Photo from PublicDomainPictures by Pixabay
Heavenly beaches, breathtaking gorges, lovely hamlets, high mountains… you name it!
Chania, on the western side of Crete, is a spectacular region with some of the most stunning landscapes you will find in Europe – if not the world. It’s also close to some of the big-ticket must-see Crete attractions – and therefore one of the best bases for exploring the island on day trips. Whether accessed by a private car, public transport or with an organised tour, these places near Chania will blow your mind and transform your holiday into an unforgettable experience.
A sure-fire Instagram hit and probably the most visited place in the whole Chania region, the iconic Elafonisi is invariably featured in the top beaches of the world lists. Famous for its candy-floss sands, cedar trees and astonishing turquoise waters, Elafonissi is tucked away in the southwest corner of Crete and reached by not-particularly-brilliant roads. This however does not deter the tourist hordes, so between June and September, it is jam-packed. Best time to visit – and you’ll be thankful for doing so! – is in early May or even better mid-October, as the weather still holds.
Driving there from Chania through the gorge of Topolia is an experience in its own right. The route is incredibly scenic with plenty of opportunities for unique captures of the local nature – you’ll get to spot eagles and vultures flying high in the mountains – and the sleepy small villages around.
For hiking enthusiasts, Topolia Gorge runs about 3 km long and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to hike, while there’s water until Spring.
Day Cruise to Balos Beach and Gramvousa:
Another crowd-pleaser, Balos lagoon at the tip of the westernmost peninsula, sports white soft sands, majestic rock formations and incredibly clear, light blue waters that’ll transport you to the Caribbean, in under an hour from the bustling town of Chania. Getting there on a private vehicle, however, can be a deal-breaker as it requires driving on a bumpy, dirt road. That’s why many travellers – without a 4×4 – opt to see all this from the comfort of a cruise.
Boats depart from Kissamos port, about 40 km west of Chania. The first stop is at the tiny uninhabited island of Gramvousa, which has a long and interesting history. There is a Venetian castle with sweeping views which makes for a great hike and a nearby shipwreck which you can explore. Later on, you will move to the fabled Balos Lagoon where you’ll swim, snorkel and play at one of the systematically voted most beautiful beaches in the world. Make sure to time your visit right, either for May or better still, October to have enough space to appreciate this wondrous place without the hoi-polloi.
Less than 20 minutes away by car from the Adeste Chania Luxury Villas in Apokoronas, Georgioupolis is one of the best beach resorts in Crete, with several sights to explore. Stretching over 10 km of soft sands, it is one of the longest beaches on the island – and it is lined with several beach bars, cafes and restaurants catering to all tastes and dispositions. At the end of a rocky causeway, the sea-kissed little chapel of Agios Nikolaos is one of the most iconic sights on Crete – and an ever-popular wedding venue. For another, all-together non-touristic, most authentic experience, visit this postcard-pretty site on December 6, the day of its namesake’s patron celebration.
Likewise, just 4 km from Georgioupolis, Kournas is a natural wonder protected under the Natura 2000 program. Surrounded by high mountains and olive groves, it is the only large natural freshwater lake in Crete – ideal for leisurely strolls, swimming or doing pedalo and kayak.
An hour east of Chania – and the Adeste Luxury Villas – Rethymno, the third largest city in Crete, is utterly charming, with a well-maintained Venetian and Turkish Old Town and a bijoux Venetian harbour. The city is dominated by the Fortezza, a sprawling hilltop castle circa 1573, with superb views of the town, Psiloritis and Lefka Oroi – two of the highest mountains on the island. Though it gets pretty busy in the summer, you’ll still be able to find a quiet corner in the maze of narrow lanes.
Rethymno also boasts perhaps the best city beach in Crete, just 1km east of the city centre, next to the Venetian port. With golden sands and clear waters, it’s well organised and one of the top spots to catch the sunset.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to the best things to do near Chania. Stay tuned to our blog for more tips and ideas on how to make the most out of your visit to this paradisiacal corner of the earth!