Crete’s second largest city seduces visitors with stunning harbor views, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking beaches. Needless to say, it doesn’t take much effort to find fun things to do in Chania.
Unsurprisingly, I fell under this harbor city’s spell in just three short days.
To enjoy your own tantalizing taste of Northern Crete, here are five fun things to do in Chania.
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Chania was built on ancient Kidonia and was the birthplace of the Minoan civilization.
As such, this Greek city became a thriving commerce center after the Fourth Crusade. However, it remained under Ottoman rule until 1898 before Crete united with Greece in 1913.
Later, the island was occupied under Axis forces during World War II.
Post-World War II, Chania became the second largest metropolitan center on the island.
Fortunately, this waterfront city has preserved its historical character and original colors, despite the influx of tourism. The city’s unique architecture combines Venetian and Turkish designs.
The Venetian Harbor was built between 1320 and 1356. Impressively, it was one of the most dominant commercial ports of the Eastern Mediterranean.
A stroll along this lively harbor will stimulate your senses. The ever-changing light around the water creates different moods throughout the day.
However, this popular area starts getting crowded around 9 AM, so plan accordingly.
I recommend eating at one of the area’s traditional restaurants or enjoying a fun night at a local bar.
If you’re traveling on foot, the walk to the lighthouse is much longer and rockier than it seems. For instance, I underestimated how long it would take and missed the sunrise. I suggest giving yourself ten minutes more than you think you need.
Also, wear flat shoes. I regretted wearing wedge heels!
Alternatively, if you don’t want to walk, there’s a tourist boat that crosses the harbor. Do keep in mind that visitors are no longer allowed inside the lighthouse.
The Venetian Harbor is located at Agiou Markou 8, Chania 731 32, Greece.
Each of the Greek islands offers a unique wine culture. I was inspired to try Cretan wine after a wonderful tasting experience in Santorini.
Actually, we enjoyed a wine and cheese tasting at Dourakis Winery.
Here, we sampled five Cretan wines and a variety of local cheeses for just 20 EUR each. This included two reds, two whites, and a sweet dessert wine.
Oh, and the cheese platter was delicious!
The setting is informal, unless you’re with a large group. However, a guide will briefly describe each wine as its introduced.
In brief, expect a laid-back experience and the company of animal friends!
In fact, animal lovers will feel right at home, as the property comes with cats, a dog, and chickens.
One cat gravitated to my husband and curled up in his lap. Of course, my husband wasn’t complaining, as he’s basically Dr. Dolittle!
Here, you’ll drink (and pet) at an unrushed pace. Our tasting ran on “Greek time,” about two hours from start to finish. This allowed for plenty of cuddle time!
Dourakis Winery is located at Alikampos, Apokoronou, Chania 730 07, Greece. I recommend getting a rental car or hiring a private driver.
Greek olive oil is one of my favorite things about this amazing country. In fact, I don’t even enjoy the California varieties anymore. Needless to say, I was sold when I discovered we could tour an olive farm.
I discovered Biolea online and was immediately intrigued by this family-owned company. They’re the only olive estate in Greece that produces stone-milled, cold-pressed olive oil on site.
Biolea has full autonomy over their oil, as all fruit is grown directly on the property.
You’ll tour the estate and learn how they produce and bottle their olive oil. Here, you’ll get an inside look at the machines that crush and press the olives before bottling.
Unfortunately, we didn’t witness the machines in action, but it was still neat to get a peek behind the scenes.
Unsurprisingly, the best part was the sampling!
We sampled three varieties: original, orange-infused, and lemon-infused. The lemon was my favorite.
Biolea is located at Astrikas, Kolymvari 730 06, Greece. I recommend getting a rental car or hiring a private driver.
Admittedly, the pink hue is subtle, but it’s visible where the water breaks.
In addition, this beach also has a heavenly lagoon that flows like a moving escalator. Here, you can experience the sensation of walking on water.
Elafonisi Beach is located in Elafonisi, about 75 kilometers from Chania Old Town. You can access it by car, boat, or daily bus service.
Alcanea Boutique Hotel was the icing on the Chania cake. This unique, boho-chic hotel really impressed me.
The 8-room property is ideally situated right along the waterfront.
For instance, I loved the charming Venetian style windows. I opened them to healing sunshine and striking harbor views each morning.
The property also has a cozy common space for visitors. I felt like I landed in Morocco!
There’s also a relaxing reading area where guests can make coffee or tea at any time.
In addition, there’s a hotel bar and a beautiful outdoor patio on the first floor. Here, guests can select from a menu of sweet and savory Cretan dishes for breakfast.
Also, the harbor views were stunning! We took in the beautiful views while enjoying Cretan cheese pie, yogurt, and Greek coffee.
Actually, the hotel gave us an additional complimentary cheese pie on our last day.
Alcanea Boutique Hotel is located at Aggelou 2, Chania 731 00, Greece. It’s next to the Nautical Museum of Crete.
The touristy harbor area may not be for everyone.
Therefore, I recommend Fileas Art Hotel for more of a laidback neighborhood feel. This boutique property is another Aria Hotels member. It’s just a 10-minute walk from Alcanea Boutique Hotel in the Old Town.
We spent one night at this sister property and enjoyed the local vibe. Our room was spacious, clean, and colorful.
I loved the décor of this property. They have a fun jungle theme with animal fixtures, zebra print pillows, and cute artwork.
Although Fileas Art Hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, we were warmly invited back to Alcanea for breakfast.
However, both properties are conducive to exploring this amazing city.
Fileas Art Hotel is located at Chania 731 31, Greece in Old Town Chania.
If you’d like to explore more of Crete, check out my guide to Agia Pelagia, including recommendations for Heraklion and Rethymno.
Have you been to Crete? What were some of your favorite activities? Let me know in the comments!
I wrote this post in conjunction with Aria Hotels. They kindly hosted me and my husband at Alcanea Boutique Hotel and Fileas Art Hotel during our time in Chania. As always, all opinions are my own.