Souda Bay, Crete, Greece cruises
Souda Bay port guide
Where warm, turquoise waters meet pretty pebble and sandy beaches. Where centuries of varied history has shaped a unique culture. Souda Bay and Chania bring a chance to spend a few hours in any way you please. You could explore ancient ruins and wartime history, or perhaps you’d rather spend an afternoon wandering narrow streets, getting lost on purpose, stopping for the occasional ice cream or glass of wine. The choice is yours (it is your holiday after all).
Top landmarks and sights in Souda Bay
Souda Bay and neighbouring Chania both have a welcoming feel, inviting you to spend time taking in all the recommended sights and attractions, or perhaps deciding to simply stroll around at your own pace. See all that piques your interest, whether it’s ancient architecture or a postcard-worthy beach.
Old Town Chania
Should you decide to make the short journey west to Chania, you’ll soon find yourself looking up at colourful townhouses from pretty, cobbled streets, occasionally catching the sweet aroma of overhanging bougainvillea. Find authentic local dining options in the Turkish quarter, once a hive of activity during the Ottoman times, and in Topanas, the Venetian district, take endless photos of beautiful Venetian mansions.
Souda Bay Military Sites
If you’re interested in military history, Souda Bay brings opportunities to discover more about the wars that have impacted this part of the world. Visit the Allied War Cemetery, where you’ll find memorials for the fallen in World Wars I and II, and graves of more than 1,500 servicepeople. It’s here where the Battle of Crete memorial is held every May. Another place of military interest is the small Island of Souda, across the Bay. Once fortressed by the Venetians, this was the site of battle for the Greeks and Ottomans. You may also be interested to know that both the Greek and NATO navies operate out of Souda Bay, and a NATO missile firing base is located close by.
Things to do in Souda Bay
Be as active as you like in this charming part of the world that brings opportunities to fill your day with activities, or simply relax and take it slow. Should you choose to stay in Souda Bay, perhaps enjoy time spent walking along the seafront, learn more about military history, or take time out on sandy Stavros Beach. You could venture to Chania, a busier region where you’ll find plenty of ways to spend your time, from exploring museums and ancient archaeological sites to browsing for treasures in boutiques and sampling local cuisine in quaint cafes.
Explore ancient Kydonia
It’s known that Chania was built on the ruins of an old town, Kydonia, from Minoan times - an ancient, Cretan civilisation. Above the main town, in the district of Kasteli, ruins have been excavated which are thought to date back around 5,000 years. This part of Chania is well worth a visit if you’re interested in ancient Mediterranean history.
Old Chania Harbour
The harbour in Chania offers not only a charming, sun-kissed atmosphere, but also another glimpse into the varied history of this part of the world. Originally built by the Venetians in the 14th century, over the years this harbour has been integral for all those who have occupied Crete, including the Turkish, Egyptians, and finally Greeks. Today, see centuries old honey-coloured architecture including the Lighthouse of Chania, which is one of the oldest in the world.
Enjoy idyllic beaches
Souda Bay is close to a number of beaches that make for an ideal way to spend your time if you’d like to simply enjoy the sunshine. Almyrida Beach is just over 10 miles east of the port, and boasts perfect soft sands and clear, warm waters. Alternatively, Nea Chora Beach is closer to Chania centre, at around 15 minutes’ walk from the harbour. Here you’ll find patches of both sand and stone, and plenty of sun loungers protected from parasols available to rent.
Eating and drinking near Souda Bay
The quaint and cobbled streets of Chania offer up plenty of inviting cafes in which to try tasty Cretan fare. Choose a rich, strong Greek coffee to sip slowly in a terracotta terrace. Sample a locally made ouzo in a cosy taverna. Perhaps order a feast, and experience the finest Cretan fish, lamb, cheese, and vegetables, and much more.
At beach and harbourside restaurants, you could try all manner of freshly caught seafood – barbecued octopus is a particular favourite. For something a little lighter, maybe choose dakos, a bruschetta-like lunch that uses a soaked barley rusk base in place of bread. Cretan lamb is another popular option, and many local dishes use stamnagathi, a type of wild chicory. Sweet pastries using honey and nuts are traditional Cretan desserts, similar to Turkish baklava.
Shopping in Souda Bay
As a unique island that has been influenced by a variety of cultures, you’ll find a wonderful array of trinkets and treasures to serve as the perfect memento of your holiday. Brightly painted crockery. Traditional shepherd’s knives. Expertly made Cretan leather boots. Locally produced food and drink can also make for a lovely souvenir, with Cretan honey being a popular choice due to its premium quality and antibacterial properties.
The indoor, Municipal Market of Chania is an ideal spot for finding souvenirs, as well as for learning more about the way of life here, by browsing local produce from olive oil and raki to cheeses, herbs and spices.
Getting around: Souda Bay transport
After stepping off your Cunard Queen in Souda Bay, it’s easy to get a local bus to Chania town if that’s where you’d like to spend your time - the journey takes around 20 minutes. There are also other buses that take you to nearby coastal villages, should you prefer to explore elsewhere.
Most highlights in Chania, and Souda Bay itself, are within walking distance of each other, or it’s also possible to use local taxis.
Souda Bay port facilities
The cruise port at Souda Bay offers basic facilities including toilets and an information kiosk. There are taxis and a bus stop located just outside, enabling you to quickly travel to Chania, or other local attractions.
Top tips for Souda Bay
Souda Bay and Chania are in Crete, which is a Greek island. As with the rest of the country, the local currency here is the Euro. While card payments are widely accepted, it can be useful to carry some cash for smaller purchases, or if you’ll be visiting any small food or souvenir stalls. There are ATMs scattered across Chania and it’s also possible to purchase Euros on board your ship.
When a service charge has not been included in your bill at a café or restaurant, a tip of between 10 and 20% is appreciated, but not compulsory. Otherwise, you could choose to simply round up the bill to an amount you see fit.
The summer months of June to August reach highs of around 25 degrees Celsius in Chania, and between December and March the temperature averages roughly 12 degrees Celsius. December, January, and February are when it’s most likely to rain, whereas June, July, and August rarely see any rain at all.