Spread around the far west of Crete, the beaches in the province of Chania are among the most breathtaking in Europe. From popular Balos and Elafonissi to remote beauties only accessible by boat, our guide to the best Chania beaches shows you a great range of beaches to seek out on your next Crete holiday.
The city of Chania is one of the best places to stay in Crete, with a several fine town beaches within walking distance of magnificent Chania Old Town, and Chania beach resorts a short bus ride away. The likes of Balos and Elafonissi are popular possible day trips from Chania, as is the glorious Falassarna beach on the west coast of the island.
We also venture further afield to the stunning south Crete coast, exploring remote beaches from Kedrodasos to Agios Pavlos and Zeromouri. Enjoy!
- 1 Where is Chania Crete ?
- 2 The 30 Best Chania Beaches To Visit
- 3 Best Chania Beaches In Chania Town
- 4 CHANIA BEACHES EAST OF THE CITY OF CHANIA
- 5 BEST CHANIA BEACHES IN SOUTH CRETE
- 6 Lissos Beach
Where is Chania Crete ?
Chania town is in the north-west of Crete island, on the north coast 144 km (90 miles) from the Crete capital Heraklion.
Chania province occupies the western quarter of the island of Crete. Its terrain and beaches vary greatly, form some of the best sandy beaches in Greece like Falassarna and Elafonissi to wild rugged coastline with pebble beaches in southern Crete such as those around Agia Roumeli.
The 30 Best Chania Beaches To Visit
Balos Beach Crete is a remote lagoon beach in a dramatic setting in the north-western corner of Crete. Tours from Chania to Balos Beach run between May and late October, and include a ferry from the port of Kissamos to Balos.
It’s no exaggeration to suggest Balos is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. It’s situated between a mountain on one side and a rocky cape on the other. One side of the beach faces the shallow crystal clear water of the lagoon, and the other faces the stunning turquoise sea water to the north. This wild piece of paradise gets swamped with visitors in summer, and is best visited either in May or October.
Getting there: by ferry from Kissamos or by dirt road form the same town. Facilities: Limited – WC, beach bars, some sun. bed, umbrella and beach equipment rental
Gramvousa Beach graces the rocky island of Imeri Gramvousa, which the Balos ferry usually calls at before Balos.
It is a breathtakingly beautiful sandy beach, undoubtedly one of the best places in Crete we have visited.
Like neighbouring Balos, the turquoise water is among the clearest we have ever seen. The beach sits below a steep promontory where a Venetian fortress still stands sentinel. It’s worth booking holidays in Crete just to see this serene place.
The sailing schedule usually allows you up to two hours on Gramvousa Island. Many opt to do the steep hike up to Gramvousa Castle, which rewards you with a fabulous bird’s eye view of Gramvousa Beach below. The only drawback with this is that you don’t get to spend much time on this idyllic Crete beach.
Getting there: By the same ferry that runs to Balos Beach – Gramvousa is the first of two stops Facilities: WC
The pink beach Crete is known for is at Elafonissi – also spelt Elafonisi – in the south-west corner of the island. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Crete, and no wonder. Its pink sand is formed from millions of crushed sea shells.
Much of the sand at Elafonisi beach is golden – the pink sand is constantly washed up along the shoreline, sometimes ebbing away then reappearing with the next wave.
It’s hugely popular during the summer season, and this gorgeous place is deluged with 3,000 to 4,000 visitors daily.
The same advice applies as for Balos – try to get there after the season, ideally in October, when the crowds have departed but the sea is still warm enough to swim in. The
Getting there: By road via Kissamos, or on an Elafonisi beach tour. A ferry also runs from Paleochora until early October. Facilities: Beach bars, sun beds, umbrellas, watersports hire, WC.
Kedrodasos beach Chania is unforgettable. It’s only 2 km along the coast from Elafonissi, but is a world away in terms of feel. It has similar crystal clear water, often a brilliant turquoise, and soft sand, but that’s where the similarity ends.
Kedrodasos means ‘cedar grove’ in Greek, though its name isn’t entirely accurate. Juniper trees, a relative of the cedar, populate this stretch of coast, a series of small coves, sand dunes and one large, long beach. It’s a very isolated beach, partly because the walk from Elafonissi involves a fair bit of scrambling and rock-hopping. It’s popular with nudists, but when I say popular, you might see four or five people on the entire beach. One of the top beaches in Crete.
Getting there: you can reach it by car, turning left before you reach Elafonissi. The car park is a suitably discreet distance away, ten minutes’ walk from the beach. Otherwise you can walk the E4 Crete trail, either from Elafonissi or Krios beach, around 6 km away. Facilities: None
If you have a predilection for wild coastal scenery and are wondering where to stay in Crete, Falassarna – sometimes spelt Falasarna – may be the place for you. It’s a great location for Crete family holidays, a tiny village strung out over 3 km (2 miles), and Falasarna beach below.
The beauty of Falassarna beach Crete is that there isn’t just one beach, but five, each distinct from the others. Sun seekers and watersports enthusiasts can head for the broad sweep of Pachia Ammos beach, which is sometimes fringed with pink sand a la Elafonissi. There are also small rocky coves, some intriguing walks through dunes and boulders, and natural sheltered rock pools in the northern part of the beach which are perfect for kids. Our pick of all the Crete Greece beaches we visited.
Getting there: by road from Chania and Kissamos; buses run this route from May to October. Facilities: Beach bars or tavernas at each section of the beach, with umbrellas and sun beds at most. Pachia Ammos has the most facilities, and watersports equipment hire.
Best Chania Beaches In Chania Town
NEA CHORA BEACH CHANIA
Nea Chora beach is a ten-minute walk west from the Venetian harbour in Chania, by far the easiest of the Chania beaches to reach. Its name means ‘new town’, and it is the focal point of the area immediately to the west of the Old Town and Venetian town walls.
It’s a pleasant beach next to a marina with all the amenities you need. There are several cafes and restaurants across the street from the beach, and these operate the sun beds and umbrellas in the summer season. If you want a beach close to Chania town centre, this is the better bet of the two.
See Also: 22 Of The Best Things To Do In Chania
Getting there: an easy walk from the Firka, or fortress, at the Chania Maritime Museum – follow the shore for about ten minutes. Facilities: Cafes, restaurants, sun beds and umbrellas aplenty.
KOUM KAPI BEACH CHANIA
Koum Kapi doesn’t really count as one of the best things to do in Chania because there is so little of it. We lived in Chania for a month and in all that time I can’t recall seeing more than a sliver of sand there. Plenty of people were swimming in the water, especially in the heat of summer, but there was hardly any sand to speak of. A pity, as it has a lovely setting. It’s still well worth taking a walk from the Sabbionara Rampart along the seafront. Some of the better Chania restaurants we visited, including Christianna, can be found along here.
Getting there: An easy walk from the Old Town or Venetian Harbour in Chania Facilities: Cafes, restaurants, changing rooms
CHRYSSI AKTI – GOLDEN SANDS
You can’t accuse Chryssi Akti of being short of sand. Its name means ‘Golden Sand’ and it’s a lovely curve of the grainy stuff stretching around a bay to a forested headland. We visited in autumn when it was still surprisingly busy. Summer is when Chryssi Akti is at its liveliest, and late September and October the best time to visit. If you’re staying in Chania more than a few days, be sure to head this way. You could take a 1 km walk from here which would take you to the next three Chania beaches in this article.
Getting there: A short easy drive (5-10 minutes) from the centre of Chania, otherwise bus 21 stops close by. Facilities: Beach bars, cafes, umbrellas, sun beds
AGIOI APOSTOLI BEACH
There are two Agioi Apostoli beaches in Chania – this is just to the west of Chryssi Akti, and is sometimes referred to as Agioi Apostoli 1. It’s one of the better Chania beaches, a sumptuous sweep of golden sand and crystal-clear water. Its name means ‘Holy Apostles’ after a church on the headland above the next beach.
Getting there: A 5-10 minute walk from Chryssi Akti beach, or by bus 21 from Chania city. Facilities: Beach bars, cafes, sun beds, umbrellas.
IGUANA BEACH CRETE
Iguana Beach, also known as Agioi Apostoli 2, is our other contender for the pick of the beaches close to Chania. It’s another lovely broad swathe of sand in a large cove, and there’s a great beach bar where you can cool off from the summer heat. Agioi Apostoli church is on the headland overlooking the beach. The next beach, Glaros, is the other side of the car park at the western end of the beach.
Getting there: on foot from the previous beaches mentioned, by car or on the 21 bus from Chania city centre. Facilities: Beach bar, sunbeds, umbrellas
GLAROS BEACH CHANIA
Glaros beach gives you the first taste of what to expect from the Crete holiday resorts that occupy the following 15 km of coastline. It’s another fine golden sand beach with a similar view to the others beyond. From Glaros beach you look west to Agiou Theodorou island, a popular destination for Chania boat trips during the summer season. Further to the west, the wild, largely inaccessible coastline of the Rodopou coastline forms an impressive backdrop.
The Crete beach resorts to the west are quite different from Chania. They are largely modern, having grown up around the beaches since the initial 1970s tourist boom. The coast road west to Kissamos passes through each of these – Stalos, Agia Marina, Platanias and Maleme.
Getting there: by car or bus 21 from Chania Facilities: Cafes, restaurants, sun beds, umbrellas
CHANIA BEACHES EAST OF THE CITY OF CHANIA
STAVROS BEACH CHANIA
Stavros beach Crete is at the northern end of the Akrotiri Peninsula, 12 km (8 miles) north-east of Chania. It’s one of the best beaches near Chania city, a gentle curve of soft golden sand in the shadow of one of the highest mountains in the area. The beach was the setting for some scenes in the 1960s movie Zorba the Greek, in which Anthony Quinn starred.
We visited one blissful warm autumn afternoon, sharing the beach with about a dozen other souls. In summer it’s a very different story, the beach full of sun beds and umbrellas, the tavernas thriving. A wonderful beach, well worth including in your Crete travel itinerary.
Getting there: by road from Chania, also by bus several times a day Facilities: Tavernas, sun beds, umbrellas in season; not much out of season
SEITAN LIMANIA BEACH
Seitan Limania beach near Chania has become an essential Crete sightseeing stop in recent years. It’s one of the most famous Chania beaches, a tiny strip of sand in a steep rocky inlet with pristine turquoise water. It’s at the bottom of what can loosely be termed a path. There are often Cretan mountain goats around to show you how it’s done. It’s pretty precarious, not one of the places in Crete you’d take young kids.
Getting there: by road from Chania via Chordaki to the car park at the top of the cliff. Buses run there in summer, normally stopping in September. Facilities: None
Georgioupolis is one of the more popular Crete resorts, located just off the main E75 highway that runs across the north of the island. Its beach is one of the longest beaches in Crete, around 10 km in total. The beach is very busy around the village, but the crowds thin out once you cross the stream and head beyond the beach bars. The village end of the beach is home to one of the most iconic Crete sights, a beautiful white chapel on a stone causeway out to sea.
Getting there: Via the E75 Heraklion – Rethymno – Chania coastal highway. Buses between Rethymno and Chania stop at the edge of the village, from which it’s a 10-minute walk to the beach and chapel. Facilities: Tavernas, beach bars, cafes, restaurants galore. Also several shops nearby, and watersports hire on the beach.
BEST CHANIA BEACHES IN SOUTH CRETE
Krios beach is one of the less known Crete holiday destinations. It’s 10 km (6 miles) west of Paleochora, and is a mainly pebble beach that starts out beneath the greenhouses of Koundoura (this area keeps Europe in tomatoes over the winter) and ends under sublime cliffs at the start of the trail to Viena and Kedrodasos. It’s a pleasant enough beach, but not quite among the best beaches south Crete has. The section at the west end of the beach which you need to climb over rocks (via a ladder) to reach is the highlight.
Getting there: by road from Paleochora and Koundoura
Facilities: Small taverna, umbrellas, sun beds, WC
Viena Beach – also known as Krios Lake beach – is one of the most remarkable places to go in Crete. It’s. a small beach to the west of Krios beach, and 12 km ewest of Paleochora. It’s on the E4 trail linking Krios with Kedrodasos and Elafonissi Beach.
Viena Beach Crete has a delightful setting, largely protected and shielded by rocks just offshore to keep the crystal-clear turquoise water calm. The beach is partly rocky, with some sand. The calm water makes it one of the better places to go snorkelling in Crete. However the best thing about Viena beach is that it’s set next to the scant ruins of the ancient city of Viena. You can still see parts of columns close to the beach and in the sea water. A remote, atmospheric place, one of the most fascinating Crete Greece beaches.
Getting there: Two options – on foot from Krios, Kedrodasos or Elafonissi, or by boat. Facilities: None
Grammeno beach is one of the top south Crete beaches. It comes in two very different parts – one is the family friendly flat curve of soft sand in a wide sheltered cove next to a grove of century-old juniper trees. This has everything you’d expect of Blue Flag Crete beaches, with beach bars aplenty. The car park is shared with the long pebble beach of Alonaki, the other side of the narrow peninsula.
The real highlight here is Grammeno Wild Beach, which is like a hilly version of Kedrodasos down the coast. It’s unusual among Chania beaches in that it’s backed by a series of steep dunes. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Crete, with delicate juniper trees and the mountains of sand concealing some wonderful, tiny sandy coves.
Getting there: It’s just off the road from. Paleochora to Koundoura. The flat beach is on the east side, the wild beach across the bay to the west. Facilities: Beach bars, cafes, sun beds and umbrellas on the one side, none on the wild beach side.
Karavopetra beach is one of several Paleochora beaches along the coast road between Koundoura and Paleochora. If you’re heading towards Paleochora, it’s the second on the right after the end of Anolaki beach. Each of the beaches along this stretch of coast is different in character: Karavopetra’s signature is its unusual rock formations, including a rock stack close to the shoreline. It’s not the most obvious Chania sightseeing you’ll come across, but well worth seeking out.
Getting there: By road (and bus) between Paleochora and Koundoura Facilities: None
PSILOS VOLAKAS BEACH
Psilos Volakas beach near Paleochora is one of the best places to go in Crete that you’ve never heard of. It’s another of the beaches on the road west from Paleochora, sheltered from the winds that sometimes buffet this part of the coastline. It’s a small, idyllic pebble beach with a beautiful outlook beyond the headland (which gives it shelter from the wind) to the azure Libyan Sea. A tiny taverna keeps you fed and watered. The crowds build up in summer, but in the shoulder season you can have this little piece of paradise all to yourself.
Getting there: by car or bus from Paleochora Facilities: Taverna, WC, sun beds and umbrellas
PACHIA AMMOS BEACH PALEOCHORA
The sandy beach on the western shore of the town is the most reason people visit Paleochora, one of the best places to stay in Crete if you want a fairly – but not too – quiet life and love your scenery wild and romantic.
Pachia Ammos is a great beach facing west towards Koundoura. It has everything you need from a holiday beach, with lots of facilities, cafes and restaurants right on the doorstep. If you have kids with you, the best spot to swim – with the smallest waves – is next to the Pal Hotel at the southern end of the beach.
Getting there: It’s next to the main road running along the west side of Paleochora Facilities: plenty of beach bars, restaurants, cafes and the town’s two main supermarkets are across the street
Gialiskari beach is another wonderful place to seek out on your Crete vacation. It’s accessible by dirt road from Paleochora, and the last section of the short scenic drive from Paleochora is one of our Crete highlights. You pass through a narrow gap between a cliff and a rocky outcrop, revealing the magnificent sweep of pebble beach below.
Gialiskari is the triangular pebble beach with two shores meeting at a small rocky peninsula. It’s very popular with locals, and its neighbour Anidri beach (also spelt Anydri or Anidroi) is also worth the journey. Follow the hand-painted signs from above Gialiskari beach, and the ‘Sandy Beach’ sign strung up between two boulders. Anidri is a much sandier beach with a great taverna in the shade of the trees.
Getting there: by dirt road (4 km) from Paleochora Facilities: Café on Gialiskari beach and taverna and watersports hire. Some sunbeds and umbrellas on both beaches.
Lissos Beach Crete is one of the best lesser-known places to see in Crete. The beach itself isn’t really one of the best Chania beaches, but its location is one of the most evocative places in Crete to visit. If you make it to Sougia, be sure to put aside a few hours to seek out Lissos.
It’s the ancient Greek port city of nearby Elyros, which can be found near the modern village of Rodovani. Lissos is around an hour’s hike from Sougia, and you pass through the scattered ruins of the city before reaching the beach. When we visited, the mosaic floor of the Asclepion was closed from viewing, to our great disappointment. However, we were still able to see Roman-era tombs cut into the rock face, and stonework and capitals beneath trees, on the ground.
The beach is in an idyllic location but not terribly user-friendly. You need dive shoes to go swimming, as there are many sharp rocks. If you want shelter from the heat, the cliff creates natural shade by midday.
Getting there: on foot or by small ferry boat from Sougia harbour Facilities: None
Domata beach is one of the least accessible places to visit in Crete, but that doesn’t stop it making this Chania beaches feature. It takes around four hours to hike there from remote Agia Roumeli village, some of it on difficult terrain down the rugged Klados gorge.
The bottom line for us is that it’s one of the best beaches in Crete because of its incomparable setting, dwarfed by the sheer White Mountains range rearing out of the Libyan Sea.
Getting there: On foot from Agia Roumeli (4-5 hours), unless you can get a boat to land you there Facilities: None
AGIA ROUMELI BEACH
Agia Roumeli Crete is best known as the end point for the famous Samaria Gorge hike. Once you’ve completed the hike there is a choice of two things to do in Agia Roumeli – eat at one of the tavernas there, or cool off at the main Agia Roumeli beach, which is next to the main ferry wharf.
Apart from the daily influx of hikers in season, Agia Roumeli is one of the quietest southern Crete resorts. It’s hugely underrated as it’s one of the best places to stay in Crete for exploring the most dramatic – and least frequented – parts of the coast. As well as Domata, there are more beaches to explore either side of Agia Roumeli.
Getting there: by boat from Paleochora, Sougia, Loutro or Chora Sfakion Facilities: Several tavernas and a supermarket close to the beach; sunbeds and umbrellas available during the season
ZEROMOURI BEACH, AGIA ROUMELI
The E4 trail leaves the east of Agia Roumeli village, soon reaching Zeromouri beach. The west end of the beach has a series of distinctive rock formations and cliffs, with some small caves. I didn’t linger long here as I had to move on to Agios Pavlos. The path continued into a patch of woodland, winding through a series of boulders, before descending to the eastern section of Zeromouri beach.
I had chanced upon one of the most stunning beaches in Greece. The long sweep of grey pebbles is lapped by waves from the transparent turquoise water of the Libyan Sea. The cliffs are partly wooded, soaring into Lefka Ora, the staggeringly beautiful White Mountains Crete is famous for. My goal was the superb Agios Pavlos beach further along the trail, but I spent just as long here.
Getting there: On foot 1.5 km from Agia Roumeli, which can only be reached by boat from Paleochora, Sougia, Loutro or Chora Sfakion. Facilities: None
AGIOS PAVLOS BEACH
Agios Pavlos beach should be on many a what to see in Crete list. The beach is a curious mixture of steep sloping dunes, rocks, pebbles and grey sand. Towards the middle of the beach, an 11th century Byzantine church dedicated to St Paul, who was believed to have visited the site en route to Rome. It’s one of the most beautiful things to see in Greece, a simple, humble seaside chapel with the extraordinary backdrop of the White Mountains plunging into the turquoise Libyan Sea.
Getting there: by the E4 trail from Agia Roumeli (4 km) or Loutro (9 km). Otherwise you may be able to privately charter a boat from Agia Roumeli. Facilities: Taverna open in season
The tiny village of Loutro Crete is one of the most remote Chania beaches and iconic sights in Greece. It’s a simple, tiny whitewashed Greek village and has stayed that way because of its isolation – you can only get there by boat or on foot. Because of this it’s one of the best things to see in Crete, even if relatively few make it there.
Loutro village is idyllic, its pebble beach the perfect place to relax for a few hours. The Libyan Sea water is pristine and crystal clear, like others along this stretch of south Crete coast.
Getting there: by boat from Chora Sfakion or Agia Roumeli. Chora Sfakion is closer than Agia Roumeli. Facilities: tavernas and WC on the village, and some sunbeds and umbrellas on the beach.
GLYKA NERA BEACH
The final beach on our list, Glyka Nera, enjoys another stunning setting, this time beneath a sheer cliff. It is named after the ‘sweet water’ from a fresh water spring at the beach which has the effect of cooling the water there.
Like many other beaches in the area, it’s a pebble beach with pristine clean turquoise water. It has a tiny taverna, and a few tamarisk trees give welcome shade on this south-facing beach which feels the full force of the summer sun.
Getting there: By boat or on foot along some of the more nerve-jangling sections of the E4 coast path, either from Chora Sfakion or Loutro. The nearest car parking spot is a 30-60 minute hike away, above Iligas beach. Facilities: Taverna