Anogia, Crete: Complete Guide by a Local

Anogia Crete

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Known for its traditional character and rich heritage, some locals consider Anogia to be the cultural cradle of the island. If you’re planning to visit this authentic mountain settlement in the region of Rethymnon, you’re in the right spot to discover everything there’s to know about Anogeia Crete.


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Things to Do in Anogia Crete

Anogia, Crete

ARE YOU PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO CRETE LAST MINUTE?
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📍 Top tours in Crete:
Full-day Samaria Gorge trek (#1 tour in Crete!)
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Boat Trip to Spinalonga with swim stop (most popular in Agios!)
Ticket to Knossos Archaeological Site (top tour in Heraklion)
Day trip to Elafonisi (a must in Chania!)

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Lyttos Beach (top beachfront hotel in Hersonissos)
SanSal Boutique Hotel (in Chania Old Town with a pool!)
Grecotel Lux Me White Palace (the best resort in Rethymnon)

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Essential Things to Know About Anogia

anogia crete

Known as Anogia or Anogeia, this is one of Crete’s most traditional villages.

Anogia’s character and cultural heritage are the main reasons for a day trip to discover the area and its unique costumes.

Where is Anogia

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This Cretan village is located in the central part of the island, in the region of Rethymnon, and stands about 740 meters on the northern slope of Mount Psiloritis, the highest peak in Crete.

Map: How to Get from Rethymnon to Anogeia

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From Rethymnon Old Town to Anogia (Google Maps 2024).

Anogia is located about 58 km southeast of the center of Rethymnon. The trip is about an hour by car (or taxi). You must take the RETHYMNO-PERAMA-ANOGIA route from Rethymnon’s Main Bus Station to get there by bus.

>> Click here to learn how to move around by bus in Crete.

There are at least two rides every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Click here to get the most updated bus schedule.

Anogia is about one hour from Rethymnon, yet the closest city is Heraklion. Below, you will find the distances and driving times to Anogia.

  • Chania – Anogia: 117 km (2 hours by car)
  • Heraklion – Anogia: 39 km (50 minutes bu car)
  • Agios Nikolaos – Anogia: 98 km (1 hour 40 minutes by car)

Driving in Crete is always a fantastic adventure, especially when you venture on the spectacular mountain roads. Many areas are wild and lonely yet incredibly beautiful.

anogia crete

 I always suggest keeping an updated map of Crete at hand (I ALWAYS use this one) or renting a car with a sound navigation system installed.

Besides, you can also keep this guide to driving in Crete at hand for more details.

Which car rental service is the best to choose?

If you want to rent a car for your trip and look for the best service, I am here to help you! Consider choosing Discover Cars, an international car rental booking service present worldwide. This way, you will find the best car for your trip wherever you are!

Best Reasons to Visit Anogeia

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Anogia’s traditional character and cultural heritage are the main reasons for a day trip to discover the village.

The village features stone-built houses with a distinctive Cretan style.

Many of these have been preserved and restored, showcasing traditional architectural elements that the island is known for.

Associated with various legends and traditions, Anogia became known for its resistance against the Ottoman Empire during the Cretan Revolution in the 19th century and its fierce fights against the Nazis in WWII, making the place synonymous with Cretan bravery and independence.

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Anogia became known for a remarkable fact that took place during those years, when Crete was occupied by the Germans.

One of the most critical moments during the occupation happened when the famous German general Kraipe was kidnapped and then transferred to Anogia, hidden in a vehicle, from where he was taken to the south of the region, before being sent to Africa.

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As a consequence, the village was surrounded by German troops who massacred all men who had hidden in the Psiloritis, and tore down all the houses in Anogia.

Cretan Music

Cretan Lyra
Cretan Lyra.

Anogia is also famous for its music tradition, as it was the birthplace of renowned musicians and singers, and traditional Cretan music is deeply rooted in its culture.

You’ll love live performances of traditional music. Check out local taverns for more information, or head to Anogia during festivals and celebrations

Taking a leading role in preserving and promoting Cretan culture, the village has maintained its traditional way of life, and local customs, dances, and music are still celebrated.

The villagers take great pride in their heritage and participate in cultural events, festivals, and traditional ceremonies all year round.

Festivals in Heraklion, Crete
Cretan lyra being made.

Cretan music, with its distinctive instruments such as the Cretan lyra (a three-stringed bowed instrument) and the laouto (a long-necked lute), can be experienced in the village during festive occasions. 

Traditional dances like the pentozali, syrtos, and sousta are also performed, often accompanied by live music.

Anogia Music Festival: If you’re visiting in July-August, check out the Yakinthia Festival (in honor of Agios Yakinthos or Saint Hyacinth) in the traditional mountain village of Anogia. It is a magnificent celebration that features Cretan dances and live music. More info here.

Handicrafts

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Anogia is also famous for its skilled artisans who create woven textiles and woodwork.

While walking around the village, you can explore local workshops and see how old women still create unique textile products, including tablecloths, covers, and more. 

This is the proper chance to purchase unique, handmade souvenirs and help the local economy.

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If you’re wondering what to buy, I suggest purchasing a traditional vourgia, known as the Cretan backpack”.

This handmade bag can be worn as a backpack. It is colorful, often made of wool or cotton, and features a threaded cord to close the bag.

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Cretan shepherds used it to bring food on their backs while caring for the sheep in the Cretan mountains.

Woven on the loom, vourgia had beautiful patterns and colors, often distinguishing the artisan that had produced them.

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Another traditional craft you can purchase in Anogia is a Cretan sariki. This is the typical headband that many men still wear on the island.

The word σαρίκι comes from the Turkish word for headband, sarik. In some parts of Crete, it is also known as μαντήλι (but this is a more generic term.

Sariki can be black, usually related to mourning, and white, often worn on happier occasions, such as weddings or christenings.

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A very simple and basic style of sariki is worn as casual headwear during manual labor, and it is believed to have been worn for millennials by Cretan men.

The sarikia you will usually find in shops and can purchase in Anogia is known as σαρίκι με κρόσσια, hanging decorations that are a symbol of the tears shed by Cretans during the fall of Constantinople.

Tastes from Anogia

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Traditional Cretan cuisine is a highlight of a visit to Anogia.

The village’s taverns and restaurants offer an authentic culinary experience, featuring local specialties such as dakos (a barley rusk topped with tomatoes, feta cheese, and olive oil), staka (a creamy butter dish), and lamb dishes cooked in traditional wood-fired ovens.

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We bought fresh artichokes from this truck when we visited!

Visitors can savor the flavors of Cretan cuisine and taste the local hospitality.

The best thing to do is to walk around the main square in the village, Peraxori Square, and sit at the table in one of the many tavernas and kafenia.

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Antikristo served in Anogia.

Over there, you can taste seasonal greens and dishes such as antikristo or tsigariasto, two common ways to cook lamb dishes (sometimes goat) on the island.

What to See near Anogia

Surrounded by spectacular mountains and valleys, exploring the countryside near Anogia provides opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and nature walks.

Ideon Cave

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Regarding attractions, the nearby Ideon Cave holds great significance in Greek mythology.

It is believed to be the birthplace of Zeus, the king of the gods, although many on the island consider that it was the Psychro Cave, in the Lasithi Plateau, the place where the god was born, and Ideon Cave merely the place where the god grew up. 

The cave is located on the slopes of Mount Psiloritis and can be reached by hiking from Anogia.

Nature and Outdoor Activities

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Shepherd’s refuge – or mitato – in the Valley of Amari.

Nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes, Anogia is a great starting point for exploring the rugged landscapes of Mount Psiloritis, small villages such as Thronos, and the surrounding Amari Valley.

There are different hiking trails to explore ancient paths and spectacular gorges and enjoy views of the Cretan mountains. The area is also home to diverse flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts.

Fodele Village

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Located within the Heraklion region, Fodele is another historic village not far from Anogia. Fodele is better known as the birthplace of Greek painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, El Greco.

Lush orange groves surround the village, only a few minutes from the island’s northern coast.

One of the most remarkable places to visit is the ancient Church of the Panagia, one of the oldest Byzantine churches on the island.

You can also discover the El Greco Museum or taste delicious local cuisine in one of the many tavernas in the heart of Fodele.

El Greco Museum, Heraklion, Crete.
El Greco Museum, Heraklion, Crete.

If you also want to spend a few hours by the sea, you can head to Fodele Beach or explore the spectacular bays in Agia Pelagia, which is only minutes from Fodele.

Where to Stay in Anogia

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The village has smartly embraced tourism. While maintaining its authenticity, Anogia has embraced tourism, offering accommodations such as traditional guesthouses and family-run hotels. 

Where to Eat in Anogia

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I’ve never had a bad meal in Anogia, and yet I do not have a favorite restaurant…. they are all genuinely great! Ask locals for their recommendations if you don’t know where to go.

They often know the best places that may not be as widely known to tourists. These are some of the places I’ve visited:

  • Ta Skalomata – A traditional Cretan taverna with stunning views and a menu featuring typical dishes from the area. Check out their Facebook page here.
  • Arodamos Kritiki Kouzina– A populat place to eat in the village, rated as one of the best places restaurants in the area. Check out their website here.
  • Aetos – A family-run taverna where you will enjoy the food and the super friendly atmosphere. Located at 17, 13is Avgoustou 1944 Strett, Anogia

🛌 Suggested Accommodation in Rethymnon:

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Read more about Crete’s Villages

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About my blog:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I moved to Crete in 2016. During these years, I learned much about the island.
In Crete, I juggle being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours, and writing for several travel media.
I’ve written for Greek Reporter, published travel guides about Greece, co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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