There are 5 provinces and 25 administrative regions (municipalities) in the prefecture of Chania (also written as Hania or Xania). The provinces are Kydonia, Kissamos and Apokoronas in the North and Selino and Sfakia in the South.
includes the city of Chania, the peninsula of Akrotiri to the east and stretches westwards almost to Kolymbari. It extends to the south all the way to the White Mountains.
The coastal part of Kydonia is the main touristic area of West Crete. Along a very long beach, there is an almost uninterrupted line of hotels and apartments, one locality merging into the next one.
Moving inland, you will pass through very green lowlands. The main crop here is oranges and other citrus fruit. Further to the south, you start climbing into the hills, the vegetation changes to olive groves. Eventually you arrive into mountainous areas.
Chania, the capital city of West Crete has a population of over 50.000. The centre of Chania is the old town, well worth a visit with its wealth of ancient buildings and houses. The modern part of the city is expanding quite fast and Chania is developing a traffic congestion problem - it simply wasn't built for the present amount of cars - which can make driving around and parking (mind parking tickets, they are expensive!) a frustrating experience.
Chania has a beach in town (towards the western end of town) and a couple of beaches a little further to the west (within walking distance - it is best to follow the coast and not the road).
The peninsula of Akrotiri is situated
immediately east of Chania.
Amongst the charms of Akrotiri are the wild range of hills which run along the northern edge of it, its monasteries (especially Katholiko), several pretty beaches (see under beaches) - which are unfortunately a little overrun by the inhabitants of Chania at the weekend - and lots of flowers in the spring. There are not many tourist developments in the area. On the negative side there are a number of military installations, a naval base and the Greek airforce uses the airport of Chania for training so there can be a lot of airplane noise.
Further to the West the region of Kissamos (with Kissamos as its main town) includes the two peninsulas of Rodopou and Gramvoussa - barren and almost deserted - the beautiful bay of Kissamos situated between the two peninsulas, the rocky West coast and the hilly and fertile hinterland to the South where the olive tree rules. Tourism is not very developed here.
East of Chania, after you pass Souda (the harbour of Chania) and extending almost all the way to Georgioupolis is the region of Apokoronas. It is one of the greenest regions of Crete (mainly olive trees) between the sea and the northern slopes of the White Mountains. There are a few pretty beaches which are not too overrun and a few (smallish) tourist developments (Kalyves, Almyrida and Georgioupolis). Going inland you can visit a lot of pretty villages where life is still quite traditional.
The south-west of Crete is very different from the north coast: the mountains fall steeply into the Libyan sea, preventing roads from being built along the coast. The nature is wilder, the villages are small and further apart than in the north. The climate is different too as the mountains form a natural barrier which stops much of the winter and spring rains, so that the vegetation is drier and the temperatures a little higher. The Libyan sea is generally crystal clear.
The region of Selino stretches from the south-west on Crete to just beyond Sougia on the south coast. To the north it extends to the hills beyond Agia Irini, Kandanos and Elos. This large district of fertile hilly land has a great many olive trees as well as chestnut trees (in the region of Elos) and vineyards. It is best known for the villages of Paleochora and Sougia, both well-liked by holiday makers.
The largest of all the regions by far, it is also the most unspoilt and it retains the strongest traditions. On the south coast it borders Selino to the west and stretches all the way past Hora Sfakion to a little beyond Frangokastello. Its northern border runs through the middle of the White Mountains. Being mainly mountainous it does not have many large areas of cultivated land, apart from the plateaux of Anopolis and Askifou. It is cut by several deep gorges which run from the mountains to the Libyan sea, the most famous being of course the gorge of Samaria.
The White Mountains
The White Mountains or Lefka Ori are located in the centre part of the prefecture of Chania. It is the largest mountain range in Crete with more than 30 summits with a height over 2000m. The highest summit, Pachnes is only 3 meters lower than Psiloritis (central Crete) at 2453m.