Chania is one of the most picturesque Mediterranean ports – but also a living and breathing, modern city with abundant charms.
There are many exciting things to do in Chania – whether you are a nature lover, a history buff, a foodie, a culture aficionado, or just someone with a healthy interest in all of the above.
Read on for our handpicked suggestions, tips and ideas to experience a holiday that’s authentic to the bone and just as immersive.
What to do in Chania: nature enthusiasts & action-seekers
Take into the mountains
Samaria – aka Europe’s Grand Canyon – is the most emblematic gorge in Crete – but its many siblings are no less impressive. If you are an experienced climber who’s not afraid of a bit of toil, head to Kaliakoudes Gorge, between the villages of Paidohori, Nio Chorio and Machairi in Apokoronas: a side stream of the river Kiliaris, the second-largest in water flow river in Crete, Kaliakoudes is small (just 1.5 km long) and supremely beautiful with dense vegetation and waterfalls until late spring. But it has very narrow passages and about six rappels, so it requires the use of technical equipment throughout its length. On the other hand, you can choose Imbros for a scenic, 3,5-hour walk that’s even appropriate for kids; or go to Sirikari (also known as Polyrinia) Gorge to discover a walker-friendly trail rich in flora and fauna – this is the home of aromatic plants and luscious trees but also wild goats and majestic griffon vultures who nest on the high cliffs.
Take into the water
Opportunities for energetic aquatic fun abound in Chania. Cycle around, swim or cruise Lake Kourna with a pedalo – protected under Natura 2000, this is Crete’s only freshwater lake and an important habitat for moorhens and ducks, eels, snakes, rare species of turtles, herons and cormorants. The setting is sublimely relaxing, while on your way back, you can make a detour to the homonymous Kournas village just 4 km south of the lake. At an altitude of 200 meters on the foot of Mount Dafnomadara, it is pristine and untouristic, allowing you to get a glimpse of times bygone.
With over 350km of coastline and more than 80 beaches, Chania also is tailor-designed for water sports. From scuba diving and snorkelling to wind and kite surfing, water skiing, and wakeboarding and from stand-up paddling to canoeing, kayaking and parasailing choices are really endless. Kalyves and Koutalas in Apokoronas offer scuba diving lessons – even if you have never tried it before, you can be a confident diver in no time and enjoy Crete’s crystal-clear waters. Plus there are many options for boat hire and various types of seafaring adventures – snorkelling, kayaking etc.
Likewise, in Georgioupolis, you can find a water sports centre offering parasailing, jet skis, sofa, banana boat, waterskiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing and sup. Make sure to consult with our concierge to find the activity that’s right for you.
What to do in Chania: foodies & bon vivants
Crete is a foodie paradise – from internationally acclaimed restaurants to quaint local haunts, choices are aplenty and unbelievably mouthwatering.
Dounias is a traditional gastronomic centre of Cretan nutrition, tucked away in a small hamlet, high up in the White Mountains, where everything is homegrown and home-cooked over a wood fire.
Likewise, Milia, an eco-retreat in a medieval mountainous village is where you sample elevated takes on rustic classics and also learn how to cook like a Cretan.
As for Thalassino Ageri in Tabakaria – Chania’s old Tanneries area that’s been prettily revamped – blends a cinematic scenery by the water with delicious, super fresh seafood.
But you can also discover abundant culinary treasures in a quaint village kafenion – which literally means coffee shop, but it’s more like an all-day village social centre, where you can get everything from a simple cup of coffee to an array of local delicacies. These places are found everywhere in Crete – the villages of Apokoronas host some characteristic examples – and gastronomic explorations aside, you’ll get to hear the stories of the patrons. And If you’re lucky you’ll even get the chance to hear them playing the Lyra and reciting mantinades
Probably the best thing in Crete is that everything is multi-sensory – you might go somewhere for the food but there is a bonus experience of local life and culture. And that is nothing short of fascinating.
Armed with insiders intel, our concierge can help you design a personalised itinerary that’ll inspire everyone in your party. Make sure to pick their brains for more tips and advice on what to do in Chania! Stay tuned to our blog for more insights and tips on what to see, shop, eat and pack for Chania and the island of Crete!