In this area of Crete, seek out the charming village of Archanes, just a short drive from Heraklion, to discover archaeological treasures and some fine walks.
Archanes-Asterousia is a municipality of Crete. One of the most interesting places in this area is the village of Archanes, located in the hills south of Heraklion, the island’s capital city. Walk through the beautifully restored village and visit its four main archaeological sites. See the best of the relics found at these sites in the excellent archaeological museum before taking a walk in the nearby mountains. Relax with a meal and a glass of wine in one of the many fine cafés in the old town square.
Wander along the narrow streets and admire the bright blooms of the flowers and fruit trees that line the pavement. Walk to the nearest archaeological site, an old Minoan graveyard at the edge of the village. Three other sites lie nearby, all of which have been locations for important finds. Visit the Archaeological Museum to see the recovered ancient Greek ceramics, artifacts and tools on display. The museum is free to enter and is open daily except Tuesdays.
Climb the E4 hiking trail up Mount Yiouhtas. This trail starts in the village center and takes you to the ancient chapel, Afentis Christos, at the top of the mountain. Look for sheep and goats grazing along the rugged trail. These are not wild animals; be sure to close any gates that you pass through. Enjoy stunning views across Heraklion and beyond.
Head back to the square in the late afternoon and watch as the locals make their way home for the day. Several cafés and restaurants serve typical Greek cuisine: seafood, goat dishes, flaky pastries, yogurt and olives. Pair your Cretan meal with a superb wine grown in the vineyards surrounding the village.
Archane is located less than 30 minutes by car south of Heraklion. Make a comfortable daytrip. Places to stay are limited, so make sure you book ahead if you want to extend your visit.