Skip to Content

Chania Itinerary: 3 Days On The Stunning Island Of Crete

share this post

Stay Wild Travels contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links then we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. Ads and affiliate links are how we keep this content free. A huge thanks if you use these as it helps a lot! See the Full Policy for more information.

Chania next to the water
Chania old town next to water

Chania is a stunning part of Crete that’s home to a charming old town, colourful streets, incredible hiking trails, historical sites and of course, beautiful beaches with crystal clear water. 

With a vast array of options for every type of traveller, it’s a place I’d recommend to anyone looking to explore a less crowded spot in Europe.

In this Chania itinerary, I’ll cover some need-to-know basics such as where it is and the best time to visit, before jumping into the itinerary. This covers 3 days of activities and you’ll also find some recommended places to stay, tried and tested restaurants and an FAQ.

If you’re tight on time, here are some of the key points and highlights to take not of:

🚗 Getting around: the best way to get around is to rent a car (taxis are expensive here)

🎟️ Must-do activities: Old Town, glass bottom boat with snorkelling, Therisso Gorge & a cooking class

🏨 Best hotel: Pilot Beach 5-star hotel

🥘 Best restaurant: Arismari

📱Data: install an eSim from Airalo rather than buying a local sim – it’s much less hassle! Get $3 off with code ‘AMELIA2423’

🩺 Best travel medical insurance: at 80% cheaper with just as much coverage than what I was previously paying, I’ll never stop sharing how great SafetyWing is as a full-time traveller!

Other Chania posts:

Where is Chania 

Chania old town at sunset

Chania is situated on the North West side of Crete – the biggest island in Greece. It’s approximately 20 minutes from the airport and 2 hours away from Heraklion – the capital city of Crete.

Book: flights to Chania with Jet2 / flights from London Stansted Airport

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Chania is considered to be from May to June and September to October. This is when you’ll get great weather, yet have manageable crowds and reasonable prices.

That being said, if you’re heading to Greece for hot weather, you’d be better off visiting between July and August when temperatures are around 30 degrees.

For budget travellers looking for last minute holidays and who don’t mind cooler temperatures of 10-18 degrees, it’s best to visit from November to March as you’ll get some great deals on flights and accommodation.

Chania Itinerary: Day 1

Explore the beaches

a group of umbrellas and chairs on a beach

The beaches in Chania are nothing short of incredible, with stunning crystal clear waters that slowly blend into a beautiful turquoise colour and I highly recommend dedicating a morning, day – or even a few days if you’re going to be in Chania for more than 3 – to enjoy them.

There are tonnes of beaches all over the island, however, the ones closest to Chania are:

  • Paralia Koum Κapi
  • Koum Kapi Beach
  • Nea Chora Beach

These beaches are nice, but if you’re looking for some even more beautiful spots, then I’d recommend travelling a little further to enjoy Balos Lagoon which is about an hour away from Chania, or Seitan Limania which is around 30 minutes away.

If you really are into your beaches, then you could even go as far as Elafonissi Beach – a really special spot in Crete due to its unique pink sand.

Drive, climb or hike through Therisso Gorge

a road through Therisso Gorge
a road through Therisso Gorge with a car driving

Therisso Gorge is a lesser-known spot near Chania that often gets overlooked by tourists, yet it’s less than 20 minutes away.

Whether you’re looking to take a scenic drive and stop off at quaint family-owned restaurants or you want to explore one of the many hiking trails or climbing spots, Therisso Gorge is a great alternative location to visit that you wouldn’t necessarily think you’d find in Crete. 

I stopped off at Leventogiannis restaurant which served delicious locally sourced food and had a great family feel to it, however below are some alternative restaurants to consider:

  • Maderes
  • Cafe Tavern Rooms Therisso
  • Limeri

For those who are looking for an active holiday, some excellent hiking trails in this area include: 

Visit Aptera Archeological Site And Koules Ottoman Fortress

ruins of a building in a field
a body of water with land and mountains in the background

The Aptera Archeological Site is an outdoor attraction.

For just 4 euros, you can wander the ruins and learn all about the history of the Minoan, Byzantine, and Ottoman heritage in Chania. 

From Roman baths to a Hellenistic theatre, it’s a fascinating spot to wander around – regardless of whether you’re into your history or not.

Whilst you’re here, you’ll also be able to see the Koules Ottoman Fortress. It’s just a few minutes drive from the Aptera Archeological Site and whilst you’re not able to enter, it offers incredible views over the sea and is an excellent photo spot!

Wander the streets of Old Town Chania

a man sitting on a bench with a fishing pole
a horse pulling a carriage

The Old Town is a spot that cannot be missed and somewhere that you’ll almost certainly head to more than once. It’s filled with restaurants, tiny alleyways stuffed with boutique stores and is a hub of activity during the day and the night.

Dedicating an evening to explore all thats on offer here is necessary and the reason I’d recommend heading here during the evening especially is because it’s a fantastic spot to watch the sunset. 

The colours over the water with the lighthouse stretching out into the middle of the sea is such a beautiful site and it’s even better if you can bag a spot in one of the restaurants that overlook it. 

Read more: Chania Old Town: Complete Guide (Things To Do, Where To Stay And More)

a lighthouse on a small island in the middle of the ocean

I ate at Arismari restaurant and it was one of the best meals I had in Chania. The food was impeccable and the service was excellent – and unlike some of the other restaurants here, they don’t pressure you to dine with them.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also be able to spot sea lions swimming in the water around here.

Chania Itinerary: Day 2

Head to the Archaeological Museum Of Chania

a stone wall with colourful markings
a group of pottery on shelves

Situated just minutes from the centre of Chania, the Archeological site is a relatively new spot that’s worth visiting if you’re interested in learning more about the history of Chania and Crete.

Inside you’ll find various collections from the Neolithic, Minoan, Hellenistic and Roman periods with plenty of unique displays of pottery, jewellery, mosaic artwork and other interesting pieces of craftsmanship.

Upon arrival, you’ll be given an audio device that works a bit like a phone. At each display, you’ll enter the number and be able to listen to the information related to what’s on show.

Stroll through the Municipal Gardens 

two men sitting at a table
a group of people sitting around a table

The next stop is the Municipal Gardens – a nice spot to wonder through and the perfect place to grab a small bite to eat whilst sipping on traditional greek coffee or some mountain tea – which is a local tea made up a unique mix of herbs and spices. 

The name of the cafe to enjoy this is Kipos Cafe and it’s a popular spot among the locals. Stepping inside is like transporting back in time!

As you wander through the gardens, you’ll see many unique trees that have been gifted to Chania from countries all over the world. However, there is one that stands out – the Bengal Ficus tree. It’s over 150 years old and looks like it’s been taken out of the film Tarzan!

Check out the Open Air Market On Minoos Street

a man sitting at a table with a sign selling spices
a man standing in front of a table with fruit

Just round the corner from the Municipal Gardens is the Open Air market – a must-visit in Chania if you want to experience what it feels like to be a local.

It’s situated on Minoos Street from 7 am until 2 pm on a Saturday and you’ll find all sorts of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, olives, cheese and even snails being sold here. 

Although snails are typically associated with France, they’re also very popular here in Greece too – but you’d have to be much braver than me to try them!

It’s a vibrants and bustling market that’s a great place to try all of the delicious foods associated with Greece and a great way to spend half an hour of so wandering down since it’s super close to the next spot on this itinerary – the Venetian Harbour. 

Visit the Venetian Harbour and take a boat trip

a group of boats in a harbor

The Venetian Harbour in Chania holds quite a lot of historical significance – from being the critical link in the trade routes between Europe and the East during the Venetian era to a maritime centre in the Ottoman era.

In fact, the maritime centre is a museum that is still there today and you can visit it for extremely cheap – less than five euros.

Strolling around this area is understandably a popular area for tourists and locals, with plenty of restaurants lining the waterfront that’s filled with boats.

Restaurant recommendation: Apostolis

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t allow me to go on a boat trip, but it’s meant to be fantastic. Whether you’re looking for a fancy Catamaran Cruise or a glass bottom boat with snorkelling, there are lots of great options.

Below are some of the most highly-rated experiences that will definitely be first on my list of things to do if I manage to get back to Chania one day:

Chania Itinerary Day 3

Hike from Gouverneto To Caves, Katholiko Monestary and Bay

a woman walking on a rocky path
an arch in a stone wall

The hike from Gouverneto down to the Katholiko Bay which passes through caves and Katholiko Monastery is a 4.5km out-and-back loop and takes about 35 minutes to reach by car from Chania.

It’s a gentle hike that leads along a cobbled path that goes downhill for the first half of the walk. It’s super easy to follow since there is only really one way and you’ll quickly arrive at Gouverneto Monastery. Although I didn’t enter, you are able to for less than three euros and you’ll be provided with the appropriate coverings.

After a short while, you’ll find some caves which are quite large and interesting, with some nice views over the sea. Although I personally didn’t find the hike very steep, you may want to consider turning back at this point if you have low fitness levels – which would shorten the hike to around 3km.

If not, then you can push on to the Katholiko Monastery and Bay Hike. Sadly, I had to get back for wine tasting, so I didn’t make it all the way down here, but I have heard it’s excellent and the pictures look fantastic.

My understanding from our Greek guide is that you also don’t need to worry about wearing appropriate clothing as you will be provided with the necessary coverings.

If you’d prefer to do this trail with a guide, then you can book here: Guided Hike

Visit the Agia Triada Monastery

a building with a flag on the roof
a woman standing on stairs in front of a building

Next up is the Asia Triada Monastery – a Greek Orthodox Monastery with apricot-coloured stone surrounded by mountains.

Inside is a huge courtyard that’s perfectly framed by the archway at the entrance, with pristine gardens lining the edges.

Monks (and lots of cats) are still living here today and wander around in between the tourists, so you’ll need to wear appropriate clothing in order to visit.

To the side of the Monastery is a small museum and winery – which takes us to the next activity on this Chania itinerary!

Enjoy some wine tasting 

a long table with wine glasses and wine bottles in a room with brick walls

If you’re into your wines, then it’s highly worth booking a slot for some wine tasting. And even if you’re not, it’s worth it just for the bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar on offer.

As someone who isn’t particularly keen on wine but had this booked with a group who do drink wine, I have to say this was a great experience that I would really recommend.

The sommelier here is very knowledgeable and took the time to provide plenty of information about each wine and where it was produced in the region. Paired with the bread, olive and balsamic vinegar of varying sorts, it was unbelievably good.

So much so that many members of the group I was travelling with purchased plenty to return home with. Sadly, I didn’t have enough space in my suitcase, but my understanding is that some of – if not all – the profit goes towards maintaining the monastery.

Take part in a cooking class

a plate of food on a table
a group of people cooking food

Local cooking classes when you’re in a new country are always fun, and when the Greek food is so delicious, it’s one of the must-do things when you’re on your holidays to Crete.

There are many cooking classes on offer, but the Authentic Cooking Class in the White Mountains is the one to go for.

Set in the Cretan countryside with breathtaking views, you’ll get to pick your own produce from the garden and learn from a local expert about how to prepare, create and serve a traditional Cretan dish, before taking a stroll through the fields and learning all about the history of the area.

Of course, you can’t escape hearing about how olive oil harvesting works, and you can be almost certain that you won’t leave empty-handed!

Check prices: Authentic Cooking Class In The White Mountains

Check out the Venizelos Tombs And Viewpoint

a woman sitting on a stone wall with a city in the background
a city next to the water

Venizelos Tombs And Viewpoint sits on the Akrotiri Peninsular and holds great significance to one of Greece’s most influential statesmen – Eleftherios Venizelos, and his son, Sophoklis Venizelos – who helped lead Greece through the Balkan Wards and World War I and have been laid to rest here.

You’ll not only find stone tombs, statues and a church within the beautiful landscaped gardens here but also some of the most incredible views over Crete, its coastline and the White Mountains.

I visited here in the morning and there was barely anyone in sight. However, I’m putting this down as something to do for sunset as in retrospect this would have been even more fantastic.

Whilst you’re here, you can also enjoy a meal at Carte Postale – one of the most beautiful restaurants I ate at in whilst visiting Chania. The food is insanely good and the outdoor seating area has panoramic views – just like the viewpoint!

I’d recommend booking ahead of time as although it wasn’t fully booked when I was there on a weekday at lunchtime, I can imagine the popularity of this place during the evening!

Where to stay in Chania

a pool with umbrellas and chairs and a beach in the background

Hotel recommendations

There are tonnes of places in and around Chania to stay, however, you’ll typically find that many of the fancy resort-style hotels are a little further away from the popular Old Town.

Here are some hotels I’d recommended depending on your budget.

Where to eat

You won’t be short of excellent places to eat whilst you’re in Chania, however some incredible spots that I ate at during my trip include:

  • Apostolis
  • Stahi
  • Leventogiannis
  • Carte Postale
  • Arismari

FAQ

a body of water with buildings and a dome
a woman sitting on a rock by the water

How many days is enough in Chania?

There is a surprising amount to do in Chania so you could easily spend 3 days seeing the highlights or even up to 7 days covering more of the island. If you’re looking for a balance of relaxing an exploration, then you could potentially stretch this to 10-14 days.

Do you need a car in Chania?

For many of the activities on this Chania itinerary it would be a lot more convenient to have a car. If you’re looking to rent one, then Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com are the two platforms I regularly check.

Is Chania nicer than Heraklion?

Both cities are excellent places to visit. However, Chania is smaller and has fewer attractions, but it is considered more picturesque and less touristy.

Conclusion

Overall, this Chania itinerary covers a great variety of history, nature, culture and food. It’s a location that has got so much to offer and somewhere that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a European break.

If you’re looking for other information on Chania, I have some more posts below:

Millie / Stay Wild Travels.