Heraklion


Well known for being the largest city in Crete and the major urban centers of Greece, Heraklion serves as the starting point for vacationers looking to explore the beautiful island of Crete. Home to one of the most impressive harbour in Europe that accommodates ferries and cruise liner, Heraklion is a very vibrant city that features several world class hotels, exotic restaurants and amazing shops.

Population

Heraklion is the main city on the beautiful island of Crete with a population of over 200,000 people. The city is home to several important landmarks and buildings such as public services and major scientific centers.

History

Heraklion prides itself as one of the most beautiful cities in the Mediterranean with rich historical past and unique culture. The city’s history starts during the Minoan era, as it once served as a major port of the legendary palace of Knossos. Built on a fairly steep hillside in 824 by the Arabs, the city is a place to find unique traditional monuments dating as far back as 1900. The city got its current name, Heraklion, after Crete gained independence for Turks in 1898. Unlike many other cities in Greece, Heraklion’s architecture is mainly influence by Venetian occupation. Despite the massive influx of tourist into the city, the city still retains its traditional charm and splendor.

Restaurants

A large proportion of the total population loves eating out and for this reason, there are lots of exotic restaurants offering delectable dishes. Depending on your choice, visitors can decide to either visit a local tavern or an exotic restaurant to enjoy delectable, freshly prepared meals. Some of the popular dishes worth trying out include moussaka and souvlaki. The city is home to thousands of incredible taverns, cafes and bars where visitors can relax and unwind. Asides that, the city is also full of restaurants and fast food outlets serving colorful international dishes such as pasta, pizza, desserts etc.

Nightlife

Night life in Heraklion is something everyone should experience. A favorite local evening pastime in the city is people watching from one of the fantastic café while sipping a bottle of chilled alcoholic drink. The best place to people watch when it is dark is at Liberty or Fountain Square. The city is home to lots of vibrant bars, club and other entertainment venues where visitors can enjoy the best of nightlife. Some of the luxury hotels in the city offer a Cretan night that features several entertaining activities including traditional performers.

Attractions

Heraklion offers a wide range of amazing historic and archaeological attractions that draws millions of tourists from different parts of the world. The city is a perfect holiday spot for everyone, especially art lovers and culture lovers as it offers a vast array of lovely things to do and places to see including the nearby site of Knossos and its incredible museum. However, the coastline also offers plenty of beaches and crystal cleat waters, perfect for sun bathing and several water sports activities such as swimming. For beach lovers, the most incredible beaches are located on the eastern part of the city. One of the major attractions in the city is the archaeological museum which holds some of the most comprehensive collections of artworks and paintings on the face of the planet dating back to 1600 BC. The city also has close proximity to the major archaeological site associated with the Minoans at Knossos. Asides the beaches and exploring ancient archaeological sites, Heraklion also offers plenty of rock climbing and horseback riding opportunities.

Getting around

By Bus

Traveling around the city by bus is one of the most affordable transport options. They are easily accessible and connect to most isolated locales within the city. One of the major drawbacks is that their schedules does not always make it a perfect option for traveler with limited time.

By car

If you are looking for convenience and maximum flexibility while in Heraklion, hiring a car is the best option for you. There are vast majority of car rental companies at the airports as well as in town that offers great, reliable services.

By Taxi

Taxis are also a great way of getting around the city especially when traveling in group to explore an archaeological site. Travelers should ask for drivers who can speak English fluently for ease of communication and he can also serve as your tour guide to several attraction within the city.

By boat

There are lots of tour co
mpanies in Heraklion that offer boat trips to offshore island or isolated pristine beaches.

Shopping

Heraklion is renowned for being Crete’s commercial center and for this reason, it has a large concentration of stores and shops. Generally, Greece is well known for its unique jewelry designs and Heraklion is home to plenty of jewelry stores. Other items to buy include leather goods, olive oils, cheese, antiques and much more. If you are looking for the best place to get high quality souvenirs, then you should visit the market on 1866 Street, a paved path lined up with shops and stores selling clothes, shoes, books and traditional products.

Best time to visit

Heraklion features a very hot summer and freezing winter. However the time of the year to visit Heraklion is during spring months and autumn months when the weather is pleasant specifically May, June, September and October. The beautiful city of Heraklion waits to charm you with its magic.

Airport

Heraklion Airport is Crete’s main gateway to the world and one of the busiest airports in Greece. Officially known as the Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport, it serves millions of travelers to Crete, particularly during the busy summer months. Located about 5 km drive from the city center, Heraklion Airport is easily accessible. The airport serves as a hub for several airlines including Olympic Airways, Sky Express and Aegean Airways. The airport features several incredible facilities such as internet facilities, parking, restaurants and much more. The airport also severs domestic flights to several Greek islands such as Rhodes, Paros, Mykonos and Athens.