It’s easy to fall in love with Chania. This Cretan harbour town has a lot going for it: 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visit the are 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.
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.
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 Town, Crete
- Tamam A nice restaurant squeezed in an alley behind the Venetian port serving traditional food from Micra Asia and Crete. You will find it at Zampeliou 49
- Kouzina E.P.E. Here you taste “mageirefta” traditional Cretan food like they cook it at home. You will find it atDaskalogianni 25
- Koukouvagia It’s actually a cafe with the most beautiful view of Chania town, Apart from coffee and desserts they serve light dishes. You will find it at Venizelos Graves
Things to do around Chania town
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
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.
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.
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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