Some of the best things to do in Chania are focused around the historical centre, where you can visit well-preserved monuments dating back to Venetian, Ottoman and neoclassical periods. While Chania is the second-largest city on the Greek island of Crete, most of its landmarks are within walking distance of each other.

    Chania is best for those looking to escape the bustle of city life – you can shop at old-fashioned market streets and relax in a harbourside café with views of the Med. For a bit of history, must-visits include Crete's major maritime museum that's located inside a castle, as well as an archaeological museum that occupies a former Venetian monastery. You can also find a decent beach that’s within a 10-minute walk of Chania Old Town.

    What are the best things to do in Chania?

    1

    Chania Old Town

    Take photos of Venetian, Ottoman and neoclassical buildings

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Chania Old Town is divided into 4 districts, all of which are best explored on foot. The pedestrian-only streets are lined with historical buildings with Venetian, Ottoman and neoclassical influences. Stop by a café or restaurant in Splantzia District if you need a break – many of these places have shaded patios overlooking the Church of St Nicolas, one of Chania’s oldest landmarks.

    There are plenty of souvenir shops lining Kondylaki, the main street of Chania Old Town’s Jewish District. You can enjoy a nice stroll along the city’s seawall, which connects the Old Venetian Harbour of Chania with the 19th-century Venetian Lighthouse, the Grand Arsenal, and Giali Tzamisi Mosque.

    Location: Theotokopoulou 57, Chania 731 31, Greece

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    2

    Old Venetian Harbour

    Chania's historical dock area

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Old Venetian Harbour of Chania is surrounded by many monuments that date back to Venetian, Ottoman and Egyptian times. It was completed in 1356, serving as the city’s main port and protector against pirates until the early 20th century.

    Today, the Old Venetian Harbour of Chania has plenty of vibrant cafés, bars, and tavernas fringing the cobbled quaysides. Grab a seat and enjoy some gritty Greek coffee with views of passing boats, as well as historic sites such as Firkas Castle and the 16th-century Venetian Lighthouse, located just opposite the harbour.

    Location: Agiou Markou 8, Chania 731 32, Greece

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    3

    Firka Castle

    A 17th-century Venetian fortification

    • History
    • Photo

    Firka Castle is a Venetian fortification in Chania that houses the Maritime Museum of Crete. Also called Revellino del Porto, the structure was built in 1629 to protect the entrance of Chania’s Old Venetian Harbour. It’s located on the port’s north-western side, with several underground tunnels and barracks, as well as 6 arched cannon openings within the stone walls.

    You can climb to the top of Firkas Castle for panoramic views of the harbour and the Mediterranean Sea. Learn more about Chania’s history as a port town at the Maritime Museum of Crete, which displays a wide range of nautical artefacts, paintings and photographs.

    Location: Chania 731 31, Greece

    Open: April–October: daily from 9 am to 7 pm. November–March: daily from 9 am to 2 pm

    Phone: +30 2821 040095

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    4

    Municipal Garden of Chania

    A family-friendly park home to endangered Cretan mountain goats

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Municipal Garden of Chania is a leafy and family-friendly park that’s popular for its animal enclosure section. On sunny days, local families often come here for picnics – children can get up close with native birds and the endangered Cretan mountain goat. The park dates back to 1870, serving as a free space for jogging, cycling, and relaxing in Chania.

    If you want to grab a coffee or snack, the onsite Kypos Café is a must-visit as it’s one of the city’s oldest cafés. Located along Andrea Papandreou, the Municipal Garden of Chania is around 550 metres southeast of the Municipal Market of Chania.

    Location: Andrea Papandreou 70, Chania 731 34, Greece

    Phone: +30 2821 054520

    Map

    photo by C messier (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    5

    Archaeological Museum of Chania

    Housed within the largest church in Chania

    • History
    • Photo

    The Archaeological Museum of Chania occupies the former Franciscan Monastery of Agios Fragkiskos, one of Chania’s largest Venetian churches. Most of the artefacts were excavated from Chania and the wider region of western Crete, dating between the Neolithic and Roman periods.

    Must-sees include a marble bust of Roman Emperor Hadrian and Romanesque mosaic floors depicting scenes from the Dionysian Mysteries, as well as the myth of Poseidon and Amymone. The Archaeological Museum of Chania is in the centre of the Old Town, around 550 metres southwest of the Old Venetian Harbour of Chania.

    Location: 28, Chalidon St, Chania 731 31, Greece

    Open: April–October: Wednesday–Monday from 8 am to 8 pm (closed on Tuesdays). November–March: from Wednesday–Monday from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

    Phone: +30 2821 090334

    Map

    photo by Bernard Gagnon (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Skrydlof Street

    Shop for handmade leather Cretan boots

    • Shoppers

    Skrydlof Street has rows of local shops selling handmade leather products in Chania. A popular souvenir to get at this traditional leatherworkers' lane is stivania – traditional Cretan high boots for men. You can also find handmade leather bags, sandals, and purses at relatively affordable prices.

    You’ll experience the intense smell of leather and colourful display of Cretan folk art as you stroll along Skrydlof Street. Most are made-to-measure items, so it’s a good idea to stop by if you often struggle with shopping for the right size.

    Location: Skridlof, Chania 731 32, Greece

    Map

    photo by Oliver Deisenroth (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Nea Chora

    The closest beach to Chania

    • Families
    • Budget

    Nea Chora is a family-friendly beach that's around 1 km west of Chania Old Town. It spans some 2 km in length, with a small road lined with affordable hotels, tavernas, seafood restaurants, and cafés. The northern end of Nea Chora has a fishing harbour, while Katerina Amusement Park and Kladissos Beach lie towards its southern end.

    Rows of sun loungers and parasols line the sandy beach in the summer, offering excellent views of the Mediterranean as well as Chania’s historic harbour and landmarks in the distance. This part of Chania is relatively quiet but offers easy access to the Old Town if you want to do some sightseeing.

    Location: Akti Papanikoli 23, Chania 731 31, Greece

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    photo by Shepard4711 (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    8

    Municipal Market of Chania

    Find authentic Greek cuisine and products

    • Shoppers
    • Food

    The Municipal Market of Chania occupies a 4,000-square-metre building that was built in 1911. Also known as Chania Central Market, you can find around 75 stalls selling fresh vegetables, meats, fish, herbs and spices sourced from across the island of Crete.

    This covered market is very popular with locals in the morning, so it’s best to get there later in the day for smaller crowds. There are also several cosy cafés offering Greek dishes as well as shops selling souvenirs. Some of the best things to buy at the Municipal Market of Chania include raki (anise-flavoured liqueur), olive oil and cheese.

    Location: Pl. Agoras 69, Chania 731 32, Greece

    Open: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 8 am to 1.30 pm. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 am to 1.30 pm and from 5 pm to 9 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Map

    photo by C messier (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Maritime Museum of Crete

    A salt-washed exhibition space in Chania

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The Maritime Museum of Crete lies on the old Chania harbourside, smack in the centre of the town. It's an immersive introduction to the long nautical past of the region. Look for the entrance in the ochre-painted mansion beneath the half-ruined walls of Firkas Castle.

    Inside, you'll be taken on a chronological trip from the days of Bronze Age settlers to the hard-fought times when German landings threatened the island. However, the highlight of the lot is probably the section that details the days of Venetian rule. That's particularly important for understanding the past of Chania itself.

    Location: Akti Kountourioti, Chania 731 00, Greece

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +30 2821 091875

    Map

    photo by Bernard Gagnon (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Daliani Street

    End the day in Chania’s nightlife district

    • Nightlife

    Daliani Street, or Chatzimichali Ntaliani, is where you can find excellent bars and restaurants to end the day in Chania. During the day, the street is buzzing with souvenir shops and cafés. You can combine a visit with the nearby Municipal Market of Chania.

    Some of the best places to go at night in Chatzimichali Ntaliani include Rakaki, Minares Mezedopoleion, and Throubi. Grab a seat outside to enjoy views of passers-by along this strip. The pedestrianised street is within walking distance of historical sites such as Cathedral of Chania and Ahmet Ağa Minaret.

    Location: Chatzimichali Ntaliani 58-76, Chania 731 32, Greece

    Map
    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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