Keep reading for the ultimate list of the best things to do in Chania, Crete.
Chania, the second largest city on the island of Crete, is a charming destination blending rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. Its historic Old Town, influenced by Venetian and Ottoman eras, offers a maze of narrow streets, colorful buildings, and a vibrant atmosphere. Beyond the lively city of Chania, you will find an abundance of natural beauty from pristine beaches with crystal-clear waters to breathtaking landscapes and beyond.
I loved visiting Crete and think it’s a great island in Greece if you are looking for a more laid-back holiday. It is not quite as touristy and commercial as Mykonos, Santorini, and others making it ideal for a more authentic getaway.
Below are the 12 best things to do in Chania!
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Best Place to Stay in Crete: Chania!
Crete is the largest Greek island with a population of over 600,000! With the island being so huge choosing where to stay and what part of the island to explore is important because getting around takes quite some time. Staying in Chania provides the advantage of spending days and nights in its lively old town full of tons of seafront local restaurants, shops, and more.
Additionally, its prime location on the northwest coast provides easy access to stunning beaches like Balos Beach and Elafonissi, as well as natural attractions like Samaria Gorge. If you want to enjoy a cute and lively old town along with some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches staying in Chania is for you!
12 Best Things to Do in Chania, Crete, Greece
Explore the Old Town
Exploring the Old Town is one of the top things to do in Chania. The streets and alleyways of Chania’s Old Town offer a journey through history and the opportunity to admire some beautiful and unique Greek architecture. As you explore the old town, you’ll find a maze of narrow streets, and colorful buildings each with its own unique character.
The architecture in the Old Town showcases a fusion of different influences and periods. Venetian-style buildings are most prominent with their arches, colorful facades, and wooden balconies. The buildings here are much different from other places in Greece which are characterized by white-washed everything and blue accents. In Chania, expect more stone, greenery, and colors!
Along with Venetian architecture, you can also see the remains of the Ottoman era, including mosques with domed roofs, traditional Turkish fountains, and old hammams that once served as public bathhouses.
The cobblestone streets and alleyways are complete with flowers, vines, and quaint shops selling local handicrafts, jewelry, and traditional products. Simply exploring the endless old streets is something I could do for hours! Let the narrow paths lead you to hidden squares, and admire the architectural wonders that make Chania Old Town a true gem of Crete.
Relax at Balos Beach
A day trip from Chania to Balos Beach is one of the top things to do in Chania. Located on the northwest coast of the island, Balos Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world that you CANNOT miss.
While at Balos Beach you can spend a few hours relaxing on the beach, swimming, or snorkeling. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, water, and a picnic to enjoy on the sand. One of the top things to do while spending the day at Balos is to hike up to the Gramvoussa Fort viewpoint for panoramic views of Balos Beach and the surrounding area.
To reach the picturesque Balos Beach from Chania, Greece, you have a couple of options.
- Boat trip: The most popular and convenient way is to take a boat trip. Several tour operators in Chania offer daily boat excursions to Balos Beach. *THIS IS THE BEST OPTION*
- Car or taxi: If you prefer to have more flexibility and independence, you can rent a car or hire a taxi. Balos Beach is accessible by road – for most cars – but be prepared for a relatively rough and steep gravel road leading to the beach.
Beach Day at Seitan Limania
Seitan Limania Beach is a beautiful and dramatic beach just 30 minutes from Chania by car (taxi price is around €30). This is my favorite beach in Crete because it is so unique, surprising, and pretty exclusive. Visiting this beach is easily one of the best things to do in Chania to experience more beyond the town and admire the natural beauty Crete has to offer.
During your beach day at Seitan Limania, you can relax on the shore and swim in the clear turquoise waters. The stunning cliffs surrounding the beach provide a beautiful and unmatched backdrop for a beach day like no other. IMPORTANT: Bring your own supplies, including sun protection, snacks, and plenty of water, as there are no shops or restaurants nearby.
NOTE: This beach is difficult to reach and requires hiking down a steep mountainside with loose rocks. Many people turned around when they saw the hike down and were not prepared. If you plan to do the hike wear proper shoes and pack water as it takes around 20 minutes.
Visit the Chania Archaeological Museum
The Chania Archaeological Museum is a must-visit attraction for history enthusiasts in Chania. Immerse yourself in Crete’s past as you explore the museum’s collection of artifacts. Here you will find Minoan pottery, statues, and frescoes that offer insights into the island’s rich cultural heritage. Also discover Byzantine and Roman artifacts, including mosaics and sculptures, showering later periods of Crete’s history.
Consider joining a guided tour for a more in-depth experience! A visit to the Archaeological Museum is easily one of the top things to do in Chania to learn a little during your stay.
Discover the Venetian Fortress
The Venetian Fortress is a must-visit attraction in Chania. Explore the impressive fortification walls and enjoy panoramic views of the Old Town and the harbor. Climb the Firkas Tower for breathtaking views and delve into the history of the fortress. Take a moment to relax in the courtyard, surrounded by the historic walls. The Venetian Fortress offers a captivating journey through history and visiting is one of the top things to do in Chania.
Day Trip to Elafonissi Beach
Embark on an unforgettable day trip from Chania to Elafonissi Beach. This idyllic paradise, with its pink-hued sands and turquoise waters, promises a relaxing escape. Relax in the sun, swim in the clear sea, and admire at the stunning natural beauty.
This drive from Chania to Elafonissi Beach takes around 1.5 hours but the journey through charming villages and scenic landscapes adds to the adventure. This excursion offers a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration, making it one of the top things to do in Chania.
Hike the Samaria Gorge
Hiking the Samaria Gorge is easily one of the top things to do in Chania. This breathtaking Gorge is one of Crete’s most mesmerizing hidden gems that I urge everyone to venture to and experience.
The hike is ~16 kilometers (10 miles) and offers an incredible journey through rugged terrain, towering cliffs, and lush landscapes. Start early to avoid crowds and have enough time to complete the hike without rushing. Keep an eye out for the unique wildlife, including Cretan wild goats and various bird species.
The hike finishes in the coastal village of Agia Roumeli, where you can relax and enjoy a swim in the Libyan Sea. Remember to check the weather and the opening times of the gorge for a safe and enjoyable experience. Hiking the Samaria Gorge is an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of Chania.
Join an Olive Oil Tasting Tour
Joining an olive oil tasting tour is easily one of the top things to do in Chania to sample and experience local flavors and traditions. Wander through charming olive groves, see how the olive oil is made, and (most importantly) sample the delicious Cretan olive oils.
Led by local experts, you’ll get a complete lesson on the different types and learn why olive oil is such an important part of life in Crete. This is a fun way to soak up Chania’s local culture and savor its authentic tastes.
Visit the Agia Triada Monastery
The Agia Triada Monastery offers visitors a serene and culturally enriching experience. Explore the monastery’s stunning Venetian architecture, characterized by elegant arches, domes, and a beautiful bell tower. Admire the collection of religious icons within the monastery, showcasing the region’s rich Byzantine heritage.
Take a leisurely stroll through the monastery’s gardens and vineyards, immersing yourself in the tranquil surroundings. The monastery is also known for its olive oil and wine production, providing an opportunity to learn about these traditional practices.
A visit to the Agia Triada Monastery offers a glimpse into the spiritual and cultural traditions of Crete and a chance to soak in some peace and tranquility in a beautiful setting. This is one of the best things to do in Chania that is underrated and oh-so-beautiful.
Stroll along the Chania Promenade
Walking along the Chania Promenade is one of the best things to do in Chania to see and admire all the amazing waterfront wonders. Enjoy panoramic views of the Venetian Harbor and the Aegean Sea, with historic landmarks like the Firka Fortress and the Mosque of the Janissaries along the way.
Stop at one of the many restaurants to enjoy local cuisine, explore shops for unique souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of street performances and artists. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness a stunning sunset over the sea. With its beauty, cultural significance, and romantic ambiance, the Chania Promenade is a must-visit destination for visitors to Chania.
Go Wine Tasting
Going wine tasting is one of the top things to do in Chania! Sample a diverse range of wines, including local grape varieties, and savor their unique flavors and aromas. Expand your knowledge about Cretan wines through educational tastings led by local winemakers. Many wineries offer food pairings to enhance the tasting experience, allowing you to sample local delicacies that complement the wines.
Below are some of the best wine-tasting tours and experiences to indulge all you wine lovers!
Enjoy Local Dishes
Eating local dishes that showcase the authentic flavors of Crete is one of the top things to do in Chania. Try Dakos, a delicious dish of barley rusks topped with tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives. Indulge in Moussaka, a classic Greek dish with layers of eggplant, potatoes, and meat in a creamy sauce.
Sample Souvlaki, grilled skewered meat served with pita bread and tzatziki sauce. Don’t miss the opportunity to try fresh seafood dishes, such as grilled octopus or seafood risotto. And for a sweet treat, try Loukoumades, golden doughnuts drizzled with honey.
Where To Stay in Chania
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