A charming street in the town of Chania on the island of Crete.
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Chania travel guide

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Faraway Worlds

Staff writers

Planning a trip to Chania? Here are our top picks...

Stay: Porto Veneziano Hotel

Walking tour: Old Town highlights and street food

Food tour: Flavours of Chania

Experience: Visit traditional villages in the White Mountains

Day trip: Balos and Falassarna Beach

Car rental: find competitive rates through Discover Cars

Known for its enchanting Venetian harbour, narrow streets, and waterfront restaurants, Chania is one of the most popular and best-loved destinations on Crete. The Old Town, in particular, attracts visitors from all over the world, and it’s also worth venturing further to the beaches on the edge of the town.

Chania also makes a very convenient base for exploring western Crete. some of the island’s most popular attractions including Balos Lagoon and Samaria Gorge can be visited on day trips from the city.

In short, Chania is a must on any Crete itinerary. Here’s what you need to know before visiting.

Chania highlights

The Old Town and beyond

Chania's Old Town

 When people think of Chania. it's the Old Town that comes to mind.

Chania's historic centre is largely influenced by the Venetian period from the 13th to the 17th century, with fortifications built to protect against pirate raids and other invaders. Following the Venetians, the Ottomans added their own mark, converting churches into mosques and introducing new architectural elements.

This blend of influences creates a unique architecture visible throughout the Old Town today and it's worth taking a walking tour to learn more about the buildings and their history.

Some highlights include:

  • Venetian Harbour: The centrepiece of Chania, featuring the iconic lighthouse, is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, offering picturesque views and a chance to admire the mix of architectural styles.

  • The Byzantine Wall: Remnants of the wall that once encircled the city, offering insights into the defensive strategies of the past.

  • Firkas Fortress: Located at the entrance of the harbour, this fortress houses the Maritime Museum of Crete and provides panoramic views of the sea and the Old Town.

  • The Venetian Neoria: The shipyards, dating back to the 16th century, showcase Chania's maritime history.

Of course, the old town is about more than history, and the pretty streets are lined with shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants.

Beyond the Old Town

Venture inland from the historic centre and you'll find the commercial hub of Chania, with wide streets lined with shops offering everything from international brands to local crafts. The area also has a wide range of dining options, from cosy cafés to sophisticated restaurants – in fact, you’ll find some of the best places to eat in Chania in this part of the city. 

Many cultural venues, including cinemas, theatres, and contemporary art galleries, are scattered throughout the new town, along with parks and green spaces. While you’re wandering through the area, keep an eye out for:

  • Eleftherios Venizelos Square: A central point in the New Town, named after the renowned Cretan statesman. The square is a popular meeting spot and hosts various events throughout the year.

  • Aptera Street and Halidon Street: These are among the main shopping streets, where one can find a mix of retail stores, boutiques, and eateries.

  • The Court House Square (Dikastiria): Marked by the impressive court building, this area is a bustling hub with cafes and spaces where locals gather.

Beaches in Chania

Sun, sand and pebbles near the city

While there isn't a beach right in the heart of the historical centre, there are several lovely beaches very close by, easily accessible and perfect for visitors looking to enjoy the sea without straying too far from the town's attractions. Here are a couple of beaches near Chania town:

Nea Chora Beach

Just a short walk west of the Venetian Harbor, Nea Chora is a sandy beach with clear, shallow waters, making it ideal for families with children.

The beach is well-organized, with sunbeds, umbrellas, showers, and lifeguards during the high season. Along the beachfront, there's a promenade lined with cafés, tavernas, and restaurants serving fresh seafood and local dishes.

Koum Kapi Beach

To the east of the Venetian walls, Koum Kapi is a small beach area that has become popular for its vibrant café and bar scene. While the beach itself is more pebbly than sandy, it offers a great view of the Sea of Crete, and the area has a lively atmosphere, especially in the evenings.

The promenade behind the beach is lined with various cafés, bars, and restaurants, making it a perfect spot for enjoying a drink or meal with a sea view.

Golden Beach (Chrissi Akti)

About 4 km west of Chania town, Golden Beach is easily accessible by car or public bus. True to its name, Golden Beach has beautiful golden sand and crystal-clear waters. It's a well-organized beach, with facilities such as sunbeds, umbrellas, and water sports.

There are several beach bars and restaurants nearby, as well as accommodations ranging from hotels to apartments.

Agii Apostoli Beach

Situated about 4 km west of Chania town, close to Golden Beach, Agii Apostoli is easily accessible and a favourite with both locals and tourists.

Agii Apostoli has four sandy coves with crystal-clear, shallow waters protected from the wind, making it ideal for families and swimmers. The area is surrounded by greenery and parks.

The beach is well-organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, and facilities like showers and changing rooms. There are also playgrounds for children and numerous tavernas, cafes, and mini-markets are located nearby.

Iguana Beach

Just a bit further on from Agii Apostoli, Iguana Beach is another sandy option with clear blue waters. It’s located about 5 km west of Chania town.

This is a smaller beach in a serene and beautiful setting. The beach is partly organized with sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent. A few beach bars and restaurants are available, offering refreshments and meals with a view of the sea.

Things to do in Chania

Museums, art galleries and more

Once you’ve had a chance to explore the city and relax on the beach, there’s still plenty to do in Chania. Here are a few ideas:

Visit one of Chania's excellent museums:

  • Maritime Museum of Crete: Discover Crete's nautical history from ancient times to the modern era, located in the Venetian Fortress at the harbor's entrance.

  • Archaeological Museum of Chania: Offers a journey through western Crete's history, from the Neolithic period to the Roman era, housed in the former Venetian Monastery of Saint Francis.

  • Folklore Museum of Chania: Experience the traditional Cretan lifestyle and crafts through exhibits on arts, crafts, and daily life in recreated Cretan household settings.

  • The Venetian Neoria: The old shipyards, a testament to Chania's rich maritime heritage, once used for building and repairing ships.

Go to an art gallery - once again, there's many great options:

  • Municipal Art Gallery of Chania: Housed in a beautifully restored Venetian building, the gallery features modern and contemporary art by Greek artists.

  • OliveTree Gallery: Showcases a wide range of artworks, from paintings and sculptures to ceramics and jewellery, all inspired by Crete's landscapes, traditions, and history.

  • Gallery 3: Located in the heart of the Old Town, Gallery 3 offers a selection of contemporary art pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works.

  • Art of Living Gallery: a collection of fine art and decorative pieces that celebrate the art of living by both local and international artists

  • Nautilus: a unique space that combines an art gallery with a bookstore and café. It focuses on maritime and nautical themes.

  • Skoufa Gallery Chania: An extension of the well-known gallery in Athens high-quality contemporary art to the island.

Try a Cretan cooking class: Learn about the island's culinary traditions, including the use of local olive oil, herbs, and fresh produce.

Go shopping in Leather Lane (Skridlof Street), famous for its quality leather goods - perfect for unique souvenirs like handmade bags, belts, and sandals.

Wander through the Agora Market, the heart of Chania's culinary scene, for Cretan cheeses, herbs, spices, seafood, and meats.

Explore the city through a food tour: Go beyond the tourist sites, while tasting traditional food.

Day trips from Chania

Mountains, beaches and gorges

  • Samaria Gorge: Located in the White Mountains, this park offers a challenging but rewarding trek through one of Europe's longest gorges.

  • Elafonissi Beach: Situated on Crete's west coast, this iconic beach is renowned for its pink sand and turquoise waters.

  • Balos Lagoon and Falassarna Beach: Visit two of Crete's most famous beaches known for their crystal-clear waters

  • Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete: Beautiful gardens filled with local plants just a short drive from Chania.

  • Wine and olive oil tastings: Explore the vineyards and olive farms of Crete, located in the countryside around Chania, and taste unique local wine varieties.

  • Explore the White Mountains: Visit some of the nearby mountain villages for a glimpse of Cretan culture beyond the city

  • Knossos and the Cave of Zeus: head east to see some of the major sites on the other side of Crete. Just keep in mind that it can be a long day.

Where to stay in Chania

Areas and hotels

Chania is the second-largest city in Crete, with a large range of accommodation options including apartments, boutique guesthouses and larger hotels. Most visitors choose to stay near the Old Town or one of the beaches near the city. Here's an overview of where to stay in Chania:

The Old Town

The area is brimming with beautifully restored Venetian mansions and traditional houses converted into boutique hotels and guesthouses. These accommodations often feature unique architectural elements, such as stone walls and wooden beams, offering a cosy and atmospheric stay.

Staying in the Old Town means you're just a walk away from historical sites, charming cafes, and the vibrant harbour.

Near the beach

If waking up to the sound of the waves and having the beach just a few steps away sounds like your kind of holiday, then Chania's coastal areas, such as Agii Apostoli, Golden Beach (Chrissi Akti), and Nea Chora, offer a range of beachfront hotels and resorts.

These accommodations cater to a variety of tastes, from luxury resorts with spa facilities and infinity pools to family-friendly hotels with easy access to sandy beaches and water sports.

New City

For travellers who prefer contemporary amenities and easy access to modern conveniences, Chania’s new town area provides a variety of modern hotels and apartments.

These accommodations are typically more spacious and offer features such as pools, gyms, and on-site dining, making them a great option for families and longer stays. The New City is also well-connected to public transport, making it a convenient base for exploring the wider region.

Hotel recommendations


  • Samaria Hotel: A stylish, centrally located hotel, offering modern amenities and excellent service.

  • Porto Veneziano Hotel: Situated on the waterfront, this hotel offers stunning views of the Venetian Harbor and lighthouse.


Nefeli Hotel: Located near the Old Town, offering comfortable rooms with easy access to Chania's attractions.

Casa Veneta: A family-run hotel providing a cozy stay in the heart of the Old Town.


  • Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa: An elegant boutique hotel set in a 17th-century Venetian mansion, offering luxurious rooms and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views.

  • Domes Zeen Chania, a Luxury Collection Resort: A serene beachfront resort offering exquisite accommodations and top-notch facilities.

Where to eat

Restaurant, tavernas and cafes

Crete is known for its excellent local food and there are plenty of restaurants in Chania where you can find some. Of course, you can also find many other cuisines in town – there’s no shortage of excellent restaurants here. Below are a few of our favourites.

  • Patsas Agnos: A great lunch spot with traditional dishes and affordable prices.

  • Kariatis Restaurant: Offers a variety of food options with good portions.

  • Tamam Restaurant: Dive into traditional Cretan cuisine in a historic setting in the Old Town.

  • Kapari Restaurant: Fresh, excellent food at reasonable prices

  • Aroma Cafe: Good quality food and drinks, available all day.

  • Funky's: Cheap and cheerful pizza, perfect for a quick bite.

  • Salis Restaurant: Experience gourmet dining with a focus on fresh, local seafood along the waterfront.

  • The Well of the Turk: For a blend of Cretan, Turkish, and Middle Eastern dishes in a charming courtyard.

When to visit Chania

Weather and events

Peak Season (June to August): Warm weather and numerous festivals make this a popular time to visit. However, it's also when Chania is most crowded, and prices are at their highest.

Shoulder Season (April to May, September to October): Pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices make this an ideal time to visit. It's also a great time for outdoor activities like hiking.

Off-Season (November to March): Cooler weather and minimal tourists. Some attractions and restaurants may have reduced hours or be closed, but you'll experience Chania like a local.

Festivals and events

Chania town is a hub of cultural activities and events, celebrating its rich history, culinary heritage, and artistic life. Here are some of the key events held within the town: 

  • Chania Film Festival (Oct): This annual festival showcases a diverse range of Greek and international films, including features, documentaries, and shorts.

  • Sardine Festival (Aug): Enjoy free grilled sardines, live traditional Cretan music, and dancing by the beach in Nea Chora.

  • Cretan Diet Festival (Jul): The festival features stalls selling local products, cooking demonstrations, music and dance performances.

  • Summer Cultural Festival (Jun- Sep): Expect a wide array of cultural events such as concerts, theatre performances, art exhibitions, and more..

  • Easter (April/May): Celebrations include midnight church services, fireworks, and communal feasts.

Chania also hosts various street events, markets, and fairs, especially during the summer months. These include local crafts markets, live street performances, and themed events in the streets of the Old Town and the harbour area.

Travel logistics

Getting there and around

How to get to there:

  • You can fly to Chania from Athens and Thessaloniki, with some international flights also available, especially during the tourist season. Chania International Airport "Ioannis Daskalogiannis" (CHQ) is located about 14 km east of the city.

  • There are daily ferries from Piraeus (Athens) to the Port of Souda, one of the largest natural harbours in Greece and about 7 km from Chania.

  • For travellers already in Crete, the KTEL bus service offers efficient and regular connections between Chania and other major towns and cities on the island, including Heraklion and Rethymnon.

Getting around:

  • The best way to explore Chania, especially the Old Town and the Venetian Harbor, is on foot. Many of the streets in these areas are pedestrianized, offering a pleasant walking experience.

  • Chania's local bus service is a reliable and affordable option for reaching areas beyond the city centre, including various beaches and nearby towns.

  • Of course, renting a car gives you the flexibility to explore Chania and its surroundings at your own pace. However, parking in the city center can be challenging, especially during peak tourist season. Consider using designated parking areas on the outskirts of the Old Town and walking into the centre.

  • Taxis are readily available and offer a convenient way to get around, especially for longer distances or if travelling late at night.

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Last Updated 6 March 2024

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