Explore Heraklion’s history while you enjoy the excellent restaurants, fine boutique shopping and pleasant waterfront of the city’s modern ages. Also known as Iraklio, Crete’s capital city is one of Europe’s oldest settlements, with a history stretching back before Christian times. Venetians, Turks and others have claimed this city over the centuries. Visit monuments and relics from every era of this fascinating history. Then, shop for souvenirs and enjoy a drink at a taverna off one of the city’s many enticing side alleys. Take a daytrip to a picture-perfect beach, an outer island or an ancient archaeological site.
You’ll find the majority of the major attractions inside the Venetian Walls surrounding the easily walkable old city. Take a tour of the city’s Venetian monuments; the Morosini Fountain and the Heraklion Loggia are among the finest. You’ll see many more as you make your way around. In the old harbor, for example, you’ll see the imposing Koules Fortress, which helped protect the city from invaders for centuries.
A short drive away, visit the fascinating archaeological site of Knossos, a very important palace of the Minoan Empire. If that captures your attention, there are more nearby palaces to explore. Learn about the various ancient discoveries in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, a major Minoan museum.
Heraklion's warm Mediterranean climate makes it a great place to visit any time of year. Beaches like Matala on the island’s south side are popular throughout the seasons.
Fly into Heraklion’s international airport. Alternatively, take a leisurely ferry to the city; services run from major ports in Greece. Sit on the walls of Heraklion Port and watch fishing boats coming in and ferries shuttling off to other Greek islands.
Sample fresh seafood and savory and sweet Cretan foods made with delicate sheets of phyllo pastry. Spanakopita, bougatsa and baklava are favorites. End your day in Heraklion with a drink in one of the many tavernas around Eleftherias Square, watching the locals hurrying home while you plan your adventures for the next exciting day in Crete.