Heraklion, Crete

Greek: Ηράκλειο | Pronounced: i`raklio
  • Heraklion, Crete
  • Heraklion, Crete
  • Heraklion, Crete
  • Heraklion, Crete
  • Heraklion, Crete

Overview of Heraklion, Crete

Heraklion is almost synonymous with the worldwide famous Palace of Knossos, one of the top attractions of all the Greek islands. The myth of Minotaur, the native artist El Greco and author Nikos Kazantzakis are also strongly associated with Heraklion. However, this prefecture is so much more. As the capital of Crete, it is established as a powerful economic, cultural and touristic centre that offers high quality vacations to any type of visitors, all year long.

Situated between Mt Psiloritis and Mt Dikti, with the fertile Mesara plain at the north, Heraklion owes a great part of its charm to its natural environment. This entails a lovely countryside with lakes, gorges and caves, the rugged Asterousia Mountains and a varied coastline of long golden beaches and “secret” coves – organized and secluded. In Heraklion, developed coastal resorts co-exist with inland traditional villages, fine gastronomy, all kinds of pastime activities and a vibrant nightlife scene, mainly set at Heraklion town. The latter is a modern, touristy settlement, always lively due to the students. The old town of Heraklion is a true beauty, thanks to Venetian, byzantine and ottoman architectural influences, interesting museums, fountains, old churches and the dominating Koules fortress at the port’s entrance.

Outside the town, sightseeing is a must: Minoan Crete can be found not only in Knossos, but also in Phaestos, Agia Triada, Gortyna and Malia. Malia, together with Hersonissos, are among Heraklion’s most popular resorts of package tourism, offering bustling beaches, restaurants, clubs and bars. Matala, at the south, is another high reputation settlement – an ex refuge of ‘60s hippies with excellent infrastructure. Moving to the east, the fishing village of Lentas serves as a good base to explore the gorgeous northwest coastline. As for the inland, there is an endless list of villages that praise the local, traditional way of living. This is Heraklion: hospitable and proud to be Cretan, standing between past and present, myth and reality.

Find more information on Heraklion, Crete at the official website for Greek Tourism VisitGreece.gr

Beaches Food Things to see & do

Matala

: One of the most famous beaches among the Greek islands. Golden sand and lovely waters are surrounded by imposing cliffs with surreal small caves dug into them. Don’t miss watching the sunset from here. *Nearby beaches: Komos, Kalamaki, Kokkini Ammos and Vathi.
10.0

Agiofarago

: Gorgeous and serene, this enclosed pebbly beach is located at the end of the beautiful small gorge of Agiofarago. You can reach it either by boat or by crossing the gorge (highly recommended – less than one hour on foot). Needless to say it’s not organized. *Nearby beach: Kali Limenes.
9.0

Agia Pelagia

: The beach of the same name popular touristic resort is long, sandy, wind-protected and fully organized. Water sports are popular here. *Nearby beaches: Mononaftis, Psaromoura, Ammoudi.
8.0

Treis Ekklisies

: The beach in front of the homonymous village is sandy, isolated and protected by winds. Ideal to relax and swim in its crystal waters. The surrounding area is mountainous, with beautiful gorges and rather difficult to access, but certainly rewarding. *Nearby beaches: Voidomatis, White beach, Black beach and further east, Tsoutsouras.
8.0

Ammoudara

: Large, sandy beach, located at 5 km from Heraklion town. It is well organized, easy to access and offers many accommodation options.
8.0

Kokkini Hani

: Situated near Heraklion town, in the homonymous touristic settlement, it’s a crowded, long sandy beach with all the facilities you could ask for, including loud beach bars. North winds make it ideal for windsurfing. *Nearby beaches: Gournes, Gouves, Analipsi. 
7.0

Kipos ton Gefseon

: Heraklion Town, Greek cuisine
9.0

Paralia Seaside Restaurant

: Heraklion Town, Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, Sea food.
9.0

Ippokambos Ouzeri

: Heraklion Town, Greek cuisine
8.0

Ladokolla

: Heraklion Town, Greek cuisine
8.0

Peri Orexeos

: Heraklion Town, Greek cuisine
8.0

Palace of Knossos

: The most enormous and majestic palace of the Minoan empire’s capital is located 5 km from Heraklion Town. The famous frescoes, the Throne Room, the so-called Piano Nobile, the hall of the double axes, etc, make this monumental complex unique. It is advisable to visit Knossos early in the morning, to avoid the tourist masses. Other must-see Minoan treasures include the palace of Phaestos (the second of importance in the Minoan Crete), the summer villa in Agia Triada and the palace of Malia.
10.0

Explore nature

: Zaros’ lake, close to the village of the same name, is famous for its quality spring water. From the lake you can follow the path that leads to the magnificent gorge of Agios Nikolaos and after 5 km you will reach the protected Rouvas oak forest, one of the most important ecosystems in the Heraklion prefecture. Other gorges include Karteros, Almyros, Arvi and Vorisiano, just to name a few. Heraklion also features many caves of geological and archaeological interest – Ilithia in the area of Karteros, Arkalochori and Kamares are some of them. Dominating the north part of Heraklion, the fertile Mesara plain borders with Mt Psiloritis at the north and Mt Asterousia at the south, spreading towards the Libyan sea. The plain is full of traditional villages worth visiting.
9.0

More ancient sightseeing

: Visit the remains of the ancient city of Gortyna (note that the Gortyn Law Code tablet is one of its most prominent findings). Also, the area of Archanes, a former great Minoan settlement. Nearby, the cemetery at Fourni, the temple at Anemospilia and the Minoan mansion at Vathipetros.
9.0

Heraklion town highlights

: The central square Platia Venizelou/Lion square with the Morosini Fountain, Agios Markos basilica, Loggia, churches of Agios Titos, Agia Ekaterini and Agios Minas, Bembo Fountain and central market. Also, the Venetian walls, where the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis it is also situated. Finally, the town’s museums – first of all, the Archaeological Museum that hosts important Minoan exhibits, but also the Historical Museum of Crete and the Natural History Museum.
9.0

Fun & culture in Heraklion

: The huge Cretaquarium, located at the settlement of Gournes, uncovers the secrets of the sea to visitors of all ages. The Heraklion Arts Festival is held every summer, presenting a variety of art events in many venues, including the beautiful Nikos Kazantzakis Open Air Theatre. World music artist Ross Daly, who lives in Crete, is the director of the Musical Workshop “Labyrinth” in the village of Houdetsi. “Labyrinth” organizes seminars and also hosts Daly’s impressive collection of more than 250 instruments from all over the world.
7.0

El Greco & Nikos Kazantzakis villages

: The beautiful village of Fodele is known as the birthplace of El Greco and features the Domenikos Theotokopoulos Museum. The traditional settlement of Mirtia is the place where Nikos Kazantzakis originated from (the village also hosts the Nikos Kazantzakis Museum).
7.0

Wine Country

: The Heraklion prefecture produces almost 70% of Cretan wines, with main focus in the areas of Peza and Daphnes (the latter also organizes a Wine Festival every July). Interesting wine tours are available for the public, in order to experience some wine tasting and also the beautiful landscape of the regions.
7.0

Map of Heraklion, Crete

Reviews of Heraklion, Crete

No text reviews of Heraklion, Crete exist. You can be the first one to review Heraklion, Crete.