Located halfway between Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos (about 25 km from each) on the resort island of Crete, the city of Hersonissos is a popular holiday destination. This Greek town offers an array of restaurants, beaches, shops, and other amenities for visitors to enjoy. A one-time Roman port, the harbor town of Hersonissos has a relaxing family-friendly atmosphere and is a pleasant holiday haven all year round.
Things to Do in Hersonissos
Families and friends can relax on the sandy, peaceful beaches of Hersonissos — Malia, Hersonissos, and Stalida are highly recommended — and enjoy swimming in the clear waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.
The town’s Roman archaeological remains along the main road are a definite must, as is the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum, showcasing trades and lifestyles of early islanders (herbarium, ceramic olive oil and wine presses, shoe making, and weaving).
For the more adventurous, Acqua Plus Water Park has a variety of exciting rides for kids and adults, from the exhilarating Tsunami slide (practically a vertical drop!) to tubing casually down the meandering river. Holidaymakers are also encouraged to visit the local aquarium and dine at some of the town’s many traditional seafood cafés.
Nearby attractions include the town of Analipsi, with the Aposelemis canyon, Analipsi Beach and Mojo Bar being some of its most popular destinations.
Go to Anissaras to visit the St. George's Chapel, partake in some coral diving, or book a tour with Cycling Creta. Rash guards are must-haves for such activities as they provide protection from the sun, stings of saltwater and jellyfish.
In Koutouloufari, the Casa Nostra is a popular bar, as is Dionysos Café-Bar. Art lovers will enjoy a visit to the Alkionis Art Gallery. Finally, the town of Piskopiano is known for the Piskopiano Museum of Rural Life, the Antidote bar, and the Nostos Irish Cafe bar.
Located within the Hersonissos municipality, Stalis, also known as Stalida, is a resort town well-liked for its family-friendly beach with soft, golden sands and clear, shallow waters. The iconic beach is lined with an array of alfresco restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops peddling local arts and crafts. There are a number of watersports offered here, including parasailing and jet skiing. The nearby Zervas Beach is also a good option for a fun seaside experience. Ladies can enjoy a couple of relaxing hours at the Fish World Spa, recommended for salt spa therapy, massage, and their nail bar.
The small 16th-century Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis can be seen on Stalis village’s coastal road, and there is a great tour of the coast on the Happy Train that leaves from Stalis. Another great way to explore the area is on horseback, with rides offered by the Amarillis Stable. Motorbike rentals are also available in Stalis for those wishing to explore the region in a fun way.
The Bulgarian Path hiking trail leads from Stalis to the picturesque mountain village of Mochos, by way of a rocky valley. The village of Mochos is home to charming medieval-style streets surrounded by olives, vineyards, and fruit trees. The mountain villages of Mochos and nearby Krasi are famous for their amazing olive oil and cheerful traditions of song and dance. Krasi’s cobbled-stone streets join the main square, where cheese pie (sarikopita) is the order of the day! The town’s Church of Metamorphosis Sotiros has ornate frescoes and a wooden carved temple to behold.
Don’t miss the evening festivities while staying in Stalis — the bars and restaurants in the town host quite a nightlife! Trendy venues include Katerina Taverna, Dimos, and Maria's Golden Beach.
Malia (or Mallia) is in the northeast corner of the Heraklion region, part of the municipality of Hersonissos. Malia boasts a stretch of pristine white sand beaches and hosts a handful of Europe’s biggest clubs, mostly based on Dimokratias Street. However, this is not just a party destination, as there are also a number of historical, cultural, and natural attractions to entice visitors.
The town of Malia’s main attraction is Glozanie Beach, a densely populated tourist and partygoers’ destination just a short walk (20 minutes) from the Malia Old Town. The white sands of the beach stretch for 2 km. Its wide promenade is lined with a host of bars, restaurants, and clubs for visitors to enjoy. Sun-loungers and beach umbrellas are provided by most, while international DJs and foam parties are a common occurrence on Malia’s beach club scene.
Aside from being a party mecca, Glozanie Beach also offers watersports including parasailing, jet-skiing, wakeboarding, and banana boating. The charming island chapel of Afentis Christos (Lord Christ) is a short swim away and the perfect spot to sit and watch a beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.
Just 3 km east of Old Town, you can visit Malia Palace — one of Crete’s most significant ancient archaeological sites. The site showcases Minoan life on the island with an array of Minoan artifacts having been discovered here, including the famous gold bee pendant on display in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. The palace also hosts an elaborate model reconstruction in the main foyer and Quarter Mu workshops. Also visit the Monastery of St. George Selinari, built over a thousand years ago, and the shadowy Anvalohos Cave (the supposed resting place of the monastery’s founder). Look out for 3 bullet holes in St. George’s icon, a story the friendly monks will be happy to share.
There are jeep safaris available from Malia to the Lassithi Plateau, a remote mountain plain famous for its white-sailed windmills and legendary Psychro Cave, the reputed birthplace of Zeus. Exploring the plateau’s landscape of tiny villages, stone mausoleums, and almond tree groves provides an authentic insight into rural life on the island.
Where to Stay in Hersonisos
There are a number of exceptional luxury and family villas to rent while on holiday in the Heraklion region, offering a comfortable base from which to enjoy the attractions and activities that abound! Recommendations include Villa Hersonissos, a luxury seafront holiday house only a few meters from an organized sandy beach. The villa features 4 bedrooms (8 pax), 4 bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and living area, a swimming pool, and an outdoor entertainment area.
Only 6 km from Stalis lies the White Luxury Villa, designed to offer an unforgettable getaway on the trendy resort island of Crete. The villa can accommodate up to 10 guests, featuring an immaculate design, a luxurious set-up, spectacular views, and unique indoor and outdoor amenities that include a huge swimming pool. The White Luxury Villa is the ideal holiday rental for families and groups of friends, combining privacy, luxury, and style.
Near the party town of Malia, Calma Villa offers a tranquil and rejuvenating retreat for visitors to enjoy. Based in the lovely village of Sissi, this relaxing holiday villa features 3 double bedrooms and bathrooms, all the mod cons, and an exceptional outdoor entertainment area with a swimming pool and BBQ facilities. The village of Sissi is a picturesque locale offering an authentic experience of traditional Crete, with the charming port and beautiful surroundings ideal for exploring on foot or perhaps on a rented bicycle.
With so many things to see and do in Heraklion’s Hersonissos, Stalis, and Malia, a vacation in Crete with family or friends should definitely be on your calendar this year: warm sands, clear blue waters, deeply-rooted culture, and breathtaking sites await!
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