West Crete has all one can wait to see in Crete: Deep and wild gorges, steep mountains, green valleys and woods, amazing beaches, very important archaeological sites and historical venues and amazing towns, such as Chania. If you decide to stay in the area of Chania, consider visiting the following must-see attractions around. Of course, spending several hours in the amazing town of Chania is absolutely required.
The famous lagoon of Balos is located approximately 56km northwest of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos, formed between the Cape Gramvousa and the small Cape Tigani. Balos is surely the mostly photographed beach in Crete, a very favorite subject of all tourist guides for Greece. It is no coincidence that Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited Balos with their private yacht many years ago.
The exotic beach of Falassarna is located 59km west of Chania and 17km west of Kissamos. It’s located in the western part of Cape Gramvousa. At the northern end of the beach are the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Falassarna.
Elafonisi is located 76km west of Chania and 5km south of Chrysoskalitisa Monastery, in the southwesternmost point of Crete. Elafonisi is an oblong, which often "breaks" in two parts by water giving the impression of being a separate island.
It is certainly the most famous beach in southern Crete, accepting thousands of visitors every summer. During the 60s and 70s, it was a favorite destination for hippies. On the banks of the Grand River there is a large colony of Theophrastus palm trees, which give the region a sense of an African landscape.
Plakias is a popular tourist resort, located 36km south of Rethymno city, at the exit of a fertile valley surrounded by high mountains and dense olive groves. Next to it empties the river Kotsifos.
The Samaria Gorge is the longest trekking gorge in Europe and also the most famous of all. Thousands of tourists flock here daily in the summer season to walk from the top to the bottom. For many visitors, it is the sole purpose of their visit to Crete. The length of the gorge reaches 18km and takes almost 4-7 hours to hike from Omalos to Agia Roumeli, depending on trekking speed.
Lake Kournas and its surroundings constitute a very important ecosystem for Greece. Kournas is one of the very few areas of Crete where plenty of fresh water is stored throughout the year. For this reason, it is protected under the Natura 2000 program.
The gorge of Agia Irini is on the west side of the White Mountains, with many vertical passes. It gets its name from the homonym village located near the entrance, 46 km from Chania. Its length is 7.5 km and its crossing takes three hours. The gorge ends up in the seaside village of Sougia.
The deepest gorge in Chania is the gorge of Aradaina. The 138 meter deep gorge is ideal not only for sightseeing or hiking but for bunjee jumping as well. The trekking inside the canyon till the exit on the majestic Marmara beach is an unforgettable experience for those who attempt the descent of the canyon.
The monastery of Agia Triada of Tzagarolon is one of the richest and most beautiful monasteries in Crete. It is built near the airport of Chania, in the position Tzobomylos of the Cape Melecha and at the foothills of Stavros Mount. The distance from Chania is only 15km.
From Agia Roumeli, at the exit of Samaria Gorge, starts the easy and very beautiful coastal part of the European E4 trail that leads to Chora Sfakion. Originally it passes from the church of Saint Paul, surrounded by pines, and continues along the rocky coast to the exit of the gorge of Aradena (Marmara beach). From there it continues to the settlements Likos and Phoenix, reaching the scenic village Loutro. From Loutro starts another path that comes to the beach Glyka Nera. After meeting the main asphalt road to Anopolis, we come by the beach Iligas and finally Chora Sfakion.
Ancient Lissos was the seaport of Elyros and was built in a small valley between Sougia and Paleochora. It flourished from the Hellenistic period up to the 9th century, when it was destroyed by the Saracens. It was famous for the Asclepion, where patients from all over the island arrived to be healed from the thermal baths.