Chania is busy and cheerful in summer, but winter is when the city really shows her sultry beauty when the streets freed of tourists lead to all different addresses where the locals now unwind at ease or work hard to prepare for the next season, which, face it, starts early in the Cretan capital of charm.
But why would you spend a winter in Chania? Because, if your heart is set on understanding the people and the island, this is the best time. The tourists may be gone, yes, with the exception of the bold few who arrive on Crete through partnership programs between Greek and foreign businesses. They don’t seem to mind the dampness of the air while strolling on the promenade of the Old Port, which from December until the beginning of the tourist season, is such a picturesque sight! Finally, your camera can take those magazine-ready snapshots you can frame when you go back home. Or you can flood your Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter timelines with exotic images that will make your friends and followers happy to “like” your updates, and a tad jealous: after all, you are in Chania, Crete’s most beautiful town.
So what do you do during the winter in Chania?
Travel guides and tourists tell you Chania is calm and laid back in winter. Well, without the bulk of her chirpy summertime visitors, the city is, indeed, quiet and peaceful. But not asleep. The cultural agenda, especially around Christmas, is rich and full of fun activities for all ages. If you visit the official site of Chania, you will find about concerts, workshops, festivals, and all kinds of activities that draw the community together. Although the site’s content is in Greek, you can simply use Google translate to get a general idea of what’s where and when.
- Stroll under the fairy lights at Christmas. Seasonal decorations are a big here, and there’s even a Santa Run that paints the promenade cheerful red and white. Your children will love the sight. They also party hard at Christmas. All the taverns that remained open offseason will be full. But Cretans are friendly and they will share a seat.
- See the Cretan wild goats at the Municipal Garden. This gives your stroll to this part of the city a purpose, but you may find that the garden is also stage for fairy tales workshops, children’s theater, concerts, and other fun activities in the jolly season.
- The agenda is full in winter at the KAM Center of Mediterranean Architecture. They offer all kinds of entertainment, starting with stellar performances of the Philharmonic of the Municipality of Chania, and continuing with jazz concerts, opera, workshops, exhibitions, and more.
- Catch a movie at the Mega Place. They even have bowling, as well as indoor and outdoor playgrounds full of toys for the little ones, a cafe, and halls for conferences and concerts.
- Concerts at Yali Tzamisi are also quite customary, and you cannot miss this mosque, which dominates the Venetian harbor. This landmark was a Muslim place of worship until 1923 when the last of the Muslims left the city. Today, it is an event and exhibition venue.
- See the interactive installation at Sabbionara Rampart – it’s an alternative virtual reality of Chania that will remain open only until January 15, 2018.
- Have a foodie experience at the Agora. Yes, the Municipal Market is one of those must-visit attractions during your winter in Chania. It stays open as the main source of food for both locals and visitors in the city. There are three taverns inside, all serving authentic bites. Stavros&Stamatis taverna is open every day from as early as 4 am. Yes, that’s before sunrise.
- See the Maritime Museum of Crete – simply because you cannot visit Chania and miss the chance to step inside the famous Fortress “FIRKA”, which was constructed by the Venetians (1204-1669)
The list could go on. Suffice it to say, if you don’t mind a bit of rain, your winter in Chania can be the unexpected vacation you will live to tell your grandchildren about.