Things to do in Chania

Things to do in  Chania

Cretan culture at its best

Minoan of origin and later under Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman rule, Chania—Crete’s second-largest city and former capital—has had millennia to accrue a rich historical patina. That heritage is evident in its Old Town, home to a Venetian port (including the Lighthouse of Chania), the Nautical Museum of Crete, and the Firkas Fortress—visiting is among the top things to do in Chania. And although the Nea Chora beach is convenient for those staying in town, it’s worth journeying to the postcard-ready Balos and Falasarna beaches; meanwhile, the Samaria Gorge is Crete at its most ruggedly beautiful.

Top 15 attractions in Chania

Old Venetian Harbor

Venice ruled Crete for more than 400 years and built Chania’s scenic port during the 14th century. Today, the Old Venetian Harbor is the beating heart of Chania Old Town, with restaurants, bars, and stores nestled beside landmarks from the Venetian Lighthouse to the Firkas Fortress, Grand Arsenal, and Hassan Pasha Mosque.More

Venetian Lighthouse

Perched at the end of the breakwater, the Venetian Lighthouse—constructed around 1570 when Chania was under the control of the Republic of Venice—is the most striking building on the town’s Venetian Harbor. One of the oldest lighthouses in the world, its spectacular architecture makes it one of the most photographed landmarks in the city.More

Balos Beach and Lagoon

Bridging the gap between the wild Gramvousa Peninsula and the idyllic Cape Tigani, Balos Beach is a startlingly blue lagoon, framed by jagged sea cliffs and pristine pink and white sand beaches. A pocket of paradise, Balos Beach is one of Crete’s most photographed natural beaches.More

Archaeological Museum of Chania

Archaeology buffs can trace Crete’s history from the Neolithic and Minoan to late Roman times at the Archaeological Museum of Chania, thanks to its collection of treasures found during excavations around the town and across western Crete. Located in the historic Church of St. Francis, the museum is a highlight of Chania’s old town.More

Marathi Beach

Comprising two sandy stretches extending from either side of a pier, Marathi Beach overlooks the vivid blue waters of Souda Bay and the White Mountains of Chania. The beach is well sheltered from the elements, meaning the waters are waveless and calm. Traditional tavernas near the sand serve fresh fish to hungry beachgoers.More

Ancient Aptera

The Aptera archaeological site is home to the ruins of a powerful ancient city founded in Minoan times. From its strategic position above Souda Bay, the city thrived for millennia before being brought down by invasions and earthquakes. Today, visitors can explore the remains of a fortified tower, a city gate and wall, an amphitheater, and a temple.More

Kournas Lake

Situated in a valley surrounded by dramatic mountains, Lake Kournas offers a picturesque alternative to Crete’s many beaches. It’s the only freshwater lake on the island, and its warm, turquoise, spring-fed waters reflect the rocky peaks above like a mirror. Summertime visitors come to swim, boat, or just loll on the beach.More

Kourtaliotiko Gorge

The Megalopotamos River runs through this cliff-hemmed canyon for almost 1.8 miles (3 kilometers before flowing out into the Libyan Sea at Preveli Beach, a scenic stretch of palm-shaded sand. The Kouropa and Xiron Mountains rise up on either side of the gorge, adding to the dramatic natural scenery, while birds of prey circle overhead.More

Rethymno (Rethimno)

The third-largest settlement on the Greek island of Crete, the port town of Rethymno (Rethimno) has been occupied since the Late Minoan period. Its Venetian- and Ottoman-era old town—a knot of narrow, flower-bedecked lanes overlooked by a fortified Venetian castle—oozes history and character. A series of sandy beaches stretch out along the coastline to the east.More

Maritime Museum of Crete (Nautical Museum of Crete)

Set in Chania’s Firkas Fortress, the Maritime Museum of Crete (sometimes translated as the Nautical Museum of Crete) takes a deep dive into Crete’s nautical history with models of ships from prehistoric boats to modern-day destroyers and landing craft, as well as ancient navigational instruments and other seafaring artifacts.More

Arkadi Monastery (Moni Arkadiou)

The fortress-like Arkadi Monastery (Moni Arkadiou) is perched on a hilltop plateau surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, while Crete’s highest peak, Mt. Ida, looms in the distance. Picturesque and architecturally impressive, with fairy-tale turrets and a dramatic bell tower, the monastery is also a symbol of the Cretan struggle for independence.More

Chania Old Town

Located on Crete’s northern coast and framed by a backdrop of looming mountains, the history port city of Chania is one of the island’s most picturesque destinations. Chania’s Old Town is its greatest draw, with its labyrinth of cobblestone lanes, scenic seafront promenade, and beautifully preserved Venetian, Turkish, and Jewish quarters.More


The peaceful, incredibly photogenic village of Spili sits nestled in the foothills of Crete’s Psiloritis mountains, at the base of Mt. Vorizis. Small enough to comfortably stroll around, Spili is home to an interesting folklore museum and three picturesque churches. Nearby are olive groves, caves, and fields of wildflowers to explore.More


Discover a historic landmark dating back to the 1370s during a visit to Frangokastello, a well-preserved castle. Built by the Venetians when their empire ruled Crete, this fort is known for its sawtooth walls and square towers at each corner. Nearby beaches are also a draw for visitors, and the small town offers peaceful seaside accommodations.More

Limnoupolis Water Park (Aqua Creta Limnoupolis)

Chania’s most popular water park, Limnoupolis Water Park (Aqua Creta Limnoupolis) offers 11 large slides, including steep “free-fall” options, plus a lazy river, a kids’ pool with smaller slides, and a big central pool with a zipline. The park also has sun loungers, a bar, a restaurant, fast-food options, and a minimart.More

Top activities in Chania

Crete Wine and Olive Oil Tour
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Crete Wine and Olive Oil Tour

Half-Day Rethymno Quad Safari

Half-Day Rethymno Quad Safari

Explore the White Mountains of Crete
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Chania Airport (CHQ) to/from Chania suburbs- ZONE 2
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Chania Airport (CHQ) to/from Chania suburbs- ZONE 2

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Private Dinner at Sunset and Cocktails

Private Dinner at Sunset and Cocktails

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All about Chania

When to visit

For a sunseeker’s dream destination, head to Chania, especially in summer. July typically sees daily sunshine, with average highs of 90°F (32°C). Summer is also when the crowds are most likely to descend on this coastal, Mediterranean city. To enjoy warm—but not scorching—temperatures, and calmer sightseeing, aim for shoulder season months of May, September, and October.

Getting around

Chania is served by the Chania International Airport, which connects to central Chania via bus and taxi services. Bus routes also operate in the city and link it to tourist destinations such as the Samaria Gorge and to surrounding villages. Chania, especially its Old Town, is very walkable, while taxis offer another transit option and a way to access slightly farther-flung beaches. Guided tours also make it easy to tour the region’s highlights.

Traveler tips

While Chania’s seafront and local beaches offer more than enough bounty for those seeking sun and surf, they’re not the region’s only aquatic attractions. It’s worth making a diversion to visit Lake Kournas, the only freshwater lake in Crete, located less than an hour’s drive from Chania. It offers spectacular views, hiking trails, pebbly beaches, and boat rentals, as well as a wealth of wildlife.


People Also Ask

What is Chania known for?

A small city in western Crete, Chania is the capital of the prefecture (regional unit) of the same name. It’s known for its pretty old town, with brightly colored houses and relics from different waves of occupation, including an Ottoman-era mosque and the Old Venetian harbor, home to historic shipyards.

How do I spend a day in Chania, Crete?

Chania is a lovely city to explore on foot: Savor local specialties, taste wine, and browse the many stylish boutiques. Don’t miss the picture-perfect Old Venetian harbor. The Hassan Pascha Mosque often hosts interesting art exhibitions, and the naval museum in the old Venetian fortress is worth a look.

Is Chania or Heraklion better?

It depends. The unspoiled old town makes Chania more attractive than Heraklion, but Heraklion is Crete’s capital and largest city, so there’s more happening. The Palace of Knossos and Heraklion Archaeological Museum mean Heraklion is better for ancient attractions. Chania, on the other hand, offers access to gorgeous beaches.

Is Chania a party town?

Chania can be a party town, but it isn’t as exuberant as Malia. There’s more to Chania than bars and clubs, and the nightlife leans upscale. But you can party till dawn in some of the waterfront clubs, while the old town offers a wealth of bars and restaurants.

How many days should I spend in Chania?

Plan for at least three days in and around Chania. Allow one day for the city and one or more days for western Crete’s beautiful beaches. Plan to spend a day in nature, perhaps exploring the White Mountains, hiking the 10-mile (16-kilometer) Samaria Gorge, or ambling around Lake Kournas.

Is Chania worth visiting?

Yes, both Chania city and Chania prefecture are worth visiting. Chania city has Crete’s most atmospheric old town, a pretty historic harbor, and a food, shopping, and nightlife scene. Chania prefecture offers the Samaria Gorge, Elafonisi Beach, Balos Beach and Lagoon, and the White Mountains, plus olive groves and vineyards.

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