THINGS TO DO IN CHANIA
Things to do in Chania: the go-to Chania travel guide for relaxing & genuine holidays
Unearth all the amazing gems in the Cretan city of Chania, a truly dynamic slice of Greece that is guaranteed to offer you a moving holiday experience. Discover the must-try things to do in Chania, whether you’re looking for laidback holidays with your partner or entertaining outings with your children. From extraordinary culinary experiences, to eclectic neighborhoods, to brilliant beaches, Chania truly has it all and charms every visitor who descends upon its inspiring atmosphere. Learn how to get the most out of your holidays with the premier Chania travel guide, and prepare for unforgettable moments that stay with you for a lifetime.
Things to do in Chania in a nutshell
1. Get acquainted with the beautiful Venetian Harbour, the crown jewel of Chania. Walk to the 16th century lighthouse and be in awe of the staggering Hassan Pascha mosque.
2. Explore the museums, highlighting many eras of history. Study amazing artefacts at the Archaeological Museum, and learn about the Cretan way of life at the Folklore Museum.
3. Stroll leisurely in the eclectic neighbourhoods, one of the things to do in Chania to get a real sense of local culture. See remains of the past & shop in small boutiques.
4. Enjoy all the culinary delights Chania has to offer. Sample a variety of local delicacies at the iconic Municipal Market, and indulge in incredible meals at a local taverna.
5. Have a fun night out thanks to a vibrant nightlife scene. Sip provincial wines at a sophisticated wine bar along the harbour, or dance till dawn at a club in Old Town.
6. Head out to nature and feel totally at peace. Stroll on leisurely walking trails in the Public Garden of Chania, and delight in flora & fauna at the Botanical Garden.
7. Dive into the divine waters of nearby beaches. Enjoy the ambient sea and watersports at Golden Beach, or dance like Zorba the Greek at world-famous Stavros Beach.
8. Delight in holidays in Crete with children with plenty of fun things to do. Have a blast at the Minoan 3D Museum, and learn about Chania’s seafaring past at the Maritime History Museum.
“Amazing holidays in Crete in a picturesque harbour city”
Chania is a dynamic city that has fascinated visitors for decades. It is rich in history, full of architectural beauty, and bursting with amazing bars, restaurants, and cafes. It is an excellent spot in Crete to visit that is both relaxing and vibrant, so it is no wonder that it beckons travellers from across the globe. There are things to do in Chania for all visitors, and it’s waiting for you to unearth its hot spots and hidden gems for a wonderful holiday experience.
#1. Stroll the Venetian Harbour & marvel at unique landmarks
One of the high points of any visit to Chania is taking a leisurely walk along the Venetian Harbour. Occupying the seafront with construction dating back to 1320, it holds secrets to the past that still entice visitors today. A walk along the harbour is one of the best things to do in Chania to see quaint seafront restaurants, chic wine bars, and staggering historical landmarks all on one short excursion. And since the entire harbour is only 600 metres long, you are bound to be especially amazed by how much beauty and history there is condensed in one small section of the city.
Be in awe of the towering 16th-century lighthouse
The lighthouse of Chania is the city’s most recognizable landmark today. It is the endpoint of one corner of the harbour, and visitors are able to walk the narrow pathway up to it and view its intricacy up close. You might even notice that it bears resemblance to a mosque, which makes sense since it was built when Crete was under Egyptian rule in the early 1800s. Once you reach the lighthouse, it is an incredible vantage point to see the curvature of the harbour and is a great place to snap pictures to commemorate your holidays in Crete.
See the diverse history at the Hassan Pascha mosque
Another must-see landmark along the harbour is the imposing and visually striking Hassan Pascha mosque, which is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. Be amazed by its sheer size, large hemispherical dome, and other architectural aspects rarely seen in modern-day Greece. Additionally, it is highly photogenic, especially during sunset, when the sun rays light up the sky and play off the reds, browns, and beiges of the building.
#2. Take a deep dive into history at the many museums
A Chania travel guide would simply not be complete without talking about the many dynamic museums that highlight the city’s unique history. Explore generations of fascinating Cretan culture from tens of thousands of years ago, all the way up to a more recent history of the past couple hundred years. Most museums are condensed in the city centre near the harbour, so it’s a great opportunity to do a museum outing followed by drinks or food along the water after!
Go back millennia at the Archaeological Museum
At the Archaeological Museum of Chania, find an array of artefacts and superb finds that shine a light on the storied history of Chania dating back to the ancient Minoans from 3000 BC. Check out the intricately designed jewelry, old coins, ceramic mugs, and more evidence suggesting how advanced the Minoans once were. For history buffs, a visit to the Archaeological Museum is one of the absolute must things to do in Chania.
Learn the way life once was at the Folklore Museum
Fast forward thousands of years into a much more recent era at the Folklore Museum. Though small in size, it packs an impressive punch and displays crafts, tools, and other indications of Cretan life in the 18th and 19th centuries. Feel wowed by the beautiful rugs and other handcrafted decoratives and embroidered fabrics that display a uniquely Cretan feel to them. Feel as though you’ve taken a step into the past and like you’re visiting a villager’s home from hundreds of years ago.
#3. Discover things to do in Chania’s diverse neighborhoods
Chania’s charms shine through in its many neighborhoods, all of which embody their own personality. If you’re a traveller who likes to “get lost” in a city, then exploring the variety of neighborhoods is one of the best things to do in Chania. Gain firsthand experience and insight into Chania’s culturally diverse background via winding alleyways, ethnic restaurants, and unique architecture.
Check out the city’s oldest inhabited neighborhood, Kasteli
For history lovers, a visit to the Kasteli neighborhood is an absolute must. It is here that remains of the ancient Minoan civilization can be found right in the middle of modern-day structures! See the remains of well-built rooms, fireplaces, and ceramics that are displayed in the excavated sites. After wandering through the narrow streets, stop off for a coffee at one of the many quaint cafes in the old neighborhood. And because Kasteli is set on a hill overlooking the harbour, you’ve found the perfect place for incredible panoramic views of the cityscape.
Visit the hip & bohemian Splantzia District
The history of the Splantzia District is fascinating and makes it well worth a visit during your holidays in Crete. Since it was once a primarily Turkish neighbourhood, distinct remains from its Islamic past stand tall today, such as the now-Orthodox Agios Nikolaos church, which still bears a Minaret. Head to the centre at Rouga Square, and dine at one of several restaurants, many of which offer Cretan cuisine with a Turkish twist. Additionally, Splantzia is a great place to shop for unique finds, such as leather goods and used books, as well as a plethora of wine shops.
“Day and night, quiet and lively, there are things to do in Chania that delight the senses and stir the soul”
#4. Indulge in the city’s incredible culinary gems
Cretan cuisine is known the world over, and for a good reason! Though it utilizes many of the same ingredients and cooking methods as the traditional and more widely-known Greek diet, it embodies aspects unique to the region. And since Chania has gone under so many different occupations by foreign lands in its past, the local food today highlights the merging of many cultures. During your holidays in Crete, be sure to take a deep dive into the culinary scene to better understand Chania’s story of past and present.
Find local ingredients at the impressive Municipal Market
Take a gastronomic journey of epic proportions in the historic and culturally significant Municipal Market, a one-stop hub featuring the best of land and sea under one roof. It’s one of the most comprehensive things to do in Chania for foodies and paints a picture of the area. Shop for cheese, meats, seafood, produce, spices, provincial olive oil, and much more while enjoying a sensory overload! Ask the hospitable vendors for details on each product while happily sampling and taste testing, and learn why the Cretan diet is so revered.
Savour an authentic meal at the many restaurants in Old Town
Chania’s Old Town is bursting with life and energy within its winding streets and tucked away alleys, and the vast variety of restaurants captures the city’s essence. Many of Old Town’s restaurants have been open for decades and embody quintessential Cretan hospitality and warmth on top of a spectacular meal. Be bold and try a Cretan favourite like cooked snails, or play it a bit more safe with a Greek salad featuring rusk bread and local produce.
#5. Enjoy the vibrant bar & club scene
If you’re looking for things to do in Chania once the sun goes down, you’re in luck! Chania is a true conglomerate of fanciful wine and cocktail bars, lively clubs, old-school rock bars, and traditional bouzoukia. So whether you’re looking for a romantic night out with your other half or are eager to dance the night away with friends, there’s something for everyone in the bar and club scene of Chania.
Enjoy a sophisticated wine bar along the harbour
For an intimate evening out, head to one of the wine bars that line the harbour’s waterfront. Crete is renowned for its many wineries throughout the island, and wine bars in Chania honour the all-important libation. Many wine bars have wines from all over Greece, and the expert sommeliers pair them with excellent Greek mezzes. As a bonus, being waterfront is one of the best places to be during the stunning sunset, so cheers to your holidays in Crete with a crisp glass of vino.
Discover eclectic bars in Old Town
Besides being a hub for great restaurants, Old Town in Chania is also noted for its wide-ranging nightlife scene, and it really comes alive at night. Many bars and clubs are within buildings that were once used for completely different purposes than bars and clubs, such as one-time mosques, synagogues, and former Venetian mansions, which makes for extremely unique interior architecture to admire while sipping a cocktail. And because Old Town is so condensed, it means that a night of bar hopping is no problem at all!
#6. Explore things to do in Chania in the lush nature
If an accessible daybreak in the great outdoors from city life sounds appealing, Chania is perfect for you. Even though Chania is a bustling city, it is surrounded by incredible nature that is worth venturing out to. The most notable landscape features are nearby mountains and gorges, but it should be noted that Chania is ripe with blooming flowers, pacifying forests, and an overall radiant makeup of flora and fauna. Spend time during your holidays in Crete to appreciate Chania’s superb natural beauty in organised gardens for a sense of pure serenity.
Take it easy in the Public Gardens of Chania
For a truly peaceful and laidback outing, a trip to the Public Gardens of Chania is in order. A mere 15 minute walk from the centre transports you into what feels like a different world far from the hustle and bustle. Extraordinarily green and full of life, it has been well-maintained since it’s construction in the late 1800s and the addition of smooth walking trails makes it a pleasant place to have a leisurely stroll. Grab a coffee from the quaint cafe within the gardens and take it easy on a bench. If you’re travelling from your hotel Hersonnisos in Crete with children, let them run free and enjoy the small local zoo animals that are within the confines.
Feel total peace at the Botanical Park & Gardens
A short transfer from the city centre takes you to the beautiful Botanical Park & Gardens of Chania. Awaken your senses with the sights and smells of blooming citrus and cherry trees, an expansive vineyard, aromatic herbs, and exotic flowers. The Park & Gardens also has a variety of wildlife including farm animals, a butterfly exhibition, and local favourites such as the indigineous kri-kri goat. And with a restaurant featuring delectable Cretan dishes on-site, spending a long afternoon or evening here is an excellent option.
#7. Cool down at famous nearby beaches
Would it really be a trip to Crete without spending quality time at the beach? Crete is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece, and the Chania area is no exception. Easily accessible with just a short jaunt from the city centre, exploring nearby beaches is a Chania travel guide must-do. Whether you desire active watersports, or prefer to take it easy on a sunlounger with a cocktail in hand, the perfect beach experience awaits every traveller.
Swim in ambient waters at Golden Beach
Only 2.5 km west of the city centre is the beautiful Golden Beach, or ‘Chrissi Akti’ in Greek. It is a well-organised beach and is covered with plush sunbeds and protective umbrellas. Additionally, due to its shallow, ambient waters it is a great place to take small children. If you’re interested in engaging in watersports during your holidays in Crete, Golden Beach has you covered with easy rentals sprinkled throughout the beach. With nearby bars and restaurants a stone’s throw from the beach, staying in the vicinity for many hours is feasible.
Channel Zorba the Greek at Stavros Beach
Arguably the most famous movie ever made about Greece, “Zorba the Greek,” was set in Crete. Even more impressive, the iconic Sirtaki dance scene was filmed right outside of Chania on Stavros Beach! A quick drive or bus ride from Chania is well worth the transfer to the beach, which sits at the base of the Vardies mountains and has golden sand and shallow blue-green waters. Well-organised with sunloungers and umbrellas, you are bound to enjoy a laid-back outing to one of Greece’s most celebrated beaches. Opa!
#8. Find entertaining & fun things to do in Chania with kids
Chania is a great place for family holidays. In addition to being highly walkable and very safe, it’s actually regarded for being quite kid-friendly in terms of entertainment. There are many things to do in Chania with children of all ages, making for a delightful holiday experience for the entire family. Both exciting and educational, let your children’s imaginations run wild during your time in Chania with a variety of fun activities and outings.
Watch history come to life in the Minoan 3D Museum
Learn all about Europe’s very first civilisation at the Minoan 3D Museum! It has an interactive museum, 3D guided photo tour with rich storytelling, and even a 9D cinema that shows the myths and history of the Minoans. Let your kids enjoy the life-like statues and special effects that stimulate their imagination during a fun and educational outing. It is a truly unique way to experience Crete’s history like no other.
Learn seafaring history at the Maritime Museum of Crete
Chania’s position as a waterfront harbour means that its seafaring history is quite vast. A visit to the Maritime Museum of Crete is an excellent way to learn all about the all-important seafaring history of Chania, which is located inside the Venetian Firka Fortress on the harbour. Learn all about the expansive maritime history of Crete dating from the Venetian occupation of the city to the current Hellenic Navy. The museum is full of reconstructions of old ships, as well as ancient artefacts from sunken ships. It’s a great place for the whole family to learn all about one of Europe’s most important maritime locations.
Plan amazing things to do in Chania, courtesy of Creta Maris Beach Resort in Hersonissos, Crete
Chania is one of our favourite places in all of Crete. At Creta Maris Beach Resort, we know that it is worth it to travel from your hotel in Hersonissos to explore the incredible harbour city on the western side of the island. We would be happy to help you plan authentic, fun, and dynamic things to do and see while visiting Chania to make sure you have unforgettable holidays with the ones you love. Curious to learn more about things to do throughout Crete? Check out our other comprehensive Cretan travel guides, including: