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A Guide For the Absolute Best Things to Do in Chania

  • Post last modified:October 25, 2023
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Are you looking for the best things to do in Chania or around the island of Crete? Well, you came to the right place. This stunning island is full of gorgeous beaches, and the cutest towns.


We have had great dining experiences, met friendly people, and saw some breathtaking landscapes. That's why we want to share with you the best things to do in Chania, how to get around, and what the requirements to enter are. Let's dive right in.


Where is Chania, Crete?

Crete is the biggest of the Greek islands, and is actually the fifth largest island in all of Europe. It is the most southern point of Greece, being 160 km south of the mainland. Located in the Sea of Crete, this area is part of the Eastern Mediterranean, and a southern part of the Aegean Sea. The town of Chania is on the northern coast of the island of Crete, all the way on the west side.

where is Chania, Crete

Chania is located in the north east of the island of Crete in Greece.


Getting To Chania, Crete

Many of the Greek islands are very small, and only have one airport, if any at all. Unlike most others, there are actually two different International airports to fly to in order to reach the island of Crete. 


Heraklion airport (HER) is located on the north coast, and is situated in the center of the island. This is the main hub, while Chania (CHQ) is the secondary, which is located on the West side of the island. While Heraklion offers more flights, Chania often has many budget friendly flights.


Cities that fly direct to Chania include Aalborg, Aarhus, Athens, Bergen, Berlin, Billund, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, East Midlands,  Eindhoven, Evenes, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Helsinki, Gdansk, Gothernburg, Krakow, Manchester, Marseille, Memmingen, Munich, Nuremberg, Oslo, Paphos, Paris, London, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Thessaloniki, Vienna, and Warsaw.

Chania Crete

Chania is located on the north western area of the island of Crete.

Entry Requirements for Greece

The most important thing to do when traveling is to check the requirements. The two most important are to know the covid situation and the visa requirements. Here is what you'll need to know for entering Greece.


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Covid Entry Requirements

For summer 2021, Greece opened its doors for travelers. However, with the new variant (as of January 2022), there were a few exceptions added.


There are some countries that may enter, and some that can't (which can be found by clicking the link above). A health declaration must be filled out, and all travelers must present a negative covid test- a PCR test within 72 hours, or a rapid test within 24 hours.


In addition, travelers must either be fully vaccinated, or show proof of recovery from Covid-19.

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Want to know all of the full details? Click here for a full list of requirements to enter Greece.


Update: These requirements were in place until January 10th, 2022. All restrictions have now been lifted to enter Greece!

When checking for Covid travel requirements, remember to also check the requirements for your country, not just where you are flying from. You may not have problems going in if it's from a country in the EU, but you could have problems on the way out.


Visa Requirements

Crete is a Greek Island, therefore part of the European Union. US citizens can enter visa free to any of the countries in the EU for up to 90 days within a 180 day period. For example, if you have spent 2 months in Cyprus (which is part of the EU), you could then spend up to 30 days more in Greece  without needing a visa.


Many countries fall into the same category as the US for entering Greece  and the European Union, The countries that do not fall into this category, will need a Schengen Visa. This applies to numerous countries from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. You can click here for more information.

Balos Beach, Crete

Some of the best things to do in Chania are the various beautiful beaches around it.


Local Adjustments

Traveling to a new country or island means making certain adjustments. Here are a few things to keep in mind when traveling to Crete.


Language

The language in Crete is Greek. It helps to learn a little bit of the language. But truthfully, it's very common that people speak English on this island as well.


Currency

The official currency of Crete is the euro. As of now (October 2022) the euro is equivalent to $.99 USD and 86 British pence.


Outlets 

The outlets in Crete and all of Greece are the same as the other European countries.


Greece uses both plug types C & F. Plug type C is the one which has two round pins, and plug type F is the one that has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. Crete (and other Greek Islands) operate on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.


Water Potability

The water in Crete is totally safe to drink. Depending on the area of the island, the minerals can vary, changing the taste a bit. However, you can definitely drink the tap water without any issues.


Tipping Culture

Most locals will not tip in Greece, as it is not customary. If the service is very good, you can round up to the nearest euro or two. If you are feeling particularly generous you can always leave up to 10%, which is known to be above and beyond in this country. 

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The Best Things to Do in Chania

There are so many great things to do in Chania and the surrounding areas. Here are some of our favorites:


Explore the Old Town

One of our favorite things to do in Chania was to simply enjoy walking through the cobblestone streets. Get lost in the small alleys and discover beautiful shops, galleries, and inviting restaurants.


Grab your camera, because every corner you turn is that much more beautiful then the next!

things to do in Chania
The old town of Chania, things to do in Chania

One of the best things to do in Chania is to wander through the small alleys.


Walk Along the Venetian Port

This is the hotspot of the city, and is a great place to watch the sunset. Walking around the Venetian Port is one of the musts for things to do in Chania.


The port area is full of colorful buildings, restaurants, and locals selling homemade jewelry and crafts.

things to do in Chania- Venetian Port

The Venetian port is the most popular area in Chania, and is full of color, restaurants, and shops.


Visit the Light House

The Light house is the icon of Chania, and is situated facing the Venetian port. Unfortunately when we went they were doing construction, so we were unable to visit. It is in fact a beautiful site to visit, and can be admired from the port or by walking around the port and down the pier.

Best things to do in Chania- lighthouse

The lighthouse is one of the most iconic spots in Chania.


Take a Trip to Elafonissi Beach

Did you know that Elafonissi Beach was rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world? 


You'll need a few hours to get here, as the road winds through the mountains to reach this gem. With turquoise waters, multiple bays, and pink sand, this is definitely a beach for the bucket list, and one of the best things you can do while in Chania (or Crete in general).

Elafonissi Beach

Elafonissi Beach was rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Note: The pink sand is disappearing each year. Please don't take any of the sand from the beach, to keep the natural beauty of Elafonissi. 

Don't have a car but still want to take a trip to this beautiful beach? Here are a few different tours that you can take:

Take a Dip in Voulolimni

Located just a few minutes from Elafonissi, this is a great stop to make on your way or your way back from Elafonissi Beach.


Voulolimni is a beautiful nature pool formed at the beach from the rocks surrounding it. It's a great place to get away from the crowds, snorkel, or just simply relax and enjoy the peaceful vibes.


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Have a Beach Day at Balos

Balos is hands down one of the most beautiful beaches we have every been to. 


With an hour and a half driving around a winding mountain, and a 20-30 minute hike along the rocks, you'll wonder why we're telling you to go here. However, the moment you get the stunning view of the turquoise waters below with the massive rock formation in the back, you'll realize how worth it the journey is.

Things to do in Chania- Balos Beach

Balos Beach is a truly unique spot with stunning landscape around it.


There are various areas to sunbathe, plenty of rental chairs, bathrooms, and a snack shack. We suggest enjoying a full day here, and getting there early to beat the crowds.


Want to explore Balos with a group? Here are a few excursions you can take from Chania.

Climb Down to Seitan Limani

This is another one of our favorite things to do in Chania, because it's only a half hour away! Not only that, but it's just a few minutes from the airport.


Seitan Limani requires a mountain drive where you'll park in a small lot. The climb down can be a little intense, with sharp rocks, so make sure to bring sneakers and watch your step. 

Seitan Limania Beach Crete

The beach of Seitan Limania is a true hidden gem in Crete.


The moment you arrive you'll see why the effort is worth it. With a striking lightning bolt shape, and shining turquoise waters, we believe that Seitan Limania is one of the most beautiful (and underrated) beaches in the world.


Take a Boat Trip

Want to experience some of these beaches and some of the best things to do in Chania without driving? Well there are plenty of great boat trips that go right from the Venetian Port, and will take you to some gorgeous spots around Crete.


We didn't have time to do one, but it is definitely on our list for our next visit to Chania.

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Want an amazing sunset cruise with wine and dinner? Here is a great option that we found:


Shop for Local Goods

One of the things we loved about driving around Crete was the many small markets we drove by. 


Crete is home to some amazing local goods such as honey, olive oil, Raki, herbs, and sweets. Make sure to have cash on you so that you can support the local businesses, and bring some souvenirs home to your family and friends.

Things to do in Chania, shopping

There are tons of small shops with local goods to browse through in Chania.


Some other great things you can find on the streets of Chania are quality leather goods, shoes, and jewelry.


Browse the Chania Market

If you want to shop local and not spend a fortune, the Chania market is the place for you. This covered venue has a variety of shops selling everything from clothes and jewelry, to spices and sweets.


Getting Around Crete

Islands are always a bit trickier to get around than other places. Here are a few things to know about getting around Crete.


Public Transportation

There is no subway or train system on the island of Crete. There are some public buses, but they take pretty long to get from point A to point B. Also, there are a few ferries that you can look into. For example, there is a ferry that goes from Kissamos to Balos Beach.


Renting a Car

We found that renting a car was definitely the best way to get around Crete. For the best things to do in Chania town, you can walk. However, if you plan on going to some of the most beautiful beaches, we think having a car is much more convenient.


We rented our car from the airport, and it was quick and painless. If you have a limited time on the island, we highly suggest doing the same.


Private Transportation

Uber is illegal in Greece, so the only form of private transportation is taxi. For going short distances, this is a pretty good option. However, we can't really think of anytime other than the airport where a taxi would be needed. This is because the best things to do in Chania are either close enough to walk, or too far to pay a taxi driver to take you.

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Things to Do in Chania: Food & Drink

One of our favorite parts of Greece is the cuisine. One of the best things to do in Chania is to walk around the old town and go to one of the many great restaurants and taverns. Here are a few of our personal recommendations for food & drink in Chania.


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Food to Try

Greek cuisine is one of our favorites! Light and local ingredients with tasty meats, fresh seafood, and warm pita make up a lot of the delicious dishes in Crete. Here are a few things that you should try:


Gyro

Gyros are our absolute favorite. They are cheap, filling, and super delicious. Warm pita is filled with slowly cooked and shaved pork or chicken and topped with Tsaziki sauce. You can add lettuce, tomato, and even French fries on top of this masterpiece.


The Greek staple is easily found throughout the island. However, we found one of the best spots right in the heart of Chania. Keep reading for the best spot to get a gyro in Chania.

Greek gyro

Gyros are the perfect food for on the go.


Spanakopita

Spanakopita is another one of the best foods for on the go. Spinach and feta are baked into a crispy and flaky pastry for the perfect snack.


Greek Yogurt

The yogurt in Greece is amongst the best in the world. You can either have fresh yogurt with fruit and honey served in a restaurant or cafe, or head to a frozen yogurt shop and add whatever topping your heart desires.


Mezze

A mezze is a Greek traditional of having a lot of small plates. Many times a mezze includes olives, cheeses, spreads, and other appetizer-like dishes. While others offer a full menu including meats, seafood, vegetables, and more.


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Seafood

There's nothing like having fresh seafood on a Mediterranean island. There are plenty of local catches served in restaurants, simply cooked with homemade olive oil, lemon, and other herbs and spices.


Restaurants & Bars

There are so many amazing restaurants in Chania! Our first tip is to make sure that you walk through the smaller streets to find the truly authentic restaurants. Although the view at the harbor is beautiful, the prices are higher, and the food isn't as good. 


Here are a few of the spots that we tried where we found excellent food and drinks:


Ela Taverna

This is our favorite restaurant in Chania. I came here with my family years ago, and couldn't stop thinking about how much I wanted to go back.


Right in the center of town, Ela Taverna still feels like a hidden gem. Both times I went it was completely empty on the inside, despite its interesting architecture and delicious local menu. The food is amazing, and has some really great Cretan dishes.

Evo restaurant in Chania
Ela Tavern in Chania

Ela Tavern has amazing traditional Cretan food.


Boheme

Boheme is another conveniently located restaurant that offers both indoor and outdoor seating.


This restaurant has a lot of fusion in its cuisine, and has truly interesting dishes. Everything we had was super tasty, and the atmosphere was great for a night out.

Boheme in Chania

Boheme has a great fusion menu.


Oasis

One of our favorite things to do in Chania is search for the best street food. Oasis is the best spot for gyros. It is so good, that the man who owns the shop is only there until he runs out of food, which apparently happens pretty early. It's abut a 10 minute walk from the center of town, and worth every step to get there.


Chillbox

This is our favorite place for frozen yogurt in Chania, and is conveniently located just a block away from the Venetian port. We suggest getting the plain yogurt and topping it off with their island honey, which is one of the best we've ever had.


Garage

Want a good spot for a night out? Experiencing the night life is one of the best things to do in Chania. Garage is a small but fun bar in the center of town. So be ready for a wild night of a crowded dance floor with both locals and tourists alike.

Garage Bar in Chania, Crete

Garage is one of the most popular bars for both locals and tourists in Chania.


Note: Smoking inside is still a thing on the island of Crete (and many places in Greece). So if cigarette smoke bothers you, then this may not be the place for you.


Safety in Crete

The islands of Greece are very safe and tourist friendly. We felt very comfortable walking around Chania without any problems, even at night.


Weather & the Best Time to Visit Chania

As the island of Crete is located in the south of Europe, the weather is definitely warmer for longer. Summers are super hot, and even winter doesn't get very cold. Spring and Fall are still warm enough for beach days here and there, and are the perfect time to enjoy the sunshine & beaches, while escaping the crowds.


If you want a more wild and party like atmosphere, than we would head there in the summer. But if you prefer a more relaxed environment and less crowds, then the winter is a great time for an island getaway.


We personally think that October and November or March and April are perfect because there is still plenty of sunshine, but it still isn't peak season. At the end of the day though, there really isn't ever a bad time to visit Crete!


Packing

The best parts of Crete are definitely the great nature it has to offer. A good  sunscreen, towel, and bathing suit are a must. We also suggest bringing a pair of sneakers so that you explore some of the beaches and mountains where you need to climb a bit.

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Crete is a great island, and there are a ton of things to do in Chania and the area surrounding it. If you plan on doing a weekend getaway, we suggest sticking to the old town and one or two of the nearby beaches. However, if you have a week (or even two) then it's great to explore a little further!


We definitely will be making our way back to more of the Greek islands soon, to share all of the beauty in this fantastic country. In the meantime, you can check one of our other many guides of great places to check out throughout Europe!


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