Chania is Crete’s second largest city but surely its most charming. While it shares the same urban sprawl as almost every other Greek town, its harbour in the old town is a pleasant mixture of Venetian and Ottoman architecture that’s been converted into an impressive collection of restaurants, boutique hotels and galleries.

Although more up market dining options abound here, we highly recommend the salt of the earth mezedopolia and rakadika beloved of the locals; it’s here you will find hearty Cretan cuisine made from locally sourced and sustainable produce. Also worth a visit is the indoor farmers market, which sells some of the best Cretan Graviera cheeses we’ve tasted.

Chania is a major tourist destination in peak season and consequently there are accommodation choices for all budgets. We would recommend staying in the old town though, where you will be within walking distance of everything you would need during your trip. There are some quite stunning boutique options here that provide a high level of service without breaking the bank.

Its size and location make Chania a perfect hub from which to explore this part of Crete; and there is much to see and do here. If you’d rather not hire a car, the Greek coach service, KTEL, runs regular and cheap buses to all the major beaches, villages and attractions: the simply idyllic beaches of Sfakia on the south coast or the tiny paradise-like island of Gavdos at the southern most point of Europe and of course the Samaria Gorge, the largest gorge in Europe and a firm favourite with trekkers and hill walkers. In-between all these points of interest, are myriad traditional mountain villages with mustachioed men grilling local produce, all the while watched over by magnificent birds of prey circling gracefully overhead.

This is a truly beautiful part of the world, easily accessible from all over Europe, especially since Ryanair made Chania airport its main Greek hub. What you find here is wonderful hospitality, great food, beautiful sandy beaches and cute port towns. Need we say more?