The Ultimate Best Things To Do In Chania, Crete In 2024 (With Map)
Want to know the best things to do in Chania, Crete? You’re in the right place! Sarah of Mukikapup’s Travels has written the ultimate and most comprehensive guide to Crete and you can find it right here.
Chania town is located on the Western part of the island of Crete in Greece, on the Northern coast, and is the second largest city in Crete.
I spent a couple days in Chania, and I recommend 2-3 days to see it, but you can do day trips and stay longer, too! The port is a nice area to hang out in and the old city is full of charm, so you may not want to leave too soon. Here are things to do in Chania and ideas for day trips!
- The Ultimate Best Things To Do In Chania, Crete In 2024 (With Map)
- Things to do in Chania Old Port (Venetian Port)
- Map of the best things to do in Chania Crete
- Things to do in Chania Old Town
- 11. Stop by the Municipal Market
- 12. Check out the Greek Orthodox Cathedral (Ekklisia Isodia Theotokou)
- More Archaeology & History in Chania
- Best Things To Do In Chania: Beaches
- 17. Best Things To Do In Chania: Stavros Beach
- What to see in Chania, Crete in one day
- Best Things To Do In Chania: Museums
- Best Things To Do In Chania: Nature & Parks
- 42. White Mountains (Lefka Ori or Madares)
- Best Things To Do In Chania at night
- Things to do in Chania when it rains
- Things to do near Chania, Crete and Day Trips
- 52. Vrysses, Crete
- Where to Stay in Chania, Crete On Any budget
- Getting to Chania, Crete
- Things To Do In Chania: Final Thoughts + More Tips
Things to do in Chania Old Port (Venetian Port)
Experience the enchanting allure of Chania, from its captivating Old Town to the exotic Balos beach and the renowned Samaria Gorge. Steeped in history, Chania has welcomed Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans, resulting in a multicultural gem on the island of Crete.
As you meander through the port of Chania, landmarks such as the Venetian lighthouse, Grand Arsenal, Kum Kapi, and Halepa unfold before you. Venture beyond the town to discover the famous beaches of Agia Marina, Stalos, Platanias, and the picturesque Balos and Falasarna. In southern Chania, the iconic Samaria Gorge beckons, inviting exploration amid its breathtaking scenery.
The Venetian Harbor in the Chania region has a lot of history: Built by Venetians between 1320 and 1356 for protection from pirates and commercial trade, today it’s full of cafes, photogenic spots, shopping and more.
Map of the best things to do in Chania Crete
You can find this map in Google maps here.
1. Best Things To Do In Chania: Marina in Chania Old Port
The Marina is a perfect place to spend a day or part of a day exploring. You can walk around and shop, eat and drink and see the boats.
I ended up there first thing in the morning (watching the sunrise) after a ferry ride in from Athens, and I watched a guy come and catch Octopus here!
It’s pretty touristy, so if you want to walk around without the crowds, definitely go early in the morning – things won’t be open early but you can take some amazing photos and enjoy the peace! I also ate dinner here, and it’s a great spot to take in the sunset!
2. The Maritime Museum and Firkas Fortress
Also known as the Nautical Museum or the Naval Museum, the Maritime Museum in Chania is located inside the entrance of the FIRKA Fortress in the old harbor. It was built between 1204-1669 by the Venetians as a garrison and was later used by the Ottomans.
The museum covers the history from ancient times to the Battle of Crete, with a section dedicated to the WWII German Occupation, as well as a model of Minos, the Minoan ship.
3. The Egyptian Lighthouse and Venetian Seawall
The Egyptian Lighthouse has been around since 1595-1601, when it was constructed by the Venetians. It’s named from when the Egyptians worked on it in 1839, giving it its final appearance. Then, it underwent restoration in 2006 again, giving it a more Venetian tower shape.
The lighthouse creates part of the skyline and is lit up at night, so it’s great for photos anytime! You can’t go inside, but you can walk along the Venetian Seawall up to the structure, and you can capture photos of the view with the White Mountains in the background.
4. Best Things To Do In Chania: Yiali Tzami Mosque
The Ottomans built this mosque in 1645, which is now used as a gallery.
5. The Grand Arsenal (Megalo Arsenali)
The Venetians used the dockyards or arsenals to repair galleys in the 1600s. The building, which is a stone structure, includes the Center of Mediterranean Architecture. There is also the 7 dockyards complex, a great spot for photos.
Things to do in Chania Old Town
The old city in Chania is made up of four districts and different alleyways date to various historical time periods.
The city in the area began in the Bronze Age, founded by King Minos and inhabited by the Minoans. It was a city-state called Kydonia. The Venetians fortified the city in the 13th century, making it the capital of Crete. It remained the capital until Heraklion took its place in 1971.
6. Best Things To Do In Chania: Kastelli Hill
On Kastelli hill, you can find archaeological excavations of Kydonia and Neolithic settlements from 3650-3000 BC.
7. Topanas District
Topanas is the Christian district located behind Firkas Fortress. The Venetian armory was located on Theotokopoulou Street.
8. Best Things To Do In Chania: Jewish District
The Jewish district, located to the East of Topanas, was started following the Turkish conquest in 1645. The main street is Kondylaki and it’s wider and busier than the others.
9. Best Things To Do In Chania: Splantzia District
The Splantzia district used to be the Turkish neighborhood during the invasion. Today, it’s where you’ll find the most restaurants in the old city. It’s located in front of the Church of St. Nicolas.
Fountain Square was the center of the Christian district during the Turkish conquest. It’s located at the waterfront, and today it’s known as Eleftherios Venizelos. You’ll find a ton of restaurants and shops here.
The most Instagrammable streets in Chania’s Old City are Aggelou and Theotokopoulou.
10. Dine and drink by the water
There are tons of restaurants and cafes in the Old City, and lining the Harbor. If you want the most local food, you’re most likely to find it tucked away in the winding streets or nearby villages of Chania, but there’s also value in enjoying the views and fresh Mediterranean air coming right off the sea when you hang out at the seafront cafes. I spotted an early morning Octopus fisherman here when I was present before the crowds!
11. Stop by the Municipal Market
The Municipal Market was built in the early 1900s, modeled after the covered market of Marseilles. It’s reminiscent of ancient Greek markets as well, in a cruciform structure that houses shops with local produce, meat and tourist shops.
12. Check out the Greek Orthodox Cathedral (Ekklisia Isodia Theotokou)
This church is small and free to visit. It’s located on the site of an older church, was became a soap factory during the Turkish invasion. It was made into a church again in 1860.
More Archaeology & History in Chania
Chania is full of history, as the former capital of Crete whose archaeological discoveries date back to the Late Neolithic Period. If you’re looking for more archaeology, here are some spots to check out:
13. Best Things To Do In Chania: Aptera
Aptera was an important city-state in ancient Crete. The archaeological site is located above Souda Bay, around 15km from Chania’s city center. The history of Aptera goes back to the Geometric Period (1000-685 BCE), Hellenistic Period, Roman Empire and the Minoan Period (3500-1070 BCE).
14. Other Archaeological Sites around Chania
Other nearby archaeological sites include:
Kilindra, Irtakina, Tarra, Nea Roumata (there’s an early Minoan tomb here), Kastelli, Nerokouros, Stilos and Maleme (vaulted tombs), Eliros, Falasarna, Polirinia, Pikilassos, Diktinna, Kandanos, Kydonia and Phalassarna.
15. Best Things To Do In Chania: Tabakaria (Tampakariá)
Tabakaria was once the main center for leather tannery in Chania. Tanneries were a major part of Chania’s economy from the 1830s through the 1960s. While the area has since been abandoned, today it’s up and coming with Airbnbs and such, and there are still a couple tanneries in operation. It’s also located on the sea, making it a great spot for photos.
Best Things To Do In Chania: Beaches
There are so many options for beach days in Chania, including a pink sand beach and more! Here are all your options for getting some vitamin sea:
16. Agii Apostoli Beach
A white sandy beach not far from the city center. You can drive or take the bus (#21). There are sunbeds (you’ll need to pay), and facilities available.
17. Best Things To Do In Chania: Stavros Beach
Zorba the Greek was filmed at this beach, which is 17km from the city center at the foot of Vardies Mountain. It has an interesting lagoon shape that’s cool for photos, with white sand and clear water. It’s also the most expensive for sunbeds and umbrellas (so don’t plan on using them)!
18. Stalos Beach
This beach is located by the village of the same name, located 7km from Chania. The beach is on a long strip and is popular for water sports and visiting the nearby villages.
19. Best Things To Do In Chania: Platanias Beach
Platanias is located on the Northern coast and has a tourist resort as part of it, but there some areas you can find that are more clear of tourists. You can also find a lot of bars and cafes around this area, which is well-populated in the summer months.
20. Balos Lagoon Beach
Balos beach is 60 km from Chania, and it’s known as one of the best beaches in Crete. It’s also popular with hikers because of Gramvousa island, which is by the beach and has a Venetian castle with an amazing view.
21. Best Things To Do In Chania: Elafonissi Beach
Elafonissi is the pink sand beach, located on the Southwestern coast of Chania. It’s not as easy to reach and is only pink in March-April. The road there is narrow and winding, but also beautiful so well worth it to some travelers. The beach is also beautiful, but touristy.
22. Nea Chora Beach
Nea Chora Beach is within walking distance of Chania’s Old City. It’s a more crowded, local beach but if you want something close by, this is a good choice. Go early if you want to avoid the crowds. There are also fish restaurants and cafes nearby.
23. Iguana Beach
Iguana Beach is only 3 km west of the city center, and is another popular beach for those who want something close by. There are facilities and cafes nearby.
24. Best Things To Do In Chania: Koum Kapi Beach
Koum Kapi Beach is located in Kastelli, only 1km from the city center. It’s not populated and there are no facilities, so if you’re looking for a natural, uncrowded beach this is one of them. There is parking nearby, too.
25. Agia Marina Beach
Agia Marina beach is located 10 km west of Chania. It’s populated, but it’s also spacious so it doesn’t feel as crowded, especially if you find the right spots. There are lifeguards and nearby cafes.
26. Falasarna Beach
Falasarna Beach is located 59km west of the city center, and beside the archaeological site of the Greco-Roman city of Phalassarna. The area is also a protected nature reserve and one of the best spots in Chania to watch the sunset.
27. Glyka Nera (Sweet Water) Beach
Glyka Nera, which is located by Sfakia, was ranked in the top 20 beaches in Crete by the London Times in 2003. The pebbled, freshwater beach is beautiful, and it’s accessible by boat or hiking paths. There’s a nearby tavern, and you can drink the fresh spring water.
The center of the beach allows nudism and you can also camp at Glyka Nera.
What to see in Chania, Crete in one day
If you only have one day in Chania while you’re in Greece, you’ll obviously want to explore the Old City and Harbor areas, but here are some other things to do so you can experience the city more – in one day, or more if you have more time.
28. Best Things To Do In Chania: Boat tour
Balos is one of the most talked about beaches and hiking areas near Chania, so it’s the place to go on a boat tour. You can also see the fortress, and make a whole day out of exploring!
29. Best Things To Do In Chania: Food tour
Crete, and Chania are known for their food. If you love trying all the local foods, a half-day food tour is the way to go – it’s also a walking tour of the city! You’ll start from the Public Market and see other highlights including the lighthouse, mosque and Harbor while tasting Greek coffee, local cheese, Raki (local liquor), bougatsa pastry, lunch, and more.
Dakos, or ntakos, and is the islands National Dish. This traditional Cretan delicacy features paximadi, a dry barley rusk, as its base. Adorned with crumbled mizithra cheese, diced ripe tomatoes, whole olives, capers, fresh oregano, and a generous drizzling of exquisite Cretan olive oil.
30. Best Things To Do In Chania: The 7 Villages of Apokoronas Tour
Take a day trip to the villages in Eastern Chania. You’ll see an Ottoman fortress, the Folklore Museum of Gavalochori, the Emprosneros Cheese Factory, and sample Raki at Peroulakis Distillery plus eat lunch in a traditional Greek coffeehouse.
31. Tour the White Mountains with Winery and Olive Mill Tour
This tour takes you to an authentic Cretan shepherds’ hut, tastings at a Winery and Olive Mill, Samaria Gorge and the White Mountains in an air-conditioned vehicle.
32. Best Things To Do In Chania: The Monasteries of Akrotiri Peninsula
Another idea for a day in Chania is to drive around to find all the monasteries on the peninsula of Akrotiri (some are within walking distance of one another), and stop at a beach or two along the way. Monasteries include:
- Agia Triada Tzagaroli Monastery: one of the most well-preserved
- Moni Gouverneto (Our Lady of the Angels): one of the oldest from the Venetian period
- Chryssopigi Monastery (Women’s Convent): dedicated to the Virgin Mary
- Moni Katholiko Ruins and the Bear Cave (or Cave of Panagia Arkoudiotissa)
- Katholiko Monastery
- Arkadi Monastery
Beaches on the peninsula include:
- Marathi beach
- Stavros beach
- Tersanas beach
- Kalathas beach
- Seitan Limania beach
Best Things To Do In Chania: Museums
For all the museum-goers, Chania won’t disappoint. There are a number of museums for various purposes, so everyone can find something of interest.
33. Best Things To Do In Chania: Archaeological Museum of Chania
The archaeological museum of Chania is located in the suburb of Chalepa. The permanent exhibition showcases the history of Chania from prehistoric times through the present with artifacts and displays about daily life including digital displays.
34. Greek National Football Museum
The Greek National Football Museum has free admission and includes memorabilia from the Football team throughout the years. The owner, who founded the museum, is known for being friendly and talking to visitors about football, making for a great experience! The museum is located in the shopping district, so you can add it as a stop while you’re exploring the Old City.
35. Best Things To Do In Chania: Eleftherios Venizelos House
Eleftherios Venizelos was “the most influential politician in Greek history” who is known for helping create modern Greece, from gaining independence from the Turks to uniting Crete with the rest of the country.
His birthplace is a museum today and you can see things from his life as well as the history of Crete. The house itself is beautiful to look at and has been restored.
36. Chania Folklore Museum
The Chania Folklore Museum is located next to the Catholic Church in the Old City in a small house. The museum houses a collection of traditional handicrafts, agricultural items, clothing and other items from local life during the 18th-19th centuries in Crete. The rooms are themed, such as the kitchen, bridal bedroom, etc. You can also visit the room that’s made to look like a cellar to showcase raki and wine-making.
37. Best Things To Do In Chania: Minoan’s World the 9D Experience
Learn about the Minoan world through this 3D museum and 9D cinema experience. You’ll get a 3D tour, and there are 3 9D movies to watch that are based on Crete history and mythology.
Best Things To Do In Chania: Nature & Parks
If you’re the type of traveler who seeks the outdoors, Chania is definitely a great spot for all kinds of nature and parks (besides the aforementioned beaches)! Here are some places to check out in the area:
38. Chania Botanical Park and Gardens
The botanical park and gardens cover 20 hectares of land at the foot of the White Mounts. The gardens feature local and globally found fruit trees, other kinds of plants and herbs, and animals. The gardens were started following a fire in 2003, and there’s a burnt tree commemorating the event.
39. Topolia Gorge
Topolia Gorge is located in Western Chania in Kissamos, and is a great spot for hiking. There’s a one hour hike to the gorge, which is amazing in and of itself but you can also see the plants and wildlife as well as the cave of Saint Sophia or Hagia Sophia.
Nearby spots to the gorge include the Monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa, Elafonissi lagoon, the archaeological site of Polyrrinia, and the village of Sfinari, where mythology holds that the Minoan goddess Vritomartis lived, as well as fairies.
40. Gramvousa Island and Venetian fort
Gramvousa Island, which used to be called Koryko in ancient times, has a fortress that was built in the late 1500s. The fortress was captured by Cretans in 1825 and became a fortress for rebels who became pirates in order to get food and supplies. Because of this, the island became known in Europe as “Pirate island”.
41. Best Things To Do In Chania: Samaria Gorge
Samaria Gorge is another great hiking spot, and the hike is largely downhill. The gorge ends at a village called Agia Roumeli, which has a black-sand beach.
42. White Mountains (Lefka Ori or Madares)
The White Mountains are named as they are because they’re mostly limestone, and the peaks a white color because of this and because they’re covered in snow through late Spring. The Samaria Gorge is one of about 50 in these mountains. The best way to explore the mountains is by hiking.
Best Things To Do In Chania at night
👉 Is Chania a party town?
Not really, but you can find clubs about 2-3 km outside of the main city in Agia Marina and Platanias, where there are plenty of nightclubs that locals flock to.
43. Check out the Old Harbor and Lighthouse at night
Make sure to go back to the Old Harbor at night to see it lit up. You can still walk up to the lighthouse at night, too. If you’re visiting in the summer, it’s a cooler time to go. Then you can get dinner and drinks overlooking the harbor.
44. Chania Municipal Garden
You can explore the gardens, and they have events and concerts at night sometimes. You can also check out the 100-year-old bar in the garden, which is open until midnight, and get a drink there.
45. Go local bar-hopping
Even though Chania isn’t much of a party city, you can still find a lot of bars open until early morning hours where you can hang out and listen to music. Most of the bars are in the old city and harbor area. A few bars to try include Sinagogi Bar (fittingly, next to Old Etz Hayyim Synagogue), Charles Monastery and Mamouth Bar.
46. Restaurants in Chania
Wondering where to eat in Chania? Here are a few options to get you started:
Kipos Cafe, Oasis souvlaki, and Kouzina e.p.e. are some quick suggestions. I also suggest looking away from the harbor area to find more authentic food, and ask the locals where to go!
Things to do in Chania when it rains
If you have a rainy day and want to stay inside, you can check out the museums or go shopping in the Old City (just bring along your umbrella). You can also visit the Greek Orthodox Church. Here are some other ideas for a rainy day:
47. Winery tour
A rainy day is a perfect time to do a winery tour and tasting! Here’s one that also includes an indoor Monastery tour:
48. Olive Mill tour
An olive mill tour, without additional outdoors activities, is a great option for a rainy day, such as this one:
49. Stivanadika Shopping
Stivanadika are traditional Cretan leather boots, which you can find on Skridlof Street along with other leather products. You can also look for traditional Cretan knives on Sifaka Street, which were used in traditional Cretan costumes.
Things to do near Chania, Crete and Day Trips
Looking for things to do near Chania for day trips or to extend your travels in Crete? Here are a few ideas:
50. Lake Kournas, Crete
Lake Kournas is the only freshwater lake in Crete, and not far from the sea – but the lake has small beaches surrounding it in the summertime. It is close to a small, local village of the same name. I didn’t get the best phone service while staying there, but the village was a nice getaway from the city. It’s close to an hour drive from Chania, so it can make for a great day trip idea. You’ll get amazing mountain views and there are places to hike and explore outside.
51. Loutro, Crete
Loutro is located in West Crete on the south coast near Sfakia, and is a small fishing village that is only accessible by boat or walking. It’s 96km from Chania, and because of it’s inaccessibility it’s a very peaceful and tourist-free place to visit. There are also no cars!
52. Vrysses, Crete
Vrysses (Vryses, Vrisses) has a lot of history, including one of the oldest bridges in the country, the Greek Arch or Elliniki Kamara, located on the Boutakas River. The modern settlement is newer, but the location has had settlements since the Minoan period and was a center of action during the revolution in 1866.
Other reasons to visit include local sheep yogurt, markets, beaches and local cafes.
53. Frangokastello, Crete
Frangokastello is known for the Venetian castle and for its beach, plus ghost story legends from mirages that appear in May at dawn.
54. Kissamos archaeological museum in Chania
Kissamos is located in western Chania and has a centrally-located archeology museum. The museum houses artifacts from prehistoric times through the early Christian era.
55. Paleochora (Palaiochora), Crete
Palaiochora is a peninsula town along the Libyan Sea. It’s 70km South of Chania, and is known for its beaches. The town has hotels, restaurants and bars, making it a great place to stay for part of any visit. In addition, there are churches to explore with Venetian and Byzantine wall paintings, a museum and more attractions.
56. Sougia, Crete
Sougia, in southwestern Crete, is a tourist-free place to find peaceful beaches, nature walks and amazing views. You can also find affordable hotels and restaurants.
57. Kedrodasos, Crete
Kedrodasos is located 1km from Elafonissi, and is known for its juniper trees and beaches (Kedrodasos means juniper wood).
58. Georgioupoli Beach, Crete
Georgioupoli is a resort village located 39km east of Chania at the mouth of the Almiros river. It’s a more tourist-friendly location, with the longest beach in Crete and many activities for tourists. From here, you can get transportation to places like Kournas, too.
59. Aradena Bridge, Crete
Aradena bridge is one of the most impressive bridges in the world, so it’s worth a visit if you have the time. Made of wood, it’s one of the highest Bailey bridges in the world. It’s located 85km from Chania, and you can bungee jump there if you’re interested.
The Aradena Gorge (also called Faraggas) is also considered one of the most beautiful, and biggest on the island, so you can hike and take photos there too.
60. Agia Lake, Crete
Lake Agia (Ayia) is located 9km west of Chania. The lake is small but has the largest variety of underwater botany in Crete, including rare species. Because it’s humid and swamp-like, it’s ecologically significant and is protected. Nearby is the valley of Fasas. There used to be a hydroelectric power station, and today there’s a museum and you can still see the abandoned station.
61. Saetan Limania, Crete
Saetan Limania is one of the most beautiful and photographed beaches on Crete. There are steep cliffs and it’s a bit tricky for hiking, so go if you’re looking for a challenge and some great Instagram shots!
62. Go on a Thyme Honey Tour in Crete, Greece
Crete is known for thyme honey, and you can book a tour here to learn about how it’s made and enjoy honey tasting!
Where to Stay in Chania, Crete On Any budget
Budget Option: Porto Antico Hotel
Porto Antico Hotel is a historic, top-rated hotel right in Chania’s Venetian Harbor that has amazing views of the Old Town, Port and Lighthouse! The rooms are even photo-worthy, with A/C in a stone building – perfect for those hot summer days!
Check Current Prices at Porto Antico Hotel Here
Mid-Tier Option: Elia Zampeliou Chania Old Town
Want an adorable (not tiny, just super cute) hotel room that overlooks the harbor and is within budget? The Elia Zampeliou is top-rated, and the rooms are Instagram-worthy. The hotel has a roof garden, and you’re literally steps away from all the restaurants, bars, shops and harbor-area sites.
Luxury Option: Ambassadors Residence Boutique Hotel
If you’re looking for luxury, the Ambassadors Residence Boutique Hotel is also at the Harbor and has an upscale village feel (translation: very Instagrammable). It’s top rated, is located next to the arsenal and includes all kinds of amenities like laundry, dry cleaning and more.
Getting to Chania, Crete
The closest ferry station from Athens for traveling into Chania is Souda Port (you can get there from Athens by taking the ferry from Piraeus Port). You can also fly into or out of the International Airport of Chania (CHQ).
To get to the city center from the airport or ferry station, I recommend taking the bus as the cheapest option, and it only takes around 25 minutes or so. You can also use a taxi or rent a car to explore further.
Things To Do In Chania: Final Thoughts + More Tips
Chania, Crete has it all: history, culture, and natural beauty that promises an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re strolling through the charming Old Town, exploring ancient ruins or basking in the sun-drenched beaches, Chania has something for everyone, from solo travelers to families. I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Chania, Crete!