Chania Geography

Chania is the westernmost prefecture of the island of Crete, extending over an area of 2,376 square kilometers. It borders Rethymno to the east while being washed by the Cretan Sea to the north and the west and by the Libyan Sea to the south respectively. Gavdos, the southernmost island in Europe, also belongs to Chania, as do other islets like Elafonisi, Souda and Prasonisi. Built on the site of the ancient Kydonia, the Town of Chania is the capital of the prefecture, while Souda is the second largest town. According to the 2011 census, the region’s population amounts to 156,585 people.

Chania is gifted with lush vegetation and imposing mountains covering over three-fifths of its territory, and the character of the inhabitants has been greatly affected by this dramatic landscape. The mountain range of White Mountains (Lefka Ori) occupies a large part of western Crete and is the main geographical feature. It owes its name to the perpetual white color of its peaks, as the white of their limestone alternates with the snow that covers them until late spring. The highest summit is Pachnes (Morning Dew), at an altitude of 2,453 meters above the sea, and there are at least 30 more at over 2,000 meters. The White Mountains also boast about 50 gorges, the most famous one being the Samaria Gorge. Stretching 16 kilometers in length, it is said to be the longest gorge in Europe and has been a National Park since 1962, as it is home to the kri-kri, an endangered species of Cretan wild goats, as well as to many other rare endemic species of flora and fauna. The canyon of Imbros, the second largest in Crete, is also to be found in Chania, running parallel to the Samaria Gorge.

The mountains form a series of small plateaus and valleys, like that of Omalos northwest of the White Mountains, the valley of Kandanos and Sfakia, which are some of the most important spots to enjoy the natural environment of Chania. The abundant streams running down from the mountains merge into rivers, the biggest of which are Platanias (the ancient Iardanos) and Kiliaris. The only natural lake of Crete island, Lake Kournas, can be found 50 km from Chania, close to Rethymno.

The White Mountains split Chania into two completely dissimilar parts. The lowlands occupy only the coastal areas and include the verdant plains of Apokoronas and Kissamos. The undulating shoreline is characterized by four big peninsulas, Gramvousa, Spatha, Akrotiri and Drapanos, which form the wide bays of Kissamos, Chania, Souda and Georgioupolis. The beaches boast crystal clear azure waters, and many of them have been awarded the Blue Flags of the European Union.

The landscape and the island’s position directly affect the climate of Chania, which can be described as temperate Mediterranean, with hot, arid summers and relatively mild, wet winters, with more precipitations than anywhere else in Crete. Temperature changes are more marked in the mountainous areas; however, during at least 70 percent of the year’s days, the weather is sunny.

Discover the Map of Chania
MapView the map of Chania with the main villages, beaches, and sightseeing. Also, the location of the port and the airport.
View: Map of Chania