It is almost impossible not to fall in love with Chania. This Cretan vibrant port has so much to offer: abundant history and culture; traditional tavernas; elegant waterfront restaurants and cafes; quaint little shops with local arts and crafts; a beautiful old town with maze like alleys to get lost in-and a stunning, surrounding countryside. Is your appetite whetted? Read on for the top 10 things to do in Chania:
Wonder around the old town
The best way to discover what makes Crete’s former capital so magical is by getting lost in the old town and the lesser-known Ottoman and Jewish quarters: Feel history coming alive as you wander through narrow alleys, hidden backstreets and passages.Take a peek through open doors to uncover secret gardens; admire Venetian and Ottoman remains and monuments along the way. Head to the old Turkish neighborhood which has recently been transformed to a bustling, hip and sophisticated hangout. Gaze at Agios Nikolaos– one of the most significant churches of Chania– hosting both a bell tower and a minaret, to understand the multicultural character of this town. Have a fortifying Greek coffee under the ancient sycamore tree in Splanza- a central, but not touristy, square which is named 1821 in honor of the revolt against the Turks. Make sure you walk as far as the historic district of Halepa; with its stately mansions-homes of prominent politicians and former princes.
Buy food and drink at the municipal market
The cross shaped “Dimotiki Agora”– once the edge of the city; nowadays the border between the old and new town- is an impressive covered market which was designed after Marseille’s local market; and inaugurated by prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos in 1913. A vibrant, lively point of reference in everyday life; unfalteringly included in any list of the top 10 things to do in Chania; It hosts more than 70 shops selling delectable local delicacies, such as the trademark Cretan gruyere, mizithra and anthotiro; staka; olives; olive oil and fiery raki. You may also try one of the tavernas inside the market, for a true taste of local life.
Go to an open air cinema
Gaze at the star studded sky and watch your favorite movie at the same time! This is a beloved pastime in Greece in the summer and not without good reason. Chania boasts two open air cinemas: Attikon in Halepa which usually features blockbusters; and Kipos in the national garden, with classic and arty movies. Take your pick as your mod strikes you.
Cretan music with its rousing lyrics and ecstatic tunes is simply amazing. Listening to it live, is an experience not to be missed and bound to be forever cherished. Chania is home to several places featuring live performances almost every night. Chalkina in the Old port or Adespoto in the Mahairadika area, are some good options. They also serve tidbits and raki, to be savored along with the music.
Go out at Daliani
For a taste of local life head to Daliani Street in the evenings to hang out with the Cretans. The area hosts a plethora of restaurants and bars geared towards all tastes and budgets and is therefore heavily frequented by all sorts of people. Some popular suggestions include Kibar which is housed in a 16th century Venetian monastery with a fully blossomed courtyard; and miniatoura-a tiny bar, as its name suggests, with cool vibes, great music and cocktails.
Discover the White mountains
Bask in the glorious scenery of Crete’s majestic mountainous range and discover the land’s age old stories and traditions.There are quite a few companies offering guided jeep tours in the White Mountains and their off the beaten track, villages. You’ll traverse through fertile valleys with orange trees and avocados, sleepy villages and shepherd’s huts; you’ll get to sample traditional food and drink and chat with weather beaten, yet uncanningly wise and hospitable locals and you’ ll come across eagles and wild goats, as you go about it. Without doubt this is an experience that merits to be included top 10 things to do in Chania.
Explore the museums
The Archaeological Museum of Chania in the Catholic church of Saint Francis, might not be as grandiose as that of Heraklion, yet it boasts several fascinating exhibits.
To truly understand the history of Chania and the various phases it has undergone throughout the eons, visit the Maritime Museum in the Venetian “Firka” Fortress at the entrance of the Old Harbor. Equally compelling is the War Museum of Askyfou which pays tribute to the Cretan men who fought for their freedom. On a different note, at the Venetian church of Saint Salvatore you’ll admire a collection of frescoes, jewelry, and sculptures from the Byzantine era.
Relive your childhood
Acqua Creta at Limnoupolis is one of the largest water parks in Greece, offering a host of games, slides and attractions to thrill you out and to help you escape from the heat. You will also feel like a kid again -with or without your offspring- at Agia Marina -Platanias, home to our Oscar Suites & Village. Among the abundant tourist facilities there is a mini-golf course, numerous playgrounds and a “Magic Train” that travels through the region.
Go hiking at Samaria
One of the top 10 things to do in Chania is to spend a day hiking at the dramatic Samariá Gorge. Carved out of a limestone plateau, this spectacular river gorge is one of the largest in Europe and renowned across the world. Start at over 1,219 m and ease your way along a 18 km trail down to sea level at Agia Roumeli, on the shores of the Libyan Sea. Conclude your 5-6 hour adventure with a refreshing dip in the crystal clear waters and then a hearty lunch in a local taverna-you certainly need and deserve it.
Learn the secrets Crete’s liquid gold and ancient wine
Discover some of the country’s most famous produce – the unsurpassed, high-quality Cretan olive oil and the exquisite Cretan wine. There are many operational olive oil mills and wineries which are open to the public, like Terra Creta and Karavitakis winery, both in Kolymvari. This is indeed a fascinating experience, one of the top 10 things to do in Chania, as you’ll get to trace a history that dates back to the first Greeks who started pressing olives 5,000 years ago; and likewise cultivating grapes some 4.000 years ago.