Just stroll around the Old Town to take in the remarkable architecture — a majestic lighthouse in the port, Byzantine churches, Ottoman mosques and Venetian houses lining the waterfront and the quaint alleyways; all pointing to the city’s multicultural identity and past. Witnessing layers of history unravelling at every nook and cranny might make you think that you are in a time capsule. Until the next turn — Chania’s cluster of elegant restaurants, buzzing bars and gorgeous jewellers and boutiques will land you back to today, in a vibrant, modern city with a thriving drinking, dining, shopping, cultural and entertainment scene.
To experience it to the fullest here’s a little tip:
(Going out for) coffee plays a big part in Cretans’ lifestyle, who — like all Greeks — have the habit of spending hours on end in their favourite cafe, chatting with friends and strangers, drinking iced espresso (it is called Freddo and its a Greek invention no less!), and generally enjoying the sun – or the sunset – and people-watching. Try following their lead — and you’re in for a relaxed, leisurely experience that basically sums up the pleasure of doing (almost) nothing.
Here are our handpicked suggestions for the best cafes in Chania: most are located in the Old Town and the harbour, play easy listening tunes and stay up till late — when said coffee becomes replaced with something stronger, like wine or raki.
Top cafes in Chania
Located on the hill of Prophet Elias, Koukouvaya, is as much an emblem of the city, as the neighbouring graves of Venizelos are. This cafe-cum-pastry shop is the ultimate destination for dessert lovers – especially those partial to chocolate. Savour the panoramic views – magical at sunset time – along with a choice of beverages and sweets, all homemade, inspirational and absolutely delicious.
The Ginger Concept
Next to the scenic Splantzia Square in the (somewhat) less touristic part of the Old Town of Chania, the Ginger Concept is an all-day cafe and wine bar with a choice of Mediterenean-inspired dishes for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The whole setting is sleek and streamlined with mellow tunes to accompany your coffee, drink or meal. There is also a small in-house store with quirky and stylish souvenirs to bring back home.
With an enviable location in the heart of the old harbour, Aroma is one of the oldest and most popular cafes in Chania Town. The views are as post-card pretty as they get, plus there are all the passerbys’ comings and goings if you like people-watching. More than coffee, this place offers an array of delectable dishes whether for an elaborate breakfast and brunch or light lunch and dinner. It’s also a lovely spot for aperitifs with a laid-back atmosphere, and cordial service.
A few years ago Delizia introduced authentic Italian gelato to the Chaniots. Widely imaginative and absolutely mouthwatering, its various flavours won the hearts and palettes of locals, visitors and famous food bloggers alike. The brand has recently expanded with the inauguration of a new spot in the Old Town serving quality coffee along with tempting plateaus with Cretan cheeses, Italian charcuterie and wines, as well as cocktails with – of course! – their trademark, handmade ice cream.
An uber-scenic location meets creative all-day cuisine at Pallas: One of the most popular cafe-bar-restaurants in Chania, it is housed in a historical building that was once the home of Ali Pasha, right by the seafront and just across the photogenic Egyptian Lighthouse. The interiors are just as striking as the exteriors, while there is an array of Mediterranean-inspired dishes to complement your coffee or drink. Music choices range from electro, lounge, soul and funk, adding to the atmosphere. The Pallas group has also lately introduced Philocali – a cafe, bakery, delicatessen, wine cellar and bbq rolled in one – which has made already made an impact in the town’s brunch scene.