Although it’s located in the old town and just a few minutes walking from the touristy Venetian Port, Splantzia is full of local life.

Just like Koum Kapi, this is an old Ottoman-era neighbourhood, which you can clearly see from the unique architecture of the Agios Nikolaos Church, a former mosque which has one bell tower and one minaret.

The leafy square is lined with a couple of cafés where mostly local old men drink their coffee and beer.

Make sure you also explore the alleys around the square for some more local flair.

splantzia plateia 1812 chania
Plateia 1812, a leafy square in the heart of Splantzia. ©Paliparan
agios nikolaos church chania
Agios Nikolaos Church has one bell tower and one minaret. ©Paliparan
splantzia chania
It’s good fun to walk through the narrow alleys of Splantzia. ©Paliparan
splantzia
Walking through Splantzia. ©Paliparan
splantzia chania
Typical alley in the Splantzia neighbourhood. ©Paliparan

Coffee stop

Close to Splantzia are two of my favourite streets in Chania: Chatzimichali Ntaliani and Sifaka.

Both of these streets are not only highly picturesque but also full of bars and restaurants – all with a primarily local crowd.

I ended up sitting at one of the Sifaka cafés for another freddo espresso, although it was tempting to order some warm rakomelo (honey raki) instead given the cold weather.

sifaka street chania
Sifaka is one of my favourite streets in Chania. ©Paliparan
café
The street is full of small bars and cafés. ©Paliparan
sifaka street
Sitting under the canopy at one of the bars on Sifaka street. ©Paliparan
freddo espresso chania
Enjoying a freddo espresso during my Chania stopover. ©Paliparan
Chatzimichali Ntaliani street
Chatzimichali Ntaliani is another one of my favourite Chania streets, being full of bars, restaurants and local life. ©Paliparan
Ahmet Aga Minaret chania
The Ahmet Aga Minaret is visible from all over Chatzimichali Ntaliani Street. ©Paliparan

Souvlaki

Of course, I couldn’t leave Chania without eating some souvlaki from my favourite local fast food restaurant. Se Anammena Karvouna.

Se Anammena Karvouna does the best souvlaki in all of Chania and trust me – I tried out lots in this town!

Se Anammena Karvouna
Souvlaki and a Fix beer at Se Anammena Karvouna. ©Paliparan

Back to the airport

Unfortunately, my Chania stopover was coming to an end.

As the rain had finally stopped, I made one last walk around the Venetian Harbour and through some of the most beautiful backstreets of the old town before returning to the bus station.

venetian old harbour chania
Back at the Venetian Old Harbour of Chania. ©Paliparan
venetian harbour
Walking down the Venetian Harbour towards Firka Fortress. ©Paliparan
chania harbour
Looking towards the eastern side of the Venetian Port and the Mosque of the Janissaries. ©Paliparan
chania lighthouse
Old lighthouse. ©Paliparan
backstreets chania
The backstreets directly behind the Venetian Harbour. ©Paliparan
chania old town
Old town of Chania. ©Paliparan
portou street
Portou Street runs directly parallel to the old city walls. ©Paliparan
old town taverns
Old town taverns. ©Paliparan
old market hall chania
The Old Chania Market Hall. ©Paliparan
ktel bus station
Back at the KTEL bus station for my ride to the airport. ©Paliparan

Conclusion

Although the rainy weather didn’t make for the best conditions to visit Chania, I still had an enjoyable day in Crete’s most beautiful city.

Having lived for a year in Chania, it was great fun to stroll around some of my beloved city streets and neighbourhoods again.

Even though my stopover was rather short and walking around in the rain wasn’t ideal, I was glad that I made the detour to my beloved Chania.

I certainly need to come back another time and stay longer in Chania to fully reacquaint myself with the city.

Trip report index

This ‘Trains, Planes, Beer and Tapas: A Trip to Prague and Madrid’ trip report consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Ryanair Bucharest to Chania (Boeing 737-800)
2. A Rainy Chania Stopover (current chapter)
3. Ryanair Hell: My Bad Chania to Budapest Flight Experience
4. Review: T62 Hotel, Budapest, Hungary
5. Review: EuroCity Train “Hungaria” Budapest to Brno
6. A Walk Through the Historic Old Town Centre of Brno
7. Review: EuroCity Train “Metropolitan” Brno to Prague
8. Review: K+K Hotel Central, A Prague Art Nouveau Delight
9. Beer Boozing in Prague
10. Praha Hlavní Nádraží – Prague’s Stunning Art Nouveau Station
11. Review: Leo Express Train Prague to Olomouc
12. Olomouc: An Amazing Art Nouveau City
13. Review: RegioJet Train Olomouc to Prague
14. Review: Erste Premier Lounge Prague Airport Terminal 2 (Schengen)
15. Review: Air France HOP Business Class Prague to Paris CDG (Embraer 170)
16. Review: Air France Schengen Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F
17. Review: Air France Business Class Paris CDG to Madrid (Airbus A220)
18. Review: Hotel Europa, Madrid, Spain
19. Tapas Crawling Through Madrid
20. Review: Ibis Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain
21. Review: Puerta de Alcala Business Lounge Madrid Barajas Terminal 2
22. Review: Air Europa Economy Class Madrid to Milan Malpensa (Boeing 787)
23. How To Transfer Between Milan Malpensa and Bergamo Airport

koen paliparan rhodes rodos

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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