Chania Old Venetian Harbour, Crete

Chania Crete Cruise Port Guide: Old Town, Harbour & Beaches

Stepping off your cruise ship in Chania means you’re just a short hop away from unforgettable adventures. Don’t feel tied to those pricey cruise line excursions โ€“ Chania is incredibly easy to explore on your own, allowing you to set your own pace and set your own itinerary. Now let me show you the things to do in Chania, Crete!

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Chania (Crete) Cruise Port: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Straightforward)

Yes, a DIY shore excursion at Chania (Crete) is incredibly straightforward! Here’s why I rated Chania as such:

Chania (Crete) Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need to Know

Chania (Port Souda) Cruise Port Address: Ormos Soudas, Chania 731 34, Greece

Note: While most cruise ships will dock at Port Souda, about 7km (4 miles) away from Chania town itself, some may make this a tender port. So check your cruise itinerary! Tenders will drop you off near the Old Venetian Port of Chania – see my Chania map๐Ÿ‘‡ below.

  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: Greek
  • Official websites:
    • Official Port Schedule: Port Souda’s website isn’t that interesting, except you can check which other cruise ships are in town with yours (2024 schedule)!
    • Local Bus: Chania Bus operates the buses within Chania’s town limits. KTEL is the regional coach operator running buses across the island of Crete.
  • Recommended Transport App: Chania Bus has its own app (available through usual App Stores) but the web version works fine. Select the bus route # using the drop down box and you’ll see the next available bus. Use Google Maps to navigate Old Town walks. (I tried the iOS version of the Chania Bus app and it didn’t work for me…)
  • eSIM for roaming in Greece: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when youโ€™re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout

Chania (Crete) Cruise Port to Town Centre: Getting your Bearings

  • Bus to Chania Town: Quickest DIY route to Chania Town is via Express City Bus (#14) which leaves right outside Port Souda. There’s also a slower, “all stops” bus (#13) from the same stop, that runs approx. every 30 minutes.
  • Tickets: One-way tickets are โ‚ฌ1.70 cash. There’s a ticket booth to get your tickets before you board.
  • Bus Drop-Off Point: The bus will drop you opposite the Old Chania Market (see my map below). Same place for your return trip to port.

My Chania (Crete) Map: ๐Ÿ‘‡ Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version. If the map is not loading, click here to see it directly on Google Maps

Must-See Sights & Experiences in Chania

1. Old Venetian Harbour

Lighthouse at Chania, Crete
Photo by Ilias Nikolarakis

The Venetian Harbor is the beating heart of Chania. Initially built by the Venetians during the 14th century, the harbour served as a vital trade and defence hub. Today, this picturesque waterfront is lined with colourful Venetian-era buildings, now home to charming shops and lively tavernas offering fresh seafood with a view.

Take your time strolling the boardwalk or make your way to the historic lighthouse, one of the oldest in the world, for picture-perfect views across the harbour. If history piques your interest, the Maritime Museum of Crete, housed in the old Firkas Fortress, offers a fascinating look into the region’s seafaring past. The museum’s opening hours are 9am to 3:40pm Monday – Saturday. Closed on Sundays. Entry is โ‚ฌ4 adults, โ‚ฌ3 for kids and students.

Kรผรงรผk Hasan Pasha Mosque in Chania Crete, Greece
Kรผรงรผk Hasan Pasha Mosque, Image by Jan Claus from Pixabay

Also don’t miss the Kรผรงรผk Hasan Pasha Mosque. Built in 1645 shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Chania, it served as Chania’s central mosque during Ottoman rule. It is no longer a functioning mosque but it is very well preserved and well worth ducking in for a look. When it’s not operating as an exhibition space, entry is free.

2. Walk the Old City Walls

Old City Walls in Chania, Crete
Image by Pat from Pixabay

For a unique perspective on Chania and a bit of exercise, seek out the accessible sections of the city’s old Venetian walls. These fortifications were built to protect Chania from invaders and offer fantastic panoramic views over the city and beyond.

Where to Go: Some of the best places to walk the walls include the section between the San Salvatore Bastion and the Schiavo Bastion on the western side, where you’ll get sweeping views of the Venetian harbour and the coastline. The Kilprou Defensive Wall on the eastern side of the Old Town also have scenic vistas of the city’s rooftops and the distant White Mountains.

3. Wonder around Old Town

Alleyway in Chania Old Town, Crete
Alleyways in Chania Old Town, Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

Chania’s Old Town is a maze of narrow streets, filled with Venetian, Ottoman and Byzantine architecture. You’ll find hidden courtyards, bustling little shops selling everything from leather goods to Cretan delicacies (see below). Keep an eye out for historic buildings like the Etz Hayyim Synagogue (“Tree of Life” in Hebrew), now the only surviving synagogue in Crete. Almost all of Crete’s Jewish population (~2,500) were deported and perished in the Holocaust. After extensive restoration efforts, the synagogue re-opened in 1999.

For a kids-friendly activity, head to the Minoan’s World 9D experience, a few minutes from the Old Chania Market where you alighted from the bus. It’s a 45-minute multi-sensory movie about the history of Crete and the Minoan civilisation. Tickets from โ‚ฌ18.

4. Cretan Food Adventure: From Dakos to Raki

Cretan starter Dakos with barley rusks topped with tomatoes and cheese
Dakos – typical Cretan starter. Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay

For foodies, here are a few suggestions on what to look out for (and try) on your walk around Old Town:

  • Kalitsounia: Sweet or savory pastries filled with wild herbs, greens, and soft Creatan cheese. Think of them as the Cretan version of hand-held pies.
  • Dakos: A quintessential Cretan starter, dakos are barley rusks topped with juicy grated tomatoes, creamy mizithra cheese, olive oil, and herbs.
  • Dolmades: Vine leaves typically stuffed with minced meat, pine nuts and rice
  • Snails (Chochlioi Boubouristi): A beloved and surprisingly delicious Cretan delicacy, snails are pan-fried with rosemary and vinegar, offering a unique, earthy flavor.
  • Cretan Raki: This clear, potent spirit is made from grape pomace and holds a strong place in Cretan culture.

Sun, ๐Ÿ–๏ธ Sand, and Relaxation: Your Guide to Chania’s City Beaches

Just want to relax by the beach? None of Crete’s most famous beaches are close by but here are four sandy beaches close to Chania town – perfect if you want to enjoy half day sightseeing in Old Town and half day at the beach before returning to port:

  • Agii Apostoli Beach: About 3km (2 miles) west of Chania. There’s actually two semi-circular coves. Easily accessible with relatively shallow water.
    • How to Get There: Catch bus #21, 1 min walk from Old Chania Market where you were dropped off by the bus from cruise port – I’ve marked the stop on my map above ๐Ÿ‘†. Get off at “ฮšฮ‘ฮ›ฮ›ฮ™ฮฃฮคฮŸฮ” (KALLISTON) and the beach is a short walk away.
    • Tickets: โ‚ฌ2 one way, pay cash to driver. If you see a kiosk, you can also purchase bus tickets at a cheaper โ‚ฌ1.20.
  • Hrisi Atki Beach: Literally the “Golden Beach”, this is 2.5km west of Chania and walkable from Agii Apostoli Beach.
    • How to Get There: Catch the same bus #21 as above. Get off at “Golden Coast” stop. Just let the driver know that you’re going to “Golden Beach”.
  • Nea Chora Beach: About 10-15 minutes walk, to the west from Chania Town, this is the closest beach on this list.
  • Koum Kapi Beach: About 15 minutes walk from Old Chania Market (where bus from Port Souda dropped you off), to the east from Chania Town.

All have the usual facilities during the summer months.

Featured Photo by Pham Ngoc Anh

Wishing you an awesome stop in Chania! If my guide made your DIY planning a little easier, feel free to give it a share with your fellow cruisers on your roll-call groups โ€“ it’s always better to explore amazing places with a little insider info. Have a blast in Chania!

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