Chania Things to Do

We have gathered a list of the Best Things to Do in Chania, which includes the absolute must-sees and must-dos of the captivating prefecture of Crete: places to visit, sights, beaches, tours, where to eat, activities, and more.

In brief, the top things to do are to walk around the picturesque Chania Town and admire its architecture, visit the impressive gorge of Samaria and swim in the crystal-clear waters of the beaches.

Open the table of contents to see our suggestions for the 10+ best things to do once in Chania.

1. Stroll around the charming town of Chania

Category: Villages

The seafront town of Chania is one of the biggest towns in Crete, full of charming houses with roof tiles. The town dates back to the Byzantine times, although the ruins of an ancient Minoan settlement show that the area has been inhabited ever since antiquity. Its rich history resulted in a town where different cultures blend into one another and create a unique sight. The Old Town of Chania is full of historic buildings, including elegant neoclassical mansions, well-preserved churches, and impressive mosques, while a stroll in its picturesque streets will lead you to Venetian and Ottoman neighborhoods. You will discover a few museums where you can find out more about the past of Chania, including the Archaeological Museum and the Maritime Museum of Crete. The 14th-century port, where the imposing Venetian lighthouse stands, offers a lovely seaside promenade. Both contemporary and old parts of Chania are truly lively, with numerous shops, bars, cafes and restaurants scattered around the town, making a wander around the area the best thing to do!

The best way to explore the stone-paved alleys of Chania and experience the local tastes and aromas is by participating in a walking tour with wine and local product tasting. This well-organized tour will take you to the best places downtown in order to see the most significant landmarks and monuments and you will also visit shops where you can try out traditional delicacies and wine.

Explore Chania Town

2. Go hiking at Samaria Gorge

Category: Sightseeing

Hiking Samaria Gorge is definitely the top thing to do in Chania for anyone who loves nature and trekking, but it should be at the top of the list for everyone!

Samaria Gorge is Europe’s longest gorge (16 km) and it offers one of the most famous hiking paths in Greece, attracting hundreds of visitors every day. It usually takes around 5 hours to complete the hike and although certain parts of the route can be quite challenging, the landscape is truly rewarding. You will follow narrow paths, walk beside the stream, cross narrow bridges and come across impressive rock formations that leave every visitor in awe. Among the gorge’s dense vegetation, you will also discover small churches and the ruins of the abandoned village of Samaria. Samaria Gorge is a national park protected by UNESCO. It is full of rare species of local flora and fauna and if you are lucky enough, you may have a chance to meet its most famous inhabitant, the Cretan goat (kri-kri).
Book your hiking tour for a unique opportunity to connect with the local nature, for an incredible experience you will remember for a lifetime!

More about the gorge of Samaria

3. Visit Elafonisi, Balos and other stunning beaches

Category: Beaches

Long beaches with golden, white, or even pink sand make the district of Chania one of the best summer destinations! The bright blue waters are crystal clear, truly refreshing and usually shallow, which makes them safe for families traveling with children. Most of the beaches are vast enough to offer both organized and unorganized sections, while secluded options are also available.
- Elafonisi is probably the most popular beach in Crete. It is a small sandy islet that is connected to the mainland. It has shallow waters and is famous for its pinkish sand. You can get there either on foot or by boat and it is best to book a day trip to Elafonisi.
- Balos is one of the most impressive beaches on the whole island, with shallow blue-green waters and a seashore covered with white, golden and pink sand, resulting in a unique combination of colors. Balos can be approached by car but the road is very difficult; for this reason, it is better to opt for a boat trip so that you can admire the landscape from a distance before you reach the beach from the seaside.
- If you are looking for a place to go for a swim, consider paying a visit to Falassarna Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches, not only in Crete but also in the entire continent of Europe.
- Lastly, another seashore you have to visit is Frangokastello Beach, where you can swim next to the Venetian Frangokastello Fortress!
Of course, these are not the only magical seashores found at Chania! Azure waters surround the whole prefecture and the places where you can go for swimming and sunbathing are pretty much abundant!

Discover the beaches

4. Indulge in the gastronomic scene of Crete

Category: Eat & Drink

One thing is for sure; there is no chance to eat bland food in Chania! The cuisine of Crete is widely known and appreciated and you cannot leave Chania without having tasted some of the best local recipes! Dishes are made from fresh local produce, meat, and fish and seafood. You can find a variety of restaurants across Chania, ranging from fine-dining places to small family fish taverns. There is no chance to taste bad food in Chania and in general in the whole of Crete. Cretans are famous for their hospitality and as they see food as a treat and a way to show your care to others, you will most likely feel like you are being pampered by a relative or close friend.
One of the best things to do is try the palatable local dishes such as skioufihta, gamopilafo, apaki, and the famous dakos salad. Kaltsounia is another unique delicacy served all over Chania, both in sweet and savor variations.

Some of our favorite restaurants are Carte Postale, Thalassino Ageri and MonEs in Chania Town, O Mylos in Platanias and Alibertos in Kounoupidiana.

Find the best restaurants

5. Stay at an exquisite hotel

Category: Hotels

Looking for a place to stay in Chania? The island offers many lovely options! These are our favorite hotels and accommodations in the area:

• The 5-star Domes Zeen is an ideal option for those looking for an opulent place to stay. It is situated in proximity to the sea and close to the heart of Chania Town.
Metohi Kindelis comprises three stone villas, built in a stunning verdant garden. The accommodation's setting helps guests to switch off and rejuvenate.
Pilot Amphora in Georgioupolis is a deluxe hotel featuring rooms with access to a private or shared pool. There are numerous facilities within the hotel's premises, including a spa and a restaurant.
Samaria by the Sea in the quaint Sfakia is recommended for people looking for serenity during their holidays. Its rooms combine traditional with modern elements and offer superb views over the blue sea.

The best hotels in Chania

6. Visit the traditional villages

Category: Villages

Experience the local life by visiting Crete’s traditional villages and discover some of the most charming settlements! One of them is Sfakia, a historic village, linked to numerous major events that took place during the Greek Revolution. It is mostly inhabited by fishermen and it appears to be secluded as it is surrounded by hills and cliffs. Another seafront village, full of whitewashed houses and fishermen’s boats is Loutro, which is also located on the southern side of Chania district. Loutro is picturesque and tranquil and unlike other places in Crete, it does not get overcrowded. Paleochora lies on the southern part of the island as well. This village tends to attract more tourists and its beaches make it a popular seaside destination. It also offers nice facilities, including places to stay and traditional taverns. All of these beautiful villages are great for those who want to get to know the Cretan way of living. Once you visit them, you should not forget to try out their traditional products.

See the villages

7. Go to Lake Kournas

Category: Sightseeing

Lake Kournas is the only freshwater lake in Crete and it never runs out of water -not even in the warm summer months. This area is very important for the local biodiversity, as it is the natural habitat of numerous birds, fish, reptiles and small animals. The lake is also surrounded by different kinds of plants. You can either walk around and see the natural environment, swim in the lake's turquoise waters, or rent a waterbike and explore around the lake. In addition, there are a few restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a meal or refreshment with a nice view.

More about Lake Kournas

8. Spend a day in Rethymno Town

Category: Other

The picturesque Rethymno is one of the largest cities in Crete and has been built near the sea. The small harbor full of fishermen’s boats has a stone-paved promenade and is one of the most charming places in the area. Strolling around the narrow alleys of the Old Town, you will discover several nice taverns, restaurants and cafes that you can also visit after sunset, when the street lights transform the atmosphere of the vivid town. Numerous listed buildings and landmarks are located in Rethymno, especially in the Old Town, where you will find the ruins of an old fortress that dates back to the Venetian occupation of Crete during the Middle Ages. The beautiful Town of Rethymno is an amazing option if you are looking for a day trip destination while staying in Chania. On your way, you can also have a few stopovers in order to visit some of the island’s traditional villages or beaches.

Discover Rethymno

9. Visit Heraklion and the Palace of Knossos

Category: Tours

The Palace of Knossos is the most significant archaeological site on the island, often seen as the epitome of Minoan civilization. The luxurious palace was destroyed and reconstructed a few times in the past and its current form was brought to light after a series of challenging archeological excavations that took place during the earthy 20th century. It is a very large and complex structure, with advanced drainage systems and incredible architecture. Its walls were decorated with fresco paintings, many of which have been successfully restored. The Palace of Knossos has been linked with many aspects of ancient Greek mythology and its legendary past influenced the local history and culture.
In order to see the Palace, it is highly advised to book a full-day tour that offers the opportunity to combine Knossos with a visit to Heraklion, the capital city of Crete, where you can stroll around and also see the Archeological Museum, to discover more interesting findings from the past of Crete.

Book the tour

10. Try fun sports

Category: Sports

The island of Crete is a very popular destination for scuba diving enthusiasts, as the impressive seabed terrain comprises caves, reefs and abysses, as well as numerous shipwrecks. Kitesurfing and windsurfing are equally popular water sports, while there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people taking up stand up paddling (SUP) in the last few years. The more adventurous may even try surfing during winter!
Visitors will also find plenty of watersports centers on the shores of Chania, especially on well-organized beaches. Since there are several activities offered, it will be easy to find one that suits you no matter your experience and familiarity with such sports. Don't forget that water activities are one of the best things to do if you are visiting Chania with kids, guaranteeing the whole family a memorable and exciting experience!

Find the best sports to try in Chania

11. Attend a local festival

Category: Festivals

Cultural, religious and based on local products, Chania constantly offers its visitors the opportunity to participate in entertaining events while getting acquainted with the culture of the island! From the celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in churches dedicated to her along Chania and all over Greece to the Tsikoudia Festival and the annual Film Festival, all travelers will definitely find an event to entertain them. Remember that attending a festival usually comes with food, drinks, and music, so don't miss such a chance!

Read more about the festivals

12. Participate in the annual Crete Marathon

Category: Events

The Marathon of Crete is a cultural and sporting event held since 2016 and is the best thing to do in Chania if you love running. It is internationally recognized and seems to have won the people with more and more runners participating every year. Apart from the 42 km marathon, you can also run the 10 km, 5 km and 2.5 km routes. These races are a unique way to discover the beauty of Chania while exercising your body.