The magical routes of Crete: Old Town of Hersonissos – Analipsi – Gouves

The magical routes of Crete

Rent a car in Crete & Get ready for a new Adventure

Every month, our customer success team plans a trip or daily excursion to help you explore the island of Crete, and visit all our favorite places before your holiday is over! Every content piece in our blog is a detailed guide through a selection of magical routes in Crete.

The most important thing to keep in mind when visiting Crete: Rent a car and run on your own schedule. The Greek lifestyle is all about enjoying life without stress, and the best way to lose track of time and relax is to be independent.

Today we will rent a car and explore 3 different, but also unique destinations at Northern Crete: Old Town of Hersonissos, Analipsi and Gouves.

Rent a Car in Hersonissos Old Town and get ready for a new adventure!

Hersonissos in a few lines

Located 26km east of Heraclion, Limenas Hersonissou (Port of Hersonissos) is considered to be one the largest tourist resorts in Crete, with multiple luxurious hotels, busy beaches and attractions for all ages.

Limenas Hersonissou used to be the port of the little village of Ano Hersonissos, now named Old Town of Hersonissos. While probably most people visit Hersonissos for the sandy beaches and the lovely weather, there are also rural places which worth your visit and are easily accessible.

Thus, whether you are a food enthusiast, a party animal or a nature lover, Hersonissos combines all these tastes.

Rent a car in Old town hersonissos

The natural beauty of Hersonissos Old Town

The ancient town of Hersonissos or Heronissos (peninsula) was located in the area of today’s Limenas Hersonissou. Pirate raids led the inhabitants to move to a new place up in the hills, the today’s Old Hersonissos Town, which is 2km far from the port. This small picturesque village attracted its first visitors back in ‘50s, when Crete became a tourist magnet. 

The traditional side of Crete

The Venetians called the peak of Hersonissos “Bene Veto” (nice view) and, indeed, you may enjoy breathtaking views to the coastal areas, Cretan sea and nearby villages of the Old Town. The village was declared ‘traditional’ in 1978 due to its history and unique architecture. This traditional village may not offer bars and shops like Limenas Hersonissou, but the highlights here tend to be the easy-going life pace and the colourful stone-built village houses with their blooming courtyards, which remind us of the good old times. 

The Old Town Hersonissos village owns one of the loveliest central squares in Crete, with a fountain in the middle surrounded by traditional taverns and cafes offering local traditional cuisine and Cretan music. Even in the winter, locals enjoy visiting the traditional kafenio (cafe) talking politics, playing backgammon or drinking raki. If you wish to enjoy the authentic Cretan tradition and surround yourself with the old Cretan ambience, this is your place to visit.

What to do in Hersonissos Old Town

Try authentic Cretan food and enjoy the traditional atmosphere at one of the most popular restaurants/taverns in the Hersonissos Old Town square, such as Harakas, Sofas, Taverna 1930, Zachos or Myrtios – all of them provide tasty local dishes! Every Monday, during the tourist season, taverns offer live traditional Greek music and dances.

Rent a car in analipsis crete

Staying minutes away of the beach in Analipsis Hersonissou

Analipsis village is located 24km east of Heraclion, really close to the Hersonissos seaside. The initial name of the village was “Svourou Metochi” up to ‘70s, where the village adopted its name from the church “Ascension of Christ” (Analipsis tou Christou) located in the main beach of the village.

Do you stay in Analipsis? Rent a Car in Analipsis and start your route here! 

The ideal destination for beach-lovers

The truth is that it can be hard to choose which beaches to visit in Crete, but if staying near Heraclion, the Analipsis beach is a good choice which responds to all tastes. Soft, golden sand full of umbrellas and chairs to be rented, at multiple areas along the beach. Water sports and scuba-diving are only some of the leisure activities offered in the beach. In addition, the depth of the waters varies through the long coast, making it popular with both families and advanced swimmers. At the end of the beach, just before the coast turns rocky, there is the beautiful Church of Analipsis. Prepare to take some awesome shots there! 

What to do in Analipsis

There are many shops, supermarkets and tour operators located in Analipsis village, making it a good choice for family holidays. Strolling around the streets of the Analipsis village, you may see friendly inhabitants always bringing a great smile and ready to tell you a local story or offer a recommendation. Some great restaurants to choose from are the Familia, Sirtaki or Marina taverns, with their tasty local dishes.    

Mixing past with present in Gouves

Nearer to Heraclion – only 18km away, there is a large area called Gouves. This area is separated into two villages, the traditional Ano Gouves (Upper Gouves) and the seaside Gouves (Kato Gouves, i.e. Lower Gouves), both of them remarkable and quite popular with visitors.

The word “Gouva” means land depression in the shape of a bowl and this area has been mainly developed to support tourism in the coastline area from Heraclion up to Hersonissos and Malia in Crete. 

Are you staying in Gouves? Rent a car in Gouves by Sterling Rental and start your route here!

Rent a car in gouves

What to do in Gouves

Gouves offer peaceful holidays for families, with numerous hotels and apartments and a plenty of sandy beaches with all amenities and sea sports.

Enjoy the afternoon walks and sunset chasing seaside, having in your background pictures the tiny onshore Orthodox church of Saints Constantine and Helen – usually chosen for marriages and baptisms due to its magnificent view.

Ano Gouves, on the contrary, is a traditional village with two 18th century chapels of Saint George and Saint John, many quaint and renovated traditional houses and a central square with myrtle trees.

Old-school kafenia (cafes) and a monument serving as a memorial to the warriors who lost their lives during their contribution to the liberation struggle against Germans in 1940, both conclude the traditional atmosphere.

Enjoy Greek food and local dishes in Spiros tavern in Ano Gouves or from a plenty of choices in Gouves (Limanaki, Medusa or Mylos taverns/restaurants).

Enjoy mind detox nearby

There is an endless choice of things to do near Hersonissos area, depending on your interests and whether you are travelling with kids or not.

Near Gouves, fun activities include the visit to Cretaquarium (one of the largest in Europe), Planet Crete Planetarium, Dinosauria Park and Watercity Waterpark Themed Park. In Hersonissos, you may enjoy seeing local seaworld and reptiles in Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Centre. Quite popular theme parks in Hersonissos are the Acqua Plus Water Park and Labyrinth Theme Park. For golf enthusiasts, don’t miss a visit to Crete Golf Club near Old Town of Hersonissos. Overall, the whole area offers a wide range of entertainment, like buggy safari tours, cycling, bungy-jumping, horse-riding, water sports and, of course, sailing and scuba-diving.

For nature lovers, near Ano Gouves, there is the Skotino Cave, which is said that it was the labyrinth of mythological Minotaur. Driving to the top of the nearby Ederi mountain in Gouves, you may enjoy breathtaking views of the rural area. Near Hersonissos, trek the Aposelemis canyon of medium difficulty, too.

For history lovers, you may visit the Folklore Museum of Gouves, the Piskopiano Museum of Rural Life in traditional Piskopiano village near Old Town of Hersonissos and the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum in Port of Hersonissos with folk equipment, plants, stones and minerals of Crete.

Have a blast!