Why You Can’t Leave Chania Until You Try Bougatsa Iordanis

For close to 100 years, people from all over the world have been visiting Bougatsa Iordanis in the heart of Chania’s city centre, so they can get a mouthful of this crispy and creamy Cretan delicacy!

The famous bakery is now in the hands of the fourth generation of Iordanis’ descendants with the grandson, his children, and wife Ioanna in the shop every day proudly serving loyal customers and global visitors, who want to experience the unique and fresh taste they can only find here.

Opening its doors for the first time in 1924, Iordanis still remains authentic, simple, and rustic in the year 2020- with a few tables inside and views to the kitchen out the back- here you will enjoy their exceptional delicacy served on a simple aluminum plate.

Although Bougatsa can be found all over Greece- what makes this delicacy so special is the cheese that is used to fill the pastry. Most bakeries serve their Bougatsa with a sweet custard in the centre, however, Iordanis prepare their filling using a local Chaniot mizithra (Cretan ricotta cheese) namely Pichtoggalo Chanion Cheese PDO, which is produced from goat’s or sheep’s milk, giving it a slightly sour flavour.

“We haven’t changed the family recipe since the early 1920s. We have kept it the same as everyone loves it. We also make a custard version but again ours is unique as we use oil instead of butter, which enhances the taste,” says Ioanna. 

A: Apokoronou 24, Chania

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 6 am to 2:30 pm | Sunday: 6 am to 1:30 pm

*Images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright) 

Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Exploring Greece Alone

New York City-based blogger, travel agent, and certified meeting planner Sara decided she would book her first solo trip to Greece for her 30th birthday and says the experience she had been putting off for years, ultimately changed her life.

Sara recently spoke to IN+SIGHTS GREECE about her solo travel experience and why she believes Greece is the ideal destination to travel alone.

Why did you decide to make Greece the first place to visit alone?

I have been a lover of Greek history and mythology since I was a little girl. When I was thinking of what to do for my 30th birthday I knew I wanted it to be big and something I did for myself. Choosing Greece was a no brainer for me because of that.

Insights Greece - Why You Shouldn't Put Off Exploring Greece AloneDid you research whether Greece was a safe place to travel as a solo female?

Actually, no. Funny thing is I went in 2015 right during the big economic crisis Greece was facing. The more I overthink something, the more excuses I will make. So, instead, I did basic research, talked to some friends I knew who studied abroad in Greece, and then I just made my way over there.

What did you do to make sure you felt comfortable during your visit? 

From the little research, I did I knew that 1. The language barrier would be minimal as many people/guides do speak basic English. 2. The hotels I looked into were well-reviewed. 3. The tour company I worked with to go on excursions and such had a high reputation.

What spots did you see and how long did you stay?

I was there for about ten days and I visited Athens, Nafplion, Olympia, Mycenae, Delphi, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini, and Patmos.

Insights Greece - Why You Shouldn't Put Off Exploring Greece AloneWhat was your favourite ancient site?

Delphi was my favourite. I love stories about Pythia.

Out of all the places you explored, where would you revisit?

All of them but, I would have loved more time in Mykonos. It is absolutely beautiful.

Would you recommend Greece as a place for solo travellers?

1000% for anyone.

How did you find the locals? Were they helpful and welcoming?

Extremely helpful and friendly. I was never uneasy.

Was there a time when you felt alone or unsafe? 

Never, however, I do live in NYC so, I am used to lots of tourists and people. You just always have to trust your gut and be smart in the decisions you make.

Did you meet a lot of people along the way?

Yes, I have made a few lifelong friends whom I met on the tours I joined in on. It was great. 

If you could do it all again, would you do anything differently? 

Stay longer.

What did you love most about your time in Greece?

Walking among streets and sites that were older than anything here in the US. It was magical.

Do you have any tips for anyone planning on travelling to Greece alone?

Do some research on where you want to go and stay- make sure you are comfortable with the locations. Put a plan together – I wouldn’t just “wing it” as there is so much to do and see. I only suggest 2-3 days in Athens. It is not all about the islands – make sure you venture inland and visit Olympia, Delphi, Mycenae, and Nafplion.

Insights Greece - Why You Shouldn't Put Off Exploring Greece AloneTell us more about your Solo Travel Woman blog.

My father always inspired me to go after my dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem to others. He sadly passed away and that is when I decided to start Solo Travel Woman (STW). I wanted to inspire other women to travel without anything holding them back as he did with me. My goal is to help change the view on solo travel and inspire other women to travel the world without fear or other people holding them back. In May 2020, I expanded to include travel planning services so, I can help others experience the world I have fallen in love with. If you are open-minded, have a passion to explore the world, experience new cultures, and live the life you have always dreamed of without anything holding you back – you are in the right place.

*Images courtesy of STW

Complete Travel Guide to Chania

Chania, with its pretty beaches, a unique mix of architecture, narrow pebbled alleyways, charming villages, and buzzing town- is the perfect place to experience a lively city where the old-world meets new. Having visited several times, here is our Complete Travel Guide to Chania.   

Getting There & Getting Around 

The flight to Chania from Athens is around one hour, otherwise, you can catch a ferry. There is a direct ferry line that takes around 6.5 hours, or you can do an overnight trip, which is roughly 9 hours. Depending on how much of the island you would like to see, we strongly recommend hiring a car, which allows you the flexibility to visit the many beaches, villages, and historical spots around town.

Where to Stay

If you like being close to restaurants and nightlife, we suggest you stay around the Old Town, Venetian Port, or the New Town. If you prefer a more relaxed vibe and being somewhere close to nature (mountains or sea) try Kissamos, Paleochora, or Sfakia. For those wanting to be footsteps away from the beach, we highly recommend Marathi and Loutraki, in the Akrotiri area.

Where to sleep

For a great stay in the heart of the Old Venetian Harbour Cretan RenaissanceDomus Renier, or Casa Delfinio all offer stunning views of the Old Port and the famous Lighthouse. For more of a city vibe, base yourself around the New Town and try Samaria Hotel. If you prefer apartment living, check into Casa Ntore Luxury Apartments or Trianon. And for something closer to the water, we recommend Domes Zeen, Ammos Hotel, and Marathi Villas.

Where to eat

For authentic flavours head to Evgonia– don’t expect fancy décor but the food is amazing (we recommend the grilled fish). Ta Chalkina at the Port offers the complete Cretan experience- great views, live music, and traditional cuisine. Tamam in the Old Town is where you can experience local dishes served in a rustic setting. Further across town at Kaliviani village, you will find Gramvousa Taverna, which offers magnificent food and gorgeous views. Taverna Mpourakis in Kounoupidiana is a local favourite and their specialty is Xoirino Kotsi (pork hog), which is baked for hours. Nea Chora is a waterfront location lined with traditional fish taverns- our favourites include Akrogiali, Volakas, and Achilleas. For modern cuisine and stylish decor try Pallas and Mon.Es- great food and ambiance.

Sweet treats

Yes, you can try Bougatsa all over Greece, but you can’t find Bougatsa Iordani anywhere else. This famous pastry- made using fresh Cretan Mizithra (ricotta) – Insights Greece - Complete Travel Guide to Chaniahas been a local favourite since 1924. If you are looking for a variety of sweets, make your way over to Koukouvagia which has been named Greece’s best dessert shop on many occasions- and for a good reason! Here you can try the famous Zoumero (a fluffy chocolate cake) as well as Lemonopita (lemon cake), Mosaiko (chocolate biscuit cake), Mille Feuille, Milopita (apple pie), Karidopita (walnut cake)- plus the view is spectacular. Lastly, if you love crepes (like us) head to Roxanis and try the classic Nutella and Banana! 

For drinks

For great local wine and spectacular views of the sunset, head over to the harbourside bar, Pallas. You will catch most of the locals over at Sinagogi- a chic and rustic spot hidden away in the ruins of the old Jewish synagogue. And for a pre-dinner drink or a late-night cocktail, try Fagotto Jazz Bar, one of Crete’s oldest bars. 

Local Delicacies and Dishes

Achinous (sea urchins) may be rare to find at your average restaurant but here they appear on most menus. Gamopilafo is a traditional wedding rice dish and is likened to a deluxe risotto prepared in a rich meat broth. Saligaria Tiganita (fried snails) is a local favourite and served as an appetizer. Stamnagathis (local wild greens) are boiled and served with a dash of olive oil and lemon juice. The famous Cretan Dakos is a rye dusk topped with juicy grated tomatoes and crumbled feta (can be eaten any time of the day). Kaltsounia are delicious Cretan cheese pies, and Arni me Stamnagathi is a lamb dish, where the meat is sautéed in hot olive oil, then served with either avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce) or a squeeze of lemon juice. If you love cheese, you should definitely try the local Graviera, Pichtogalo Chanion (which has AOC protection), and Myzithra, a young Cretan whey cheese. Raki or Tsikoudia is a locally made Cretan Brandy that is distilled from grapes and served in every Cretan taverna and kafeneio (not for the faint-hearted). 

Seitan Limani offers magical views and pristine waters- it’s a bit of a hike to get there as you need to walk down steep steps- but definitely worth it. For a morning swim and a great Freddo (cold coffee) head to Loutraki Beach, where you will find lots of sunbeds. Marathi is perfect for families and it’s where the locals go. Also good for those with young kids are Falasarna and Stavros Beach (where Zorba the Greek was filmed). Balos Lagoon, Elafonisi, and Gramvousa Islet are by far Chania’s most photographed beaches- you can’t leave Chania until you have been to at least one. While Golden Beach with its golden sand and clear, calm waters also deserves a visit. 

Insights Greece - Complete Travel Guide to Chania
Seitan Limani


Discover history

Insights Greece - Complete Travel Guide to Chania
Around the Old Port

Walking through the charming Old Town (while taking in the magnificent sites) allows visitors to discover the Venetian, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences. Chania has an impressive Archaeological Museum, a Naval Museum, Folklore Museum, and several others that are all as significant as each other. Then make your way over to Prophet Ilias, where you will find the Tombs of Eleftherios Venizelos, a famous politician who was Prime Minister of Greece- no less than 7 times! Here you will also get panoramic views of Chania, as well as the chance to go inside the local chapel.  On the other side of town, check out the Municipal Garden, which was designed in 1870- here you can get up close to the historical 1927 Clock Tower. You can also enjoy coffee or tea at the famous Café Kipos, which is a member of the European Association of Historical Cafés. And while you are at it, catch a film at the nearby open-air cinema! 

Spiritual Sites

Chania is home to many sacred and historical monasteries that are well known. The most frequently visited is Agia Triada Tzagarolon, which was built in the 17th century by two monks. The Gouvernetou Monastery was designated as a preserved monument in 1900, while the abandoned Monastery of Aghios Ioannis is said to be the most ancient monastery of Crete (dating back to the 6th- 7th centuries).

Insights Greece - Complete Travel Guide to Chania
Agia Triada Monastery
Where to shop

For small boutiques filled with handmade jewellery, sandals, ceramics, and other great gift ideas head to the Old Town and stroll through the beautiful alleyways to find a range of stores catering to all tastes. If you are after fast fashion such as Zara, H&M, or other local chain stores- make your way across to the new part of town where you will find all the latest shoes, clothes, and accessories. If you prefer to take home some tasty Cretan treats- check out the local markets in the Agora, where you will discover the freshest home-grown food and delicacies. 

Can’t leave until… you have brunch at Ginger Concept, and lunch at Dounias in Drakona, where all the dishes are farm-to-table and created by owner/chef Stelio Trilykaris, who prepares it all using traditional cookware and a wood-fired oven. For some adventure, hike the 16km-long Samaria Gorge- one of Europe’s longest canyons- but try to get there early morning to avoid the crowds. For a unique cultural experience visit artist Manousos Chalkiadakis, who Insights Greece - Complete Travel Guide to Chaniatransforms clay into stunning vases, boats, and balloons. His studio is located in a small village and the hospitable artist will also take you next door to see a 300-year-old house. You should then drive to the village of Maza and eat at Dris in the main square (ask the owner to unlock the door to the tiny Byzantine chapel in front of his shop, which contains amazing 13th-century artifacts). Also, pay Manolis Tsouris a visit- where you’ll find a range of wooden art pieces. Last but not least, you should listen to live Cretan music and join in on some local dancing, which will be one of the most memorable experiences!

5 Greek Islands for Amazing Culinary Experiences

Are you a foodie going to Greece for vacation? Amazing. This write-up is for you!

Apart from the beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and relaxed vibe, the Greek islands offer visitors an abundance of delicious dishes and delicacies. There are so many things to try on each island that you literally cannot go wrong with what food you choose.

Here, I will include five Greek islands that offer unique tastes and will, for sure, excite your taste buds.

Let’s go see…


The island of Crete is known for having some of the greatest food in the country. You have to try the ‘dakos’ salad, ‘sfakiani pita,’ ‘bougatsa,’ ‘kaltsounia,’ and ‘gamopilafo.’ Everything is made with Crete’s fresh and pure ingredients, such as locally produced olive oil, cheese, and herbs. Make sure to accompany your food with a glass of ‘tsikoudia’, the popular local spirit.


This beautiful sun-soaked island unfolds a rich gastronomic experience. Besides the well-known potatoes (the best you will try, for sure), Naxos stands out for its delicious cheese variety, stew (stifado), goat dishes, such as ‘kleftiko,’ pork dishes and of course locally produced cheeses, like ‘arseniko,’ ‘xinomizithra’ and ‘graviera.’

Insights Greece - 5 Greek Islands for Amazing Culinary Experiences


An undiscovered island, Chios is known for the ‘mastiha’ (mastic) production, popular in ancient times for its therapeutic value and unique aroma. The island, which is located in the northern Aegean Sea, is also known for its mandarins, which are of high quality and flavour due to the sun and climate, mastelo cheese-perfect for ‘saganaki,’ and ‘kopanisti’ among other delicacies.


An island untouched by mass tourism keeps its gastronomic traditions intact. Besides the rich cultural and historical background, Lemnos (also known as Limnos) presents an exciting culinary adventure. Local cheese is simply delicious; ‘melichloro’ and ‘kalathaki’ are a must-try. Moving on, don’t miss out on the sardines, octopus, and local meat dishes. Last but not least, Lemnos produces excellent wine to accompany your food.


This small island offers stunning landscapes and beaches of wild beauty. At the same time, it unravels interesting gastronomic choices. ‘Matsata’ is one of the island’s specialty dishes, which is fresh pasta served with chicken or rabbit, ‘souroto’ is a salty and soft cheese used for the best cheese pie and ‘karpouzenia,’ dessert is made of watermelon.

Greece is a wonderful destination for foodies, and these are just a few of the must-visit islands for all you food aficionados. It’s also worth mentioning that due to years of austerity, many young people have returned to their homeland and started beautiful initiatives, such as running restaurants or farms, all designed to highlight local delicacies.

Spotlight on Marathi, Chania’s Hidden Gem

If you’ve ever wondered where local families head to for a perfect day at the beach in Chania, it’s the same spot where you will find Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and First Lady Mareva Grabowski Mitsotaki, who spend most of their summer weekends here.

Marathi is around a 17 km drive from the city of Chania and this gorgeous spot boasts two clear, sandy beaches that are separated by a charming little port. Both of these bays are organised, so you will find rows of umbrellas and sunbeds, which are filled with visitors who come here for all-day swimming, followed by a late lunch at one of the many cafes or restaurants along the coast- serving delicious local seafood and other well-known Cretan dishes.

Ioanna Filippakis, who along with her brother and parents own and run Marathi Villas and Psamathi Restaurant, recently spoke with IN+SIGHTS GREECE about the family business and why this spot in town is one of the island’s best-kept secrets.

When did Marathi Villas open?

The property has been in our family for over three generations. Initially, there was only a small house and an olive grove. Then we renovated the spaces (without disturbing their natural beauty) and created eight elegant villas, which now accommodate up to four people in each. By the water, a space that used to be the local “kafeneion” has now become a restaurant, offering visitors a range of Mediterranean flavours, including fresh fish and good Cretan wine.

Tell us about the style and décor of the villas.

The four villas, with uninterrupted sea views, have a purely minimalist feel. The other four overlooking the garden have attics and are decorated in a 1930s and 1960s style. We chose pastel shades because they blend in perfectly with the surrounding environment.

Your restaurant “Psamathi” is a favourite amongst locals, tell us about your menu. 

All the produce used in our restaurant is organic and locally sourced. The oil, honey, and wine are actually produced by our family. There is plenty on offer for brunch, lunch, and dinner. My favourite dish at the moment is Pasta served with Mediterranean squid and stuffed with Feta and olives. Our customers’ most loved breakfast is the Cretan specialty, which consists of Strapatsada (eggs with tomato and Feta), Yogurt with Walnuts and Honey, Sfakian pie, and Cretan Dakos.

Where do locals love to swim?

Very close by you will find a bay, known to a few, which is called “White Beach”. You can get to the bay by boat or by swimming. The sand is white and the waters are crystal blue. There are high cliffs, ideal for diving, and a small cave.

What makes Marathi an ideal spot to visit?

Marathi is a place where the natural landscape wins you over. Souda Bay which encloses the area does not allow the winds to get through, so the sea is always at peace. It’s always calm and looks like paradise. Marathi is ideal for rest and relaxation. Here it’s all about sunbathing and swimming. You can also enjoy walking along the adjacent bays and participating in water sports such as canoeing and pedal boating.

What history can be found here?

Marathi is built on Ancient Minoa at the Port of Aptera. Parts of Ancient Minoa, the jetty, and the ancient sanctuary are visible from here.

Insights Greece - Spotlight on Marathi, Chania’s Hidden Gem

What are the best months to visit?

The best months for holidays here are May, June, and October. The weather conditions during these months are such that the temperatures are at the best levels so you can enjoy a wonderful vacation without the crowds.

Tell us about Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ connection to Marathi.

The Mitsotakis family originates from Chania. Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ father the late Konstantinos Mitsotakis built a holiday house here because he loved the wonderful natural environment with views of the mountains and the Gulf of Souda. The Prime Minister spent his childhood here and has incredible memories of summer vacations in Marathi, which he has now continued with his own children. Former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis Mitsotakis, sister of the PM, considers Marathi “a place of unsurpassed beauty.”  

Marathi Villas