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5 days in Chania – Best things to do

Discover the best of Chania in just 5 days with our comprehensive guide. Explore stunning beaches, historic sites, and local favorites. Perfect for first-time visitors!
5 days in Chania

Chania, the westernmost region of Crete with its main city nestled in the north, is an enchanting destination that rightfully ranks as one of Greece’s most visited spots. Each year, it draws a vast number of tourists from around the globe, all eager to experience its unique charm.

There are countless reasons why Chania captivates so many. Ideally, you’d want to spend more than a week here, given the extensive distances and winding roads that require careful navigation at lower speeds.

However, with a well-planned itinerary, it’s entirely possible to cover some of the most significant sights in just five days. Whatever you don’t get to this time, you’re sure to return for—Chania has a way of making you fall in love with it, ensuring this visit won’t be your last.

💡 It’s worth mentioning that getting around Chania without a car can be quite challenging. The distances between attractions are significant, and public transportation isn’t frequent or comprehensive enough to be fully reliable for tourists. Renting a car will give you the flexibility to explore at your own pace and make the most of your visit to this beautiful region.

1st Day

On your first day in Chania, it’s a good idea to keep things light, especially if you’re still shaking off the fatigue from your journey, which can be particularly taxing if you’ve traveled by sea. We’ll start with a gentle exploration of the Akrotiri Peninsula, which is conveniently close to the city. This way, you can ease into your vacation without feeling overwhelmed.

1. Seitan Limania beach

about 22 km from Chania town

Seitan Limania, Chania
Seitan Limania beach

Seitan Limania is nestled on the eastern side of the Akrotiri Peninsula. This slender stretch of beach boasts crystal-clear waters and a mix of white pebbles and sand.

Accessing the beach requires some effort, as you’ll need to navigate a rocky path—so sturdy shoes are a must. I recommend heading there early in the morning. Its breathtaking beauty attracts many visitors, and its compact size quickly fills up as the day progresses.

2. Stavros beach

a 25-minute drive from Seitan Limania

Stavros beach, Chania
Stavros beach

Stavros beach (Gold Coast beach) gained fame as the backdrop for the iconic dance scene in “Zorba the Greek,” where Anthony Quinn famously danced the sirtaki. Located on the western side of the Akrotiri Peninsula.

The area is dominated by Mount Vardies and the fascinating Lera Cave. The beach itself is split into two lovely coves, each boasting turquoise waters and soft white sand, making it a picturesque spot for a day by the sea.

3. Venizelos Graves

11 km from Stavros beach

Venizelos Graves
View from Venizelos Graves / photo: Pantelis Kakaris

Make sure to visit the Venizelos Graves. This remarkable site sits atop a hill, offering a sweeping panoramic view of Chania below. Despite being a burial site, the area is strikingly beautiful, surrounded by a pine forest and complemented by a charming little chapel. It’s a peaceful place to reflect and enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.

4. Archaeological Museum of Chania

3.5 km from Venizelos Graves

The new Archaeological Museum of Chania opened its doors in 2022, located in the Halepa district. This state-of-the-art facility showcases around 3,500 artifacts, some of which are being displayed to the public for the first time.

These pieces span from prehistoric to historical periods, offering a deep dive into the rich heritage of the region. The museum itself is architecturally striking, featuring three exhibition halls on the ground floor and an additional hall upstairs, all dedicated to preserving and presenting Chania’s archaeological treasures.

5. Old Town and Old Venetian Port

2.3 km from Archaeological Museum of Chania

Old Port of Chania
Old Port of Chania - view from Kasteli Hill / photo: Pantelis Kakaris

The Old Town and its Venetian Port are the crown jewels of Chania, making it one of the most beautiful Mediterranean cities with a rich historical backdrop. Nestled within the ancient Venetian walls, at the heart of the town you’ll find the iconic Venetian Port, dominated by its well-photographed lighthouse, which owes its current form to Egyptian architecture.

Wander the narrow, cobblestone streets and soak in the splendor of the medieval cityscape. Explore historical landmarks like the Neoria, the Maritime Museum of Crete, the Firka Fortress, Kioutsouk Hassan Mosque, the Splantzia square with the Church of Saint Nicholas, and the Kasteli Hill overseeing the harbor.

You’ll be enchanted by the picturesque setting and it will quickly become a favorite spot. The area brims with endless dining, drinking, and entertainment options, both along the bustling harbor and within the labyrinthine alleys of the Old Town. Make your first evening memorable and savor every moment!

2nd Day

Start your day with a hearty breakfast because your second day in Chania will be packed with adventure. You’ll need plenty of energy as we kick off from the western edge of Chania, heading straight to the stunning and renowned Balos beach.

1. Balos beach

52 km from Chania center

Balos beach, Chania
Balos beach / photo: Pantelis Kakaris

Balos Lagoon or beach is nestled on the Gramvousa Peninsula, where the journey involves navigating a challenging dirt road. Once you park, a descent on a cobblestone path leads you down to the beach. This stunning beach features shallow, turquoise waters and pristine white sands, which in places are sprinkled with pink hues from crushed coral and shells.

It’s best to visit early in the morning to beat the crowds. Balos is immensely popular, attracting many visitors who arrive by boat from the port of Kissamos. Getting there early lets you enjoy the tranquil beauty of the lagoon in relative solitude.

2. Falassarna beach

19.5 km from Balos beach

Falassarna beach
Falassarna beach / photo: Pantelis Kakaris

Falassarna is a slice of paradise on the western tip of Chania, combining natural beauty with historical significance. This area is not only a protected archaeological site—home to the ancient city of Falassarna—but also a vibrant beach destination.

The beach is well-equipped with numerous beach bars and lounging areas. It’s also a popular spot for surfers and windsurfers, thanks to the frequent westerly winds that create ideal conditions for these water sports. Whether you’re looking to soak up some history or catch some waves, Falassarna has something for everyone.

👉 On your way back, consider stopping at Gramboussa Restaurant for a meal. This taverna is renowned in the area for its exquisite meat and fish dishes and has a reputation as one of the best places to eat locally. It’s the perfect spot to refuel with delicious, hearty fare after a day of exploring.

3. Kissamos

14.5 km from Falassarna beach

Kissamos, Chania

Kissamos, formerly known as Kastelli until 1969, is a key town at the western tip of Chania. It hosts the Kavonisi port, a launch point for ferries to local beaches like Balos and Gramvousa, as well as to farther destinations like Kythira and Gytheio.

This area is steeped in history and offers fascinating sites to explore. Don’t miss the Archaeological Museum of Kissamos for a deep dive into the region’s past. 

4. Nightlife in Agia Marina or Platanias

about 28 km from Kissamos

Agia Marina and Platanias are among the most tourist-packed areas in Chania, bustling with activity and vibrancy. Along the main street, you’ll find an array of both luxurious and quaint hotels, a variety of restaurants, tavernas, bars, shops, and other amenities.

The area is also renowned for its lively beach clubs, which draw crowds looking to enjoy their high-energy parties. Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely meal, a refreshing drink, or a night out, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your taste and style in this vibrant part of town.

3rd Day

On your third day, you’ll head back to the western edge of Chania, but this time you’re off to explore Elafonisi, the area’s second most famous beach. 

1. Elafonisi beach

a 73 km journey from the city

Elafonisi Chania

Elafonisi lies at the southwestern tip of Chania. This beach is a tropical paradise, part of the protected Natura areas, famous for its fine white and pink sands and shimmering turquoise waters.

Much like Balos, it features shallow waters, and the shifting sands often form small islets just off the coast, creating the illusion of a separate island. To avoid the crowds that flock to this stunning locale, try to visit during off-peak hours. 

2. Kedrodasos beach

 a 10-minute drive from Elafonisi

Kedrodasos Chania

Kedrodasos is one of Chania’s most exotic beaches. For many years, it was a secluded gem, but recently it has become a popular spot, attracting a crowd that includes many campers. Kedrodasos is a sprawling sandy beach with crystal-clear turquoise waters, set against a backdrop of cedar trees.

For the adventurous and nature enthusiasts, there’s a scenic coastal trail just one kilometer long that connects Elafonisi to Kedrodasos. This path offers a delightful walk through nature, perfect for those looking to explore the area’s natural beauty on foot.

3. Milia Mountain Retreat

31 km from Kedrodasos beach

Milia is a 15th-century abandoned settlement. Perched at an elevation of 550 meters, nestled between Mount Kefali and Psilo, this village has been transformed into an eco-tourism destination that was revived around 30 years ago by the Milia Mountain Retreat.

The stone remnants of homes have been meticulously restored into traditional guesthouses featuring rustic wood and stone decor, albeit without electrical outlets, enhancing their old-world charm. There’s also a restaurant known for its delicious cuisine that you absolutely must try.

Milia is enchanting and impressively majestic, easily one of the most beautiful spots in Chania. To get there, set your GPS for Vlatos village, and then follow the wooden signs marked “Milia.” It’s a journey well worth the trek for a glimpse into a different era of Cretan life.

4. Nightlife in Old Town

Now it’s time to head back to the city and unwind. Chania offers an abundance of nightlife options, from laid-back lounges where you can enjoy a quiet drink to lively bars perfect for a night of fun. Take a stroll through the city streets and pop into whichever spot catches your eye—you’re sure to find the perfect place to relax and enjoy the evening!

Here are some great options to consider for an enjoyable night:

4rth Day

1. Sougia

60 km from Chania center

Sougia Chania

Sougia is a charming seaside village boasting a spacious beach and a quaint harbor. It offers a variety of accommodation options along with a selection of tavernas, restaurants, cafes, and bars to cater to all tastes.

The beach itself is a picturesque mix of pebble and sand, featuring crystal-clear waters. While most of the beach remains unspoiled and natural, there are a few organized spots.

To the left side of the beach, you’ll find a small nudist area, often favored by campers seeking a more alternative holiday experience. This serene setting is perfect for those looking to relax and soak in the natural beauty of Crete.

2. Lissos Archaelogical Site

Lissos Chania
Lissos / photo: wikipedia

Lissos is an ancient city located at the southern edge of Sougia. The area is rich with historical remnants, including ruins of a theater, an aqueduct, a cemetery, and baths. There’s also a small pebbly beach where you can enjoy a tranquil swim away from the crowds.

You can reach Lissos by following a scenic trail that starts in Sougia and takes about 1.5 hours to hike, or by boat from the port of Sougia. 

3. Meskla

51 km from Sougia

Meskla gorge
Sarakina gorge / photo: Pantelis Kakaris

After traveling 25 km, you’ll arrive in Meskla, a stunningly lush village nestled at an elevation of 200 meters at the foothills of the White Mountains. The village is steeped in history, home to the 14th-century Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior and the Church of the Conception of the Virgin Mary.

A true gem in Meskla is the small Sarakina Gorge. This spot captivates with its natural beauty and flowing waters, providing a serene escape into nature’s embrace.

4. Eat fish in Nea Chora

After such a busy day, you deserve some downtime. Head over to Nea Chora (means New Town), a neighborhood close to the old town, where you’ll find both a harbor and a beach.

Stroll along the beachfront promenade and explore the array of dining options available. From quaint seafood taverns to more contemporary restaurants and cafes, Nea Chora offers the perfect setting to unwind, enjoy a meal, and soak in the seaside ambiance.

5th Day

It’s now your fifth day in Chania, and today you’ll explore the eastern side of the region. 

1. Kournas Lake

Kournas lake, Crete
Kournas lake / photo: wikipedia

Kournas Lake, located near the border with Rethymno, is about 45 km from Chania and 2 km from Georgioupoli. The village adjacent to the lake is called Mourion.

As the only freshwater lake in Crete, Kournas is a fantastic spot to visit, even with children. The lake spans 579 acres and reaches a maximum depth of 22.5 meters. You can rent a pedal boat and enjoy a leisurely ride on the water.

2. Ompros Gialos

22 km from Kournas Lake

Ompros Gialos / photo: Pantelis Kakaris

Head to Ompros Gialos beach, located at the eastern tip of Cape Drapano. This spot isn’t your typical sandy beach; it’s a rocky cove where you can dive straight into the turquoise, crystal-clear waters from the pier or the rocks. Don’t forget to bring a snorkel mask to explore the vibrant underwater world.

3. Vamos village

10 km from Ompros Gialos beach

Take the road to Vamos, the main village of Apokoronas. You will pass through the village of Kefalas, where you can stop for a coffee. Vamos is a beautiful village, built at an altitude of 190 meters. It is a very beautiful village in which there are cafes, restaurants and cafes.

Best place for lunch is Gaidaros Collectiva.

4. Archaeological Site of Aptera

about 17 km from Vamos

Roman cisterns in Aptera
Roman cisterns in Aptera / photo: Pantelis Kakaris

Head towards Kalyves, a spacious sandy beach perfect for a quick swim or a relaxing break. If you prefer, you can continue your journey to the Archaeological Site of Aptera.

Aptera was one of the most significant ancient city-states, founded at the end of the Minoan era. It thrived during the Hellenistic period but was destroyed by earthquakes in the 4th and 7th centuries. 

One of the most famous monuments discovered is the Roman cisterns, with a capacity of 3,050 cubic meters, as well as the baths. Also noteworthy are the villa with a peristyle, the Ancient Theatre, the Necropolis, and the extensive fortifications stretching 3,480 meters.

👉 On your way back, stop by Kalami and visit To kafeneio ths Kaiths. Enjoy a beer or coffee while watching the sunset over Souda Bay. The view is mesmerizing and will leave a lasting impression as your final sunset in Chania.

What else to do in Chania

If you have an extra day or two, consider exploring more activities and places, such as:

Best activities in Chania

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Where to stay in Chania

Old Town Chania
Old Town of Chania

Before diving into the guide, let’s sort out your accommodation. There’s a wide range of options both in and around the city, as well as throughout the entire region.

If you prefer to stay close to the city, consider areas like the city center, the Old Town, Koum Kapi, or Nea Chora. For those who want to be nearer to the beach but still within a short distance from the city, areas like Chrissi Akti or Agii Apostoli are excellent choices.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for more tourist-oriented areas with numerous lodging options, Platanias, Agia Marina, and Stalos are great picks.

Recommended hotels in Chania:

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