Top things to do in Heraklion Crete

West Bastion with the fresco of the bull at Knossos Palace Crete
West Bastion with the fresco of the bull at Knossos Palace

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Heraklion is the biggest city on the island of Crete in Greece. Although at first sight, it isn’t  as picturesque as Rethymnon and Chania after exploring it you will discover that there are a lot of things to do and see.

How to get to Heraklion Crete

By Air: Heraklion international airport “Nikos Kazantzakis” is located just 4km away from Heraklion city centre.

By ferry: Heraklion port is the biggest port in Crete.  There is a daily connection from Heraklion Port to Piraeus port in Athens. Also from Heraklion port there is a connection to other Greek islands like Santorini. Also at the port arrive a lot of cruise ships. The port of Heraklion offers a lot of services like luggage storage lockers, wi-fi and check – in service for your flight.

Click here for the ferry schedule and to book your ferry tickets to Crete.

How to get from and to The Airport in Heraklion Crete

The Greek island of Crete has numerous airports so it is important you know which one you are arriving into and where you want to go. If you wish to travel from the airport in Heraklion to the city centre, you have two options: bus or taxi.  Your choice will depend on the number of travellers in your group, the amount of luggage you have, your budget and time frame. The bus is by far the cheapest option but takes more time than grabbing a taxi.

Bus

If you are travelling on a budget the public bus from Heraklion Airport is definitely the best option as the journey only costs 2 EUR, however, it does take between 20-35 minutes.

The bus cannot be caught from within airport grounds so you will need to walk a little way to reach the public bus stop. You’ll want to head out of the main terminal building, turn right and then follow the road around to the left until you reach the bus station. You’ll want to look out for buses with signs saying “IRAKLIO” or (ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΟ) on the front as these will take you to the city centre (usually number 1 and 78).

Please note: you will need to pay the driver on the bus and they will only accept cash in Euros.

Time: 20-35 minutes

Cost: 2 EUR

Taxis

For a quicker option, you might want to take a taxi from Heraklion Airport to the city centre as this takes just 10 minutes. Official airport taxis charge a flat fare of 20 EUR and they should be happy to drop you anywhere within the city centre.

Private Airport Transfer with Welcome Pick-Ups

Alternatively, you could book a cheaper taxi through Welcome Pick-Ups for just 16 EUR which includes up to four travellers and four pieces of luggage. This price stays the same whether you arrive during the day or at night.

Click here for more information and to book your private transfer.

venetian port Heraklion Crete
venetian port Heraklion Crete

What to see and do in Heraklion Crete

The archaeological site of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos is situated 5 km away from the city of Heraklion. You can get to Knossos either by taxi (it is 20 minutes ride} or by taking the bus from the bus station next to the port. Look for the ticket office that says KNOSSOS.

The archaeological site of Knossos is considered on of the most important sites in Greece and the oldest city in Europe.   The Minoan palace was constructed in 1.900 B.C. on the ruins of a neolithic settlement.

West Bastion with the fresco of the bull at Knossos Palace Crete
West Bastion with the fresco of the bull at Knossos Palace

The Minoan civilization was at its peak between 1.700 B.C and 1.450 B.C and it was inhabited by 100.000 citizens.

The site was discovered by Minos Kalokairinos in 1878 and the excavations started in 1.900 A.D by the english archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans and his team.

It is one of the most impressive archaeological sites I have ever visited.

The archaeological site of Knossos is open daily from 8.00 am to 20.00 p.m in the summer months and from 8.00 am to 15.00 pm in the winter.

Ticket costs: Full: 15.00 €  Reduced: 8.00 €

There is also a combined ticked that is valid for the Archaeological Museum at Heraklion: Full: 16.00 €  Reduced: 8.00 €

You might also be interested in: The best places to stay in Crete.

around the archaeological site of Knossos
around the archaeological site of Knossos
Throne room at Knossos
Throne room at Knossos
Queens Megaron with the fresco of the Dolphins
Queens Megaron with the fresco of the Dolphins

The archaeological site of Phaistos

The palace of Phaistos was built around 2.000 A.D and it’s the second largest palace in Crete after Knossos. It is located on a hill with beautiful views of the Messara plain and Psiloritis mountain. One of the most important findings was the disc of Phaistos that can be found at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

The site of Phaistos is 60 km away from Heraklion city. You can get there by public bus that you can take from the bus station next to the port.

Tickets for the archaeological site of Phaistos cost: Full 8 € and Reduced 4 €.

The Archaeological site of-Phaistos
The Archaeological site of-Phaistos

The archaeological museum of Heraklion

It is located at Heraklion city centre and is considered one of the most important museums in Greece. It houses artefacts from the Neolithic period to the Roman times. At the museum, you will see many findings from the archaeological sites of Phaistos and Knossos. It is one of the most interesting and beautiful museums I have seen and totally worth a visit.

Ticket costs: Full: 10.00 €  Reduced: 5.00 €

There is also a combined ticket that is valid for the Archaeological Site of Knossos: Full: 10.00 €  Reduced: 5.00 €

findings at the archaeological museum of Heraklion
findings at the archaeological museum of Heraklion
Phaistos Disc Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
Phaistos Disc Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

The Koules Venetian Fortress

The Koules fortress is the symbol of Heraklion and it dominates the entrance of the Venetian port.  A walk at the promenade that leads to the fortress is one of the most scenic walks at the town of Heraklion. Opposite the port you will see the old shipyards where the ships were repaired.

Koules Venetian Fortress
Koules Venetian Fortress
Old shipyard in Heraklion port
Old shipyard in Heraklion port

Venetian Walls of Heraklion

They were built by the Venetians in order to protect the city by the Turks. They were so strong that lasted the 21 year siege.

The Venetian Loggia

The Venetian Loggia of Heraklion was constructed in 1626 by Francesco Morosini. It was a meeting place for the nobles. Now it houses the town hall. Close to the Loggia, at the central square Francesco Morosini also built the Lions fountain which is now a meeting point for the locals.  It was built to provide the locals with water.

Venetian Loggia Heraklion
Venetian Loggia Heraklion
The Lion fountain Heraklion
The Lion fountain Heraklion

Cretaquarium

It is considered to be one of the biggest aquariums in Europe. It is located 15km away from Heraklion city centre. Here you will discover a lot of species that live in the Mediterranean. Under each tank there is a description in 9 languages and you can also put your headphones on and discover a lot of information about the species you see.

The Aquarium is open from October until April from 9.30 until 17.00

and from May till September from 9.30 until 21.00

Tickets cost 9 € for the summer months and 6€ for the winter months.

The entrance is free for children until the age of 4 and 6€ for children 5-17 years old.

 

Shark at Cretaquarium
Shark at Cretaquarium
At the Cretaquarium
At the Cretaquarium
fish at- he Cretaquarium
fish at the Cretaquarium

 

Have you ever been to Heraklion Crete?

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