1) Balos: A motive itself to visit Chania
The name of Balos and Gramvousa is for sure included in all travel guides, as they may are the most photographed destination in Crete. Balos lagoon is a shallow sandy beach, very close to Kissamos and it’s popular for the blue and green waters, the wild natural beauty and the majestic exotic scenery. Organized trips are being made every day from Agia Marina area to Balos, with the easiest access to be by Boat, which you will take from Kissamos port and of course you will get the opportunity to visit the Gramvousa island as well. For the most adventurous, you can drive to Balos ,starting from Kalyviani along the cape of Gramvoysa. Balos scenery Is truly mythical and that’s why it is crowded all day by Tourists, whereas it’s a good idea to visit this place early in the morning ,in order to feel some privacy in the watching of the paradise beauty. Moreover, it is common truth that prince Karol himself with Diana visited Balos years ago in order to feel the untouched wilderness. Don’t forget to bring with you a hat, as well as plenty of water and also be prepared that Balos area is not organized in order to preserve the natural habitat, but the view and the swim in the turquoise waters will sure be an experience you will remember for years to come.
2) Traditional Cretan delicacies
Without doubt the "gastronomy" part is a big factor for someone who is thinking of visiting Crete .Guest should try the famous Cretan "Dakos" and the traditional Greek salad with original traditional products of the Cretan land. All of the above can be tasted in local traditional taverns, but one can also prepare them by someone who knows basic kitchen stuff. Furthermore, a very common Cretan delicacy is "Bougatsa Chanion" a pie with traditional Cretan cheese. This particular product can be found in special shops in the Chania centre. Referring to those who seek something different we suggest that you taste the "antikristo" meat, which is meat but baked/cooked in a special way that give it a very distinctive taste .Another nice alternative is tasting the famous Cretan "Staka" which is a local dish based on the sheep butter and cannot be found elsewhere. Finally, another successful choice can be considered the taste of Cretan grilled meat and that's because meat is something Cretans and Crete in general is very proud of and has a unique-distinctive taste.
For more information: Staka, Antikristo, Bougatsa Chanion
3) Destination that travel agents never tell you
The famous lagoon of Balos is located northwest of Agia Marina 36.5 km. Balos is surely the mostly photographed beach in Crete, most favorite subject of all tourist guides for Greece. It is coincidence that prince Charles and princess Dianna visited Balos with their private yacht many years ago in theirs honeymoon.
Crete for sure is full of famous destinations and monuments that attract everyone's attention, however many places are also stunning and not very common to the public. One of them is "Agias" Lake which is only 9km away from Chania centre. Guests can experience the original Cretan habitat as well as see the flora and fauna of the area. A great alternative for those who like water, is a visit in the famous "Kournas Lake" which is about 1 hour trip from Chania. In this site you can also do outdoor activities, have a lunch in the traditional taverns as well as explore the lake by renting special water-bikes. A great choice is also a visit to the Souda island which is 13km away from the centre. The ticket for the close boat trip is relatively cheap and tourists have the opportunity to see from firsthand the sea world as well as the untouched island's nature and environment. Also a great option for bath, which is remote and without many visitors are the "Palaiochora" and "Falassarna" area which are approximately 1 hour away from the town. Visitors can chill out there and enjoy the Cretan nature without sacrificing the comforts he is used to and that's because the area has also great tourism infrastructure. Whatever option should one pick, the sure is that he will be satisfied to the maximum.
For more information: Falassarna, Agias lake, Kournas lake
4) Nightlife Options
Except from day stuff to do, Chania also offers many marvelous nightlife activities .There's a large variety of bars and clubs in Agia Marina area as well as in Chania city that will apply to all tastes. The prices are logical and a little attention is to be made at the quality of the drinks that are served to those shops.
Α more elegant choice is having a dinner in one of the area's seaside restaurants, or in one of the many restaurants in the Old town of Chania that are facing the marvelous illuminated Egyptian Lighthouse. The quality of the food is decent and the prices are not expensive either. Another beautiful choice is to take one of the many boats in the old city and have a nice time enjoying the sunset. There are many boats and many trips are being organized especially during sunset time. Moreover, there are parks and other areas that are free of charge and one can enjoy the beautiful stars at night and especially the marvelous and intoxicating full moon of August, while also very common during the summer season are concerts by famous artists and various other events (theater - summer cinema) which is an excellent way of entertainment, they do not cost much and the viewer has the opportunity to admire something that is different from the daily routine.
5) Summer Heat wave: What to be careful of
During the summer months on the island there is often very high temperatures and for several population groups this can be a problem and may lead to undesirable side effects. Usually in Crete the hottest months are between June and August, when temperatures often exceed 40 degrees. Useful tip is to always wear hats to protect you from the sun while it is equally necessary to wear sunglasses that provide protection to eyes. Everyone however must avoid long exposure to the sun, especially during peak hours (11-4) where sunlight radiation is clearly increased, while everyone and especially vulnerable people groups should be provided with sunscreen that will have high SPF. A nice advice is always to choose places with shade or air conditioning during your relaxing moments while of paramount importance is avoiding dehydration by always keeping with you adequate amount of water.
The most common consequence of heat is the sunstroke which can easily be prevented with the above tips and also families should be provided with a small pharmacy kit that should be full of antihistamines and cortisone solutions for every eventuality (allergies-bites etc). At all costs holidaymakers should consult the weather forecast to be properly prepared for the weather.
6) Renting a Car: Useful tips & Remarks
Renting a car or bike is an excellent way to explore some the island and its beauties, However you should notice some parameters. The competition is vast and so companies often make deals and discount packages, so you need good market research so as to always achieve better prices for the quality of the car and the days of lease. Those interested for long term lease can negotiate free day or a better overall price. Big caution must be shown on the type of car you would choose so as that will meet your needs and expectations. Before you select any vehicle its necessary to do a diligent check both externally and internally so as to make sure that there is no serious damages or technical problems. If you find any flaw or damage you should report to the seller to possibly avoid future misunderstandings relating to specific damages that may have been there from a previous leaser. Also before you choose the vehicle you must drive and check that everything is working as it should and there is no risk of accident. Furthermore be sure about the presence of a road safety assistance in the vehicle that will help you in case of an accident and while hiring you should get the legal lease document you need to have in a police inspection. Also important is the amount of petrol in the tank which ought to be adhered in the return of the vehicle while in any excursions you must comply to the road safety rules, not consume any alcohol and have valid and compatible driving license which must comply with the vehicle you drive.
7) Travel Rights
Travelers except liabilities have many rights that protect them from arbitrariness particularly on aviation transport which transfer people to their vacation. For example one can claim a full refund of the price of the ticket from the airline company but only if the flight is delayed over than five hours, and you don't choose to fly. You also have the right of financial compensation in case of cancellation of your flight, unless your company has informed you at least 14 days before or the company have managed to transfer you with another flight shortly or the airline prove that the reasons of cancelling is beyond company's capabilities (e.x. harsh conditions). Additionally, people with disabilities enjoy great respect in EU airports and can rely on the assistance of the staff under some circumstances. The travelers are protected also from the loss of their baggage, and they can claim compensation up to 1200euro, while similar ordinances concern the damage of your belongings. Furthermore, for those who are traveling in a group they must be aware that their travel agent must provide them with information about their holidays and has to protect them from possible insolvency or fraud or bankruptcy of the travel organizer. In any case, travelers should be updated and require the legal rights in cooperation of course with the competent organs of the EU adopted for this purpose.
8) Local Fish: A treasure in your dish
You should not forget that you are having vacation on an island that has big tradition in fishing,and fish of high quality that will conclude your opinion about Cretan Cuisine. In Summertime you can find in cheap prices fresh sardines,anchovy,mackerel and shrimp in order to taste the quality of Cretan Seas. A very nice way of cooking is on charcoal or saute, and prawns that are collected outside of Chania area is a very nice accompany to Pasta and Omelettes or can be consumed alone fried in olive oil. At all cases you have to be careful to consume fresh fish and is essential that one knows the fact that small fish are tastier than bigger ones and that those who are darker have better nutrition facts and are of highest quality of the whiter ones of the same fish breed. Always remember that fresh fish when grilled is not in great visual condition(many times the skin worn off) and that fresh catch has white bone,while,tourists which are low on budget must bear in mind that frozen sea food that comes from the open seas,most of the times is far better than fresh fish from fish ponds,so in many cases frozen is also a wise choice. To sum up,if you want to taste from first hand the variety that Cretan sea offers,you can ask locals for some good restaurants/cooking techniques or consult special review sites such as Trip Advisor.
9) Money Saving Tips
As we all know,Greece, is a very popular tourist attraction and it is likely that you spend a lot of money on your Holidays,however there are some tips that will help you reduce your spending without missing anything of your Holidays. You can eat cheap,at least one of your daily dish can be a Greek speciality,like Greek Gyros or ‘Choriatiki’ Salad that will cost you maximum 3-4 Euros and will give you the strength you need for the day. Also,renting a moped is a great alternative to see the beauty of Greece. It will cost you much less than a car,and you will avoid public transportation and taxi’s which cost many Euro's if you like to travel long distances. Usually moped prices begin from 15 Euro per day. Furthermore you can save up to 30% on your vacation by getting off the beaten path and by visiting less tourist islands or less known Tourist places. Many times the scenery is far more enticing and the budget is low,without decrease in Tourist service quality. Also if you book overnight ferries(if you like to see many Greek islands)you will save money because they are usually cheaper than day routes,Plus you save a night of Hotel accommodation. By booking your ferry-airplane ticket up to 2 months before your embarkation you can achieve better prices comparing to last minute bookings. Either way,your experience to Greece will be unforgettable, having in mind those tips and preferring budget accommodation you will surely save many in order to comeback again next year and explore what remains of Beautiful Greece.
10) How to choose the perfect time for your vacation
Without doubt whenever you decide to make your vacation in Chania,you will be satisfied,as the climate is Mediterranean with sunny days on 80% of the year. You have to know that on April the climate is pleasant,with little rainfall and temperatures up to 23° and in May there is sunny but not insufferable whether and temperatures are up to 25°.June and July are the hottest months of the Cretan summer and that's why many tourists prefer to spend their holidays then. There is no chance of rainfall and the temperatures are quite high making those months ideal for swimming and rest. You will face temperatures up to 23°-38°.August is also a very hot month without rainfalls and maybe the busiest month of the summer,possibly because also most Greeks prefer to spend their Vacation time then. The temperatures are ranging from 23°-32° with a possibility of pleasant winds(meltemi) that are usual that time of the year and are generated by the Cretan Sea during this particular month.
Also,September,is usually a sunny month with temperatures of 20°-28° and swimming is pleasant for that time of the year because the sea is warm. Even on October the sea is warm and pleasing and there is low possibility of rain. Whenever you decide to spent your holidays in Agia Marina you will face no problems with the weather however you need to know that most of Hotels and Apartments in the area are closed in winter months(November-March) due to increased rainfalls and low tourist interest that time of the year.
11) Things you will only see in Chania
Every town has some unique points that differentiate it from the others, so also Chania has some unique things to see and that’s why it is beyond one of the Greek most Tourist places. First of all, ,Samaria Gorge is one of the most rare national forests of our Country and one of the biggest natural gorges of the whole Europe. The visitor has the chance to wander through its 16 kilometers of its length and discover the untouched flora and fauna of Crete. You can also see inside the gorge, if of course you are lucky enough, the famous and endangered Cretan Goat, better known as Kri-Kri. For those who are not fond of nature activities they also can see this famous animal on a controlled environment inside our central zoo which is located in the heart of our City. As for the gastronomy part, Chania have another good surprise for you because they offer a food which is only offered in our town and has a unique taste. It is Called “Boureki” and you can taste it in some good taverns, or in homes of locals .Boureki consists of ingredients that are in abundance at summer time in Cretan fields, such as “myzhthra”(a local soft white cheese),potatoes and pumpkin. To the most people this food, which has the form of a pie, is similar to mousaka, but of course in a much more delicate and healthy state. Also the countless beaches which are all over Chania area have no competition and are a reason alone, to spend your holidays here and discover them.
12) Events for locals that also have Tourist Interest
During your vacation, there is a possibility of come across some events and feel from first hand what Cretan Hospitality means. In summer months and especially in August, in many places in Chania area there are often celebrations and festivals. Nearly always the entrance is free and you have the chance to hear the famous Cretan live music as to taste Cretan delicacies and Cretan wine which is in abundance. Also during August, it is held by the municipality of Chania in a special place in our town’s old harbor an exhibition which is called “Agricultural August” where you can see local Cretan products such as olive oil, rusks, honey etc. The entrance is free and you can taste the products which are in kiosks for no cost as well as buy in competitive prices anything you want. In the same pattern, usually on October it is held in Agia, a place some kilometers away from Chania center, an exhibition which is called “Kername Ellada”. The entrance fee is at very low cost and you can also find local products as well as artifacts from the whole Greek territory , taste them for free and buy whatever you like. During this organized exhibition you can also take part to some actions being held in the building like tasting chef’s food, or listening to Cretan Music. It may need a little attention in order to know what exhibition and fests are up to, but with coordination you will be able to visit the above and the sure thing is that you will be fully rewarded.
13) What products should someone get before leaving Chania
Chania, and Crete in general except of a marvelous tourist attraction are also a place which someone can find a great variety of products that are superior both in quality and in uniqueness. Tourists would have to buy for sure the famous Cretan virgin olive oil with its unique taste. This product is sold everywhere so it's very easy to find and its being sold at a logical price. Furthermore one should surely get the famous alcoholic drink of Crete which is called "Raki" or "Tsikoudia" in native Greek, and its being produced with the same way decades ago' thus providing unaltered taste. This product is also easily found on the Market and its relatively cheaper than other imported alcoholic drinks. Also, one has the opportunity to taste that drink in local taverns and cafe's anytime of the day. Moreover, one should taste the famous dairy products of Crete which are famous to the public. The traditional cheese of Crete which is called "Graviera" as well as the soft white cheese which is called "Mizithra"and has a unique taste and texture are also worth a very well choice for someone who likes traditional food products. Next to the list is a useful and also traditional Cretan product, which is the famous "Green Soap" that has as a basic ingredient the traditional Cretan olive oil and has less additives compared to industrialized soaps. Last but not least, a very nice idea for gift to friends is the famous Cretan Knives which are decorative and have engraved Cretan proverbs on them-Also it's a nice way of expressing love and assessment to friends.
For more information: Cretan Olive Oil, Cretan Cheese