It’s easy to fall in love with Chania. This Cretan harbour town in Greece has a lot going on for you: small local shops, waterside restaurants and lots of little alleys to get lost in. The best part is the historical old town as most of the sights are located there. Not convinced? Here are a few things to do in Chania Crete:
Things to Do in Chania Crete
#1 Walk to the Venetian Lighthouse
The harbour of Chania was built by the Venetians in the 14th century. A lot has changed since then, but the Venetian lighthouse is still standing proudly. It’s one of the oldest lighthouses in the world and was renovated in 2006, but it isn’t operational anymore. Visitors aren’t allowed in, but you can get to it by walking along the pier of the old harbour.
Tip: for beautiful photos, it’s best to walk to the other end of the harbour, from where you have a great view of the lighthouse.
#2 Visit the Maritime Museum of Crete
The Nautical Museum of Crete exhibits just about anything related to life at sea from the bronze age until the present. The collection includes ship models, nautical instruments and photographs, among other things. It’s housed in the Firkas Fortress, on the opposite end of the harbour from the Venetian lighthouse.
#3 Learn to Cook Real Cretan Food
Greek food is delicious and there’s no better way to enjoy it than by learning about its history while preparing it yourself in the kitchen of one of Chania’s locals. You can book this experience alone or with friends with tour companies like Viator. The Chania local will meet you somewhere and after that follows a night full of chatting and delicious food.
#4 Go Shopping at the Market Hall
Speaking of food, if you’d like to try out some more typical Cretan food, head to the market hall. Here you’ll find olives, meat and typical Cretan pastries like kalitsounia, a salty or sweet cheese pie. Be sure to stop at Cretan Nature, where they sell delicious mountain tea.
#5 Visit the Greek Orthodox Cathedral
The Greek Orthodox Cathedral at Plateia Mitropoleos was built on the same spot where a Venetian church used to be. When the Ottoman Turks invaded Chania, they’d turned that churched into a soap factory. Nothing was saved, except for one statue of the Virgin Mary.
It may have been karma or not, but the factory went out of business. When it did, the owner decided to give the building back to the city of Chania and a new church was built, holding the Mary statue from the original church. The Cathedral is also known as the Panagia Trimartiri because it has three aisles, one dedicated to the Virgin Mary, one to Saint Nicholas and one to the Three Cappadocian Fathers.
#6 Visit the Area of Tabakaria
Another interesting thing to do in Chania Crete is to visit the area of Tabakaria which is a short 15-minute walk from the Venetian harbour. There you will see the old leather processing houses called tanneries that were in operation until the early 19th century. Some are well preserved and some are really old. The tanneries started to appear in the area during the period of the Egyptians in Crete in around 1830.
#7 Walk Along the Venetian Harbour
The Venetian harbour was built by the Venetians between 1320 and 1356. It doesn’t serve as a port for the large ships anymore now, you will find only fishing boats, yachts and sailing boats. There are many restaurants and cafes around the harbour where you can sit and enjoy the breathtaking sunset.
Other interesting things to do and see in Chania are the Archaeological Museum that houses findings from the Neolithic Age to the Roman period, the Grand Arsenal that was built during the 1600’s and it’s being used now as a space for events, the Venetian Dockyards built in the 16th century used by the Venetian to repair their fleet.
#8 Bohemian Sunset Tour
If you want to do something a little different for sunset rather than sit at the same beaches or bars as other tourists, join this exclusive Bohemian Sunset Tour with Urban Adventures. With a local guide on hand, you’ll be taken to a secret spot to watch the sun go down before scoping out the boho chic centres of Chania in Crete. This will allow you to see an alternative side of the city, stepping into shops and restaurants you may have simply passed by had you walked around on your own.
Your evening will begin with a beautiful sunset – perfect for filling your Instagram with epic pictures and making your family and friends jealous back home! This will be a blissful way to start the night. From here travel around the city, exploring artisanal workshops, cool cafés and photogenic streets all while listening to local tales about the area from your English-speaking guide.
Your evening will culminate with wine-tasting and a three-course gastronomic meal, packed with Cretan specialties. This will certainly be a meal to remember! Top it all off with some local organic ice cream and perhaps a shot of raki – cheersing “yiamas” with your new-found friends!
For more information about this tour click here.
What to Buy from Chania, Crete
For local food products like cheese, honey, olives and olive oil (Crete is famous for its olive oil) you can pay a visit to the market hall. From the numerous shops around the alleys, you can buy traditional local products like pottery, Raki (traditional alcoholic drink), leather goods and knives (many shops can engrave whatever you want in your traditional Cretan knife) and any kind of souvenir.
Where to Eat in Chania, Crete
Located in the old harbour of Chania, Salis Restaurant serves Cretan flavors with a modern twist. It has a seasonal menu and all the products are from local producers.
Located at the seafront of the old harbour of Chania, Apostolis is a family run restaurant serving fresh fish and seafood.
This traditional restaurant located in the alleyways of Chania’s old town near the market is housed in building dating back from 1618. It serves traditional Cretan dishes made from local products.
Located in the scenic Tabakaria neighborhood, on the waterfront, Thalassino Ageri serves Mediterranean cuisine, fresh fish and seafood.
Things to Do Around Chania
Other things you can do while visiting Chania region is swim in one of the most beautiful beaches, hike the gorge of Samaria, or go to Therissos gorge and eat at the homonym village one of the most delicious lamb chops you have ever eaten at Antartis tavern.
Where to Stay in Chania, Crete
Recommended accommodation in the centre of Chania:
Splanzia Boutique Hotel
Located in the alleyways of the Old Town and just 15 minutes on foot from the beach, the Splanzia Boutique Hotel offers contemporary rooms in a Venetian building. Rooms are equipped with Internet, air-conditioning and satellite TV.
Scala de Faro
A 5 star boutique property situated in the old town close to the Archaeological museum and 18 minutes on foot from the beach. The hotel is built in a historical building of the 15th century but was recently renovated and offers luxurious rooms equipped with Internet, Smart TV, air conditioning, coffee facilities, slippers, bathrobes and toiletries. The highlight of the hotel is the breathtaking view of the lighthouse and harbor from the Sea View rooms.
Located in a quiet part of the old town and just 9 minutes from the beach, Pension Eva is a housed in a 17th-century Venetian building. It offers elegant rooms with Internet, Tv and air conditioning among other amenities. The highlight of this hotel is the roof terrace with the stunning views of the Old Town.
Recommended accommodation in Stalos:
The three-star family owned Top Hotel Stalos in Crete is a simple yet comfortable property with gorgeous sea views and a great location. Situated in the small village of Stalos, you’ll get a sense of local life while still being within easy reaching distance of Chania (just 6km away). With just 30 rooms the hotel has a family, boutique feel and offers everything you need for a relaxing stay. The hotel boasts a large swimming pool as well as a restaurant on site that offers seasonal dishes throughout the day. You can dine on the terrace, taking in the spectacular panoramic views, eat a snack by the pool or even enjoy breakfast in bed! While the decor of the rooms is fairly comfortable, there is so much to do in the surrounding area and the pool is so alluring that you’ll hardly spend any time in your room anyway!
Recommended accommodation in Stavros:
The stylish Mr and Mrs White hotel in Crete is one of the most luxurious accommodation choices on the island and is a must for anyone seeking a chic, romantic getaway. The resort and spa boasts a range of sleek room options with everything from Superior Garden View Rooms to a spectacular Honeymoon Suite with a private pool! Not only are the rooms immaculate but the communal areas are pristine too. The spa features a sauna, steam room, hydro-massage bath and massage treatment rooms and there is an outdoor pool which is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. When you fancy a drink or a bite to eat, head over to the Onyx Lounge Bar, the Eros Pool Bar or Myrto, the main restaurant, for delicious dishes and refreshing drinks. Thanks to the hotel’s location on the northwest of the island, perched out on the end of the land, Mr and Mrs White is the perfect place to watch the sun go down with a cocktail in hand!
You might also be interested in: The best places to stay in Crete.
How to Get to Chania
Chania can be reached either by air as it has an international airport or by taking one of the ferries from Athens port (Piraeus). The ferry will leave you at Souda port which is just outside the town of Chania. So take the bus or a taxi and discover the scenic town of Chania.
We got our tickets to Chania using the booking site Let’s Ferry.
How to Get From and to the Airport in Chania Crete
When arriving into the Greek island of Crete, you’ll want to check which airport you are arriving into and where you want to go. If you wish to travel from the airport in Chania to the city centre, you can either take a bus or a taxi. Your choice of transport will depend on the number of travellers in your group, the amount of luggage you have, your budget and time frame. The bus is the cheapest option but it takes a lot more time than travelling by taxi.
If you are in no rush, the bus is a cheap option that will take you into the centre of Chania in around 90 minutes – but please note there can be a waiting time of up to two hours if you have just missed one. However, it is a great way to watch the world go by and get to know the island of Crete.
The bus runs from 6:00 to 22:45 during the week, so if you arrive later than 22.45 you will need to take a taxi. The bus journey only costs 2.50 EUR (1.90 for students/1.25 for those holding a disability card) and tickets can be purchased from the driver using cash.
You’ll find the bus stop right outside the terminal – it’s not difficult to locate.
Time: 90 minutes
Cost: 2.50 EUR
Taking a taxi from Chania airport into the city centre is a much more convenient option as there are taxis available day and night and the journey takes just 25 minutes in regular traffic. There is a flat fare of 30 EUR, as long as you are travelling into the central zone of Chania city centre.
Private Airport Transfer with Welcome Pick-Ups
Alternatively, you could book a cheaper taxi through Welcome Pick-Ups and feel relaxed knowing you will have someone waiting for you at the airport for just 24 EUR. This includes up to four travellers and four pieces of luggage and the price stays the same whether you arrive during the day or at night.
The best way to explore Crete is by car. We rented our car through the Rental Centre Crete. Our car was delivered at Chania port and we dropped it off at Heraklion airport at the end of our trip.
You might also be interested in my other Crete content:
- The best things to do in Crete.
- The best beaches in Crete.
- Things to do in Rethymno, Crete.
- Things to do in Heraklion, Crete.
- Where to stay in Crete.
Have you been to Chania Crete? Do you have any other suggestion on this to do in Chania, Crete?
Sofie quit her job to forge her own career path writing and traveling. On her blog Wonderful Wanderings, she takes her readers with her on her trips around Belgium and beyond. She focuses both on the must-sees that characterise a destination and on daily life in the places she visits. You can connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.
This great story is written by Sofie and myself and is part of the series Tales from Greece, where travelers share their experiences from their holidays to Greece.
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