Things to do in Chania (Crete): The 15 Best Places to Visit and Highlights
You’re planning to visit Chania during your stay in Crete?
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide of the 15 best things to do in Chania, with all points of interest and must-see attractions as well the best day trips in the surroundings.
In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you itineraries to visit Chania in 1, 2, 3 days or more as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.
So, what are the best things to do in Chania? Where to stay?
Let’s find out!
- Things to do in Chania (Crete): The 15 Best Places to Visit and Highlights
- Visit Chania: 15 Must-See Attractions
- 1. The Old Venetian port and the lighthouse of Chania
- 2. The old town of Chania
- 3. Fort Firkas / Chania Maritime Museum
- 4. The covered market of Chania
- 5. The religious monuments to see in Chania
- 6. The Venetian arsenal
- 7. The Archaeological Museum of Chania
- 8. The beaches of Chania
- 9. The best activities in Chania
- What are the things to do around Chania?
- How many days to visit Chania?
- Visit Chania in 1 day
- Visit Chania and its surroundings in 2 days
- Visit Chania in 3 days
- Visit Chania in 4, 5 days or a week
- Where to stay in Chania
- Where to eat in Chania
- How to get to Chania
- Rent a car in Chania
- Renting a boat in Crete
- Tourist map of Chania
- You’re traveling to Crete? These articles will help you!
- Visit Chania: 15 Must-See Attractions
Visit Chania: 15 Must-See Attractions
1. The Old Venetian port and the lighthouse of Chania
You must begin your visit to Chania with a stroll along the Old Venetian Port, one of the most charming places in the city, which is also reserved for pedestrians.
You will find many inns with warm decoration and terraces by the water. An excellent place to stop for a drink and enjoy your holiday in Crete!
At the mouth of the Old Port, you can also admire one of the emblematic monuments of Chania: its lighthouse built by the Venetians in the 16th century (and rebuilt by the Egyptians in the 19th century).
Do not hesitate to take the path up to the lighthouse to get a beautiful view of the entire Old Port and its colourful buildings.
2. The old town of Chania
The Old Town of Chania is organised around the Old Venetian port of Chania.
I loved walking through the small traditional alleys lined with cafes, souvenir shops, jewellery shops and stalls selling many leather objects, a typical handicraft to bring back from your trip to Chania!
The centre is very nice and very pleasant since no vehicles are allowed.
For me, Chania is the most charming city I visited during my trip to Crete, it has retained its authentic and picturesque side (although it is very touristy).
In the old town, you will find all the places of interest to see in Chania and that I will tell you about in the rest of the article.
3. Fort Firkas / Chania Maritime Museum
At the end of the Venetian old port, just opposite the lighthouse, there is another unmissable monument in Chania: Fort Firkas.
You can enter the inner courtyard of this fortress, built by the Venetians in the 13th century to protect the city from pirates and Turkish invaders.
You can also enter the fortifications and strongholds that offer a beautiful view of the entire Old Port.
At the entrance of Fort Firkas, on the right, you can also visit the maritime museum of Chania (Entrance costs €3). Its collection includes ancient navigation instruments, maps and, above all, models of ships.
The museum is open every day except on Sundays from 9 am to 3.40 pm (October to April) or 5 pm (May to September).
You can also visit the official website of the museum (in English) for more information on current exhibits.
4. The covered market of Chania
You will of course want to taste and bring back some local specialties from your tour in Crete.
Even though nothing beats a good meal in a Cretan inn, you can get a glimpse of all the typical flavours of the island by going to the covered market in Chania.
The place is not very big but it has several stalls offering spices, raki, olive oil, honey and especially lots of delicious cheeses.
You can stock up during your trip to Chania! 😅
The market is open every day except on Sundays from 8:30am to 5:00pm.
5. The religious monuments to see in Chania
On your tour in Chania, on the the narrow streets of the old town, you will find many religious buildings of different styles.
There are churches built by the Venetians, and also a mosque and minarets built during the Turkish occupation of Greece, when the Pasha had elected his residence in Chania.
A brief overview of the unmissable places with religious symbolism in Chania:
- The Kiutsouk Hasan mosque located on the Venetian port: a small mosque with pale pink domes built in 1645
- The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Chania, a pretty church built in 1865 and located in a charming little square surrounded by cafés in the heart of the old town
- The Agios Nikolaos church, which has a bell tower and a minaret, inherited from the Turkish occupation
- The San Salvador Venetian Church, home to a collection of Byzantine jewels and icons
- The Etz Hayyim synagogue, the only one still standing in Crete
- The Ahmet Aga minaret located in the district of Splantzia (former Turkish district)
- The Venetian church of San Rocco built in the 17th century.
6. The Venetian arsenal
I’ll continue this tour guide of Chania with another unmissable building on your walk along the port: the Venetian arsenal.
The arsenal and docks were formerly made up of 17 buildings used to store the ships of the Venetian Navy in winter but also as a building shed for the new ships.
The large arsenal has been renovated and transformed into a Mediterranean architecture centre. It hosts several exhibits and events throughout the year.
The other buildings at the Venetian docks are located a little further on the Old Port.
7. The Archaeological Museum of Chania
Among the museums to visit in Chania, you must visit the archaeological museum.
The museum used to be located in the old town in the monastery of Saint Francis, but was moved in 2020. It is now located at the exit from Chania on the road leading to the Akrotiri peninsula.
Here you can discover a collection of objects ranging from Neolithic to Roman times. Among these objects, you’ll find beautiful mosaics, pottery and jewellery.
Now you know where to go and what to do in Chania when it rains!
8. The beaches of Chania
Do you want to know the spots where you can swim in Chania?
Here is a list of the beaches closest to Chania (as they appear on your route):
- The Nea Chora beach, which is just outside of Chania. It is very busy as it is the closest beach to the centre and you can walk there, but it is far from being the prettiest beach since it’s just a narrow strip of sand and the cars circulate just behind it. There are restaurants and you can rent deckchairs.
- Hrisi Akti, a surfer’s paradise. If you want to tackle the waves, you can rent a board or take surf lessons! Beach bar and deckchair rental available. Free parking.
- Eastern Gulf, a small protected sandy cove bordered by pine forest. For me, it’s the prettiest beach around Chania! Free parking.
- Agii Apostoli / Iguana Beach that looks a lot like Eastern Gulf but a little bigger. You can take a short walk on the left side to admire the sunset. Free parking.
9. The best activities in Chania
After having walked through the old town and spending some time on the beach, if you don’t know what to do in Chania, here are some excellent activities!
You will have to book these activities in Chania in advance by clicking on the orange links below:
- A boat trip with 2 snorkelling stops and another paddle boating stop – mask/snorkel/fins included.
- First diving experience with an English-speaking instructor – Pick-up from Chania included
- Canyoning in Seitan Limani with an English-speaking instructor – several rappelling sessions!
- A guided tour of Chania in on an electrical trike (a kind of 3-wheeled scooter)
- A 2-hour paddle boat trip in Loutraki Bay with a snorkelling stop
- Paragliding off the coast around Chania
- Surf lessons near Chania, towards Agia Marina
- A sea-kayak trip from Kalathas beach (15 minutes from the centre of Chania).
What are the things to do in Chania with children?
And if you want to plan an activity in Chania with your family, you must take your children to the Limnoupolis water park.
Water slides, lazy river, swimming pools, there is something for everyone, young and old, to have a great time during your trip to Crete.
And what is great is that by booking your ticket for the water park by clicking on the button below, you can receive a pick-up and drop service to and from your hotel in Chania and lunch for the whole family is included:
What are the things to do around Chania?
After exploring the city, it is time to continue your stay in Crete by visiting the surroundings of Chania.
So that you don’t miss out on miss anything, I have prepared my list of the most beautiful places to see around Chania.
10. Akrotiri peninsula – Agia Triada Monastery – Seitan Limani Beach
If you have rented a car for your holiday in Chania, you must visit the Akrotiri peninsula.
Located just 6 km East of the city, you can explore it and to discover the main places of interest.
During your tour, you should stop at (in order):
1) Stavros beach: this beautiful, sandy beach is located in a small, almost enclosed bay, sheltered from the wind, and very quiet. Anecdotally, several scenes from the movie “Zorba the Greek” were shot on this beach.
2) The Agia Triada monastery, which is one of the most famous tourist sites near Chania. The entrance costs €2.50, and you can explore its church, its well-developed and flowery gardens, its wine cellar and a small museum where you can take part in a tasting.
3) The Governto Monastery: closed from 12pm to 5pm, which is why I couldn’t visit it… 😅Feel free to tell me what you thought about it in the comments.
4) The Seitan Limani beach which is one of the most famous places around Chania. This small canyon with turquoise waters, bordered by high, rocky walls (very photogenic!) is accessible on foot by a narrow, steep dirt road. Bring a pair of sneakers because it is a bit dangerous.
5) Marathi beach: 2 sandy coves, with numerous deckchairs and parasols. It was crowded, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t find anything special there.
6) The Loutraki beach, a small bay with turquoise waters, fine sands and a long strip of grass with several deckchairs and parasols in a tourist complex (therefore quite crowded).
11. The Botanical Garden of Crete
About 15 km to the South of Chania, there’s another tourist attraction: Crete’s only botanical garden.
A 2.5 km (little steep) path, mostly shaded, will take you on a pleasant walk to admire the fruit trees, flowers and plants from all over the world.
The park is well equipped and well maintained. There is even a small lake and some animals (peacocks, donkeys, goats).
The entrance fee is €6 and you will even be offered a small bottle of water at the beginning of the journey, which is really nice.
12. Balos Beach
Balos Beach, also called Balos lagoon, is clearly one of the unmissable places close to Chania.
With its crystal-clear waters, which is shallow over several metres, and its fine sands, you will have only one desire: swim and enjoy the heavenly setting of one of Crete’s most beautiful beaches!
To get to the lagoon of Balos from Chania, you have 2 options:
- By car in with an hour’s drive + 8 km of track (about 20 minutes) + 1 km on foot from the car park to get down to the lagoon
- By boat, you can choose a day-trip on the sea with a 3-hour stop.
To book your cruise to Balos from Chania, you just have to click on the button below:
There is also a departure from Kissamos if you prefer. In this case, the boat trip to Balos can be booked by clicking here!
I’ll give you all the details about trips to Balos Beach in my dedicated article: Balos beach: the definitive guide.
13. Elafonissi beach
One does not simply visit the surroundings of Chania without going to Elafonissi beach!
With its pink sand and turquoise waters, it competes with the lagoon of Balos in the list of the best beaches near Chania.
It is obviously very crowded, but there are three pieces of good news:
- There is a huge free car park
- Renting deckchairs and parasols costs just €7 for 2 for the day
- If you don’t want to be in a crowded area, just cross over to the island on the other side and you’ll find plenty of wonderful places to swim which are much quieter!
All the practical information about the pink sand beach can be read in my other article: How to visit Elafonissi?
14. The Samaria Gorge from Chania
If you want to go hiking around Chania, I recommend the Samaria Gorge.
The most famous hiking trail in Crete allows you to go down to the bottom of the gorge and then go along the river bed. You will go through the narrowest and most impressive passage in the Gorge, barely 3.50 metres wide, at the place called “The Iron Gates”.
The hike is not that difficult (alternating between downhill and flat) but the path is very rocky and is still 16 km in total so bring the correct equipment (hiking shoes recommended!).
Here too, if you don’t have a car, you can get to Samaria from Chania by booking your return bus trip right here:
All the practical information and tips for hiking can be found in my dedicated article: Visit the Samaria Gorge.
15. 7 Other best day trips from Chania
For those who are planning to leave for Chania for a few days, you can also add organised trips to your itinerary.
There’s something for everyone.
Here is my selection of the most interesting ones. Click on the orange links to get details and make your reservations:
- Visit to vineyards with wine tasting + Visit to a family-owned olive oil factory with tasting of local products – Lunch and transport included from Chania.
- Trip to the Imbros Gorge for a hike of about 3 hours + Lunch + Free time in Hora Sfakion and swimming
- A day-trip in a Land Rover in the White Mountains with passage through traditional villages and lunch in a family-owned inn
- 4*4 trip off the beaten track – Discovery of the riverside huts in the mountains with a demonstration of cheese making + Visit of a typical village with tasting of local products (honey, olive oil, olives) and wines.
- Visit to the 7 villages of Apokoronas + Visit of a Raki distillery (traditional Cretan alcohol), a cheese factory and a bakery with tasting + Lunch included
- From Chania, visit to Heraklion, the archaeological museum and the Palace of Knossos with a guide
- Cooking lessons in the White Mountains to discover all the secrets of local gastronomy – Learn to make your own tzatziki, stuffed vine leaves or even the famous Cretan dakos.
How many days to visit Chania?
To visit only the old town and explore the main places of interest in Chania that I discuss in this article of the best places, it won’t take you more than a day.
If you also want to visit the surroundings of Chania and explore a good part of West Crete, then you can easily plan for 5 days.
Of course, if you want a quieter holiday to spend some time on the beach or if you want to add activities, you can also opt for a week-long stay in Chania.
Visit Chania in 1 day
If you only have 1 day to spend in Chania between 2 legs of your tour in Crete, you can just visit the old town and even enjoy some time at the beach.
Here is an example of a walking tour of Chania in one day:
- Explore the covered market of Chania
- Walk through the old town and its alleys, starting with the Greek Orthodox Cathedral
- Head to the Venetian Old Port
- Go to the Firka Fortress and visit the Chania Maritime Museum (if you are interested)
- Then walk back along the port via the pink mosque, the grand arsenal and the Neoria (former boat shed)
- Continue to the lighthouse of Chania
- Finish the tour in the old town by going to the church of San Rocco, the church of Agios Nikolaos and the minaret.
- You will then complete the circuit back to the covered market.
The city is not very big so it won’t take you all day. For the rest of the day, you can choose to:
- Enjoy the nearby beaches – If you don’t have a car, you can get there by foot or by bus
- Explore the Akrotiri peninsula by visiting the monastery of Agia Triada and the Seitan Limani beach (provided you have a car). The new archaeological museum of Chania is also on the road heading out of the city if you like.
Visit Chania and its surroundings in 2 days
For 2 days in Chania, you can continue from the schedule for the first day and add one day in the lagoon of Balos.
If you want to book the cruise, click here:
Visit Chania in 3 days
If you have 3 days in Chania, in addition to the previous 2 days, I you must put on your hiking shoes and tackle the Samaria Gorge hike.
Without a car, book your trip from Chania to Samaria by clicking here!
And if you feel like a quieter day when staying in Chania, then head for Elafonissi beach and its postcard-worthy landscapes!
Visit Chania in 4, 5 days or a week
If you plan to spend 4, 5 days or a week in Chania, you can:
- Go on the visits you did not choose on day 3: Samaria or Elafonissi
- Choose one or more of the organised trips I have selected in point no. 15 in this article
- Spend 1 day at the Limnopoulis water park. Tickets are available here!
Where to stay in Chania
- Cocoon City Hostel: Youth hostel located in the heart of Chania. Dormitory bed from 18€, breakfast at 5€. Strong points: cleanliness, ambience, warm welcome.
- Kedrissos Hotel: Located 2 km from the historical centre of Chania. Comfortable and warm double room with balcony from 70€, breakfast included. Strong points: swimming pool, cleanliness, friendly staff, excellent breakfast
- Irida Hotel: Located 20 minutes on foot from the historical centre. Double room with balcony and sea view from 80€, breakfast included. Strong points: friendly staff, close to the beach, ideal location to explore Chania on foot.
- Royal Sun: Located between Chania and the Akrotiri peninsula. Modern and comfortable double room with balcony/terrace and sea/pool or garden view from 90€, breakfast included. Strong points: quiet, beautiful pool area with views over Chania, private parking, variety of breakfast options, shuttle to the city centre. It’s my favorite for its setting and excellent value for money!
- Kydon The Heart City Hotel: Located close to the covered market. Spacious rooms with balcony and comfortable bedding from 130€, breakfast at 15€. Strong points: the location, the excellent breakfast, the warm welcome and the parking. This is my recommendation for an upscale stay in Chania!
- Chania Flair Deluxe Boutique Hotel: Located 10 minutes from the Old Venetian Port, this 5* hotel offers sumptuous rooms from 250€ per night, breakfast included. Strong points: Spa and wellness area, excellent location, exceptional breakfast, valet service, private beach. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Chania!
Where to eat in Chania
- Kalipso: Restaurant located at the Old Port and specialising in fish and seafood. You can’t ask for a better setting for a romantic dinner. A must-visit place in Chania!
- To Mikio Taverna, located in a small alley behind the Old Port. This family-owned inn offers delicious typical Cretan cuisine, including a delicious moussaka for just €7. You need to reserve tables as there are very available.
- The Five Restaurant, located on the beachfront, where you can enjoy your meal while admiring the beautiful sunset over the sea. Refined cuisine with slightly re-imagined Greek (special mention for the grilled octopus). Reservation recommended.
How to get to Chania
To get to Chania, the quickest option is to take a flight.
Chania airport is located on Akrotiri peninsula, 14 km from the city centre.
As always, you should book your plane tickets as early as possible to get the best prices. You have to know that the flight prices to Corsica can vary a lot throughout the year!
So to check the rates and schedules, you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner:
Chania can also be reached by ferries from the port of Piraeus in Athens. However, it takes 9 hours for the crossing.
To check prices and schedules of ferries to Crete, simply click on the button below:
Rent a car in Chania
To visit Chania, you won’t need a car since the town centre is mainly reserved for pedestrians.
However, renting a car in Crete becomes essential if you want to travel around the surroundings of Chania by yourself (if only to go to the Akrotiri peninsula, which is not really connected by bus) or if you want to go on a road trip in Crete.
To compare the car rental prices in Chania easily, you must use Rentalcars.com . You can see the rates of the all rental companies present at the airport.
Click on the button below to compare car rental rates for your trip to Chania:
Renting a boat in Crete
If you want to rent a boat for a nice day at sea during your stay in Crete, you should book it with Samboat.
Motorboats, sailboats, yachts, small boats without a license, with or without a skipper: they simply have the most complete offer for boat rental!
So, what are you waiting for to book your boat trip in Crete? 😊
Tourist map of Chania
To help you visualise the city a bit better, I have created this tourist map of Chania, with all the best places to visit and things to do in Chania and its surroundings.
You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a small arrow on it.
So what have you planned to in Chania?
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
⛴️ Book your ferry tickets in Greece
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling to Crete? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Crete: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Crete are listed there.
- 27 Best things to do in Crete: All the best places to visit and activities
- Itinerary: 4-5 days in Crete – Itinerary to prepare a short stay in East or West Crete
- Itinerary: One week in Crete – The perfect itinerary to visit Western Crete
- Itinerary: 7 days in Crete – The best itinerary to visit East Crete in 1 week
- Itinerary: 10 days in Crete – How to visit Crete in 10 days
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Crete – The perfect itinerary for 14-15 days in Crete
- Road trip to Crete: The best itineraries for 5, 7, 10 and 15 days
- Chania: The 15 best places to discover
- Heraklion: TOP 13 places to visit
- Rethymnon: The 13 best things to do
- Balos Beach: All my best tips to visit Balos Lagoon!
- Elafonissi Beach: The definitive guide to discover Crete’s famous pink sand beach
- Palace of Knossos: The definitive guide to visit the most famous archaeological site of Crete
- Samaria Gorge: How to plan the best hike in Crete
- Where to stay in Crete? The guide to the best hotels, ordered by city and budget