Heraklion, also known as Iraklio, is the largest city on the island of Crete, Greece. This historic city is steeped in culture and history, with a wealth of archaeological sites, museums, and stunning natural scenery. Here's what you need to know before planning your trip to Heraklion.
Getting to Heraklion
Heraklion has a busy international airport, Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport (HER), with direct flights to major cities in Europe and the Middle East. Alternatively, you can take a ferry to Heraklion from other parts of Greece, such as Piraeus and Santorini.
Getting Around Heraklion
Heraklion is a walkable city, with many attractions located within the old city walls. You can also rent a car, take a taxi or use public transport, which includes buses and a metro system.
Things to Do in Heraklion
Heraklion has a rich cultural heritage, with many ancient ruins and historical landmarks. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Heraklion:
Visit the Palace of Knossos. The Palace of Knossos is a famous archaeological site, located about 5 km from the city center. This ancient palace was built by the Minoan civilization around 1900 BC and is said to be the home of King Minos and the mythical labyrinth where the Minotaur lived.
Explore the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is one of the most important museums in Greece, with a vast collection of artifacts from the Minoan civilization, including pottery, sculpture, and jewelry.
Walk around the old town. The old town of Heraklion is a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, lined with traditional houses, cafes, and shops. Be sure to visit the 16th-century Venetian fortress, Koules, which overlooks the harbor.
Visit the Historical Museum of Crete. The Historical Museum of Crete is located in a neoclassical building in the city center and tells the story of Crete's history, from ancient times to the present day.
Take a day trip to the Lasithi Plateau. The Lasithi Plateau is a stunning highland area located about 50 km from Heraklion. Here, you can visit traditional villages, see the famous windmills, and enjoy the scenic views.
Heraklion has a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Some of the most popular areas to stay in include the old town, near the Venetian harbor, and near the Palace of Knossos.
Food and Drink
Heraklion has a fantastic food and drink scene, with many traditional tavernas serving Cretan cuisine, which is known for its fresh ingredients, olive oil, and local herbs. Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as dakos (a bread salad with tomato, feta cheese, and olives), kalitsounia (cheese or herb pies), and raki (a strong spirit made from grapes).
Heraklion is a beautiful city with a rich cultural heritage and a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors. Whether you're interested in history, culture, or simply enjoying the city's laid-back vibe, Heraklion is a must-visit destination for travelers to Crete. With its stunning natural scenery, delicious food, and friendly locals, you're sure to have an unforgettable experience in this fascinating city.