15 Sensational Things To Do in Chania Crete This Summer

By Aliki Panagakou

I have been living in Chania for the past six years, though originally from Athens, and I'm guilty as charged: I love it here! 

As I stroll around the town of Chania, I admire its remarkable architecture -a magnificent lighthouse in the port, churches and houses in the Old Town, all reminding me of the city's multicultural identity; in fact, I often feel I have entered a time capsule, which takes me back to ancient times, through the Byzantine era and Venetian occupation, to Turkish rule and -tada!- lands me back to today in a modern vibrant town with rich entertainment and cultural offerings.

One thing I can tell you about Chania is that it's impossible to pick only a handful of random things to do, whether you are visiting solo, with your friends, with kids or on a romantic getaway. After struggling for years to draft a useful travel guide for my friends visiting Chania on their holidays in Crete, I have decided to gather 'pen and paper' and list here -for them and for you- my personal favourites; things that satisfy all the senses and make me personally feel very happy to live in Chania.

So, like Julie Andrews singing 'My Favourite Things' in The Sound of Music, here are a few of my favourite things to do in the summer, in Chania.

#1 Stroll around the picturesque alleys of the Old Town

Beautiful alleys of Chania old town (Picture Atli Haroarson/Flickr)

Chania Old Town is a maze of colorful paved pedestrian streets filled with welcoming little shops for visitors to explore. Tattoo parlors, traditional tavernas, souvenir shops, cafés and bars set against a homey background. 

Tip: You should definitely try a Valrhona chocolate dessert at 'Sketi Glyka' on Isodion street and a cool sangria at its neighboring 'Ababa Bar', a point of reference thanks to its artistic scenery! 

Join unique tours and activities in Chania Crete 

#2 Enjoy a sunset dinner in the Tabakaria area 

View from 'Thalassino Ageri', one of the best restaurants in Chania (Picture by Nick O' Doherty/Flickr)

The Tabakaria area used to be a small industrial center of leather tanneries. Although this area has been mostly abandoned, there are still a couple of operational tanneries worth visiting during the day. 

Tip: Enjoy a sunset dinner in this area at the 'Thalassino Ageri' fish restaurant. The whole setting is as pretty as a painted picture.

#3 Go out at night on Daliani Street

'To Monastiri Tou Karolou' aka 'Kibar' in Daliani Street (Picture via Facebook)

If you're wondering what to do in Chania in the evenings, then head to Daliani Street to hang out with the locals. The area is heavily frequented by people of all ages since it offers a variety of restaurants and bars that suit all tastes and budgets. 

Tip: Try a vegan cocktail at the fully blossomed courtyard of 'Kibar' (aka 'To Monastiri tou Karolou' which is a 16th century Venetian monastery, and its name literally translates to 'Charles' Monastery'). If you're hungry and want to get away from the crowds, escape to a secluded restaurant just behind Daliani Street called 'The Well of the Turk' where you can enjoy a romantic dinner with ethnic touches (the 'vegetarian mousaka' is my personal favourite!)

Experience Chania off-the-beaten path

#4 Walk to the old port's Lighthouse

The picture-perfect Lighthouse at Chania old port (Picture Thomas Munter/Flickr)

Dominating the entrance of the old harbor, this 21 meter tall lighthouse is a good reason for a bit of walking! The sea breeze, the great views and the mystique of the old buildings create the ideal setting for a romantic, relaxing walk;  probably one of the best things to do on a date in Chania!

Tip: Grab a bottle of Cretan wine from 'Miden Agan' in Daskalogianni Street and enjoy it while wathcing the sunset by the lighthouse.  

#5 Explore the unique Splatzia area – Old Town

The significant St Nicholas church on '1821' square of Splatzia area (Picture by Esther/Flickr)

Explore the old Turkish neighborhood of Chania's old town, an area which in recent years has transformed from a quiet district to a vibrant, cool and sophisticated hangout. In the main square, called '1821' (taking its name from the local revolt in 1821 against the Turks), lies an ancient sycamore tree whose refreshing shade turns the 'piazza' into a perfect spot for a Greek coffee break during the day. There you will also spot one of the most significant churches of Chania, 'Agios Nikolaos', hosting both a bell tower AND a minaret, demonstrating the multicultural character of this town.

Tip: Although I mentioned coffee, I encourage you to try the home made meatballs at the kafenio (aka 'café') of 'Bourbos' on the main square. If you are not a meat lover, try the stuffed cuttlefish with feta cheese (delicious!). Another great choice to enjoy homemade traditional Greek food is at the 'Kouzina E.P.E' on vibrant Daskalogianni Street, offering a variety of fresh dishes on display (and where you can also get your meal to take-away; thumbs up!) 

Adventurous things to do in Chania?
We've got you covered!

#6 Travel back in time at Top Chana district –  Old Port

Beautiful streets of Chania old town (Picture by Thomas Munter/Flickr)

Top Chaná (or Topanás) is the area where the Christian aristocrats were settled during the Ottoman era. The district's narrow alleys and imposing Venetian buildings make it the ideal place for a romantic walk, which will take you back in time.

Tip: On Aggelou and Theotokopoulou Streets, two of the most photographed streets in Chania, you can browse the high quality jewelry shops and buy a nice souvenir or even a handmade rug from Mr. Kostas kilim place. If you get hungry (again!), you should not miss the all time classic 'Tamam' restaurant. 

#7 Enjoy breakfast at the Alcanea café & wine bar - Old Port

Secluded Alcanea café & wine bar next to the Maritime Museum (Picture by Christine McIntosh/Flickr)

On the west side of the Venetian port, right next to the landmark, red Maritime Museum, you will find the 'Alcanea café & wine bar'. This beautiful boutique hotel in Chania old port is housed in a historic building that dates back to the 18th century, when it used to be the office of Eleftherios Venizelos, a major political figure of the 20th century and a charismatic Greek leader. This cosy café offers -besides a great breakfast, great views of the port but is secluded enough to guarantee a relaxing breakfast with beautiful sea-view, away from the busy part of the port. 

Tip:  Try the special omelet with apaki (Cretan ham) for full flavor OR if you're into a healthier diet try 'the Alcanea healthy option'.

#8 Watch a movie at an outdoor cinema

Attikon open air cinema in Chania (Picture via Attikon Website)

This is one of most authentic and unique things to do in Greece in the summer and definitely one of my personal favorites! Lucky us, the town of Chania is home to two open air cinemas, the 'Attikon' located in the Halépa area usually showing blockbuster movies and 'Kipos' in the national garden, showing more cultural movies.   

Tip: The movie program can be found in the local newspaper, Chaniotika Nea which you can purchase at any kiosk in town; you can also often check the schedule online here

Inspiration for  your travel experience in Crete

#9 Wander around town by bike

There are beautiful alleys to explore on a bike (Picture by Rev Stan/Flickr)

Undoubtedly, one of the most enjoyable, fun, cool and adventurous thing to do is to explore a town on a bike; so here we are prompting you to get one! Your bike can be used for short distances in town, but also for longer expeditions like to Nea Hora, the closest beach, for a swim if you feel like cooling off. 

Tip: Renting a bike has never been easier in Chania; you can now instantly rent one of the municipal bikes available in town. If you do decide to ride up to Nea Hora for a swim, just in case you get hungry note down that my favorite taverna for fresh fish is the 'Akrogiali' located at the far end of the beach.

#10 Check out the Maritime Museum of Crete – Old Port

Inside the Maritime Museum of Chania (Picture by Martin Balem/Flickr)

One of the best things to do to truly understand the many historical periods that Chania has gone through is to visit the Maritime Museum of Crete, the imposing red building (mentioned a few lines above) located within the Firka Fortress

Tip: Very close to the museum you will also find 'La Bodega', the ideal 'pitstop' to refuel from a day of wandering with a salad and a rich glass of Cretan wine from the restaurant's extensive Cretan wine list.

#11 Visit the Agora local food market 

The imposing Chania food market (Picture by Stefanos Vasdekis/Flickr)

Built in the shape of a cross and designed after the local market in Marseilles, the Agora is the place where fresh local produce is being sold, literally a foodies' paradise. The Agora has been the main source point of herbs and spices, fruit and vegetables, even fresh fish since 1913 for both locals and visitors.

Tip: For an authentic, traditional Cretan Greek food experience try one of the tavernas located inside the market, serving food from the early morning hours (ideal after a night out!) till dusk. 

Chania for foodies? We've handpicked the best food tours, for you!

#12 Sip a fancy cocktail at the Old Port

Breathtaking views from the rooftop of Pallas (Picture via Pallas Website)

If you are after something more trendy and sophisticated look no further: book your spot either at 'Pallas' or its neighboring 'Nama' for some gourmet dining and/or cocktails with magnificent views of the Lighthouse and Old Harbor.

Tip: Although both places offer a wide variety for you to choose from, I would personally recommend the Spicy Mango cocktail and the sea urchin pasta at the 'Pallas'; at 'Nama' you should definitely try one of the unique house barrel-aged cocktails maturing in wooden barrels AND the amberjack with fava bean puree!

#13 Chill out with an 'old-school' ice cream

Ice cream lovers lining up at gelateria Delizia in Chania (Picture by Delizia/Facebook)

When you're craving an ice cream, 'Delizia’ on Halidon Street is where you need to be; a gelateria with authentic Italian recipes and quality ingredients that will leave you 'cooler' and satisfied. If you want to know the best sellers, I'm giving them away: the panna cotta ice cream with blueberries, the cheesecake and the strawberry mascarpone!

Tip: Good news for the health conscious! Delizia also serves sugar-free flavors with stevia instead of sugar!

Day trip from Crete to Santorini? Find the best things to do!

#14 Go shopping for souvenirs and gifts

The 'leather streeet' of Stivanadika (Picture by Olivier Duquesne/Flickr)

My favorite gift shop in Chania is the 'Canea' on Zabeliou Street; gifts are inspired by the characteristic symbols of Chania and the extra convenience is that the store has something for everyone. With the Lighthouse coordinates as their logo, Canea's products follow the philosophy that beauty is hidden in simplicity, and I couldn't agree more... On the same street, you can also find quality olive tree and olive oil products' souvenirs.  

Tip: If you're looking for a cool Greek souvenir head to the busy 'leather street' aka 'leather lane' or 'Stivanadika', where you will find the Cretan leather boots (called stivania) and leather sandals of your dreams among a huge variety of other leather products. For more ideas on what to bring home from your trip to Greece read our post here

#15 Listen to live (Greek) music 

Musicians preparing at 'Adespoto' music tavern in Chania (Picture by Adespoto/Facebook))

Listening to live Cretan music is one of the most crazy things to do, but also definitely memorable! I suggest you either check out the 'Chalkina' in the Old Port and the 'Adespoto' in the Maheradika area, both featuring live performances almost every night. On a different note (!), on some occasions you can listen to Jazz sounds at 'Fagotto', and a variety of different music styles at 'Koutourouki' and 'Boheme'. 

Tip: With the exception of the 'Fagotto', all of these places combine music with nibbles and loads of raki!


Some general info about Chania crete

Chania is the major town of the Prefecture of Chania which is the very western province of the island of Crete (followed by Rethymno, Heraklio and Lasithi at the very east). Chania's beauty is mainly attributed to the fact that the city has maintained all of its characteristics from the time of the Venetian rule. From Chania (which by the way is also often spelled Haniá) , you can easily explore the prefecture, as long as you don't mind spending time in the car,  will say 'yes' to hopping on a boat, and are adventurous enough to wear your sporty shoes; you will encounter a few of the best beaches in Greece (like Balos Beach and the pink Elafonisi beach), unique scenery from secluded villages and magnificent mountains and gorges.

Dreaming of a holiday to crete? Here's how to get to chania

Chania is connected daily with the port of Piraeus in Athens, the Athens' International Airport and other major European airports through chartered flights to Crete, either directly to Chania Souda Airport or Heraklion airport. There's also a decent connection from Crete to Santorini and vice versa. 

How to get there | Useful links

ANEK Ferries / Blue Star Ferries
Ryanair
Aegean Airlines / Olympic Air

let's sum up the best things to do in chania on this Map of Crete

P.S. As always, everything you read here is entirely personal - no promotions, no professional biases!