Having been colonized by different countries in the distant past, Heraklion has an interesting history and culture that has developed through time. Now part of modern Greece, Heraklion is the largest city on the island of Crete which is also its capital. It is the home of the historical Heraklion Town and Heraklion Crete where picturesque streets, Venetian harbors, and important monuments, like the Knossos palace and Phaistos palace, can be found. Each step you take in this beautiful and popular region is like traveling back in time. If you are ready to take a step back, explore a new and interesting culture, and marvel at the timeless architecture, start creating your travel list by checking the following things to do in Heraklion!
1. Visit the timeless Koules Fortress
The Fortress of Koules is an impressive structure that fences the Heraklion harbor. This building was erected by the Venetians during their rule over the region (early 13th century). Accounts on the fortress can be first seen in the works of the Florentine monk Cristoforo Buondelmonti dated back in 1429. Koules Fortress shows a Venetian style of architecture that is made with stones, and carvings of St. Mark are seen on the walls of the ground floor. This fortress that stood with time, witnessed thousand visitors every year, deserves at least one visit during your trip.
Address: Heraklion 712 02, Greece
Website: Koules Fortress
Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 8am - 6pm (closed on Tue)
Price: 1 - 2 USD
2. Know Crete's past at Historical Museum of Crete
Historical Museum of Crete boasts of its impressive displays on Cretan history since its opening in 1953. This institution aims to preserve valuable relics and other historical and archaeological materials from the island of Crete. The museum boasts of its extensive collection from different eras including the medieval and renaissance period, the struggle for Cretan Freedom, and collections that maintain local folklore. The museum also hosts exhibitions that include introduction to the Christian Era in Crete, tour of the 17th-century Chandax, and pieces of arts like ceramics. So if you are a history junkie, the Historical Museum of Crete will surely be a thrilling feat for you.
Historical Museum of Crete
Address: Leof. Sofokli Venizelou 27, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Historical Museum of Crete
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am -5pm; Sun: 10:30am - 5pm
Price: 3 - 5 USD
3. Indulge in authentic Cretan cuisine at Peskesi
Kάθε μέρα στις 13:00, είναι όλα έτοιμα για να απολαύσετε την εμπειρία #Peskesi όπως πρέπει. Follow our philosophy.. Τηλ. κρατήσεων: 281 028 8887Posted by Peskesi on Monday, 9 January 2017
Devoted in bringing the joy if authentic Greek cuisine to people, Peskesi restaurant brings back the traditional aroma and taste of the Cretan diet that were forgotten in time. Expect their food to always be fresh and of top quality since they source their ingredients from their own six-hectare farm. Complementing their mouthwatering cuisine is their traditional Cretan house ambiance. The structure of the restaurant is the restored house of captain Polyxigkis that features high aesthetic value and induces a relaxed feeling to diners. So if you are looking for a holistic gastronomic experience in Heraklion, Pekesi is no doubt your top bet!
Address: Captain Charalambi 6-8, ΤΚ, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Opening hours: 1pm - 2am (daily)
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4. Stop by the centuries-old Morosini Lions Fountain
A Venetian fountain embellished with four lions where water flows of their mouths, the Morosini Lions Fountain is the center of Heraklion that supplied water to the townspeople in the olden times. Heraklion had no source of potable water and residents relied heavily on well and rainwater cisterns. More than being an ornament, the Morosini Lions fountain solved a water supply issue. Today, this fountain has been restored and is now one of the rendezvous points of young people as night falls and then begins fun time at Lions Square.
Morosini Lions Fountain
Address: Pl. El. Venizelou, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
5. Swing by the Natural History Museum of Crete
Natural History Museum of Crete - Official Page *βροχερή μέρα στις παρυφές της πόλης **μεσογειακή φύση ***κρητικό...Posted by Natural History Museum of Crete - Official Page on Thursday, 28 March 2019
Operating under the supervision of the University of Crete since the 1980’s, the Natural History Museum of Crete is a pioneer in furthering awareness to local and foreign people on the astonishing ecological and cultural treasures of the Eastern Mediterranean regions. Learn about the beings that walked the lands of Crete before humans even did and experience simulated earthquakes and other interactive exhibits that will make you appreciate the thrilling natural history of this ancient place. Housing massive information and other artifacts, the Natural History Museum of Crete is another must visit for history lovers!
Natural History Museum of Crete
Address: Leof. Sofokli Venizelou, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Natural History Museum of Crete
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 6pm
Price: 4 - 8 USD
Knossos is the largest archaeological site of the Bronze Age that is seated in Crete. It might be the oldest city in Europe! Walk the paths of the ancestors from the Neolithic period and traverse the walls of the Palace of Knossos that played a vital role in the political activities of the Minoan era. Heraklion is so rich in history and ancient knowledge that it is considered as heaven for archaeology enthusiasts and the curious minds alike.
Knossos Palace: Pre-Booked E-Ticket & Smartphone Audio Tour
7. Explore the city with Secrets of Crete
Leave the well-worn path behind! Come along to discover a new one! Find where the pulse of Crete's heart beats - strong...Posted by Secrets of Crete on Thursday, 23 June 2016
If you want to maximize your vacation in Heraklion and get to explore every bit of it, book your one-of-a-kind tour with Secrets of Crete. Join like-minded travelers for hours and hours of learning, discovering, and a whole lot of fun! Choose from their wide array of day tours and shore excursions like exploring the Minoan civilization and tasting the best Cretan wines and authentic food or visiting the homeland of the mythical god- Zeus. Whatever your ideal tour is, Secrets of Crete can have it arranged for you.
Secrets of Crete
Address: Malikouti 2, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Secrets of Crete
8. Tour the region further with Avanti Sailing
Spend your summer nights in the center of Heraklion with the best city views, while enjoying the comfort and luxury that...Posted by Avanti Sailing on Thursday, 18 April 2019
Enjoy the calm view of Heraklion in exclusive and luxurious tours by Avanti Sailing that fits all types of jet setters who want it extra special. The tour company has been in the industry for more than 20 years so expect nothing but the best service and excellent experience. They arrange trips to Dia Island, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos, and sunset trips to see the sky change colors. They also customize tours and events that will suit your needs at reasonable prices! So get ready for your dreamy trip at the seas of Heraklion and book your reservation with Avanti Sailing.
Address: Leoforos Nearchou Marina of Heraklion, Old Venetian harbor Heraklion, Crete island, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Avanti Sailing
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
9. Visit the historical landmark of Venetian Loggia
Seated at the center of Heraklion Town, the impressive structure of Venetian Loggia stands in pride holding years of history and ancient politics. Built in 1629, the Venetian Loggia is a venue for Venetian noblemen and statesmen to gather and conjure economic and societal matters. The building showcases a Doric-style architecture complete with ornaments and decorations that makes tourists feel alive back in time. Presently, it is awarded bu the Europa Nostra as the best-renovated structure in the country. Venetian Loggia is a must-visit for anyone who is interested in the evolution of politics and society.
Address: August Str. 25, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Venetian Loggia
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
10. Appreciate the local art scene at Municipal Art Gallery
Located in one of the most historic structures in Heraklion, Municipal Art Gallery houses varying displays that includes works of Thomas Fanourakis, Georgios Georgiadis, Lefteris Kanakakis, and Aristodimos Papadaki among others. The museum holds stunning artworks that showcase the evolution of visual arts in the region of Crete from the earlier time to the modern era. Not only will you be able to appreciate the ever-evolving art scene of Crete, but you will also be able to learn a lot of things about history through masterpieces of local artists and craftsmen.
Municipal Art Gallery
Address: Pl. Kallergon 100, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Municipal Art Gallery
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 2pm, 5pm - 9pm; Sat: 9am - 2pm (closed on Sun)
11. Engage in a game at Escape Rooms in Heraklion
If you are a thrill-seeker and you have a bunch of friends tagging along, then get ready to a night of goosebumps and mind work at the Escape Rooms in Heraklion. Put your thinking hats on and your bravery on your sleeves as you enter each room that features different themes and obstacles. The Escape Rooms in Heraklion offers seven varying themed rooms that has its own story to tell, own puzzles to solve, and drama to unfold. Each room has its own mystery and they are waiting for you to start unraveling each. Are you tough enough to reach the end? Find out now and book your mystery at the Escape Rooms in Heraklion.
Escape Rooms in Heraklion
Address: Perdikari 6 &, Dedalou 12, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Escape Rooms in Heraklion
Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 3:30pm - 12am; Mon - Fri: 5pm - 12am
Price: 12 - 67 USD
Travelling to Heraklion for a family vacation? Make sure to include CRETAquarium in your itinerary because this a destination that the kids will surely love! Let them discover the creatures up close and learn about the fascinating biodiversity of Heraklion. What is more exciting is that this aquarium uses augmented reality to help foster learning better and keep your kids engaged. Talk about learning and having fun at the same time!
Heraklion: CRETAquarium Admission Ticket
13. Say a little prayer at Agios Minas Cathedral
If you are a believer and want to find a place to offer your prayers, Agios Minas Cathedral is located in the center of Heraklion and is easily accessible to tourists and locals alike. This magnificent Greek Orthodox cathedral was built in 1862 and has an impressive capacity of 8,000 people. Inside, expect to see astonishing architecture and murals on the dome crafted by the best local artists of that time. Feel closer to the religious community at each step you take as the Agios Minas Cathedral is devoted to the patron of Heraklion and the martyrs who stood by their beliefs.
Agios Minas Cathedral
Address: Heraklion 712 01, Greece
Website: Agios Minas Cathedral
14. Enjoy a cold one at Jailhouse Rock Bar
After a tiring day of exploring and roaming Heraklion, give yourself a treat at the Jailhouse Rock Bar. Considered as one of the most interesting bars in the city, Jailhouse Rock Bar has an authentic Venetian Arcade as its home and serves a wide array of cold beers, authentic Cretan food, and good music including Greek rock. Occasionally, a live band performs at the place and even have popular local bands as guests. Enjoy a great time with great food, drinks, music, and company at the famous Jailhouse Rock Bar in Heraklion
Jailhouse Rock Bar
Address: Agiostefaniton 19, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Jailhouse Rock Bar
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 6pm - 4am (closed on Sun)
Discover the sleepy mountains of Zeus and marvel at the wonderful landscapes around Heraklion while riding horses or carriages. Another unique way to explore the outskirts of Heraklion is to ride the horses to scale the heights. End your day with a tasty Cretan lunch complemented by a bird’s-eye view of the city. Enjoy house wines and relax for a while in the grassy lands with your new friends before you head back to town.
Horse Riding with Lunch in the Mountains near Heraklion
Duration: 5 hour
16. Buy souvenirs and gifts at Mayaba Store
Find unique trinkets and other mementos that will remind you of your visit to Heraklion. You will find unique items at the Bohemian-inspired Mayaba Store. This one-of-a-kind gift shop is located at the heart of the city. Whether you are looking for pendants, beads, colorful lamps, and other unusual artistic stuff, this store has got you covered. The exteriors of the store is as inviting as its interiors and this is complemented by the friendly ambiance and helpful staff. So if you are looking for the perfect souvenir and gift shop, Mayaba Store is your place to be.
Address: Dedalou 20, Iraklio 712 02, Greece
Website: Mayaba Store
Opening hours: Sat: 9am - 4pm; Mon - Fri: 9am - 9pm (closed on Sun)
Sail across Koufonisia Island like pirates. Gather the wonderful experience of taking in views of stunning beaches like Asproulos, Chiliaderfia, Faros and Anemertia. Explore the “Secret Island” of Koufonisia. For an hour in the emerald green Libyan Sea, gaze at the beautiful landscapes around you or swim among the friendly creatures of the sea. What makes this trip more exciting are the food, drinks, and snacks that are served by your accommodating cabin screw! If you are ready to hop on, book your reservation now!
Koufonissi Island: Full-Day Trip with a Pirate Boat Cruise
Duration: 10 hour
Do you love cold-cut meat and wine nights? You should not miss going to Cretan meat-tasting tour in Galatas Village. Learn the traditional production methods of the famous Cretan cold-cut meats and their health benefits on a guided tour for an hour and a half. Taste these world-class meats in the scenic countryside of Heraklion. Aside from these, get to learn the culture and way of living at Galatas Village so you can appreciate the craft of cold-cut even more.
Heraklion: Cretan Meat Tasting Tour in Galatas Village
Duration: 1.5 hour
If you want to learn about the rich history of Crete in a creative yet comprehensive way, catch a Minoan culture show in the famous archaeological sites of Heraklion. See the Minoan Palace of Knossos which was first built in 2,000 B.C., the Morosini Fountain in Lions Square, the Loggia and St. Mark’s Basilica, and stroll through the local shops and cafes. End your tour with a special performance of traditional dancers wearing authentic costumes and a 3D video of the Minoan history.
Heraklion, Knossos & Minoan Culture Show
Duration: 10 hour
Heraklion is not only rich in historical structures, but also with beautiful beaches and islands. One of which is the Chrissi Island that houses the chapel of St. Nicholas. Enjoy a sunny day on fine white sand and calm waters of the beach and go snorkeling or diving to see the wonders underwater. This island is home to a diversity of shells which you should really not miss! If you are not that a fan of water activities, then bring your beach mat, a good book, and a bottle of wine for a relaxing afternoon.
From Heraklion: Chrissi Island Day Trip
Duration: 10.5 hour
21. Watch a live performance at Nikos Kazantzakis Open-Air Theatre
'Les Miserables' by Victor Hugo, until Sunday 25th August at 21:30, at Manos Hadzidakis Open-Air Theatre, Plastira Avenue, Venetian Walls, Heraklion.Posted by NowHeraklion on Thursday, 22 August 2019
Watch a live performance, like it’s the ancient times, at the Kipotheatron “N. Kazantzakis” (Nikos Kazantzakis Open-Air Theatre). It features an open-air theater that showcases Venetian fortifications and has a capacity of 1,200 seats. Summer is the best time to visit the theatre since the annual Heraklion’s Summer Festival is held in this quaint venue. Other amenities are also available like snack bars and restrooms so you can have a frill-free time.
Nikos Kazantzakis Open-Air Theatre
Address: Geor. Georgiadou 1, Iraklio 713 05, Greece
Website: Nikos Kazantzakis Open-Air Theatre
If you have been loving traditional Cretan cuisine, why not try cooking a meal on your own. Sign up for classes with Arolithos Village Cooking Lesson! Regarded as a healthy treat, this Greek cuisine features stuffed vine leaves, pork with wine sauce, lamb with green beans, traditional Cretan ntakos, and many more. After learning how to create these gastronomic gems, chow down the same with delicious wine.
Heraklion: Cretan Cooking Lesson with Dinner in Arolithos
Duration: 4 hour
Enjoy the beautiful scenery from the comfort of your boat and top-notch service on an afternoon sailing trip to Dia Island. The tour includes a stop at the ancient Minoan port of St. George. It also includes jampacked activities like swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and traversing stunning trails. What is even better is that the crew will take full care of you and your group so you can enjoy a hassle-free trip and get to experience Dia Island to the fullest!
From Heraklion: Morning Sailing trip to Dia Island
Duration: 4.5 hour
Once in your student life, you might have read about the mighty legends of Greek mythology. Today, get to relive the books in an exciting exploration of the outskirts of Crete. Climb the mountains of Lassithi and marvel at the panoramic view of the landscape. Stroll through the Aposelemi reservoir and the village of Sfentili. Visit the caves where the father of the gods live. Enjoy local Cretan snacks to replenish yourself after a tiring day.
Crete: Follow in the Footsteps of Greek Mythology
Duration: 8 hour
Ready for a rough but fun ride? Explore Crete via 4x4 vehicles on a full-day trip to the Minoan Path where ancient myths, scenic landscapes, and good food come to play. Start your adventure at the Aposelemis Basin Resovoir and see the ancient duct of the Roman empire, then head on to the dirt tracks of the mountains and feed animals along the way. Continue your journey to the Lassithi Plateau and to the Dikteon Cave- the birthplace of Zeus. Lastly, marvel at the 2,000-year-old tree seated next to a natural spring water. Expect to get wet and dirty, but there is no doubt that will have a lot of fun!
Crete: Land Rover Safari on Minoan Route
Duration: 8 hour
Cretan diet includes olive oil. The use of olive oil in their recipes makes each meal healthier and tastier. Immerse your taste buds in “Homeric Liquid Gold” on a unique olive oil tasting experience in Heraklion. Get a comprehensive introduction to olive oil and know its importance in the Cretan kitchen. Rediscover the uses of olive oil in your daily diet and have a better understanding of its properties.
Heraklion: Olive Oil Tasting Experience
If you are a fan of literature, be sure to head out to Nikos Kazantzakis Museum where the works of Greece’s most famous authors are on display. Relive the interesting life of Niko Kazantzakis with each manuscript, photograph, letter, and other personal belongings and learn about his life and works. Get the exclusive chance to lay your hands on first editions and other rare antiquities that celebrates his greatness as a literary artist.
Heraklion: Nikos Kazantzakis Museum Entry Ticket
Greece has been part of our history books either in the field of philosophy, archaeology, or evolving societies. Because of this, historical and archaeological discoveries have been emerging from the lands of this nation and Heraklion Archaeological Museum is the place to see these evidences of the past. Covering a stunning collection dating to over 5500 years of the island’s rich history, it is no doubt that the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of Europe’s most important museums. Gain knowledge up close on Minoan civilization and history through their art, antiques, and other archaeological materials when you visit this treasure of Heraklion!
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion: Guided Walking Tour
Duration: Wheelchair accessible
Every winery has its own house flavor and Cretan is home to many such wineries. If you a wine enthusiast, book a tour to Cretan wineries where you get to taste a wide range of local flavors made by artisans with great passion. Aside from tasting top-quality wines, tourists can also learn the craft of Cretan wines and the traditional ways of making one. Walk through vineyards, harvest grapes, and get the chance to experience winemaking. Lastly, you get to spend a whole day with people with the same love for wine as you have!
Heraklion: Cretan Wineries Full-Day Tour with Lunch
Duration: 8 hour
Arolithos Traditional Cretan Village is a private village that is secluded from the mainstream tourist attractions of Heraklion. This is an ideal getaway for pastry lovers and bakers alike. Upon your arrival at this charming village, you will be welcomed by the friendly staff with their traditional raki and nuts and other local delicacies. During your tour, learn the intricate process of making bread that uses traditional ingredients and tools. At the end of the day, enjoy the fruits of your labor that can be paired with assorted cheeses and olive oils.
Heraklion Area: Kneading Bread and Tour of Arolithos Museum
Duration: 2 hour
At Crete, travel back to ancient times
Greece has been a prominent name in ancient civilization, philosophy, and enlightenment and it is no wonder that this country houses historical treasures that the present-day people need to explore. Heraklion is the capital of Crete and has the fastest growing tourism scene in Europe. See buildings and impressive structures that stood the test of time and monuments of important figures of history as you walk the corners and streets of Heraklion. And to completed these man-made wonders are the natural landscapes of the region that you can explore in luxurious tours.
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