How to get there - Rent a car from Heraklion airport
Heraklion is the largest urban centre in Crete, the capital of the region and the economic centre of the island. It is easily reached by plane from all over the world, its international airport is first in charter flights, and by boat from Piraeus and the nearby Greek islands. Travelling within Crete is also very easy with bus connections to most places around of island.
We highly recommend to rent a car for your most comfortable vacation and ability to tour the city and the whole crete. You can pick your favourite car from a variety of cars and book online! We offer the airport pickup ability.
Where to stay
Heraklion offers many fine hotels of all categories, bed and breakfast and rooms for rent, which are host to visitors all the year round, and most tourist, car and motorbike rental offices facilitate the visitor and give guidance in touring the beautiful island of Crete, its coasts and beautiful countryside.
Coming to Heraklion for the first time, the visitor nowadays may be somewhat surprised by the changes that are taking place in Crete''s capital city; Heraklion is celebrating its rich history and moving onwards to a future full of potential.
Where, at one time, the number of cars in the city centre would have made walking difficult, you will now find large city-centre spaces cleared of traffic. You can enjoy walking in one of the most historically and socially fascinating cities facing the Mediterranean, on streets free from traffic noise and rush. The city has opened up in so many ways, making the city a place of discovery. These changes bring a harmony too; between the traditionally warm, considerate people of Heraklion, and the fine buildings that surround us, the open public spaces and views over the ocean. Many landmarks tell their story about the city and the island that gave birth to gods, to rebellion, and to a place that inspires everyone who feels the spirit of Crete.
Heraklion today is living between the fast moving currents of regeneration and a deep desire to maintain links with a past. Both these strands define its character. In the last hundred years alone, we have seen huge changes, which can be quite easily followed, in buildings and streets that reflect the changing fortunes of Crete. The ‘old town'' areas of the city, established from mediaeval times, now offer visitors some fantastic walks in the heart of the city.
If you begin a walk around Heraklion, starting at the fishing harbour close to the modern port, what will strike you first is the Venetian fortress at the harbour gate. The fortess was originally built by the Venetians and calledRocca al Mare, but is now known by its Turkish name, Koules. It has a mixed history; for centuries it was used as protection against invaders, as were the great city walls and ditches. These are among the longest city walls in Europe.
With its huge dark hallways and cells, the fortress was also a prison to many Cretan rebels and those who broke the rules imposed by successive occupiers of Crete. Koules is built on two tiers and offers a commanding view of Heraklion from the battlements. Nowadays, the harbour itself is home to brightly coloured fishing boats and busy tavernas selling fresh fish.
Looking back towards the city you will see the strong arches which housed boats under repair and were used as an arsenal for storing guns and gunpowder. The greatest threat to the Venetian stronghold of Heraklion, or Candia, as it was named, was thought to come from the seaward side of the city, and indeed, many naval skirmishes were fought off this coast. The view northward takes in the uninhabited island of Dia, where evidence of ancient Minoan settlement (approx 2700-1450 BC) was found by the diver, Jacques Cousteau. Boat trips can be booked from travel shops throughout central Heraklion, as can excursions to various places of interest.
The centre of Minoan civilisation and capital of Minoan Crete, Knossos, lay 5km south of Heraklion. Knossos flourished for approximately two thousand years. It had large palace buildings, extensive workshop installations and luxurious rock-cut cave and tholos tombs. As a major centre of trade and the economy, Knossos maintained ties with the majority of cities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
A wealth of cultural events are organized every year. If you wish to listen to the municipal symphonic orchestra or to dance pentozali, you can always find a place to go.
The Municipality of Heraklion is also a supporter of many exhibitions, seminars and other cultural events throughout the year.
The annual Summer Festival lasts from July 1 until the mid of September. It presents significant artists in a festivity of music, dance and colors.
Crete has one of the oldest and most tasty gastronomic traditions in the world, a tradition of tastes, aromas, ingredients and skills which begin from the prehistoric years and continue until today.
The Cretan diet constitutes the subject of study, since the majority of studies demonstrates that the Cretan cuisine is the most characteristic example of the Mediterranean diet.
Visit traditional tavernas or modern restaurants, spread all over the city, and taste their Cretan cuisine.
Heraklion is on of the most lively cities of Greece. You can find something for everyone. Nightclubs, bars, traditional coffee shops and modern cafeterias are located all over the center of the city.
Lions Square, Freedom Square (Plateia Eleftherias) and the streets around them are full of bars, cafeterias, tavernas and restaurants. The costal area of the city is also a place to visit with nightclubs and tavernas beside the sea.
During the summer, numerous art festivals and cultural events are organised, with tradional cretan music and modern music, dance and theatre performances.
Heraklion is a lively shopping city with a lot of shops within walking distance. It offers an exciting mixture of modern shops, stock houses, pedestrian areas and galleries.
Daidalou, Dikaiosinis, Kalokairinou and their surrounded streets are full of exclusive fashion and big chains'' shops. Talos Plaza, a shopping center in the costal area of the city, offers convenient shopping in one place.
Open markets are organised every weekday in several areas offering fresh fruits, vegetables and cheap clothing