Anissaras is located 24 km east of Heraklion and 1 km west of Hersonissos. The area of Anissaras is part of the unique stretch of Cretan coastline from Kokkini Hani to Malia.
Anissaras is neither a village nor a town – it’s a place – a large, hilly area which springs up just outside of Hersonissos, a stone’s throw away. But the difference between the two is like night and day. Actually, some people refer to it as Hersonissos’ high-class suburb.
There are no bars, no nightlife – outside of the hotels in Anissaras, which are mostly upscale and self-contained. However, there are a few smaller hotels and several tourist apartments in the area. All in all, it is a place for a quieter vacation, yet close to the raucous Hersonissos hot spots.
How to get to Anissaras
From Heraklion to Anissaras by bus: To get to Anissaras from Heraklion, you can take the bus to Hersonissos. Buses are frequent but they will drop you off at the junction on the old National Road, and your hotel will be about a one-kilometre walk away.
From Heraklion to Anissaras by car: If you have your own or a rented car, however, take the new National Road in the direction of Hersonissos. Take the Kastelli exit, turn left and at the end of the road go straight across the old National Road into the road directly opposite (I don’t think there’s a sign). Continue for about 1 kilometre and you will come to Anissaras beach with the large hotels.
If you are looking for a specific hotel in Anissaras, drive slowly and carefully in case there’s a sign to it. If you can’t find it, ask for directions at a shop.
Useful Information on Anissaras
In Anissaras you will find large hotels offering all-inclusive holidays. Guests have everything laid on for them inside the hotel and some never even leave it.
This is why there are very few tavernas in Anissaras. There are, however, some minimarkets, car rental bureaux and shops.
Everything else you can possibly think of is available in neighbouring Hersonissos, which is within walking distance along the beach, and which is equivalent to a small town.
There is no bus service within the area of Anissaras, and, most of the time, you must telephone for taxi service.
While most of the shoreline in Anissaras is rocky, there are some excellent man-made sandy beaches, especially in front of the large hotels and Club Blu, an Italian resort.
Remember, there is no such thing as a private beach on Crete – all of them, including the ones in front of hotels and beach clubs, are open to the public.
So take advantage of man’s ingenuity in carving out a sandy oasis from among the rocks – you'll love it here. These beaches feature protected swimming, loungers and umbrellas, and some have snack bars and beach cafes for seaside service. Several offer excellent facilities for various water sports and other aquatic activities, including scuba diving and snorkelling.
East of Anissaras, in the Sarandaris area (photo -->), start the beaches of Hersonissos. There are lots of tiny beaches, known as the Limanakia (“little harbours”), along the coastal road from Anissaras to Hersonissos.
There is also a nudist beach here for anyone who is interested. It’s a tiny beach which offers absolutely no protection from prying eyes, but the naturists don’t seem to mind.
What to do in Anissaras
Walk along the Anissaras beach road and discover all the local beaches. Some spots are completely isolated, though this is changing fast as new large hotels are constantly springing up.
There is a very pretty walk to the Sarandaris area and the little church at the tip of the peninsula.
There are two ways to get there:
* At the end of the Anissaras coastal road starts the beach of a big hotel. Walk along the whole beach and continue over the rocks to the little church with the island opposite. There’s an impressive view of Hersonissos and its beaches.
Go on from here to reach the road from Anissaras which runs along the coast and the Limanakia beaches to Hersonissos.
** The second way is by car. Drive towards the Royal Mare Hotel and park on the beach road just after the hotel entrance. A footpath on the east side of the hotel leads to the church.
As mentioned above, Anissaras is right next to Hersonissos, which boasts some of the best, most frantic nightclubs on Crete. If you get fed up with the peace and quiet of Anissaras, the queen of Cretan nightlife is only 1-2 kilometres away.
For a more relaxed time, however, there are the lovely traditional villages of Ano Hersonissos, Koutouloufari and Piskopiano, located on the hilltop above Hersonissos, with their picturesque squares and fine selection of tavernas and arts-and-crafts shops.
If you are interested in Cretan folk culture, visit the Lychnostatis Folk Museum, just outside Hersonissos on the way to Stalis.
Ten kilometres from Anissaras is the archaeological site of Malia with the third-largest Minoan Palace in Crete, well worth a visit.
If you can’t find any fresh fish in Anissaras, why not go for a walk around Milatos, on the other side of Malia? The fish tavernas on Milatos beach serve delicious fresh fish from the Sea of Crete. If you feel like exploring, after Milatos comes an area full of little villages, offering a glimpse into what Crete was like before tourism became one of the main sources of income.