Are you spending a holiday in Crete and have decided to spend two days in Chania? Are you on a European city break on Crete? This itinerary will help you choose what things to do in this gorgeous city of west Crete. Let’s see what you can see, do, and experience with 2 days in Chania or more!
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- Chania city break
- How to use this itinerary guide to Chania
- A quick tour of Chania
- 1 day in Chania
- Chania in 2-3 days
- General information about Chania
Chania city break
Chances are that you’ll be spending more time in Crete’s second important city, however, if you’re seeing the region with an organized tour and have little free time available, there’s always plenty to see in the area in just a few hours.
Just a few hours in Chania… or more!
If you’ve arrived in Chania on a cruise ship, or plan to spend a weekend in town, you won’t believe how many things you can do in Chania.
Chania is home to a magnificent old town and a romantic Venetian port. There are buildings full of history and restaurants full of flavor.
Besides, the region is known for over 30 paradisiac beaches you can easily visit on a day trip even if you’re in town for just a few days.
If your trip to Crete foresees just one day in Chania, choose some of the ideas from the following itinerary and enjoy the best of the city.
How to use this itinerary guide to Chania
A few hours in Chania
- This itinerary can be used for a short visit to Chania. If you stop in town just for a few hours, on your way to the beaches of the extreme west of the island, head directly to the places listed under Quick Tour of Chania.
One day in Chania
- Add some of the afternoon suggestions if you’re spending the whole day in the city. Also, check the gastronomic suggestions for lunch and dinner.
Two days or more days in Chania
- If you’re in Chania for two full days, choose one of the alternative itineraries under What to do in Chania in 2 or 3 days.
- If you fall in love with this city and decide to extend your stay, you just need to pick one more day trip idea to have more things to do.
- Don’t forget to check the hotel recommendations and tips for public transportation.
A quick tour of Chania
3 Things not to miss in town
It’s really hard for me to choose just 3 must-do things in Chania, the more time I spend here, the more I enjoy the many things you shouldn’t miss. And I really want to tell you about all of them.
Anyway, I must remember you have little time so I’ll be brief (you’re always free to check the 10 best things to do in Chania if you want to see and do more!)
1. Visit the Agora, Chania’s Municipal Market
There’s no better place to get a flavor of the city than paying a visit to the Agora – Chania’s municipal market –. Kick start your day with the authentic tastes of Crete.
Inside the market, approach the different shops and explore the local tastes, it’s very common for vendors to offer you to sample some of their own products.
Go for cheese (Graviera and Myzithra varieties), thyme honey, and olive oil. Feel the fragrance of herbs and spices and discover the immense variety of greens and fruit on display.
- The Agora of Chania is on Sofoklis Venizelos Square
- GPS coordinates: Latitude N 35.513894 | Longitude E 24.020335
- The market entrance divides the new city from the old town.
- INSIDER’S TIP: Once you’ve done sightseeing in the city, come back for lunch at the market. Choose O Michelas for authentic homemade dishes. Manolis, his aunt, and his mom will be happy to show you what’s on the stove! Dishes include Chaniotic specialties such as boureki, a delicious veggie pie with zucchini, potatoes, local cheese, and fresh mint.
2. Check the landmarks in the Venetian Harbor
After you’ve visited the market, leave from the back door and walk west until you reach Halidon Street and once there, turn right and walk down to the sea.
In less than 10 minutes you’ll be surrounded by the magic Venetian atmosphere of Chania’s old port.
The old harbor of Chania was built during the years of the Venetian rule of the island over a period of about 300 years. There are two very distinct basins, the western one starting at the Firkas Fortress and ending at the Mosque of the Janissaries, and the eastern basin, home to the new marina.
The western basin used to be the place where goods were unloaded from the ships and stored in the warehouses. Those warehouses are now restaurants targeting mostly tourists (locals don’t eat at the port!), while the shipyards were located in the eastern basin.
Soak in the views, discover the Venetian architecture and the Turkish balconies made of wood. A short walk along the port will take you to the Fortress of Firkas.
The structure was completed only a few years before the Venetian city fell to the Ottoman Empire. Its original name was Fortezza Revellino del Porto and its main use was defensive but it was also the headquarters of the Army Commander in town. Inside, there were areas devoted to the storage of ammunition.
After the arrival of the Turks, the structure was used as barracks for the Ottoman soldiers, and it was then when it got the name of Firkas (which in Turkish means barrack). Parts of the building were used as a prison for the revolutionary rebels during the civil war.
If you have some extra time, visit the Maritime Museum of Chania inside the fortress, or walk towards the watchtower facing the lighthouse.
On the watchtower stands the Greek flag pole. It was here where the national flag was first raised on the island in 1913, after Enosis, the union of Crete with Greece. From this point, you will get the best views of the lighthouse.
The Mosque of the Janissaries
On the opposite end of the harbor, another landmark of Chania will certainly catch your attention. A beautiful building with a domed pink roof stands right by the sea adding character to the already eclectic local architecture made of mosques, churches, and aristocratic buildings. It’s the Mosque of the Janissaries.
The former mosque and now exhibition center is also known as Küçük Pasha Hasan Mosque (which can translate as the small mosque, as well as Yali Tzamisi, or the mosque by the sea). It was established as a religious center of prayer during the Ottoman rule of Crete for the Turkish soldiers known as the Janissaries.
The mosque stands on the foundations of a former Venetian church. It is built in limestone and has typical Venetian architecture, such as arched doors and windows.
On the south corner, it’s possible to observe the base of the former minaret, torn down in 1939. Also visible are the remains of a wall fountain with taps (çesme in Turkish) carved on the stone wall Keep your eyes open! These wall fountains are common all over the old town!
The mosque is the oldest Ottoman structure on the island, functioning as a mosque since 1645, the year when Chania was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
It was built on the foundations of an old Venetian church and it was a place of prayer exclusive for the Janissaries, the Turkish soldiers stationed around the island to keep law and order.
The mosque is open to the public when there’re art and crafts exhibitions going on inside unless you need to buy an entrance ticket to the actual exhibition, the entrance to the mosque is free.
Pass in front of the mosque and keep walking east to reach the Marina. Here, a long line of luxury yachts shares the dock with more modest but colorful fishing boats. This used to be the eastern basin of the Venetian Harbor.
The ample sidewalk hosts a variety of restaurants, bars, and tavernas serving anything from cocktails to traditional Greek dishes, including seafood, high-end gastronomy, and even sushi.
However, the true character of the promenade is shaped by the imposing structure of the Venetian Arsenali, the dry-docks built to house and repair the boats belonging to the extensive Venetian fleet. They were built between 1467 and 1599.
The structures had a rectangular shape and were about 50 m in length, open on the side of the sea so that ships could be pulled inside and repaired. They have impressive vaulted ceilings and most of them are no closed to the public.
A refined building known as the Grand Arsenal stands out on the waterfront. It’s a newer structure with very thick walls made of stone to which a second floor was added by the Ottomans. Now it’s home to an exhibition center.
The Egyptian Lighthouse
Reaching the end of the promenade, you’ll be able to walk along the mole and make your way to the Egyptian Lighthouse of Chania. Once there, you’ll be standing opposite the fortress you visited a while ago and enjoying a completely different perspective of the Venetian port of Chania.
Although it was many times rebuilt and renewed, the Lighthouse of Chania is one of the oldest lighthouses around the world.
This is another landmark of the old town built by the Venetians at the end of the 16th century. The lighthouse stands on a solid bedrock at the end of a mole erected to prevent the high tides that would otherwise reach the Arsenals when the wind blows.
It’s said, in fact, that the Venetian harbor does not really enjoy a favorable position as northern winds are common in the area (a magnificent sight to witness during the winter days of Chania).
Between 1830 and 1840, Crete was assigned to the regent of Egypt and it was then that the lighthouse was reconstructed.
By the end of the Ottoman rule (1898), the lighthouse had been completely restored and a ladder had been added to the structure.
The lighthouse is 21 meters tall, (26 meters from the rock base) and it clearly resembles the shape of a minaret.
It also has an internal stairway leading to the top balcony with its glass tower. There are three clear sections in the structure: An octagonal base, a middle portion with sixteen different sides, and a circular top area.
3. Explore the alleys of the district of Topanas
One of the old town’s most picturesque districts is Topanas, a quarter populated with elegant Mannerist mansions and Venetian palazzi, a few monasteries, and beautiful churches too.
During the first 200 years of Venetian rule, this was the place where the most important Venetian rulers inhabited in town.
As time went by, Cretans and Venetians managed to get along establishing the right conditions for a long period of economic prosperity. Topanas was born as a consequence.
Topanas is located on the western extreme of the old town. It has a fortified perimeter since the Ottoman threat on the Eastern Mediterranean was already a fact.
When Chania fell to the Ottomans, this area was the place where the Christian part of the population gathered, while the Turks distributed on the western side of the town (mostly in the quarters of Kastelli and Splantzia).
The quarter got its name from the Turkish term tophane, or arsenal, as at the end of Theotokopoulou Street, the road that defines the western limit of the old town, there used to be an ammunition warehouse, parts of which are still visible today.
After the Ottoman rule, during the years of autonomy, different embassies and consulates established in the area, but soon after they moved out of the city walls, establishing in the new aristocratic neighborhood of Chalepa. Today, these historic buildings house some of the most charming boutique hotels of Crete. Here you can discover the mysterious and intriguing past of these hotels.
1 day in Chania
If the city managed to capture your attention, or if you have a few more hours to spend in town, it will be easy to find more things to do in the afternoon. First of all, let’s stop for a quick lunch so as to gather strengths for our afternoon walk.
Lunch on the go
If you’re not in the mood for sitting and waiting to be served, but just want to grab a bite on the go and keep exploring, check the following cheap, fast, convenient, and tasty options for a quick meal. Here’s where to eat a quick lunch in Chania:
|Souvlaki Oasis: One of Chania’s staples serving only gyro pita for over 50 years nonstop. In the wrap only meat, tomato, onion. Forget the fries. Limited places to sit, so just grab and walk away.|
(Vouloudaki 4 – a few meters away from the old town).
Funkys: Grab a slice of delicious pizza, a sandwich, a hamburger, crepes, donuts, or coffees for just a few euros. Very limited places to sit, so eat on the go and enjoy.*
*After +20 years in Italy, I know a thing or two about pizza. Hands down, the best Italian style pizza in town.
(Two spots in town: Chatzimichali Giannari 76 and Sarpidonas 6 – near the Arsenali).
If you find yourself on Chatzimichali Giannari street, but you suddenly go “Why should I eat pizza in Greece?” Don’t panic, you’re right! A few meters away, three different gyro joints come to the rescue:
Thraka – Se Anammena Karvouna – Kalamakia and Souvlakia have different varieties of gyro wraps and skewers. Check which one fits your palate.
(Respectively at Chatzimichali Giannari 34, 20, and 16).
Pork to Beef Wild: Simple and tasty bites, handmade pita, and a huge choice of meat and vegetables to stuff them to your taste.
Agora: As mentioned above, check the Municipal Market for some convenient freshly made dishes such as gemista, moussaka, pastitsio, local stifado, and kalitsounia (veggie pies).
(Plateia Agoras, inside the market).
Bougatsa Iordanis: Craving for something sweet? Reach the most classic place in town for a bite of the famous Chania staple, bougatsa. Try this delicious phyllo pastry wrap with a filing of local mizithra cheese. Add sugar or cinnamon on top if you want too.
Three more things to do in the afternoon
4. Explore the Jewish quarter
Not far from the heart of Topanas, walk along Kondilaki Street to visit the center of the former Jewish quarter of Chania. Also known as Zudecca or Ebraiki, this neighborhood was home to a flourishing Jewish community that lived in town for centuries.
On a small parallel alley to Kondilaki, you can also visit Crete’s only and last-standing Synagogue built in a former Venetian church from the 15th century.
The building, which functioned as a Catholic church during the Venetian times was handed to the Jewish community during the Turkish rule and it became one of the two synagogues in the city. The other one, which was bigger and belonged to the Sefardi community, was destroyed during the Nazi bombing of the city in 1941.
I’ve written a lot more about Etz Hayim Synagogue here. The building can be visited in the early afternoons, and the voluntary staff that works in the site will be pleased to share with you the history of the place as well as the stories of the Jews of Chania.
5. Check the Folklore Museum
From the Jewish quarter, walk a few steps and reach Halidon Street again, opposite the Cathedral, the entrance to the Folklore Museum of Chania is in the courtyard of the Catholic church.
This private museum gives you a close-up look into the lifestyle and traditions of the people living on the island in the 18th and 19th centuries.
You can check the tools used to work in the fields and in the mountains, some local crafts and other objects of everyday use to have a clearer picture of how life used to be on Crete.
The museum is also home to a workshop dedicated to the local craft of kopaneli, (embroidery), one more local tradition that is sadly being forgotten and lost.
Folklore Museum of Chania (Halidon Street 46)
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9 am – 6 pm
Ticket: 3€ (students 2€, children free) – Time needed to visit: About 1 hour.
It’s also a good idea to pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Chania, only a couple of steps from away, on the same street. The exhibition is in the former church of Agios Frangiskos, dating from 1598, belonging to the Franciscan Monastery that stood there.
The archaeological collection includes seals, coins, and other objects from the Minoan and the eras coming from the city of Chania and the surrounding area, including Ancient Kydonia, Aptera, Kissamos, and Polyrrenia.
Archaeological Museum of Chania (Halidon Street 28)
Opening hours: 8 am – 8 pm (summer), 8.30 am – 3.30 pm (winter), closed on Tuesdays
Ticket: 4€ (reduced & winter 2€) – Time needed to visit: About 2 hours.
6. Visit Stivanadika, the road of the leather
Walk along the nearby Skridlof street to check the unique leather handmade boots, part of the traditional dress of the Cretan shepherd.
Only two boot artisans are still producing custom-made leather boots on this road, they are Kyrio Antonis and Kyrio Lefteris, and you can easily spot their shops as they are only ones with the tall Cretan boots on display.
Most of the other shops on this commercial road sell other leather products, including bags, jackets, wallets, and belts. Not every product is made in Greece, so double-check both the prices and the quality when buying.
You can tell a local object from an imported one as the leather will be more rustic, and there will be less use of dyes and artificial-looking colors in Cretan and Greek products.
This can turn into a great opportunity to purchase a souvenir to take back with you, as well as to get in touch with the local artisans.
Dinner in town
Head to the Arsenals in front of the Egyptian Lighthouse to begin your evening in town with a spectacular sunset by the sea. There’s nothing like the romantic atmosphere of the Venetian Harbor to end the day.
Discover one of Chania’s top restaurants and treat yourself with the delicacies on the seasonal menu of Salis, entirely filled with fresh ingredients, sourced from local farms.
Besides, this restaurant has earned different awards for the excellence of their wine lists.
From their menu…
Try their Deconstructed Pastitsio, Cretan pasta with wild truffles from Agios Nikolaos and Graviera cheese chips. If you prefer fish, choose the Octopus Carpaccio with ginger and lemon. End with the sweet touch of a Salted Caramel Mousse. Just per-fect!
Pick up your phone and dial (+30) 2821 043700 to book a table at Salis (Akti Enoseos 3, Venetian Arsenals).
Spend the night in Chania
Chania Accommodation Resources
When it comes to Chania, accommodation is fairly accessible, however, early booking will guarantee a better deal. Hotels in Chania sell out early since it’s a super popular destination. Don’t book your room last minute!
– There are great places to stay in Chania with a limited budget (under €50 per day). My favorite place is Cocoon City Hostel, where a bed in a mixed dorm starts at €22 per night!
– Mid-range options go from €50 to €150 per night. A higher budget offers more possibilities to choose from. Vranas Ambience Hotel in the center of the old town is great and prices start at €50 per night.
– With a higher budget, from €160 per night, you’ll be able to stay in an elegant boutique hotel. Casa Delfino is my absolute favorite in the old town of Chania.
Chania in 2 or 3 days
This itinerary was originally though as 1 day in town + 1 day trip in the Chania region, the perfect 2-day in Chania trip. However, if your stay lasts a few more days, or if you have picked this town as a mini holiday destination, any of the following alternative itineraries could be perfect for your second, third… or even fourth day in Chania.
Choose one of the following days if you have limited time available, or pick them all if you’re staying in Chania more. These itineraries are flexible and can be combined as you prefer.
Besides, if you rent your own car and drive around the west coast of Crete, you won’t be sorry, it will allow you to stop any time you wish, see more, and enjoy your time in a smarter way!
|city beaches – Turkish quarter – dinner by the sea|
Start the day with a Cretan breakfast at Aroma, at the old port.
Then, walk east until you reach the city beach of Koum Kapi to spend the morning.
Afternoon (1st stop)
Our first morning stop is Sifaka Street to check the last remaining blade-smiths. Wander along the alleys of Splantzia, the Turkish quarter, and stop for a quick lunch in 1821 Square.
Afternoon (2nd stop)
Head back to Koum Kapi and keep walking east by the sea until you arrive in Tabakaria, the quarter of the abandoned tanneries. This is a great spot to see a different side of the city skyline, especially at sunset.
One of the best places for seafood in town is Thalassino Ageri, a restaurant by the sea in the suggestive atmosphere of the old tanneries.
After dinner, enjoy a walk back to town and stop for a cocktail at Barbarossa, right in front of the lighthouse.
|botanical garden – mountains – winery|
Reach the area of Therisso, and drive through the gorge until you reach the village. Therisso played a key role during the fights for freedom.
In the nearby village of Drakonas, stop for lunch at Ntounias, one of Crete’s top-rated places for authentic Cretan food.
Enjoy a fantastic sunset from the vineyards of Manousakis Winery, not far from Therisso. You will be able to learn about the local grapes and the fantastic wines of Crete.
>> These organized tours are a fantastic alternative for foodies!
BEACH LOVER ITINERARY
|beaches – views|
Leave Chania early in the morning to reach the city of Kissamos. Once there, you can venture on the dirt road track that takes you directly to the spectacular Balos Beach and Lagoon where you can spend either the morning or the whole day.
It’s not impossible to squeeze another great beach today. Falassarna is about an hour (or less) away from Balos, and a magnificent beach for water sports. Besides, Falassarna is also the place with the best sunsets on Crete.
If there’s a place on Crete that combines great food and great views, that’s Taverna Spilios, overlooking the bay of Falassarna.
Here you can enjoy unique traditional dishes, and spend a wonderful evening before heading back to Chania.
>> Choose an organized tour and forget about driving back to the hotel after a long day at the beach!
|gorges – E4 path – bungee jumping|
All-day trip: Alternative 1
Hiking all the way through Samaria Gorge (about 13 km) can take anything from 4 to 7 hours and it’s one of the most rewarding outdoor activities you can do in Chania.
At the end of the walk, spend some time at Agia Roumeli beach until it’s time to board the ferry back to Chora Sfakion, and then the bus to Chania.
You can hike on your own or you can book a guided tour.
All-day trip: Alternative 2
If Samaria is too much, check these options:
- hike the shorter gorge of Imbros, or
- drive all the way through Imbros gorge to reach Chora Sfakion and from there hike the E4 path to the beach of Loutro, or
- once in Chora Sfakion, drive to the gorge of Aradaina and jump from Europe’s second-highest bridge!
>> These organized tours are a great alternative for adrenaline junkies!
|beach – archaeological site|
Start early in the morning and head to the Akrotiri Peninsula. In the area, your kids will be able to swim in the safe beach of Stavros.
If you have older kids, the beach of Kalathas is a great alternative.
Kids love archaeological sites. Not far from the peninsula, visit the ancient ruins of Aptera overlooking the bay of Souda.
The nearby village of Stylos is a great place for lunch.
Drive back to the base of Akrotiri to visit Venizelos’ Tombs, on a hill overlooking the old port of Chania. Kids will be mesmerized by the views, play in the park and even discover an abandoned statue… This is also a top place to see the sunset.
You can treat them with cake in the nearby cafe Koukouvaia, or go for dinner with a view at Carte Postale, both in the area.
General information about Chania
Chania Crete hotels: Where to stay
Check this guide to find accommodation in Chania if you’re still uncertain about where to stay on the island. If you’re looking for ideas to spend more time on the island, check this 3 weeks in Crete, which can be easily adapted to 2 weeks on the island.
How to reach the airport of Chania
The local city bus company of Chania (KTEL) connects the city with the international airport of Daskalogianni in Chania, with a regular bus service.
The bus departs opposite the arrivals-departures building. The ticket is €2.5
Arriving or departing by sea: The port of Chania
The Port of Souda is the commercial harbor serving the city of Chania with daily arrivals from Athens and a number of cruise ships docking during the high season too.
From the port, you can reach the city of Chania catching the local bus or by taxi. Depending on the traffic and the hour of the day, the trip can last from 15 to 30 minutes.
The bus from the city center to the port departs from the Central Market square every 20 minutes (it runs from 6 am to 11 pm).
The bus connecting Chania to Rethymnon and Heraklion makes a stop at Souda as well, so you can also catch that bus. Check prices and schedule here.
Which of the above things would you like to do in Chania?
Let me know in the comments below!
Coming to Crete any time soon? These fantastic resources will help you organize the trip!
- Start by heading right to my post with helpful tips to plan a trip to Crete, which goes over every detail you need to know, from when it’s best to travel to what documents you need, or how to get a SIM card. You can also check my post to plan a Crete trip with kids!
- Probably, you’re also planning to spend some time at the beach on the island. Check my guide to the best beaches in Crete to choose the one you like the most. Read this article to decide what area suits best to stay in Crete, or check this post is you still don’t know all the things you can do in Crete.
- Finally, to have updated information about the island, join my private group on Facebook about Crete and download a copy of my West Crete Travel Guide to have it always with you on the island!
Finally, make sure you’ve got everything you for a hassle-free trip!
- I never move around the island with any of these… my Osprey backpack has been the most loyal travel partner over the last 5 years. It’s sturdy, light, roomy, and super comfortable! I just love it. To visit the old town, archaeological sites, and museums, this little crossbody bag is always around.
- When driving around Crete, I always pack my Michelin map, clear, accurate, and easy to read and my Nikon D7200, I’m lost without any of them. In summer I also carry good sunscreen lotion, the sun on the island can be pretty aggressive.
- Greece, and especially Crete, is a fairly safe destination, however, I’m sure you know that it’s always better to travel with an insurance policy for complete peace of mind. My favorite? World Nomads. Already left home? Buy your travel insurance online now!
- Always bring with you a good travel guide to Crete! The best Crete Travel Guide I’ve found so far is the one published by Lonely Planet. It has all the information you need.
- Airfares to Crete can vary immensely from one airline to the other, make sure you always compare ticket prices with a powerful search engine. Getting to Crete can be really comfortable with an airplane, but nothing beats the romantic experience of traveling by sea. I always choose Let’s Ferry to visit other Greek islands or to travel directly to Crete from Athens. It has a powerful search engine to get the right ticket you need!
- If I need to book accommodation in Crete or anywhere else, I personally use Booking.com. Their Genius Loyalty Programme allows me to find better fees. As they say, the more you stay with them, the more rewards you get.
- Road trips in Crete are the most authentic way to explore the island. Find the cheapest rental car using a good car rental search engine. Discover Cars searches over 500 trusted rental companies for you to find the best deal. Compare prices for rental cars in Crete here.
- Sometimes, the best way to get to know a place better and make the most of your time on Crete is to join an organized tour. GetYourGuide has a great selection of proposals that help you save time and money. From cooking lessons to archaeological site tours, skip-the-line attractions, and even airport transfer!
Do you have everything you need? Then you just have to get ready to discover Crete, Greece’s most beautiful island!
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About the Author
Hola! I’m Gabi. Welcome to The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog! I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round. I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete. I’m a beach freak and on this island I’ve found heaven on earth!