Crete Anogia Rethymno: Anogia is considered as one of the most attractive, picturesque mountainous Rethymno villages of Crete. It stands at an altitude of 750 metres on Mount Psiloritis, the highest mountain of Crete, and about 50 km east of Rethymno Town. Due to its secluded location, the village retains its strong authentic character, the local customs, traditional costumes and its old Cretan dialect.
The village was burned by the Turks during the Ottoman occupation and, in 1944, German forces destroyed every building except the church and killed all the men in Anogia as a payback for the kidnapping of the German General Von Kreipe by the local resistance fighters.
Anogia Village – Holidays in Crete
Worth-visiting is the 12th century church of Saint John, with its beautiful frescoes and icons. The village of Anogia is one of the major handicraft and cottage industry centres of Crete and the woven and embroidered articles produced have superb motifs which are unique to the village. It is interesting to visit one of the many workshops open to the public and observe articles being woven on large looms.
Birthplace of the famous Cretan singer and composer Nikos Xilouris, Anogia has a great musical tradition and many excellent singers and lyre (a local instrument called lyra in Greek) players are originated from here.
Some are still living in the village and can be heard playing during the cultural festival of Anogia in mid-August. Many traditional cafes and taverns can be found in the narrow streets of Anogia as well as a few accommodations. From this charming village one can enjoy some nice excursions such as a visit to the Minoan Palace of Zominthou, the cave were Zeus grew up, or the mitata on Mount Psiloritis.
How to get there
From Heraklion – the easiest and swiftest route – the drive is wonderful, winding mountain roads, passing through some interesting villages including Tilissos, giving you the chance to have an archaeologist’s feast in seeing the site there and similar at Sklavokambos (look out for the Minoan villa on the left at Sklavokambos). Allow an hour or just over for the drive, more of course if you stop to admire the sights or enjoy the sites on the way!
Head out of Heraklion on the New National road towards Rethymno and Chania, and take the turn to the Old national road and “Gazi” and “Anogia” (alternatively take 62 Martyrs out of Heraklion and carry on following the road, this will take you through Gazi on the Old National Road), after about 4 km you will see Anogia signposted left. It is then, to be astonishingly accurate, 22.8 Kilometres of winding, scenic road – best taken at a relaxed pace – to the beginning of Anogia.
At this point a left turn will take you to the Nida Plateau, ski area and the Ideon Cave. The observatory for which you turn left before the plateau, is normally open one day a month, however it is not until you reach the left turn for the observatory that these dates are posted. There are regular buses to Anogia from Heraklion from bus station B at Hanioporta. There are also buses to Anogia from Rethymno.
By Air: From May through mid-October there are direct charter flights to Chania and Heraklion Airport. Tickets can be bought in advance for almost all flights via our partner website.
By Sea: The journey is the thing”. A superb way of enjoying the journey to Crete is to fly to Athens and take the ferry from Piraeus (Pireas) – the port serving Athens. A still-romantic way to travel by the overnight ferry from Piraeus to Chania-Souda Port or Heraklion Port. Tickets can be bought in advance for all ferries via our website.
By Car: If you want to explore the region while you’re here, we recommend that you rent a car, other means of transport are limited and/or infrequent. We suggest our Partner Budget, which offers competitive prices and you can collect your car at either airport.
By Taxi: Book your taxi transfer online easily and safely from the airport or port to any location via our website.
Where to stay
Just 1km away from Anogia Village on the way towards Nida Plateau there is a luxurious hotel with the authenticity of Cretan tradition and the wild natural beauty of the island Delina Mountain Resort. This is a very nice mountain resort adjacent to a huge restaurant for large events and Cretan music … and with wonderful authentic greek food.
Please see our links to local hotels at the bottom of this page as well.
What to see & do
Recommended: enjoy a Greek coffee at the square in the upper village (Agios Georgios Square), the atmosphere here is wonderful – hospitality and welcomes are surprising in their warmth. Excellent local cheese and Raki are available to buy, at the shop on one corner of the square.
You are more likely to see men wearing the Cretan baggy trousers tucked into their boots, heads decorated with nets, here than just about anywhere else. This is miles from “designer name” mecca. The small church of Agios Georgios is worth a visit if it is open. On the main road, a little before the square, visit the Folk Art museum.
Wander the streets from the top to the bottom of the village, see the woven tablecloths and linens (with much salesmanship from the old ladies). In the lower part, where the Plateia Syntagmatos Kafeneio is and the statue of Vasilis Skoulas, the tavernas to the right with succulent lamb and other foods cooking outside in open barbecue-ovens.
Follow the sign behind the statue to see the original wood carvings and paintings of Alkiviadis Skoulas (“Grillios”), his son who is reasonably senior himself will show you the gallery (if he is not there – ask at the Kafeneio and they’ll summon him to show it to you) at the Museum Grillios.
Original wood carvings with much use of the natural shape of branches, and an appealing naive painting style in pictures of Eleftherios Venizelos and more. Have a look at Nikos Xylouris’s house right on this square – Anogia is also famous for it’s musical tradition.
Venture from here to the awe-inspiring and enormous plateau, the Nida Plateau and visit the Ideon Cave. The journey is truly scenic and takes you through sparkling rock and mountainscapes. There is a taverna at the plateau – what you really want to do is just walk, wander and take in this “out of Africa-like” panorama. (In winter skiing would be a possibility on the way up to the plateau – there is a ski “area”, but it has not been operating for years).
This is a splendid place for walking, hiking, caving and energetic cycling – a good base too [E4 hiking path goes through Anogia]. The archaeological sites within easy reach abound, Tilissos, Sklavokambos and Anogia’s own treasures (of course many finds are stored or displayed at the Archaeological museum in Heraklion). At Zoniana, a nearby village, you can check out the new wax museum.
Where to eat & drink
There are some places where it is hard to choose one eating location over another – so far we cannot say we’ve decided on our favourites. Let appetite, the aromas of cooking and the feeling of the moment be your guide – you are unlikely to be disappointed. Food is important, a big feature of life, everywhere in Greece and much so here in Crete. In Anogia food is good. Again, let us know your favourites and tell us what you liked so we can pass the information on to other visitors…
To appreciate Anogia, give it some time, walk, stop for coffee or drink, eat and allow any kindness or generosity that might be offered you, to quench the thirst for offering hospitality that is a hallmark of Crete and has its source it often seems, in Anogia.
If you can make the time, we would suggest at least an overnight stay to enjoy the “events” of different times of day and to give ample chance to visit the extraordinary special places nearby. This is also an appealing place – it feels good to just well, be here for a while – we think you’ll easily see what we mean when you get to the mountains of Psiloritis.