Explore the top 10 things to do in Chania, Crete

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There are heaps of things to do in Chania, Crete. Whether you’re exploring ancient artifacts, lounging on pristine beaches, or savoring local delicacies, Chania is a destination that invites you to discover the essence of Crete in every corner. So if you’re looking for sun, sea, history, nightlife and natural beauty, you’re likely going to find what you’re looking for. And at Giannoulis Hotels & Resorts, the guest experiences keep on adding to the enchantment. If you’re about to book those holidays to Chania, you’ll be wanting to know more about what to see and do. So, here’s a guide to the top 10 things to do in Chania, Crete. 

  1. Explore the Old Town & Venetian Harbour: If you want to get to the heart of Chania, then a visit to the cobbled streets of the Old Town is essential, where Venetian and Ottoman influences mesh together seamlessly to create a kaleidoscope of incredible sounds, aromas and sights. Grab your walking shoes and lose yourself in the maze of charming alleys brimming with boutique shops and quaint cafes, and as the sun sets, prepare for the ultimate visual scene that the Venetian Harbour paints. Its otherworldly charm is in no small part attributed to the colorful fishing boats bobbing gently against the backdrop of the majestic lighthouse.


  2. Archaeological Museum: One of the best things to do in Chania if you’re a history enthusiast is going to the Archaeological Museum. Situated in the historic neighborhood of Chalepa, and housed in a new, state-of-the-art building, you’ll be able to amble about its 6,000 square meters of space and step into the world of Minoan, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations. The artifacts on display paint a vivid picture of the island’s illustrious past – from intricate pottery to exquisite sculptures, where each exhibit tells a story, bridging the gap between past and present.

  3. Visit the Chania Naval Museum: Explore the maritime history of Chania at the Naval Museum, located in the Firkas Fortress overlooking the Venetian Harbor. There, you will find a wide array of artifacts telling the story of this proud island – home to the first organized civilization in Europe – the Minoans. From ancient ship models to naval artifacts, the museum provides a fascinating insight into Crete’s maritime heritage, combined with panoramic views of the harbor and the sea beyond the fortress.

  1. Monasteries at Akrotiri Peninsula: The spiritual essence of Chania, and Crete, by extension, is its churches and monasteries, none more important than the Monastery of Gouvernetou and Agia Triada Tsangarolon. You’ll find them at Akrotiri Peninsula, standing proudly like timeless bastions of faith and history. At the Monastery of Gouvernetou, you’ll encounter a world of wonder within the walls of its secluded courtyard, while Agia Triada Tsagarolon draws visitors in with its calm atmosphere and panoramic vistas.


  2. Ancient Aptera, Aptera Fortress and Itzedin Fortress: When considering top things to do in Chania, Crete, don’t miss Aptera, a pivotal archaeological site just 20 minutes from Chania town. This 7th-century BC settlement offers a glimpse into Crete’s rich history with its ancient ruins and the nearby Aptera Fortress, which provides sweeping views of Souda Bay. Also, explore Itzedin Fortress, a 19th-century Ottoman castle, where you can wander through old barracks, tunnels, and battlements, and enjoy stunning seaside views. These sites encapsulate the historical depth and scenic beauty of Chania.


  1. Venizelos Grave site at Akrotiri: Credited with forming the modern Greek state, you might be familiar with the name, Eleftherios Venizelos, as it was given to the Athens Airport. And atop the windswept hills of Akrotiri, lies his final resting place of one of Greece’s most revered statesmen and benefactors. The family tomb of the Venizelos, which also includes his son Sophocles who was a statesman like his father, stands as a poignant tribute to his enduring legacy. You’ll also find the monastery of the Prophet Elias as you ascend the hillside, among the olive groves.

  1. Authentic Cretan Villages: Explore the rugged beauty of Crete’s authentic villages – Sfakia, Ano Vouves, and Paleochora. It is one of the top things to do in Chania if you want to get a feel of what authentic village life is today. In Sfakia, whitewashed houses cling to cliffs overlooking the Libyan Sea, offering a glimpse into traditional Cretan life, while Ano Vouves is home to one of the oldest olive trees in the world, a true local attraction where this ancient tree is the center of attention. Then, venture to the coastal settlement of Paleochora, where azure waters meet golden sands, as well as vibrant tavernas lining the cobblestone streets.


  2. Omalos Plateau: For trekking aficionados, we present the Omalos Plateau. Up top of Crete’s imposing White Mountains range, this sanctuary of serenity and natural beauty unfolds amidst the high desert, at an altitude of 2452m. The plateau is a symphony of breathtaking vistas, ancient paths, hidden caves and wildflowers that carpet the meadows in a riot of colors and smells. Note that nearby, you can catch trails to the Samaria Gorge, as well as Tripiti and Agia Eirini Gorges, should you wish to give it a go while we advise you look into a guided trek if you are a beginner. 

  1. Kournas Lake: If you’re into nature walks and exploring, one of the best things to do in Chania is to explore Kournas Lake. Lodged next to the White Mountain range like a sapphire gem, the only freshwater lake in Crete invites you to immerse in its tranquil beauty. Mirroring the azure sky above, it’s surrounded by lush greenery and towering cliffs, with the lake offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling coastal towns, where you can paddle leisurely in rented kayaks, admiring the reflections of the surrounding mountains. Or you can simply chill on the shore, taking in the idyllic ambiance of this natural treasure in the heart of the island.

  1. West Crete beaches: In Chania, it’s a given that you’re going to visit the top beaches. Beach-going is one of the best things to do in Chania, considering the incredible beauty of beaches like Falassarna, Elafonisi, and Balos. Falassarna has golden sands and turquoise waters, framed by ruins and dramatic cliffs to the other side, and just half an hour away from Gianoulis Grand Bay Beach Resort. Meanwhile, Elafonisi’s pink sands and shallow lagoons have created a surreal dreamscape that is pure joy, as you wade through crystalline waters and a pristine ecosystem. Lastly, Balos with its exotic lagoon and ivory sands, accessible only by boat or a scenic hike, is the poster child of Cretan summer, for its size and absurd beauty. 

Chania, Crete, is a place that seamlessly blends history, culture, and natural beauty. With its charming old town, Venetian harbor, and breathtaking landscapes, it woos savvy travelers who seek the perfect blend of relaxation and excitement. Some of the best things to do in Chania are included in this list, and combined with a stay at one of the best Chania hotels on the beach by Giannoulis Hotels & Resorts, you’ll have the time of your lives exploring the island’s treasures and relaxing beyond comparison in between.

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