The top 10 things to explore in Chania, Crete: Your ultimate checklist!

The top 10 things to explore in Chania, Crete: Your ultimate checklist!

Chania, Crete, is a mesmerizing destination that offers a rich blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a food lover, Chania has something for everyone. Even if you dream of the perfect beach where you’ll soak up some sun without lifting a finger for the most part of your trip, this is your chance!

Have you started planning your trip around Greece’s biggest island and want to know what to do in Chania, Crete?

This guide is for you.

Keep reading to find out some of the best things to do in Chania, what activities you can try and places you can visit either in Chania or around the area, and get ready for an unforgettable vacation!

From the charming Chania Old Town to the picturesque landscapes and culinary delights, Crete’s charming city has it all – here are some of our favorite things to do in Chania:

  1. Discover Chania Old Town

Starting off easy: your Chania adventure should definitely include the enchanting Chania Old Town, a unique blend of Byzantine, Venetian, and Classical Greece.

There are many things to see in Chania Old Town: Wander through narrow cobbled streets lined with colorful buildings, tavernas, and local shops with souvenir and jewelry stands, admire the emblematic monuments, and feel like a local. Don’t miss strolling around the iconic Venetian Harbor with its lighthouse and impressive architecture, filled with traditional tavernas and beautiful cafes, perfect for a night drink.

This is the heart of the city, and it’s brimming with history and charm!

things to see in Chania old town
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2. Visit one (or two!) of its many museums

Delve into the history of Crete at the Archaeological Museum of Chania, which houses a remarkable collection of artifacts from ancient Minoan to Roman times.

While you stroll the Venetian Old Port you can also visit Fort Firkas, which was built by the Venetians – there, you’ll find the Maritime Museum of Crete, which houses ancient maps, navigation instruments, and model of ships.

Other options include the Folklore Museum, the Byzantine Museum, the Typography Museum, and the House of Eleftherios Venizelos.

This is one of the best things to do in Chania, especially if you’re travelling with young children: explore the rich heritage of the island and gain a deeper understanding of its past.

3. Hike the Samaria Gorge

If you’re a nature enthusiast, there are things to see near Chania for you, too!

How about embarking on a thrilling adventure to the Samaria Gorge? This rather long but rewarding hike along a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve takes you through a natural wonderland of towering cliffs and crystal-clear streams, offering some of the most breathtaking scenery in Crete.

Take a look at a Samaria Gorge hiking guide to make sure you’re up for the task, and connect with nature on a whole new level.

hike the samaria gorge
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4. Swim at its many breathtaking beaches

What to do in Chania if not head for a swim? Lucky for you, the town is brimming with beaches, including some of the best you have ever seen.

A visit to Elafonisi Beach, the world-famous pink sand beach with its crystal-clear waters and pink-hued sand is the perfect spot to relax, swim, and soak up the sun. Alternatively, you can visit Falassarna, Seitan Limani, Balos and Gramvousa, Marathi, Kedrodasos, and many, many more. If sunbathing, swimming, or snorkeling are up your alley, you’ll be glad you visit Chania!

Best beaches in Chania Crete
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Learn more: Your guide to the 10 most stunning beaches in Chania, Crete

5. Take a boat trip to Balos and Gramvousa

For another extraordinary beach experience, take a day trip to Gramvousa and Balos Beach.

Accessible only by boat, Gramvousa island is a sight for sore eyes. If you plan to visit this part of the island, book a boat trip that will take you to both Balos and Gramvousa, where the white sands and turquoise waters will leave you in awe.

And if you’re feeling a little extra and looking for more exclusive things to do in Chania, try a private cruise instead to escape the crowds and enjoy luxury.

6. Enjoy the Botanical Garden of Crete

The Botanical Garden is definitely among the top 10 things to do in Chania, Crete, offering a unique opportunity to learn about trees, herbs, and flowers from across the globe.

This lush park spanning nearly 20 hectares invites you to explore its diverse range and embark on a mystical voyage. Thanks to the unique formation of the land and the microclimate of the region, the park is a haven for thousands of plant and animal species, making it truly exceptional.

It also has a restaurant, where the food is prepared with vegetables, herbs and fruits coming from the park, plus a shop where you can buy traditional Cretan products!

7. Tour the monasteries if you’re into religious tourism

If you’re wondering what to see in Chania that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions, then perhaps religious tourism is for you.

Take a scenic drive a few kilometers from Chania Town and visit the Akrotiri peninsula: here you’ll find Agia Triada and Gouverneto monasteries, where you can admire the architecture and learn about their history.

Alternatively, you can visit the abandoned Katholiko monastery, the oldest one in Crete, dating back to the 11th century. The monastery is carved into the rock, with its facade lined up with the slope of the mountain.

monasteries in Chania Crete
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8. Indulge in some local delicacies

Cretan cuisine is renowned for its delicious flavors and healthy ingredients – if you’re visiting Chania, the top 10 things to do definitely include savoring the island’s traditional dishes!

Enjoy a traditional Cretan meal at one of the many local tavernas and don’t forget to try local specialties like dakos (rusk with tomatoes and mizithra) and the famous Cretan olive oil.

No matter where you choose to eat, chances are the food will be absolutely delicious. And if you want to try something extra, how about booking some cooking classes?

A great activity overall, and a perfect idea to try when it rains, too!

traditional Cretan tavern
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9. Take a day trip to Santorini

What if we told you that one of the best things to see in Chania… is not in Chania?

Santorini is just a few hours away by boat, and it is definitely worth a try if you have a day to spare. You can book an organized trip to Santorini with Balos Travel, where a bus can pick you up directly from your location, take you to the port, offer you a complete tour of Santorini’s must-see attractions and get you back to Chania at night.

With an English-speaking tour guide and everything sorted out, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s definitely worth it.

10. Try different activities

Besides all the typical must-see Chania attractions and tours, there are many activities you can try that will allow you to enjoy your holidays off-the-beaten-path.

Such activities include cycling tours, scuba diving classes, olive oil making at a local farmhouse, and even wine-making or wine-tasting!

No matter your physical condition, preferences, or availability, there are many things to do in Chania that will allow you to enjoy your holidays to the fullest. Which one will you be choosing?

scuba diving classes
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Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in Chania when it rains?

There are plenty of things to do in Chania when it rains! When the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can skip the outdoor activities and beaches, and visit the Maritime Museum, enjoy a wine tasting at a local winery, or spend some time at one of the charming cafes in Chania Old Town!

How to get to Chania?

Chania is easily accessible by air. The Chania International Airport (CHQ) welcomes international and domestic flights. Once you arrive, you can reach the city center by taxi, bus, or rental car.

There is, of course, a ferry connection too, with a daily route from Piraeus port to the port of Souda.

When is the best time to visit Chania?

The best time to visit Chania depends on your preferences and what you want to experience. Here are some considerations for each season that could also affect things to do and see during your visit:

  • Spring (April to June) is a lovely time to visit Chania. The weather is mild, nature is in full bloom, and the tourist crowds are not as large as during the summer months.
  • Summer (July to August) is the peak tourist season in Chania, with warm and sunny weather. This is the best time for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts but be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices.
  • Autumn (September to October) offers pleasant weather, with warm temperatures and fewer tourists compared to the summer. It’s a great time for hiking and exploring without the intense heat and you may also find lower prices on accommodations.
  • Winter (November to March) is typically wetter, but temperatures are still relatively mild compared to many other European destinations. It’s an excellent time for cultural and historical exploration, but not suitable for swimming.

Final thoughts on what to do in Chania during your visit

Chania, Crete, is a destination that offers a diverse range of experiences.

From the historical Old Town to the natural wonders and culinary delights, this city has something for every traveler.

Use our checklist to make the most of your visit and create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re basking in the sun on a beautiful beach or exploring the rich history of the island, Chania is a place you’ll never forget!

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