Wandering Chania Old Town is one of the best things to do in Crete. Chania has a stunning harbour, one of the most beautiful in Greece, with magnificent sunsets out to sea in one direction and the imposing White Mountains in the other. The Old Town is the area behind the harbour.

One of the best things to do in Chania is to set the alarm clock and walk the backstreets in the early morning. Very few people are around, but plenty of street cats are, planning their morning nap for when the sun rises.

Image of Chania harbour with a lamp in the foreground Crete Greece
Chania harbour in early morning light

It doesn’t take long to delve deep back in time. Chania started out as the Minoan city of Kydonia, around 5,000 years ago. The Old Town also has substantial remains of its Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman past, a unique Cretan concoction that makes for such a compelling city.

It won’t take you long to see why Chania is one of the best places to visit in Crete.  The narrow, tight streets are packed with lovely medieval houses, many with shuttered windows and a display of flowerpots.  

The streets and alleyways are filled with cafes, shops and restaurants, which begin to open as the sun peers over into the hidden corners of Old Town Chania. Bougainvillea drapes down over walls, its delicate scent mingling with the Greek coffee that will be your reward for your early start.

Image of bars and restaurants on Chania harbour at dusk
Chania’s busy nightlife on the harbour on a glorious summer’s evening

Image of Chania lighthouse at dusk Crete Greece
The view form the harbour to Chania lighthouse
Image of a stepped street in old town Chania Greece
A steep stepped street above the old harbour in Chania
Image of a window surrounded by bougainvillea flowers Chania Crete Greece
Glorious summer with bougainvillea in full flower
Image of a blackboard with Greek phrases translated into English Chania Crete Greece
A few helpful Greek words and phrases to help you get by
Image of a dog walking up a stepped street in Chania Greece
A dog heads off for an early morning stroll around the Old Town
Image of Plaka cafe in Chania with a colourful doll at the entrance
Plaka cafe is a great place for an early morning Greek coffee
Image of an art gallery and craft shop in Chania Crete Greece
One of several art galleries around Old Town Chania
Image of a house with a staircase outside in Chania's Old Town Greece
There are so many pretty houses around the Old Town
Image of a traditional house and flowerpots Chania Greece
Another typical house in Chania Old Town, with gorgeous flower pots
Image of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Chania Greece
Chania’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Image of bougainvillea flowers against a yellow wall background in Chania
You can’t miss the bougainvillea flowers in the Old Town of Chania
Image of wine bottles and a vase of flowers outside a restaurant in Chania Greece
Try out some Cretan vintages at one of the Old Town restaurants
Image of Chania harbour Crete Greece
Back to the harbour, an early morning view looking across a cruise boat deck
Image of souvenirs made from sea shells in Chania harbour Crete Greece
She sells sea shells from a boat on Chania harbour
Image of a street in Old Town Chania framed by an archway
Underneath the arch – another cobbled medieval street in the Old Town
Image of a horse at Chania harbour
Horse rides are one way of seeing parts of the Old Town
Image of the Mosque of the Janissaries on the harbour in Chania
The Mosque of the Janissaries at dusk
Image of the Venetian harbour and White Mountains Chania Crete Greece
And finally: the White Mountains from across the Venetian harbour