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Travelers looking for things to do in Chania, Crete in Greece have an array of activities to choose from – and we are highlighting the best of the best! The Chania Old Town is a fascinating place to explore and there are outdoor gems waiting to be discovered in the nearby mountains and along the beautiful coastline.
My trip to Chania, Crete was with my mom and sister as part of a 2-Week Greece Vacation. During our stay, we navigated our way through the tangle of streets, enjoyed harbor views, drove into the mountains, dipped our feet into the azure sea and dined on scrumptious local fare.
To help fellow travelers plan their ideal trip, we are detailing the best things to do in Chania, Greece – as well as sharing our top travel tips that will help make planning a trip a breeze.
Things To Do in Chania, Crete, Greece FAQs
Before we dive into what to do in Chania, Crete, we want to answer a few of the most commonly asked questions.
Where is Chania, Crete, Greece?
Before you start making your list of fun Chania, Greece things to do, it’s best to have a clear understanding of where Chania is.
Chania is located on the large island of Crete, which sits in the southern region of the Aegean Sea. Crete ranks as the largest Greek island – and is the most populated, too.
Chania in Crete is found along the northwest coast of the island. The quaint Old Town – where most tourists spend their time – is situated along the harbor, but the city sprawls to the south and into the foothills of the White Mountains.
How Do you Pronounce Chania?
When you visit Chania, it is best to know how to pronounce it – because it is not as simple as it looks. To start, the C is silent (and the city is sometimes written as such, Hania). The IA at the end is not ee-ah but YAH.
Therefore, the correct pronunciation of Chania is Hanh-YAH.
Pro Travel Tip: Chania in the Greek Alphabet is spelled Χανιά.
Are There Kid Friendly Things To Do Chania, Greece?
Chania is where Crete locals live, work and play – so, naturally, there are things to do in Chania with kids. While our list of Chania things to do is not specifically designed for family travel, we do include several kid-friendly activities for Crete.
Are There Free Things To Do in Chania?
Yes, there are things to do in Chania for free! To be honest, wandering the Old Town is one of the best Chania things to do – and it doesn’t cost a dime. Our must-see Crete travel list features both free and paid attractions.
Are There Chania, Crete Things To Do without a Car?
Travelers without a car can easily see the sights in Old Town Chania on foot (in fact, most of it is pedestrian only). To get further afield, travelers can use the public buses on Crete (which run year-round but are most frequent during the peak summer season).
That said, there are things to do near Chania, Greece that are best reached with a vehicle. We made our day trips from Chania by car. Tours are also available and might be best for travelers who prefer not to drive. We share our tips about renting a car in Chania later in the article.
Are There Things To Do in Chania when it Rains?
Sure! While we will admit that most of the activities in Chania are outside, there are ways to escape rainy weather – including a few museums, churches and attractions, as well as indoor dining options.
Fortunately, the rainy season on Crete is during the winter months, and it is typically dry during summer.
What is the History of Chania?
Chania, Greece has a long history that stretches back to 3500 BC, when it was a Minoan settlement. Since that time, it has been conquered and controlled by numerous leaders and empires – each leaving its mark on the city.
Chania has been ruled by the Byzantine Empire, Arabs, Venetians, Ottomans and was semi-autonomous in the late 1800s. Crete became part of Greece in 1913, only to be occupied by the Germans during World War II. During the 1970s, however, Crete (and Chania) became a popular tourist destination, as it still is today.
Where Can I Get a Map of Chania, Crete?
The official tourist office in Chania (location) offers free maps – along with great local advice!
That said, we recommend buying a map of Crete for your trip – like this one, especially if you plan on driving.
We think it is best for travelers to get acquainted with the area before arriving. Therefore, we share our Chania map marked with tourist attractions at the end of the article.
Is Chania Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Visiting Chania ranks as one of the Top Things To Do in Crete, Greece. The city and surrounds offer something for every type of traveler.
How Many Days in Chania, Crete?
On our Greek Islands Trip, we spent 4 days in Chania – and could have easily stayed longer. We think that most travelers will want to plan to spend at least 3 days in Chania for sightseeing and exploring. With a Chania 3-Day Itinerary, visitors can see the top sights, take a trip into the mountains and enjoy a day on the coast.
That said, we know not all travelers will stay for 3 days in Crete. If you’re wondering what to do in Chania in one day or need tips for how to spend a week in Chania, we share a sample itinerary later in the article.
How To Plan a Trip to Chania, Greece
Planning a trip to Chania, Crete is a big task, as there are so many travel details to consider – but we are making it as easy as possible.
Our list of Things To Do Chania, Crete highlights what to see and do when visiting Chania – plus, we share our list of the best Chania restaurants. Additionally, we provide advice for how to plan a Chania trip – including tips for how to get there, how to get around, where to stay and what to pack.
Travelers also visiting other Greece destinations can use our guides:
- How to Spend 3 Days in Santorini
- What To Do in Naxos
- Things To Do in Hydra
- Top Corfu Sights and Attractions
- The Best of Athens in 3 Days
If you’re visiting Europe from abroad you can also find our general European travel tips in our guide to Planning a European Vacation.
As you begin making your plans for your trip to Greece, staying organized is essential. We recommend using a travel planner – like our Travel Planning Printables – in order to stay on top of all the details!
BEST THINGS TO DO CHANIA, GREECE
Now that we have covered the basics, it is time to dive into our huge list of the Best Things To Do in Chania, Crete. Because there are so many attractions in the city and nearby, we have segmented our list into categories: Old Town Sightseeing, More Chania Things To Do, Beaches in Chania, Attractions near Chania, and Day Trips/Boat Trips from Chania.
Our Chania Travel Guide contains everything you need. Save, Pin or Bookmark it so that you can easily plan your trip to Greece!
OLD TOWN CHANIA, CRETE SIGHTSEEING
The Old Town and Chania Old Harbor are excellent places for visitors to get acquainted with the ancient city. We are highlighting what to see and where to go for the best sightseeing.
That said, one of the best things to do in Chania Old Town is to get lost in the lanes that twist away from the harbor. Travelers who want to make sure they see it all can design their own Chania Self Guided Walking Tour using our list of Old Town Chania sights.
Interested in a more formal introduction to the sights? Join a Chania Old Town Walking Tour. One of the best tours in Chania, Crete Old Town combines the sights and history of the Old Town with the island’s delicious local cuisine. Get the details here!
#1 Peruse the Local Goods at the Old Chania Market
Shopping at the Old Municipal Market of Chania is highly touted as one of the fun things to do in Crete, Greece. The market building dates to the early 1900s (but was under renovation during our visit).
Individual shops sell everything from local spices to souvenirs – and it’s a fabulous place to see what produce is grown locally on the island.
#2 Shop for Leather Goods on Skridlof Street
Skridlof Street – nicknamed Leather Street – is a narrow, pedestrian lane lined with shops selling leather bags, shoes, belts and wallets. Some vendors also sell handmade goods, making Skridlof St. a good place to pick up unique souvenirs in Chania.
#3 Stroll Chalidon Street
Chalidon Street is a main thoroughfare through the Chania Old Town that connects 1866 Square to the Old Venetian Port. Many top Chania sights are located along Chalidon, as well as cafes, stores and ice cream shops (Delizia Gelato Italiano is our favorite!).
#4 Visit the Presentation of the Virgin Mary Metropolitan Church
Located on Chalidon Street – but set back on the spacious Platia Athinagora Square – is the Presentation of the Virgin Mary Cathedral (also called Trimartiri). The beautiful Greek Orthodox church is well worth a visit to see the unusually bright interior and glittering icons.
The first church to stand on the site was built in the 11th century – but under Ottoman rule in the 17th century, the site of the old church was transformed into a soap factory. One-hundred years later, when the Chania Christian community requested a new church, the site was cleared for the cathedral that stands today.
#5 Squeeze Down the Alley to the Catholic Cathedral
Opposite the Trimartiri Orthodox Cathedral, across Chalidon Street, is an inconspicuous stone doorway that leads to the hidden Saint Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church Chania. While the church is modest, it offers insight into how the various religions in Chania co-exist.
Inside the small courtyard that fronts the church, visitors will also find the entrance to the Folklore Museum, another one of the top Chania attractions.
Note: The nearby Venetian Monastery of St. Francis was long used as the city’s archeological museum, which displayed ancient artifacts from Chania and the region. The exhibit has been relocated to a new museum not far from the Old Town, which we visit later.
#6 Wander through the Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter is the most picturesque part of the city – and wandering through it is a one of the best activities in Chania. Located to the west of the Old Venetian Harbor, the Jewish Quarter is colorful, quaint and a perfect fit for the curious traveler.
Bright flowers front yellow-painted buildings, family-run restaurants are tucked into quiet alcoves and a gang of cats prowl the pretty, pedestrian-only streets. Visitors are invited to seek out the historic Etz Hayyim Synagogue and pop into the boutique shops.
#7 Explore the Topanas District
Just north of the Jewish Quarter is the Topanas District – another superb place to see in Chania. The district features historic Venetian architecture and for many years the neighborhood was home to the city’s wealthiest citizens.
The north end of the district (accessible via Theotokopoulos Street) is marked by the San Salvatore Bastion, which dates to the 15th century.
#8 Observe the Artifacts of the Byzantine Collection Chania
The Byzantine Museum Chania is a small museum housed in the 15th Church of San Salvatore near the San Salvatore Bastion. It’s one of the Chania best places to visit to see artifacts from the Byzantine era.
Items on display include coins, mosaics, pottery and frescos. There is a small fee to enter.
#9 Take in the Views from Talos Square
Beyond the San Salvatore Bastion is the serene, waterfront Talos Square – and visiting it is one of the lesser-known things to do in Chania. There are several benches where weary travelers can rest their feet, while breathing in the fresh sea air.
Centered on a statue of a sinking ship (which pays tribute to the 1966 Heraklion shipwreck), Talos Square offers phenomenal sea views – and is a great, shaded escape from Chania Old Town crowds.
#10 Enjoy a Walk along the Old Chania Venetian Harbour
The Old Chania Port Crete Harbor is irresistibly charming. Many of the top attractions in Chania are located in and around the harbor, but it is worth visiting for the waterside stroll alone.
The harbor was built by the Venetians in the mid-1300s – for both the trading of goods and protection from pirates. Today, the harbor is used by small fishing vessels and tourist boats and the crescent curve is lined with cafes, restaurants and traditional tavernas.
#11 Visit the Firka Venetian Fortress and the Maritime Museum of Crete
The Venetians built the fortress (then called Revellino del Porto) on the northwest side of the Old Harbor in the 1600s. As part of the city’s defense system, the fortress was used as barracks, ammunition storage and the headquarters of the army.
However, only shortly after the fortress was built, in 1645, the city was conquered by the Turks. They continued to use the fort as barracks – or Firka in Turkish, which is why it is called the Firka Fortress today.
The Maritime Museum of Crete is located at the entrance to the Firka Fortress. Featuring nice displays on the island’s maritime history – as well as showcasing exhibits on the island’s nature – the museum is one of the top things to see in Chania, Greece.
#12 See the Old Mosque of Chania
Sitting along the Old Venetian Port is a striking and unusual building: the Old Chania Mosque. Built in 1645, the mosque is named the Kucuk Hasan Pasha Mosque (for the first Ottoman commander in Chania). The mosque features an odd onion dome, but it is missing its minaret (which was destroyed in the 1900s and never rebuilt).
Today, the building is used as an exhibition space.
#13 Check Out the Lighthouse of Chania
Standing at the entrance to the port, the unique Chania Lighthouse has an interesting history.
Built by the Venetians in the late 1500s as a defensive measure, the lighthouse didn’t survive the Turkish invasion. All but the base was left in ruins until 1864, when the Egyptians (who were protecting Crete at the time) rebuilt it.
The mishmash of architectural styles has resulted in the lighthouse being listed as an important archeological site. It also is one of the oldest functioning lighthouses in the world. Visitors can make the long walk out to the lighthouse – which is one of the top things to do in Chania Town – or simply gaze at it from afar.
#14 Admire the Ancient Neoria Shipyards
The east end of the harbor is the site of the old shipyards – and one of the cool places to visit in Chania. The Venetian Grand Arsenal and the vaulted Neoria shipbuilding structures were constructed in the 1500s as a place to build and maintain large ships.
While none are still used as originally intended, the three on the far east end of the harbor – called Moro for the governor who had them built – house museums and the Chania Sailing Club.
#15 Climb Up Kasteli Hill
Kastelli Hill, which rises above the Old Harbor from behind the Grand Arsenal Building, offers visitors a remarkable viewpoint over the sea.
It is believed that the hill was the site of the early Minoan civilization – and with its naturally strategic vantage point overlooking the sea, was also used by the Venetians and Turks.
Climbing the 47 steps up Kastelli Hill is one of the top Chania activities.
Pro Travel Tip: At the base of the hill, just behind the arsenal building, visitors will find clean and free public toilets.
#16 Step Inside St. Nikolaos Church on Splantzia Square
On the east side of the Old Town, situated amidst a jumble of narrow lanes, is the pleasant Splantzia Square. Once the Muslim District of Chania Town, Greece, the square has a storied past.
Two churches stand on the square: St. Rocco and St. Nikolaos. The small Church of St. Rocco was built by Venetians in 1630, but it was used as a military prison under Ottoman rule.
The older and larger Church of St. Nikolas dates to the year 1320, but it was converted to a mosque (called Hugar Mosque) when the city was ruled by Ottomans. Later, it was converted back into a church, but the minaret was not removed.
Today, the Church of Agios Nikolaos is the only church in Greece that has both a bell tower and a minaret. If the church is open, step inside to light a candle and take in the grand décor – it’s one of the best things to do in Chania Town, Crete!
#17 Marvel at the Collection at the Greek National Football Team Museum
For people passionate about soccer (and even for the fair-weather fan), the Greek National Football Team Museum is a Chania must see attraction! While much of the collection focuses on the Greece football team, the owner’s private collection extends to memorabilia from teams around the world.
The free museum is filled to the brim with collector’s items and soccer jerseys worn by the game’s best players. Plus, the welcoming owner is an absolute wealth of knowledge on the sport. (Seriously, tell him where you are from and he will likely dig up a relic from his collection for your national team.)
MORE CHANIA THINGS TO DO
We have highlighted the best things to see in Chania, Greece in the Old Town, but there are a few more attractions just outside the Old City we want share, too!
#18 Pick Up Fresh Produce at the Chania Farmers’ Markets
There are two fantastic farmers’ markets in Chania – and they should definitely be on your Chania To Do list! Market stalls overflow with just-picked produce from local farmers and household products. Other goods you can buy are local cheeses, olives, thyme honey and snails.
The Minoos Street Market (sometimes called the Saturday Open Bazzar Market) takes place on the edge of the Old Town along Minoos Street on Saturdays and sometimes on Thursdays.
The Monday Market (Laiki Agora) takes place outside the Old Town on Giampoudaki Street near the Holy Temple of Saints Peter and Paul and is definitely a local shopping experience! After picking up fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables, stop by Στούπης Αρτογλυκίσματα (Stoupis Pastries) for fresh baked sweet treats (and a great conversation with the baker!).
#19 Sip Coffee at Kipos Café
Located south of the Old Town, Kipos Café is one of the most historic and best places in Chania, Crete to spend a quiet morning.
Settled within the green and spacious Chania Municipal Garden, Kipos Café has been serving coffee since 1870. A cultural institution of Chania, Kipos Café is an ideal place to sit back, relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
The nearby Old Clock is a symbol of the city – and the adjacent Park of Peace and Friendship is a fun place for teenagers to skateboard and kids to search for turtles.
#20 Visit the Abandoned Tabakaria District
Situated to the east of Old Town Chania along the coastline, the Tabakaria District is a bit eccentric – yet, visiting is one of the fun things to do in Chania, Crete.
The area was developed in the mid-1800s to house the city’s tanneries – and by the 1950s there were 80 shops processing leather goods in the district. Since that time much of the district along the rocky shoreline was left abandoned…until recently.
A renewed interest in the area has seen the opening of restaurants, cafes and a growing reputation for fresh seafood, sunset views and hip vibes.
#21 Glimpse the Past at the Minoan’s World 9D Experience
Minoan’s World is interesting for visitors who want an introduction to the Minoan civilization and Greek mythology (plus, it’s a great escape from the heat or rain!).
The quirky museum offers guests the opportunity to pose for fun 3D photo ops, but the real attraction is the animated cinema with special effects (including wind, rain and snow).
BEST CHANIA BEACHES
Without a doubt, one of the top things to do in Chania is to go to the beaches. Crete is home to hundreds of beaches – many of which have been awarded the Blue Flag for water quality, safety and environmental management.
Of the numerous beaches in Crete, Chania has two that are within walking distance from the Old Town. Other beaches in Chania can be reached by car or public bus.
#22 Swim at Nea Chora Beach Chania
Many visitors consider Nea Chora – a Blue Flag Beach – to be the best beach in Chania, Crete. With a sandy shoreline, shallow water, a lifeguard and plenty of restaurants serving snacks, it is the best beach in Chania Town (especially for families with kids).
This popular Chania beach is located 1.5km west of Old Town (about a 20-30 minute walk from the center) – and visiting is considered to be one of the best Chania Town things to do!
#23 Splash around at Koum Kapi Beach
While not the best beach in Chania, Crete, Koum Kapi is an easily accessible beach on the east side of the city. Although there are no vendors or toilets, there is a free shower to clean off the sand and seawater after a swim.
#24 Discover More Beaches near Chania
Travelers can use a car, taxi or public transit to get to a few of the beautiful beaches that are close to Chania.
To the west of the city, visitors can make a short trip to Paralia Hrisi Akti Golden Beach, Yannis Beach Place or Agios Apostoli Chania Beach.
East of Chania, the best beaches are found on the Akrotiri Peninsula. The Seitan Limani Beach and Gold Coast Stavros Beach are two of the most popular. It is possible to travel to both of these beaches by bus.
We feature more beautiful beaches in Crete that can be reached on a day trip from Chania later in the article.
THINGS TO DO NEAR CHANIA, CRETE
After exploring the Old Town, discovering more city sights and visiting nearby beaches, visitors can go further afield to see the spectacular countryside, gorgeous olive groves and a few of the most stunning beaches on the island. Visitors should rent a car or hire a driver.
#25 Sample the Local Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the top products made on Crete – and there are several olive oil mills where visitors can get a taste along with an introduction to the process.
The Biolea Estate is one of the best places to visit in Chania to learn about olive oil, taste the flavors and take in the excellent views. They offer tours and tastings for free – but we highly recommend dining at Biolea, too.
On our trip, we ate lunch at Biolea and it was delicious. (We share more on where and what to eat in Chania, Crete later in the article!)
#26 See the Ancient Olive Tree and Museum
The Old Olive Tree in the village of Vouves is likely the oldest olive tree in the world and one of the more intriguing Crete sights to see. Some estimates age the tree at 4000 years old – and it is still producing olives! Although the olives are not used for making oil anymore, the branches of the tree have been featured in the crowning wreaths at recent Olympic games.
Next to the tree is the small, two-room Olive Tree Museum in Vouves that features historic equipment and materials used in traditional olive oil production. The staff is happy to help explain some of the displays. At the time of our visit, there was a 1 euro fee to enter – making it one of the cheap Chania tourist attractions!
Pro Travel Tip: Interested visitors can also seek out the nearby 2,000-Year-Old Olive Tree that sits along the roadside in the town of Astrikas, Greece.
#27 Peek inside the Saint John Cave
An intriguing roadside attraction near Kissamos, the St. John Cave is a lovely church built right at the opening of a rock cave. The exterior of the church is made of stone with two towers – but inside, it is a completely natural cave. The church ranks as one of the more unusual Chania things to see.
Visitors are free to step inside to take a peek – and then explore the other caves in the courtyard. Also, don’t miss the underpass tunnel that leads to a quiet, hidden beach. It’s a great spot for a picnic…or a swim!
#28 Drive through the Therisos Gorge
Without a doubt, one of the best adventures in Chania, Crete is driving the Therisos Gorge. The short 9km (5.5 mile) gorge winds its way into the Lefka Ori White Mountains, passing through orange groves, vineyards and sheer rock cliffs.
The scenery is astounding in every direction you look. However, what truly makes it a must-see Chania sight is that the gorge is home to local mountain goats. Visitors can watch the goats grazing on the grass, climbing up rocks and even resting right on the road!
#29 Indulge in Slow Cooked Cretan Cuisine in the Mountains
One of the best places to visit near Chania is the traditional Ntounias Taverna that is tucked into the hills of the White Mountains in the village of Drakona. Although it sounds inconspicuous, it is one of the most popular places to eat lunch in the region (and it’s best to call or email a few days in advance to ensure you will get a seat!).
The menu features in-season, homemade products – most of which are sourced from the owner’s farm – that are cooked in the customary way: over an open fire. The owner is committed to creating local, slow-cooked food…that tastes absolutely divine.
#30 Watch the Sunset from a Crete Beach
The Crete west coast beaches are exquisite – and especially so at sunset! Spending an afternoon at Falasarna Beach and sticking around to watch the setting sun is one of the fun things to do around Chania.
Falasarna Beach has beds and umbrellas for rent – as well as free space to lay out your beach towel. The water is crystal clear, the sand is soft and there is almost always room for parking.
Just south of Falasarna Beach is Tiny Beach – a secluded stretch of shoreline that features pink sand and a wonderfully isolated place to watch sunset. While not nearly as impressive as the Elafonissi Pink Sand Beach to the south (which we talk in detail about later), it is closer to Chania and a lot easier to get to.
Travelers who can’t make it out to the west coast beaches can take in the sunset a bit closer to the Old Town. The Venizelos Graves at the base of the Akrotiri Peninsula offer panoramic views and one of the best sunset spots near Chania. The monument and graves (of two local politicians) are of historical importance, but most people make the trek to take in the sunset views.
#31 Balos Lagoon Chania
Visiting Balos Lagoon Beach is one of the top things to do near Chania, Greece – and it’s easy to see the allure. The famous lagoon features idyllic, unbelievably blue water that is surrounded by white sand. The vivid colors and unique landscape have earned the lagoon the nickname of the Cretan Caribbean.
Getting to Balos Beach Lagoon, however, takes a little effort.
Is Balos Beach in Chania? No, it’s in Kissamos – and travelers with a car will need to drive along an unpaved, narrow road along the top of a cliff. (Our car rental company required us to sign a waiver promising not to drive the road, so bear that in mind if you are renting a car on Crete.)
Alternatively, visitors can drive (or take the bus) from Chania to Kissamos and then join one of the highly rated Balos Beach Cruises – like this affordable one. Other things to do in Kissamos, Crete are visiting beaches, dining seaside and visiting the Archaeological Museum of Kissamos.
However, an even better option is to book a full day tour from Chania with convenient hotel pick up so that you don’t have to worry about the hassle and stress of driving or public transit.
The best full day tours to Balos – like this tour – include transportation, lunch aboard the ship, visiting the Venetian castle on the island of Imeri Gramvoussa and swimming in the turquoise waters of the Balos Lagoon.
#32 Taste the Local Wine
Crete is one of the largest wine-producing regions in Greece – and there are several wineries near Chania where visitors can get a taste.
One of the best wineries for a tasting is the Manousakis Winery. In addition to a tour, guests are offered five samples (a mix of red and white wine) for an affordable price – and the experience can be upgraded to include a visit to the vineyards. A menu featuring Cretan delicacies is also offered on site.
Pro Travel Tip: Traveling to Chania without a car? No problem! On this highly rated tour, participants get to visit the winery – as well as visit an olive oil mill!
#33 Stand in Awe at the Agia Triada Chania Monastery
The 17th century Holy Trinity Monastery on the Akrotiri Peninsula ranks as one of the top Chania places to visit. The still-active Byzantine Greek Orthodox monastery is run by monks – who also produce wine and olive oil on the premises (which is available for tastes and purchase).
This popular Crete monastery is located in a natural setting among olive trees and vineyards and is reached via a short walk from the parking area. In addition to visiting the church, guests are also permitted descend into the wine cellar for a wine tasting – and mingle with the many cats that live on the grounds.
There is a small fee to enter the Agia Triada Monastery Chania and conservative dress is required.
#34 Pay Respects at the Souda Bay War Cemetery
Perhaps one of the more unusual things to do Chania, Crete is to visit the War Cemetery in Souda Bay. The cemetery is a memorial to and burial place for Allied soldiers who lost their lives during World War II.
The graveyard is impeccably maintained and offers fine views over the sea.
#35 Stop to Smell the Flowers at the Botanical Garden Chania
A lush and relatively new park, the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete features an array of plants from three climates (Mediterranean, Tropical and Alpine) – as well as local farm animals, butterflies and wild birds.
The Crete Botanical Garden was founded after a 2003 wildfire – and today, visiting is one of the Chania top things to do. Visitors can walk the tranquil grounds, rest along the lakeside and dine at the on site restaurant. There is a small fee to enter the park.
#36 Go to the Archaeological Museum of Chania
The new Archaeological Museum in Chania (replacing the former museum housed in an old monastery in the Old Town) is one of the Top Attractions Chania.
The modern museum features well-displayed exhibits that detail the history of Chania back to pre-historic times. There are many artifacts dating to the Minoan period, as well as pieces from other eras.
The Chania Archaeological Museum is a 10-minute drive or 35-minute walk from the Old Harbor. A small fee is required and it includes the use of an audio guide.
#37 Step inside the Tranquil Chryssopigi Monastery Women’s Convent
The Monastery of Chrysopigi, which dates to the 16th century, has a fascinating history and ranks as one of the intriguing hidden gems in Crete.
The monastery was built during the time of the Venetians and was fortunate to be allowed to continue to thrive under Turkish rule. During the Greek Revolution in 1821, however, it was destroyed but quickly rebuilt. Then the Nazis occupied the space during World War II and left the monastery in ruins.
In 1976, nuns reconstructed the monastery using the original stones and, still to this day, use the monastery as a convent. The hospitable Sisters welcome visitors who want to tour the grounds.
#38 Explore Ancient Aptera Chania
Exploring the ancient archaeological site of Aptera is one of the best things to do around Chania, Crete – especially for history fans.
The ancient city is known to have existed in the 14th century BC – and it also plays a role in Greek mythology (as the place where the Sirens and Muses battled).
Excavations on the site have revealed numerous links to the past, including a 5th century BC temple, a large Roman cistern, Roman baths and a Roman theater.
There is a small fee to enter. Keep in mind that there is little shade at the ruins – so plan accordingly.
Guests traveling in a group can hire a private tour to Aptera (that also includes visiting a local winery!). Find out more here!
#39 Villages in the Foothills of the Apokoronas District
Quaint and quiet mountain villages are some of the best places to visit in Chania. A cluster of villages to the southeast of town in the Apokoronas District are some of the best villages near Chania.
For example, go to Vamos for unique crafts and traditional, handmade products. Find fresh yogurt and local cheese in the town of Vrysses. Get a taste of Crete wine at the Dourakis Winery near Alikampos Village. When you get hungry, stop at a tavern in the village of Fres.
Other villages to drive through are Gavalochori, Xirosterni and Emprosheos.
Travelers without a car can join the popular 7 Villages Foodie Tour. In addition to visiting villages and feasting on local cuisine, participants also go to an old Ottoman fortress and learn about the history of the region.
#40 Georgioupoli and Agios Nikolos Sea Chapel
Once a sleepy fishing village, Georgioupoli has been transformed into a holiday resort town. The sandy coastline, lined with hotels, resorts and beach bars, extends for more than 5 miles.
In addition to the beaches, Georgioupoli is known for its unique Church in the Sea. Located on an islet at the end of stone walkway, the white St. Nicholas Church is a good spot for photo ops and views. Making the sketchy (and at your own risk) walk out to it is one of the adventurous things to do around Chania, Crete.
FULL DAY TRIPS FROM CHANIA, GREECE
Chania visitors can easily spend a full day visiting nearby sights. In fact, using our above list of places to visit near Chania, you could create your own fun full day trip!
That said, some of the best Chania day trips are fixed on a specific destination – and we are highlighting our top picks.
#41 Embark on a Chania Trip to Elafonisi Pink Sand Beach
One of the best beaches near Chania is the Pink Sand Elafonisi Beach in southwestern Crete. The famous beach features a long stretch of white sand intertwined with swaths of pink. As one of the top Chania things to do and see, however, the beach gets crowded – really crowded.
Travelers planning an Elafonisi Day Trip from Chania should aim to arrive early (by at least 9am in the summer season) to enjoy the beauty before everyone else arrives.
Getting to the Chania Pink Sand Beach can be done three ways – by car, by bus or by tour.
Drivers will likely take the route through Topolio Gorge, which is another one of the Chania top attractions. Things to do in Topolio Gorge are visiting the Cave of Agia Sofia, searching for mountain goats (they shouldn’t be too difficult to find!) and eating lunch at Tavern Spiliaraki Topolia (get a cheese pie or an ice cream and rest in a hammock).
Another nearby sight along the route is the Old Chrisoskalithissa Monastery that is perched on a cliff offering fine sea views (small fee to enter).
However, be aware that the road from Chania to Elafonisi is a narrow lane perched atop a cliff and driving the hairpin curves can be trying.
Travelers who opt to take the bus to Elafonisi Beach from Chania depart from the main bus station in Chania. The schedule changes with the season, so check the current times for your trip online.
Alternatively, visitors can opt to join an Elafonisi Tour. Some Chania tours to Elafonisi – like this one – include a stop at the Agia Sofia Cave Church and allow plenty of time for sand, sun and swimming once at the beach.
#42 Hike Samaria Gorge
Nature is one of the top things to see near Chania – and the Samaria Gorge has plenty of it!
The Samaria Gorge National Park is home to the second-longest gorge in Europe – and travelers can spend an entire day hiking through the gorge while marveling at the natural beauty of it. The 10-mile, downhill Samaria Gorge hike (with a descent of 5,000 feet) takes about 7 hours to complete and a decent level of fitness is required to complete the trek.
The gorge hike is rated as one of the top things to do in Crete – and visitors can hike on their own (using public transit it best) or join a tour with a Chania tour guide – like this one – that organizes all of the transportation details so that all you have to worry about is the next epic view.
#43 Walk the Imbros Gorge
Less intense and not nearly as crowded as Samaria Gorge, the 5-mile Imbros Gorge is ideal for travelers who want to experience nature without committing to a full day hike. The trail begins in Imbros Village and ends in Sfakia, which is the perfect spot for a swim in the sea or to sip a coffee at a local café.
The gorge was developed as a mule route from Chania to Sfakia – and hiking it is one of the top things to do in Chania region. The route is not accessible by public transit, but travelers without a car can join a tour.
Pro Travel Tip: Active travelers have lots of options when it comes to things to do near Chania, Crete. The Gorge of Aradena – and the Aradena Bridge – is another great trekking route in Crete.
#44 Spend a Day in Rethymno
Travelers who have had their fill of Chania sightseeing can hop over to Rethymno. Charming, traditional and just 70km (40 miles) from Chania, Rethymno is a top choice for day trips.
Located east of Chania along the northern coast of Crete, Rethymno offers sublime beaches, an Old Town marked by elegant Venetian architecture and historic sights, like the amazing Arkadi Monastery.
Travelers can organize their own day trip to Rethymno using a car or public bus.
#45 Travel to Heraklion
Once you have checked off your list of Things To See Chania, head east to the largest city and capital of the island of Crete, Heraklion.
The top sight to see in Heraklion is the Knossos Palace – which is also referred to as the Palace of the Minos, as it served as the center of the Minoan civilization. Other attractions in Heraklion are the Old Town, the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, beaches, a sea fortress and churches.
While planning a day trip to Heraklion is fairly straightforward, visitors can opt to join a Chania city bus tour to Heraklion. It’s one of the easiest and best day trips from Chania – book it here!
#46 Set Off on a Snorkeling Adventure on the Best Boat Trips from Chania
There is no better way to cool off from the summer heat than on one of the boat trips in Chania, Crete! There are numerous boat tours from Chania to choose from – from sailing to sightseeing to fishing to snorkeling.
The top-rated Snorkeling Boat Trip Chania (with optional SUPing) is one of the best choices for boating during a Chania vacation. The itinerary includes swimming, snorkeling and visiting caves in Chania. Get the details here!
BEST RESTAURANTS IN CHANIA, CRETE
During our trip, we were determined to find the best places to eat in Chania, Crete. We were most interested in finding restaurants in Chania that serve local, traditional fare – and the food did not disappoint!
To help fellow travelers find the best food in Chania, Greece, we are sharing our favorite restaurants. Plus, what we recommend ordering at each eatery.
One of the best restaurants in Chania Old Town, Kouzina EPE offers an incredible selection of local eats. Our quick lunch turned into a 3-hour affair…and every bite was delicious.
The menu changes daily, but (if available) we recommend ordering the stuffed cabbage leaves, baked eggplant with creamy mashed potatoes and pork with peppers and fried potatoes.
Also, the restaurant is only open for lunch – and once they run out of a particular dish, it’s gone!
Located down a quiet alley, To Steno is quite possibly the best restaurant in Chania Town for local ambiance. The restaurant features low-key vibes, excellent service and outstanding taste.
We thoroughly enjoyed the pork with rosemary in orange sauce, the baked potatoes were heaven and the smoked trout was very tasty.
To Antikristo Chania
Situated a short drive from the center of Chania, To Antikristo is fabulous in every way! Known for their meat dishes that are slow cooked around an open fire, To Antikristo dishes out exceptional local cuisine.
The goat and lamb are stars of the menu, but don’t miss out on the grilled vegetables that are simply perfection!
Oasis is a well-known gyro shop that makes classic, cheap souvlaki gyros – and it’s a must do in Crete! Gyros are the only thing on the menu, bring cash and expect a line in the summer season.
That said, if you want a little variety, go to O Kostas instead – it’s the best restaurant in Chania Town for souvlaki sticks.
A popular spot for breakfast or brunch in Chania, Bougatsa Iordanis specializes in the traditional cream pies (called Bougatsa). The pastry goes best with a local Greek coffee!
As we already mentioned, Ntounias Taverna in Drakona Village offers travelers a unique mountain dining experience. The restaurant is only open for lunch and it’s best to make reservations ahead of time.
The menu changes with what is currently in-season – and if the local snails are available order them!
Biolea Astrikas Estate
While not technically in Chania, we wanted to again mention the Biolea Olive Mill restaurant for its high quality ingredients and exceptional location. The space is chic, yet unpretentious.
We feasted on local cheese drizzled with thyme honey, Staka Me Ayga eggs (using fresh eggs from their hens!) and a unique salad with olive oil vinaigrette.
Use this link to Google Maps for an interactive version of our Chania, Crete Map of Things To Do.
We have highlighted the best things to visit in Chania – but how do you fit it into an Itinerary for Chania in 3 Days? Don’t worry – we will show you!
Day 1: Top Old Town Chania Places to See
Spend your first day checking off your list of things to do in Old Town Chania. Wander the lanes, take in the view from Kastelli and walk along the port. (Use our list, numbers 1 to 17.) Stop for a delicious lunch of local bites at Kouzina EPE.
In the late afternoon, take in more sights around the city (choose from our list, numbers 18 to 24) or go swimming at a nearby beach and try to catch sunset from the Tabakaria District. For dinner, eat at To Steno.
Day 2: Beyond the Boundaries of Chania Old Town
On the second day of your trip, experience some of the best things to do in Chania, Crete beyond the city center. We recommend heading south or west – either on your own with a rental car or by hiring a private driver for the day.
To the south, drive through the Therisos Gorge (making plenty of stops for goat photo ops and to take in the views) and dine at Ntounias for lunch. After lunch, visit the Botanical Gardens and then make your way to the Manousakis Winery.
Back in Chania, grab a lighter meal to-go – either a gyro from Oasis (only open late certain days of the week) or souvlaki sticks from O Kostas.
Alternatively, spend the day west of Chania. See the Ancient Olive Tree, eat lunch at Biolea Olive Mill (and take their free tour) and spend the afternoon on a west coast beach (either Falasarna or Tiny Beach Pink Sand). On the way back to Chania, stop at To Antikristo for a scrumptious dinner.
Day 3: Full Day Chania Day Trip
Start your day at Bougatsa Iordanis and indulge in the local cream pie specialty and a traditional Greek coffee to get your day going.
Then, set off to discover some of the Chania, Greece attractions that are best reached on a day trip.
Active travelers can set off on a full day hike at Samaria Gorge, visitors most interested in history might want to spend a day in Heraklion or Aptera and guests looking for fun and sun can join the party at Elafonisi Pink Sand Beach.
Alternatively, enjoy a more leisurely day and join a local guide to experience some of the best Crete Island food on the 7 Villages Foodie Tour.
Travel Tips for Chania, Crete
Now that you know all of the best places to see in Chania, we have a few more travel tips for your trip!
Best Time To Go To Chania, Crete
Many of the top things to do in Chania, Crete are outdoors – so you want to plan your trip when the weather is optimal. However, visiting in each season has its pros and cons.
Spring in Chania
Personally, we think the weather in Chania is best during the spring, when it’s not too hot and there is little chance of rain – but it’s not the best time for swimming in the sea. Spring is also a great time to visit because there are fewer crowds and cheaper prices.
Summertime is the most popular time to visit Chania. The weather is hot (which is perfect for beach days and sea swims) and it rarely rains. That said, summertime brings the most visitors – and the best places to visit in Chania, Crete can get very crowded during the summer months.
Autumn in Chania
Autumn is the shoulder season in Chania and the city seems to empty of visitors – but it can be quite delightful! Temperatures don’t get really cool until November, so there is plenty of opportunity of outdoor adventures (and possibly even swimming). Plus, there are several Chania festivals during the autumn season.
Winter can be a fantastic time for visiting Chania – especially for budget travelers, as the prices are lowest during the winter months. Sunny winter days are great for hiking and outdoor adventures, but be aware that winter is the rainy season (and it can even snow!).
How To Get To Crete
Before you can partake in the top things to do in Chania, Greece, you have to figure out how to get there first! Chania can be reached by plane and boat (or if you’re already on Crete, bus and car).
Airport in Crete Chania
The Chania International Airport is located 9 miles from town on the Akrotiri Peninsula. The overwhelming majority of airlines flying to Chania do so seasonally and sporadically.
While Athens to Chania flights operate year-round, you will likely have a difficult time finding scheduled airlines to Chania from other destinations (with an astounding number of charter/package tour routes from Scandinavia to Chania!). Our Athens to Chania flight was quick and affordable and it’s how we recommended getting to Crete (even if you’re coming from other Greek Islands).
Airport to Chania
The Bus from Chania Airport to the city takes about 30 minutes and costs €2.30. Once you arrive at the main bus station in Chania, Crete it is approximately 10-15 minutes walking distance to the Old Town. You can check Crete Bus Schedules on the official website.
Alternatively, taxis should cost €20-25 or you can rent a car at the Chania Airport for you visit to Crete. On the reverse, to get from Chania to Chania Airport, the bus is the most economical option if you’re not renting a car.
Ferry to Chania, Crete
As the only regular boat service to Chania, the Athens to Chania ferry operates year-round. The journey from the Athens Port of Priaeus to the Chania Souda Port is typically overnight and takes 9 to 12 hours.
Bus to Chania
If you’re planning to take a bus from Heraklion to Chania, the travel time is about 3 hours and tickets cost roughly €14. Buses from Heraklion to Chania are fairly frequent, air conditioned and typically have free Wi-Fi and a toilet. Check Chania bus times and ticket prices on the official site for your trip.
Getting Around Chania
Getting around the Old Town in Chania is easy – you walk. Most of the historic center is pedestrian only, and the majority of the streets outside of the center have nice sidewalks, which makes getting around on your feet pretty simple.
Traveling beyond the Old Town and City of Chania, however, requires a vehicle – either a car, bus or tour. We are typically big advocates of using public transit while traveling, but the buses in Chania don’t go everywhere (and not to most destinations in the mountains of Crete).
In our research we found that some of the best things to see and do in Chania, Crete could only be reached with a car or private tour. So we decided to rent a car in Chania, Crete – and we’re so glad that I did! We were able to see and do so many things at our own pace.
However, driving in Crete is not easy – and we were visiting in the spring shoulder season, so we can only imagine when it gets super congested in summertime.
Car Hire Crete Chania Tips
If you decide to get a car rental in Chania, we have a few tips. First, read up on Greece road signs!
Driving in Chania and on the mountain roads is starkly different than driving in the USA. There are several one-lane roads that accommodate two-way traffic; in fact, lanes in general are more of guideline than a rule.
Watch how other drivers drive and adapt. If someone wants to pass you, find a place to move over and let them. Be prepared for cars to pull out right in front of you and motorcycles to whiz between cars.
If you are staying in the Old Town, don’t try to drive to your accommodations. The closer you get to the Old Town, the narrower the streets. Find a free parking lot close to your lodging and walk from there. If you do plan on parking on the street, practice your parallel parking (and don’t forget to pull in your street-side mirror!).
Finally, get an actual street map of Chania and Crete. Using Google Maps for navigation will crush your data plan.
Car Rental Crete Chania
The good news is that a car rental in Chania, Crete is fairly affordable (although gasoline can cost a pretty penny).
There are several agencies that offer car hire in Crete Chania Airport – although some agencies are not on-site, but a short walk to the left of the airport exit. It is best to reserve your car far in advance.
When you search for a car rental in Chania Airport, make sure you select all of the required features you desire – like automatic transmission, the correct size of car to accommodate your travel group and luggage, air conditioning, unlimited miles and a second driver.
Also, it is important to understand the insurance coverage. If you use a travel credit card – like Chase Sapphire Preferred – review what coverage they provide and determine if you are able to decline the extra coverage for your car rental in Chania.
For our trip, we used Alma Car Hire in Chania – as they offered the best price. We also thought they did a good job of going over the details, taking note of existing scratches and dents and explaining the charges and deposit. However, before you start your search to rent a car in Chania, read our Top Tips for Renting a Car to find the best price.
Best Places To Stay in Chania, Crete
There are hundreds of places to stay in Chania – so you will likely find one that fits your travel style.
Accommodation in Chania, Crete can range in price from extremely affordable to very expensive, depending on when you visit and the type of accommodation you desire. There are boutique hotels in Chania that are very romantic and Airbnbs in Chania that are great for families.
We think the best place to stay in Chania, Greece is in the Old Town (or very close to it) – but travelers desiring a seaside vacation can find beach hotels in Chania, Crete, too.
During our trip, we stayed in a large, 3-bedroom house in the Old Town that we found on Booking.com. The spacious accommodation in Chania Old Town worked perfectly for my family – and we would stay there again!
Best Hotels in Chania, Crete
Because we understand that many travelers prefer staying in hotel accommodations, we are highlighting a few of the top-rated, best hotels in Chania, Greece.
Domus Renier Boutique Hotels Chania
Located just steps from the Old Harbor and offering lighthouse views, the Domus Renier Boutique Hotel gets top ratings for their comfortable rooms, friendly staff and excellent breakfast.
Although housed in a historic mansion, rooms are equipped with modern conveniences and luxury touches. Domus Renier is an ideal stay for couples. Check rates and availability for your stay!
Situated just outside the Old Town, Kriti Hotel is a clean, modern, stylish hotel that comes at an affordable price – and is a good option for families, too. Plus, they offer breakfast and have an outdoor pool. Check rates for your stay!
What To Pack For Greece
We have a few final tips and packing hacks for your vacation to Greece. First, it’s important to consider what Chania sights will be on your Chania Must Do list – and then pack the right clothes for your desired trip. Need a packing checklist? We share our FREE Packing Checklist here!
The Right Shoes
The best places to visit in Chania, Crete range from sandy beaches to deep gorges to the cobblestone lanes of the Old Town. Therefore, you need to pack the right shoes for your trip.
Find all our tips in our article on the Best Travel Shoes.
The best things to see in Chania, Crete are stunning – and you will want to capture the beauty with a good camera.
We recommend upgrading to a real camera for your trip. We use a DSLR Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens. It takes quality pictures and is easy to use – plus it is priced affordably, which makes it a great budget camera for travel.
Appropriate Clothing for Visiting Greece
As visiting the beaches is a must do in Chania, you will want to make sure you pack your swimsuit. Along with that, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, your favorite beach sunglasses and a travel hat for shade.
Additionally, as many of the things to do in Chania Town, Greece (and some of the mountain villages) require modesty, be sure to pack a versatile wrap and clothes that provide cover so that you are able to visit monasteries and churches.
Whether you are planning long days of sightseeing the best Chania things to see and do or plan on lounging on the beach all day, you will need a good day pack. Your day bag needs to be roomy enough to stow all of your essentials – and it is best to have zippered pockets to keep your valuables safe.
WiFi in Greece
Having access to WiFi is essential while traveling in Chania. Rather than paying the exorbitant fees through a USA phone provider for WiFi during your trip, consider investing in a Pocket WiFi Device – like GlocalMe.
The slim, lightweight device – which easily fits in your pocket – utilizes an eSim for Cloud data that can be purchased before your trip and ready to connect the moment you touch down off that long flight!
Read more about how it works in our article, The Best Pocket WiFi Devices.
Greek Travel Documents and Organizer
When you pack for your trip to Chania, Greece, make sure you have all of your travel documents – from your passport to your plane tickets. We recommend using a zippered Travel Organizer to keep your travel documents secure.
And, don’t forget to pack your all-important travel planner for your trip, too!
Greece Trip Insurance
Don’t have travel insurance yet? Trip insurance can come in handy in the event of lost luggage, canceled flights and even getting sick abroad. Check the rates and coverage at World Nomads for travel insurance for your trip.
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