Chania’s Venetian harbour is the town’s cultural hub – it defines the description ‘old meets new.’ The stunning Venetian and Ottoman buildings dotting the water’s edge have been given new life, as the Firkas Fortress is now the area’s maritime museum, and the white-domed Turkish mosque is an art gallery. Wandering through each is an excellent way to acquaint yourself with the town’s storied past and present.
A five-minute walk west from the harbour will bring you to the beginning of Chania’s stretch of beaches. The main shores are simply called Chania Beach, which, throughout the summer months, teem with sunbathers looking to lounge and watersports enthusiasts preparing for an adrenaline rush.
If you have any trouble finding a place to lay your towel, not far off are the calmer shores of Iguana Beach and the secluded bay at Agii Apostoli.
Venture into Chania’s old town and a network of narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants will unfold before you. There are museums exploring everything from Greece‘s football history to local folklore and Chania archaeology.
Just outside the busy town centre is where you can get your heart rate up with hikes through nearby gorges and around the ancient ruins of Aptera. Aptera is a former city turned archaeological site with temples, columns, a Roman cistern and baths you can spend the afternoon wandering around. Legend has it, it’s the site for the encounter between the sirens and muses.
If you’re on a last minute holiday to Crete in Chania with little ones,you’re in luck – the town has as many family-friendly spots as it does cultural ones. There’s a go-kart track, as well as the Limnoupolis Waterpark, which features body and tube slides, a lazy river, pools and a splash park to keep everyone cool in the warmer seasons.
When it comes to shopping, Chania is where it’s at in Crete. Its shops don’t discriminate, either – there’s everything from silly souvenirs to local produce and big-brand clothing.
Inside the old town is the famed Mercato Agoura di Chania. There, you’ll find an alleyway lined with stalls that boast handmade goods and Cretan specialities like olive oil, honey and wine. The covered marketplace offers a hodge podge of goods, and is made up of fruit and veggie stalls, cheese counters and souvenir spots.
Dining in Chania is anything but boring as there are hundreds of restaurants and tavernas dotted around town. With locations along the waterfront, in a converted Turkish bathhouse, up in the hills and overlooking the sea, incredible atmospheres come as standard.
The meals in Chania are delightfully Greek. A lot of tavernas specialise in Cretan food in the form of mezze platters and fresh seafood, though you’ll run into BBQ joints, Turkish restaurants and pub food as well. They aren’t all sit-down locales, either – Chania is laced with takeaway spots and bakeries, great for dining on the go while making the most of your cheap package holidays to Greece.
When the sun goes down, that’s about all that goes to sleep in Chania. The streets come alive with nightlife activity in the form of dance clubs and cocktail bars that’ll keep you going until the sun comes back around again. Many of the town’s tavernas effortlessly transform into low-key after-hours spots putting on live entertainment and Greek dancing. They’re great places to grab a glass of wine before heading out to the livelier clubs, which don’t get going until around midnight.