On Greek Island cruises to Crete, you’ll be swept up in the beauty of the island and the small, bustling towns there, like Chania, where your cruise ship will dock. There’s just enough to do here during a day-long excursion from a Crete cruise, whether that’s a visit to the Maritime Museum of Crete or a trip to Elafonisi. Since Chania is the second-largest city in Crete, it provides the perfect introduction to the island. Dramatic gorges and the old harbor, which was modeled after the beauty of Venice, make Chania seem both rugged and cosmopolitan depending on what activities you choose.
One unforgettable experience is a day trip to Samaria Gorge, a winding and rocky hike ideal for nature buffs and travelers who are craving a physical challenge. Chania is an undiscovered gem for foodies, where traditional Cretan dishes are introduced to the world in an approachable, friendly way. End your time in Chania with a cold drink and a kebab, or sample local seafood fresh from the harbor.
Chania’s harbor has played a signficant part in the history of Crete, making it a worthwhile stop on Chania cruises. Admire the influence of thousands of years of history in one place as you stroll through this part of town and stop in its shops and restaurants
Understanding Crete’s strategic importance as a force in trade and maritime relations will give you a new appreciation for ancient shipbuilding practices. At the Maritime Museum of Crete, you’ll see a reconstructed ship up close. It’s a perfect afternoon excursion for history buffs in your group.
Another way to spend an afternoon on a Crete cruise is to take a monastery tour in nearby Akrotiri, where you can walk through the olive oil farms and orchards that seem to harken you back to a simpler, slower life in Greece.
Grab your swimsuit and head to Apostoli Beach, a local favorite. At this busy beach, you can rent sunbathing equipment like chairs, beds, and umbrellas for just a few euros. There’s a cafe within a short walking distance, too.
This protected nature reserve is the ideal place to enjoy some peace and quiet, get away from the crowds, and recharge. While it gets busy during peak season, you can’t beat the beauty of the pink sand and the calm turquoise water rolling in.
In Samaria Gorge, you’ll find a species of goat not native to anywhere else in the world that lives protected from human interaction. The gorge makes for one of the best, most challenging local hikes in the area. It’s a short 30-minute drive from Chania, and well worth it for the dramatic views and sinuous paths that are sure to leave you breathless.
During your Crete cruise, you’ll discover new culinary delights that you have likely never heard of or tried before, like sfakia pies, which are crepe-like pancakes that often come stuffed with sweet cheese. The seafood in Crete is a focal point on many restaurant menus, and in Chania, you can’t go wrong sampling the fresh catches that are brought in from the harbor. Don’t miss the chance to try bougatsa, which is essentially a cheese danish rolled in cinnamon sugar. Of course, kebabs and skewered meats are a staple of the Cretan and Greek diets on the island, as well as the tangy and savory dipping sauces that often accompany the meat dishes in this part of the world. Chania’s food is meant for adventurous palates and lovers of cheese, meat, and pastries.
Crete has changed hands many times over thousands of years, between the Minoans, Romans, Ottoman Turks, and, eventually, Nazi occupation during World War II. Crete was also one of the first Mediterranean towns during the Roman Empire to embrace Christianity as a widespread religious movement. Still, the island of Crete has persevered despite all sorts of hardship. Today, the town of Chania is the capital of Crete and has a population of over 150,000 people. The picturesque and preserved Old Town and the city’s modern spirit make it an unforgettable travel destination for all who visit.
Because the Port of Souda is the next town over from Chania, it’s not recommended that you walk to Chania from where your ship docks. The port is minimally equipped, but you can hop on a bus or taxi from there to get to all the main city sights.
A bus arrives every five minutes during the busy season to accommodate the cruise traffic, and it’ll take you into Chania in less than 15 minutes. After you take the bus, conquering the city on foot is how most travelers approach getting around here. There are also taxi services available.
There are some shops located near the cruise port, but not many. The majority of good shopping will be found in Chania along the waterfront. Clothing and handmade goods are the two most popular types of items to shop for, including locally made leatherworks like purses and belts along Skridlof Street.
Use the euro when you’re traveling in Greece. On Chania cruises, you’ll quickly discover that it’s handy to carry some cash with you, as not all establishments in this part of Greece accept credit or debit cards. At restaurants and when you’re taking a taxi ride, a 5% to 10% tip is best practice, though some restaurants will already include a service charge. Be sure to check the bill, and know that tipping is much appreciated though not mandatory in Crete.