Heraklion is not only the capital but also the best choice for travelers who want to feel the spirit of the Orient and the scent of the Mediterranean.
If you have chosen Crete as your future holiday destination, congratulations! If you are still unsure where you can stay and things to do in Crete, take a look at our list of suggestions. If you find something for yourself, and you certainly want to, you can thank us later and let us know your impressions.
That’s why we bring you a list of activities you can do when you arrive. Here are 15 best things to in Heraklion.
1. Remains Of The Palace At Knossos
Today, unfortunately, we cannot talk about a tour of the palace in Knossos, because it has not been completely preserved.
We are grateful to the people who managed to preserve the remains and thus provide our and future generations with access to what was once the center of Minoan culture.
The palace at Knossos is considered to be the largest site in Crete, and the remains are associated with the famous Labyrinth, the castle of King Minos.This building is not only significant for architects who can notice that the people of that time also knew architecture and spatial planning.
It is of immeasurable importance to the locals as a monument to the glorious past, but also to tourists who can see with their own eyes several centuries-old frescoes and works of art that have been almost completely destroyed.
2. Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is one of the largest museums in Greece. As for the Minoan culture, it is the best in the world because valuable objects from that period are kept here and that is what attracts researchers from all over the world.
The museum was significantly damaged during the Second World War but was successfully restored.
In twenty rooms, various objects, weapons, clay figures, frescoes, and sculptures that testify to past times are arranged. The full ticket price costs around 12 USD, and it is possible to buy it on the spot and online.
On certain days during the year, it is possible to visit the museum free of charge, and one of those days is May 18, International Museum Day. However, the ticket price is really symbolic compared to what you get during the visit.
3. Koules Fortress
Koules Fortress was built by the Venetian Republic five centuries ago, and it is still in good condition today. It is located at the entrance to the old port of Heraklion and is open for visits.
It is assumed that this was the first Arab fortification and that makes it unique in the world. Today you can visit all 26 rooms. Throughout history, they had different purposes, in some weapons were kept, in others, prisoners were imprisoned, and some parts had the function of a church.
Everything that was necessary for the smooth functioning of the city could be found in one place. A lot of buildings fail, and fortunately, this is not one of them. They managed to find a new purpose for it here, so from time to time art exhibitions and other cultural activities are held there.
4. Agios Titos
One of the most famous sights of Crete is the church of Agios Titos. It is supposed to be one of the oldest on the island, and it is certainly significant as one of the largest monuments that Heraklion has. During history, it suffered numerous damages and was destroyed several times due to earthquakes.
As if that wasn’t enough of an accident, fires followed that leveled it almost to the ground. As the restoration went on, the church returned to its original condition. However, in one period, during the Turkish conquests, she was not spared either.
It was turned into a mosque, and after the last earthquake in 1856, it was completely rebuilt. The church was rebuilt, and when you visit it as a tourist, the entrance is completely free, so take the opportunity.
5. Mount Juktas
Are you one of those people who like to spend part of your vacation in the mountains? Even when you are at sea, you enjoy the sound of the waves and the pleasant surroundings, as if one part of you wants to go a little further. Nature in Greece is enchanting, so much green simply blinds people who are used to living in big cities.
When you are in the capital of Crete, one of the recommendations is to visit Mount Juktas. It is located just a few kilometers from the palace in Knossos, so you can visit both on the same day. As you walk, you will smell herbs, oregano, mint, and many other aromatic herbs. According to the legend, Zeus was buried here, and when you come, it will be clear to you why he chose this mountain. A place worthy of the gods awaits you.
6. Ammoudara Beach
Imagine that you have arrived at your destination. You stand with suitcases in your hands in front of the hotel, waiting to pick up your keys and unpack. After the trip, it’s time for a break, but there’s something else going on in your head.
Although you are tired and maybe it would be best to get some sleep, you came up with the idea, just to change and go to the beach. Great idea!
We recommend that you choose Ammoudara Beach, and there are many reasons for that. This beach has something for everyone. It is mostly visited by surfing fans, and in other parts, it is much calmer.
It is fully equipped with furniture, from deck chairs to changing cabins and from the equipment you just need to bring a good mood.
7. Venetian City Wall
There’s something mysterious about those old walls that surround cities, isn’t there? You always wonder why they were made in that place, how old are they and who is their creator? What would Mediterranean cities look like without them? Probably naked, exposed to sea and land views.
Their main purpose has always been to protect the city and its population. Then what are they for today when wars are no longer being fought?
The Venetian City Wall of Heraklion is a whole system of defensive walls and other fortifications that surround the city.
They are named after the Venetians because they were renovated, and they were created long before their arrival. Today, they are mostly visited by fortress lovers, so if you are among them, take this opportunity.
8. Bembo Fountain
How many times have you walked around a city and wondered who passed that road before you? It must have once occurred to you what it would be like to live in another time, a couple of centuries ago. What would your life look like and would you be happier than you are today?
It is true that life is beautiful as much as we make it so. One of the things that caught our attention was the Bembo Fountain. It was named after the captain who built the first aqueduct in Heraklion.
Today it is impossible to imagine life without water, and how was it before when having water in the house was a privilege? This fountain is a symbol of what life is unthinkable without, and that is water. Remember that the next time you pass by a fountain.
9. Tobruk Beach
Another beach that we gladly recommend you to visit when you are in Heraklion is Tobruk Beach. It is located about eight kilometers from the Heraklion city center, so if you are not a fan of hiking, it would be good to find transportation.
You don’t want to come tired to the beach and fall asleep right away, do you? That would be a great pity because this is a place that has a lot to offer.
The water is crystal clear and you will be surprised when you look from a distance at that bright blue color. It was as if the roofs of Santorini had been painted on the surface.
The beach is sandy, and the golden sand sparkles when you pass it through your fists. There are several bars and restaurants nearby, so there is no need to bring food with you.
10. Venetian Loggia
If you had to single out just one attraction to visit while you are at Heraklion, then it would be the Venetian Loggia.
You are probably wondering why when there are so many other buildings in the city center and the surrounding area. This place has played a very important role throughout history. The leading people of that time gathered there and made decisions concerning the functioning of the city and life in it.
It is interesting that after the renewal, it retained the same function even today, although there was a fear that it would be completely destroyed after the independence of Crete. The town hall is located here today, and the exterior itself causes admiration.
For a moment, you will have the feeling that you are somewhere in Italy, and you will hear the Greek language all around.
In Greece, during the history of the agora, it was the main city square, that is, the place that was considered the center of all events. Whether it was about making important political decisions, a trial, or some simpler issues, everything was resolved there. People gathered to talk, and today the agora has partially retained its function.
The information did not always spread as fast as it does today, so the rule was that if you want to quickly find out what is happening in the city, then you should go to the market. It is an agora today, where you can buy affordable and healthy food, but also learn tricks on how to spend the best quality time while you are on vacation.
The locals will be happy to meet you, but just in case, make sure you understand well. You don’t want to get into an awkward situation because of a misunderstanding, do you?
12. Winery Stilianou
How do you envision your ideal vacation? The smell must almost get you out of bed, but before you go to the beach, stop by a nearby cafe for a cup of coffee. When you wake up, browse the newspaper, and have breakfast, it’s time for the beach. You know you should wait at least an hour before you get in the water, right? Summer days last a long time, so you have a lot of time left after swimming and sunbathing.
We have a suggestion on how to use it. If you are a wine lover, then you should visit a small family winery that is close to the city. Winery Stilianou is located close to the city and if you follow the signs, you will easily find it. And there is a paradise waiting for you, the hosts are kind people who will offer you to try the wine. And you, like real good guests, buy a bottle and support their dream.
13. Blu Sailing
If you are a fan of luxury travel then we have the right suggestion for you. Blu Sailing organizes tours that are a unique opportunity to get to know Greek culture and cuisine and all that while sailing. If you are looking for an experience that you will remember for a lifetime, then you know who to turn to.
Your hosts will do their best to keep this trip in the best memory and will provide everything you need. You just need to bring a good mood and that will be enough. If you are on vacation with a girl and you are thinking when would be the right time to propose to her, your dilemmas are solved.
The hosts will help you to implement that intention in the most romantic way. You need to contact them and agree on the details. It only remains for your darling to say yes.
14. Peskesi Restaurant
Greek cuisine is very diverse and everyone can find something that suits them. Tourists mostly enjoy seafood and specialties that they cannot try at home. They also praise the fast food that they usually take late in the evening after returning from a night out. Our recommendation is to treat yourself to a quality meal in a place that exudes a family atmosphere.
Peskesi Restaurant is the right choice if you want to get to know the cuisine of Crete. They have dishes on their menu that are prepared exclusively from products from Crete. They also use spices and aromas that are almost forgotten.
The big advantage is that they work from morning until late at night and you can visit them at any time, it would only be good to book a table to make sure you have a place.
15. Venetian Shipyards
One of the tourist attractions that is specific to Heraklion is the Venetian Shipyards. You have noticed that there are a lot of buildings in this city, but also in Crete, a legacy from the period when the Venetians ruled this island.
We have recommended only some of them because they are an important part of the heritage of Crete and Greece as a whole. If you like walking, then this walking tour will be a real pleasure for you.
Shipyards were important in the life of every city, especially the port ones, and Heraklion is one of them. People were employed in that area, and today the remains of the shipyard are just memories. Nearly four-fifths were destroyed during the destruction, and what was left was used during the ceremony in the city.
Photo Credits – Flickr and Featured image credit to Maria Ploumaki