Beach Seitan limania or Agiou Stefanou
COVER STORY

Discover a world of adventure and activities in Chania

"Seitan limania" beach in Chania
READING TIME
As long as it takes to eat a slice of watermelon

Arriving in Crete and seeing the incredible landscape of mountain and sea, it’s impossible not to want to enjoy all the incredible outdoor activities Chania of offer.

When you’re surrounded by all that incredible sea, it’s only right that your choice of activities in Chania starts in the water. Or rather on the water! And moving just as fast as you dare. If you’re a Stand Up Paddleboard type, that’s also fine. But, first up, we’re taking you windsurfing first – or maybe even kite-surfing, if you’re up to it.

There are so many great options for water sports in Chania. Agia Marina (just west of Chania town), FalasarnaElafonisi beach… all beaches that have great conditions and equipment to rent.

Scuba diving and snorkelling in Chania 

You’ll also be getting into the water, of course, but not just for swimming. There are some great dive sites and excellent snorkelling in Chania. You could be a technical diver or a beginner, it doesn’t really matter. The region’s distinctive terrain continues below the surface of the sea, with some great caves and reefs to explore. Souda Bay, the coastline by Kalyves and Georgioupolis all have scuba diving centres that will introduce you to underwater gems.

There’s even the intriguingly named Underwater Cave of Elephants, so-called after the petrified elephant bones still on the sea floor. And if you want a really good tip, there’s a sunken German Junkers 52 aircraft, shot down during World War II, just north of Agia Marina, near the islet of Agioi Theodoroi. Try keeping that one to yourself.

Taking to the skies with paragliding

Your adrenaline’s up, so now to get it really pumping. Let’s get airborne. How else to get the most out of a landscape of rugged mountains, dreamy coastline and fabulous greenery? We’re talking paragliding or parasailing. Or perhaps paratriking.

If you’re in Chania town, there are flying options just 2km away in Nea Chora, but it’s worth heading to the Omalos Plateau, around 45km to the south, where you can glide beneath the peaks of the White Mountains at around 1,250m, right over the Samaria Gorge to Gigilos on the south coast.

Too gentle? Then there’s only one other adrenaline-filled adventure for you in Chania: bungee jumping off the Aradena Bridge – all 138m of it. It’s the highest bungee jumping bridge in Greece and the second highest in Europe.

Hiking in the gorgeous Chania countryside

Your feet are back on the ground, so let’s go trekking! There’s the E4 European Long Distance Hiking Path running along the eastern and southern coastline of Chania. With sea and mountain views and the scent of wild herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage and lavender), the miles tick by. And you can’t talk trekking in Chania without mentioning the gorges: Elygia in Sfakia is special, and others trip off the tongue - Diktamos, Lissos, Topolia, Asfendou, Kambos, Sirikari, Sassalos.

Hiking the spectacular Samaria Gorge in Chania

The hands-down winner is the Samaria Gorge. The 16km path starts at Omalos Plateau and descends through a forest of cypress and pine trees, squeezing between the narrowest of passages with near-vertical walls. Quite extraordinary! Of course, where there are mountains, there’s climbing. In fact, Chania has its own mountaineering club. Exhausted? How about 4x4 experience up to the White Mountains on a private jeep safari? No excuses!

Discovering the art of living well… Cretan-style

After all that action, it’s time for a well-earned change of pace. Take a look at the scenery – the jagged beauty of the White Mountains, the extraordinary blue of the sea, and all that silky smooth sand. Add to that the sound of birdsong and cicadas and the gentlest summer breeze – and, yes, you could be meditating in a yoga retreat.

Village-hop through Chania at its most authentic

After all, Chania has a tradition of spiritual practitioners going back to antiquity, and the ancient principle of "Ef Zin" – the art of living well – is still alive in Crete. There are retreats dotted around the area (Sfakia, Lefka Ori…) offering revitalising and restorative therapies, and specialist detox sessions. Really, though, it’s the energy of Chania that makes it special.

Learning the secrets of the original Mediterranean diet

You’ve fed the mind, now for the body. Cretans know a lot about food and even more about entertaining – and there’s nothing they enjoy more than combining the two.

The traditional cuisine of Crete is considered one of the healthiest in the world, so you’ll want to take a food tour of Chania or have a private cooking lesson. There are options in the Old Town and Botanical Park & Gardens, where you can gather self-sown herbs and learn how to use them in local dishes.

It is in the melt-in-the-mouth food and, above all, in the wide-eyed smile of locals who greet you as if they’ve known you forever

Visiting a vineyard to sample Crete’s wine tradition

Your last adventure in Chania is treat yourself to a wine tour. Vineyards have been cultivated in Crete for over 4,000 years and there are more than 10 indigenous grape varietals (seven white and four red). Unsurprisingly, they are perfectly matched to fish, seafood and the local vegetables and wild greens.

Vilana is the main white grape, while Mantilari is considered the leader of the native red varieties. But only a visit to a winery can give the full picture. The Manousakis Winery, committed to organic production, and the beautifully appointed Dourakis or Karavitakis are a few examples. There are so many options and, somehow, they all seem to bottle the character of Chania’s landscape.

And to really taste the local flavour, you’ll want to visit a raki distillery and sample the local firewater.

Winery in Crete

A world of adventure and activities in Chania

Exploring everything Chania has to offer will challenge and reward you beyond your dreams. In the water, in the air, on land, in your mind… or simply in the experience of enjoying its wonderful food and wine. Every season gives its own character to the rich and varied landscape… all the reason you need to keep coming back.

Take an 8-day road trip to Chania

 

FAQs about activities in Chania

  • What is the best time of year for activities in Chania?

As the southernmost Greek island, Crete has more days of warm weather and bright sunshine than any other destination in Greece. So spring and autumn are ideal for all outdoor activities in Chania, when the weather is not too hot but rainfall is still low and there are far fewer people than in the busy summer months. Ideal months for enjoying nature are April-May and mid-September-November.

  • When can you swim in Crete?

Both Crete's north coast (Aegean Sea) and south coast (Libyan Sea) are excellent for swimming, with warm weather from May till the end of October. So Chania is perfect for early- or late-summer holidays. Swimming conditions are generally safe but be aware of the conditions before you swim, especially on windy days. The safest swimming spots are beaches with lifeguards.

  • Where is the best hiking in Crete?

With so many mountains and gorges, Crete is an ideal hiking destination with walking paths all around the island. The most famous hiking path in Chania is the Samarias Gorge, but there are plenty more, often quieter, options to choose from. The E4 long-distance European hiking path stretches for 320km across Crete, including parts in the White Mountains.

  • Is Crete safe for outdoor activities?

Crete is a very safe island for all nature activities but you should be aware that much of the interior (particularly the mountains) is wild and the weather can be changeable. It is always safest to hire a guide or join an organised group. Alternatively, get very good instructions before heading out. You will need a good map for hiking in the mountains of Crete and some activities and you will need technical equipment for activities like canyoning and rock climbing.

  • Are there water sports at beaches in Crete?

There are plenty of organised beaches with water sports (waterskiing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, SUPing etc) at beaches all around Crete. There are even beaches for surfing.

 

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