Things to do in Chania, Crete for the best trip!

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Chania (pronounced Hania) is located in the northwest of the Greek island of Crete. It has an incredibly long-spanning history dating back thousands of years! No matter what you are looking for in a European getaway, there are so many things to do in Chania and with such a huge variety there can be no reason not to visit Chania!

It’s such an underrated destination in Europe. People often overlook Crete, the largest island in Greece, in favour of other destinations. The region of Chania has a history that spans thousands of years. From the fascinating ancient civilisation of the Minoan (2600-1150BC), the Romans took the city in 69BC. Arabs established control of the region by about 824 CE, but the Byzantines then took control. Venetians occupied the city in the 12th century until it fell to the Ottomans. Crete became part of Greece in 1912.

With all of this, plus an amazing food culture, beautiful hikes and scenery, old towns and beaches to relax – there is no reason not to visit!

More information on Chania:

Chania itinerary – the complete 3 day travel guide

How to get to Chania

It is an easy 4-hour flight to Chania from the UK. There are Jet2 flights to Chania from 6 UK different airports – it couldn’t be easier to get to! I flew out of London Stansted Airport, which offers almost daily flights to Crete, making the trip incredibly convenient. Check-in was fast and efficient, and 22kg of luggage was included – perfect for bringing back wine and olive oil.

Plus, with it being only a 2-hour time difference from the UK, Chania is the perfect destination for a last-minute getaway.

Where to stay in Chania

On this trip to Chania, I stayed at the Pilot Beach Resort with Jet2 Holidays. This beautiful five-star resort is located in Georgioupolis, about a 40-minute drive from the city of Chania. The resort splits into two areas. The upper part houses the main reception, dining room, and three of the four pools. To reach the lower half, guests can take a three-minute walk through a connecting tunnel. This has another pool, a poolside restaurant with a beach view, and rooms overlooking the sea. The best morning view.

It is the perfect resort to relax in after a busy day of sightseeing. Plus, if you are looking for a longer holiday, this hotel would be the ideal place to spend days relaxing with four pools, a gym, spa, beach, bars, and lots of options for all the family. However, it was a little bit of a long drive into Chania so if you want to explore you would definitely need to look into hiring a car.

If you are looking to visit Chania or other areas of Crete, make sure to check out Jet2’s hotels in Crete.

How long do you need in Chania?

There is a surprising amount to do in Chania, and as such it makes it the perfect destination for any length of trip. With 3 days you would definitely have enough time to see the highlights. 7 days would be perfect, allowing some time to explore a little further. But you could even visit for 10-14 days to combine some relaxing on the beach with a lot of the other things to do in Chania, for the perfect combo holiday of exploring and relaxing.

Top things to do in Chania

The options of things to do in Chania are endless. If you are looking for a foodie getaway, clear blue water, a vibrant historic city centre, to discover some ancient history or some time in nature – there is something for everyone in Chania.

Check out the following things to do in Chania that you need to add to your itinerary.

Wander the Venetian Harbour at sunset – things to do in Chania

It is one of the most beautiful parts of the city. Wandering along here at sunset should be one of the first things to do in Chania. Sunset is the perfect time to do this, the light is amazing and you can feel the buzz as the city turns from day to night.

The Venetian Harbour was built in the 14th Century for commercial purposes and protection against pirates. Nowadays it is the city’s main promenade, packed full of historic buildings, colourful waterfront restaurants, cafes and shops to pick up a souvenir.

Visit the Egyptian Lighthouse

The Egyptian Lighthouse is located at the end of the Venetian Harbour and is probably the most iconic image of Chania. It sits at the end of a long walk, at the end of a breakwater.

It was built in the 16th Century by the Venetians and then reconstructed by the Egyptians from 1830-40, hence the name and stands at 21m from the sea. Whether you are looking to extend your sunset stroll, or want a picturesque photo, make sure to add this spot to your list of things to do in Chania.

Visit the Yalı Tzamii Mosque – Things to do in Chania

While walking along the Venetian Harbour, you can’t miss the round rooftop of the Yalı Tzamii Mosque. Yalı Tzamii means mosque of the sea, and it was the first one to be built by the Ottomans in Crete.

During World War II it was home to the Archaeological Museum of Chania, nowadays it hosts a variety of events and exhibitions. Plus, it’s another beautiful location to snap a photo.

Explore Chania’s Old Town

Leading back from the Venetian Harbour is Chania’s Old Town. Charming cobbled streets wind through an area packed with shops and cafes, located just behind the harbour. Wander a little deeper and you will find quieter and more laid-back streets with cute little cafes. Even further in is the much quieter residential area, which is incredibly charming.

Visit the Church of Agios Nikolaos

The Church of Agios Nikolaos is the only church in Greece to have both a bell tower and a minaret. The Venetian period saw the construction of this church before 1320. Later, during the Ottoman period, it was converted into a mosque. And then finally turned back into a church in the twentieth century. You can pop your head inside, and see the beautiful interior.

Relax in the Municipal Gardens – Things to do in Chania

The Municipal Gardens are billed as an oasis in the middle of the city; created in 1870 at the end of the Ottoman era, as a place to come and relax.

The gardens aren’t large, but they are home to a large variety of trees which have been donated by other countries around the world. The most impressive is the large Ficus tree in the middle, which is the oldest in the park from when it was created, at over 150 years old. The Kypos café located in the middle is one of the oldest cafés in Chania and is still very popular with the locals.

Visit the Archeological Museum of Chania

The Archaeological Museum of Chania is the perfect place to learn about the history of the area. It is located in the suburb of Chalepa, and the collection was moved to this building in 2020. The building was designed by architect Theofanis Bobotis is is formed of two linear masses rising from the earth, which symbolises the civilisations beneath the surface.

The permanent exhibition is over three galleries and shows archaeological finds from Chania from the Palaeolithic period to the Roman era, as well as Minoan and Hellenistic. On arrival, you get given a free audio guide, and you can use the numbers in the exhibit to learn more about each item.

Make sure also to check out the impressive view from the roof of the cafe, for a beautiful look over Chania.

The museum is open in the summer from 08:00 – 20:00, and in the winter from 08:30 – 15:30. It’s closed on Tuesdays.

Check out Minoos Street Market – Things to do in Chania

Open every Saturday, the Minoos Street Market is a wonderful way to get a glimpse into local life in Chania. The street is packed full of stalls selling local food. Fruit, vegetables, olive oil, herbs, spices, fish and meat.

It is open every Saturday from 7 am to 2 pm.

Try mpougatsa at Bougatsa

Mpougatsa is a traditional breakfast food in Chania, and must not be missed! The perfect way to start the day is by sampling this, with a coffee and Bougatsa Chanion. This unassuming little shop is famed for the tasty treat and was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations series.

Bougasta is essentially incredibly thin filo pastry filled with cheese or custard. It can be sweet or savoury, but additionally, there is the option to sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the top. Personally, with sugar is the way to go!

When visiting Chanion, located at Apokoronou 37, we also had the chance to watch how it is made. This is a family tradition handed down over the years. And the current family members have been doing it for over 50 years.

Hike in Therisso Gorge – Things to do in Chania

Located just 20 minutes outside of the city, it’s amazing how soon you can be in beautiful nature. The gorge is around 9km in length and 15-250m wide and is home to incredibly diverse flora and fauna. There is a long road up the length of the gorge that leads to the historic village of Therissos. Stop on the way and have lunch at Taverna Leventogiannis.

If you aren’t so keen on hiking, then make sure to take a scenic drive through the region to ensure you don’t miss out on the beautiful scenery.

Visit Aptera Archeological site

A must on your list of things to do in Chania! And one for the history lovers. Aptera was one of the most important city-states of Crete during ancient times. The site’s history begins in Minoan times (from the 14th – 13th century BC). Due to its favourable geographical position, at the top of a plateau 200m above sea level, it prospered through this region and into the Hellenistic period. Before enjoying a new level of prosperity during the Roman period (69 BC – 365 AD). Human presence continued until the Byzantine period (7th Century AD), when an earthquake devastated the city.

You can see traces of history from all of these periods. But the most impressive is the ancient theatre of Aptera. This well-preserved amphitheatre is made entirely of limestone and is built at the southernmost side of the site, looking towards the White Mountains. It was intended for musical and theatrical performances, and there is a stone in the centre which is the spot you need to stand in to naturally project for your voice. Give it a go!

The site costs 4€ to enter.

Check out the view from the Koules Ottoman Fortress

When you are at Aptera, make sure to drive up to the Koules Ottoman fortress. It is currently under renovation, so you can’t currently enter but the views over Souda Bay are so worth it. Make sure to stop for a picture.

See the Venizelos Tombs and viewpoint – things to do in Chania

The Venizelos Tombs is located on the Akrotiri Peninsula and is a site of great historical importance. Located a few kilometres from the city centre, this spot offers fantastic views over Chania. It is a well-known spot for coming to watch fantastic sunsets.

But, more importantly than that, it is the resting place of one of the most famous and important Greek politicians, and seven times Prime Minister of Greece, Eleftherios Venizelos and his son, Sofoklis Venizelos, who was also Prime Minister of Greece from 1943 to 1952. On this hilltop, you can also find the small chapel of Profitis Ilias.

Explore the Gouverneto hiking trail – things to do in Chania

The Gouverneto hiking trail is an 8km long trail, and the starting point is about 19 km outside of Chania, up some winding roads. It begins at the Gouverneto Monastery through Katholiko Monastery right down to the beach at Stravos.

The trail passes through some really interesting ruins of old monastic buildings. The first is Arkoudospilio Cave; famous for its stalagmite that looks like a crouching bear – giving it its name. It has been used for worship since ancient times, and there is an inscription dedicated to Artemis and Apollo. Make sure to leave yourself enough time to walk the entire hike, so that you don’t miss the impressive ruins of the bridge at Katholiko Monastery.

Visit Agia Triada Monastery

Nearby to the hiking trail is Agia Triada Monastery – a Greek Orthodox monastery in the Akrotiri region. It was built in the 17th century by two brothers of the Venetian Zangaroli family, and the main church is dedicated to the ‘Holy Trinity’ which gives the monastery its name.

The architecture is beautiful and it is also home to a museum containing a collection of icons, as well as a library full of rare books.

Indulge in a wine tasting at Agia Triada Monastery

One of the other draws of the Agia Triada Monastery is that it is famous for its wine-making traditions, with its vineyards producing delicious wine. The monastery is still operated by monks who are experts in the production of wine and olive oil. And in the cellar below the monastery, there is the opportunity to book a wine tasting. Do not miss!

The wine is delicious, and the sommelier is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. A wide range of wines is available to try, from white, red, desert and even the holy wine used in communion. Plus the tasting comes with bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar – which is delicious! There is also a shop, which means you can purchase some of the wine, oils and other goods that are produced at Agia Triada.

Where to eat in Chania – things to do in Chania

Arismari

Arismari is the perfect setting for dinner. The food is delicious, the service is friendly, tasty local wines and a pretty fantastic view. Set on the edge of the Venetian Harbour, with views over it and towards the lighthouse – it’s the perfect way to relax and enjoy an evening.

With plenty of fish and meat options, each dish is incredibly tasty and you won’t know what to choose!

Kountourioti 55, Chania 731 31, Greece | Map

To Stachy

To Stachy is a family-run restaurant which gives you the chance to try traditional Cretan food. Don’t miss the fried feta with honey starter – one of the tastiest things on the menu.

Chrisopigis, Nerokouros 731 00, Greece | Map

Fourogatos

Located on the Akti Miaouli Boulevard overlooking the sea, Fouragatos is the perfect place to sample some local cheese and wine.

Makedonias 106, Chania 731 32, Greece | Map

Carte Postale

Carte Postale is a must for both the amazing food and the stunning views. It is located right next to the Venizelos Tombs, so it is perfect for combining that sunset visit. It is one of the most incredible restaurants in Chania.

The food is fresh and light, from the tomatoes to the lamb pie, and finishing off with the baked cheesecake. It isn’t large, and the dining is located on a terrace overlooking the city – definitely worth booking in advance.

Michail Kalorizikou 2, Chania 731 33, Greece | Map

Apostolis

Apostolis is known for its seafood, but even if you are not a seafood fan (such as me), this is still a lovely spot for some lunch. Located near the Venetian Harbour and the Maritime Centre, it is ideally located for a pre or post-lunch wander around the city. Located on the waterfront, with lots of options for local starters and mains.

Akti Enoseos 10, Chania 731 00, Greece | Map

Bougatsa

A second mention of this place! As before, it’s a traditional way to start the day – and an experience in Chania you won’t want to miss. Make sure to pop in for breakfast at least once when you are in Chania.

Conclusion

A really underrated gem in Europe, and somewhere many people don’t consider. When visiting Crete, it is often overlooked for the capital city of Heraklion. But if you are looking for the perfect combination of a relaxed holiday, with some adventure and culture – Chania is the place to visit. With this many things to do in Chania, how can there not be something for everyone?

A huge thank you to Jet2 and the Chania Tourism Board for this trip, and for showing me the best things to do in Chania. My trip to Chania was a complimentary PR press trip, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

image of amazing things to do in Chania

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