Crete is the largest island in Greece, offering endless possibilities for any type of traveler. For families, couples, groups of friends, hiking enthusiasts, and mountaineers, the island has it all. In the region of Chania, you will find a combination of vibrant nightlife and a youthful atmosphere, and arguably most of the best beaches on the island. Chania’s region features pristine nature, wild landscapes with crystal-clear cyan waters, and great beaches and coves.
Here’s a list of the best beaches in Chania you should visit:
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The Best Beaches in Chania
While in Chania, you can’t miss exploring the nearby natural beauty of the Balos lagoon. This magnificent landscape of sandy shores and shallow turquoise waters is perfect for adults and children to swim, go snorkeling and explore nature. It is considered one of the best beaches in Chania, but also worldwide, and it’s a lifetime experience! The exotic waters are inviting, and the landscape is wild and untamed, with thick white sand and pink sand in some places. You may even find Caretta-caretta turtles on its shores.
You will find Balos lagoon 17 km outside of Kissamos and roughly 56 km northwest of the town of Chania. To get there by car, you will have to drive all the way from Kaliviani, where you are asked to pay a symbolic fee to protect the nature of Gramvousa.
On route, you will drive along the Cape of Gramvousa for about 10km, and you will find a wide parking site to leave your car. The spot offers breathtaking views over the Balos lagoon and the whole of Gramvousa. To get down to Balos, you will have to walk a 1-kilometer-path from the parking spot.
Another way is to take the boat from Kissamos, which will cost anywhere between 25 to 30 Euros and departs daily and lets you enjoy unparalleled views of the Gramvousa peninsula by the sea, and stop at the Imeri Gramvousa islet for a swim and to see the fortress and the shipwreck. If you’re lucky, you might even find dolphins en route there!
Recommended tours to Balos Beach
From Chania: Gramvousa Island and Balos Bay Full-Day Tour
From Rethymno: Gramvousa Island and Balos Bay
From Heraklion: Full-Day Gramvousa and Balos Tour
(please note the tours above don’t include the boat tickets)
Last but certainly not least, for nature lovers and active enthusiasts, there is the option of hiking from Kaliviani to Balos through the Gramvousa and Platyskinos range. This hiking trail lasts approximately 3 hours but it is extremely strenuous in hot temperatures during summer, so make sure you stay hydrated if you choose the hiking option.
Another gem of Cretan nature is the otherworldly Elafonisi in Chania. At the southwesternmost part of Crete, this peninsula is often overflooded with water, looking like a separate islet. The endless dunes, crystal-clear waters, and virgin nature is protected by Natura 2000 as a vital habitat for different species of flora and fauna, including Caretta-caretta turtles.
Just like some Caribbean shores, this location offers countless beaches with shallow waters and pinkish sand and a lagoon only 1 meter in depth. The “island” can even offer accommodation at Chrisoskalitissa village, with the glorious church. You can even cross the Gorge of Topolia there for a bit of nature, or walk through the forested village of Elos.
To get to Elafonisi, you can choose a car and drive for about 1.5 hours from Chania, or choose the bus. Keep in mind that the road is not easy and far from straight, but the route is worth it!
Here are some recommended day trips to Elafonisi Beach:
Check out: The Pink Beaches of Crete.
Another one that ticks the list of the best beaches in Chania is Kedrodasos, a pristine jewel just 1 km east of Elafonisi mentioned above. Although its name translates to cedar forest, the lush vegetation is actually juniper trees, which look very much alike. These provide much-needed shade upon long sand dunes.
The forest and nature there need to be protected because it’s both valuable and very sensitive, so most visitors include naturists who love to camp there for a swim in mesmerizing blue waters. There are no amenities whatsoever in order to preserve its beauty and leave nature untouched, so before you get there, bring your own supplies and don’t forget to take your rubbish away.
Tip: For hiking enthusiasts, there is also the E4 European hiking trail that passes through the forest. You will find distinct markings easily.
Falassarna is also among the most famous beaches in Chania, visited by many travelers and locals who enjoy the unique beauty and divine waters of one of the top 10 beaches in Europe. Falassarna beach is 59km outside of Chania and 17km from Kissamos. To get there, you have to drive from Chania, pass through Kissamos and then after 10km, you will find the village of Platanos, where you have to turn right (following the signs to Falassarna).
Falassarna is a wide region of dunes that can be split into 5 beaches, the most famous of which, is Pachia Ammos. You can find amenities there, including drinks & snacks under the protection of umbrellas, as well as sunbeds. Thanks to its huge length (1 km) and width (150m), it rarely gets crowded, although it is the most visited.
If you wish for some peace and quiet, head north on foot, to a more secluded beach, also lengthy, but with no amenities. You can find ample space there among coves to enjoy pristine nature without the fuss.
Tip: Don’t miss the sunset hour at Falassarna, the colors are amazingly vibrant and the landscape is beyond comparison.
Just 22km outside of Chania, near the village of Chordaki, you will find the wild landscape of Seitan Limania (Satan’s Harbors), also known for Stefanou beach. This beach is among the best beaches in Chania, and it is quite close to the town, accessible by road, until the parking space. There, you get to leave your car and walk down a path that surely requires suitable footwear.
The steep cliffs and rocky shores gave the name to this region, which has 3 consecutive coves of extreme beauty. The most famous cove is Stefanou beach, known for the bluest waters, refreshing and clear, thanks to the streams that flow through the Gorge of Diplochachalo. The formation of these coves allows them to be protected from most winds, never causing waves, even during bad weather.
The landscape is imposing, with huge rocks and high places surrounding you as you swim, engulfed in heavenly seas.
Last but definitely not least, Glyka Nera beach is also on this list. A bit further away, 75km from Chania, this lovely beach offers its “sweet waters”, as the name suggests to visitors and locals alike.
The deep azure waters of this pebbly beach make it a favorite, and cold freshwater actually streams out from between the pebbles, thanks to the nearby springs. The water there is cold all year round, because of the perpetual water flow, but it is refreshing and the spring water is potable! Thankfully, there is a tavern there that offers all you could possibly need during a hot summer day.
What about access? You can get to Glyka Nera either by boat or by hiking there. You can hire a fish boat from Loutro or Sfakia and get there easily by sea. But, if you are adventurous and experienced in hiking, you might want to take the hiking trail from Chora Sfakion, which lasts for about 30 minutes. Or for greater adventure, you can take the one from Loutro, which is part of the E4 European path and lasts about an hour. It is well-preserved and safe but has a dangerous part near the edge of the cliffs.