Heraklion, or Iraklio in Greek, on the north coast, is the capital of Crete and, for many, the place of arrival on the island. Heraklion does not really have a historical district, its streets having been built as if in a hurry. The traffic within the city is important, and it is also located under an air corridor. Lovers of calmness, pass your way! The city is shunned by tourists but it is quite enjoyable, not to mention that it has a number of museums and many pleasant little streets.
Heraklion Covid: what is the situation?
In 2022, as in many other parts of the world, sanitary conditions and access to Greece have changed. At the time of writing (June 2022), here is what the Embassy’s website states:
Entry to Greece is allowed to all travelers by air, from and to all its airports, as well as by sea, road and rail, regardless of the country of origin. As of May 1, 2022, it is no longer necessary to present the European Covid Certificate (ECDC) upon arrival at the Greek borders. No screening test is required for non-vaccinated travelers. The conditions of entry into Greece are the responsibility of the Greek authorities. The measures can be re-evaluated on the basis of the epidemiological situation of the country: The relief of sanitary measures is valid until September 15, 2022. After this date, the measures will be re-evaluated.
How to get to Heraklion?
Flights to Heraklion
Multiple airports serve the Cretan capital with several flights per week to the beaches of Crete:
|UK airport||Crete airport||Airline||Months flying||Average flight time|
|London Heathrow||Crete Heraklion||British Airways||Seasonal||4hr|
|London Gatwick||Crete Heraklion||British Airways||Seasonal||4hr|
|London Gatwick||Crete Heraklion||easyJet||Seasonal||4hr|
|London Gatwick||Crete Heraklion||TUI||Seasonal||4hr|
|London Luton||Crete Heraklion||easyJet||Seasonal||4hr|
|London Luton||Crete Heraklion||Wizz Air||Seasonal||4hr|
|London Stansted||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr|
|London Stansted||Crete Heraklion||TUI||Seasonal||4hr|
|Birmingham||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Birmingham||Crete Heraklion||TUI||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|East Midlands||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|East Midlands||Crete Heraklion||TUI||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Manchester||Crete Heraklion||easyJet||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Manchester||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Manchester||Crete Heraklion||TUI||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Liverpool John Lennon||Crete Heraklion||easyJet||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Leeds Bradford||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Newcastle International||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Newcastle International||Crete Heraklion||TUI||Seasonal||4hr 15m|
|Edinburgh||Crete Heraklion||easyJet||Seasonal||4hr 30m|
|Edinburgh||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr 30m|
|Glasgow International||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr 30m|
|Belfast International||Crete Heraklion||Jet2||Seasonal||4hr 45m|
|Belfast International||Crete Heraklion||TUI||Seasonal||4hr 45m|
|Cardiff||Crete Heraklion||Wizz Air||Seasonal||4hr|
Tickets go from £83 in april to £216 in august.
When to go?
To get there, avoid the tourist population and the high prices, prefer the low season:
- Late summer: september or october to enjoy heat and good weather without high prices and crowded places.
- May and june for the same reason
The Greek city of Heraklion is accessible by ferry via a daily shuttle that leaves from Piraeus in Athens.
Where to sleep in Heraklion?
Find your hotel!
Make your Booking search below to find the best value for money and why not a beautiful luxury hotel Crete!
Villa rental in Heraklion!
For a perfect stay, we strongly recommend you to rent a villa with pool in Heraklion ! Go with your significant other, children, family or even friends for a memorable vacation. Sunsets of anthology, aperitifs with sea view… What more could you ask for?
What to do in Heraklion in 2022? 8 best things to do in town
Of course, Crete is known for its paradisiacal coves, its excursions in the Samaria gorge, the idleness on beautiful sandy beaches, the friendliness of the Cretans or its landscapes of olive trees and churches.
But Heraklion, it is also other activities to do absolutely!
1. The Palace of Knossos
Book your ticket to Knossos!
To visit Knossos, the absolute must-see of Crete, here are some good plans to book your tickets!
The archaeological site of Knossos is considered one of the most important sites in Greece and the oldest city in Europe.
The palace of Knossos is located 5 kilometers south of Heraklion. The palace of Knossos – or Knossos – is a must-see site during a visit to Crete. It recalls the Minoan civilization, which developed on the Greek islands (from Crete to Santorini) between 2700 and 1200 BC. At the beginning of the 20th century, the archaeologist Arthur Evans thought he was dealing with a palace of the Mycenaean kings, then realized that it was another unknown civilization.
By reference to King Minos – who once ruled the island – he named this civilization “Minoan”. The renovation – controversial – of the remains and the representations of bulls have resurfaced the myth of the minotaur and the labyrinth.
When you take a third look at the city, you will discover all the historical riches of the city. The incredible traces left by the Minoan civilization will suddenly reveal themselves to you. Most of the remains of this ancient civilization are located in Knossos, Malia, Archanes and Tylissos.
2. A boat trip with or without a skipper!
Heraklion being the capital of the island of the Gods, and its port being the most important, you will find many offers of boat cruises and other rentals for one or more days.
To find a catamaran, a sailboat or a motorboat with or without a skipper and explore the magical waters of Crete, head below!
3. Visit the island of Dia
Dia is a small island off Heraklion, famous for its gigantic lizard shape.
The island of Dia, a real wild paradise in Greece, is one of the main attractions of Crete. To visit it, you can embark on a comfortable sailboat for a small group of 10 people and sail to this uninhabited island.
While there, you will have the opportunity to swim in clear waters, eat delicious local food and relax on board while the beauty of the island unfolds before you.
4. Visit Crete by the sea from Heraklion!
Book your ferry or boat here for wonderful trip on the sea:
Due to its geostrategic position in the Mediterranean, it has an important seaport with numerous ferry connections. These ferries regularly serve the Greek islands of the Cyclades and many others:
- Rhodes and its beautiful coves,
- and Santorini.
The port also offers daily connections to the mainland in the port of Piraeus-Athens. With its many tourist sites, the port has become a very popular stopover for cruise ship owners.
Book your tickets here for Cretaquarium!
To visit the Cretaquarium, we advise you to plan ahead in terms of organization and ticket purchase. Click below to purchase your tickets:
The Crete Aquarium depicts marine life with enhanced and impressive displays of natural landscapes, offering visitors a chance to see rare marine creatures:
Sharks, turtles, seahorses, jellyfish, lobsters or miniature octopuses… In the aquarium, there are more than 100 different areas for 2,500 creatures and species from the Mediterranean Sea and the tropics.
Under each pond is a description in 9 languages and you can also put on your headphones (3€) and discover a lot of information about the species you see.
It takes 30-45 minutes to visit the Cretaquarium.
6. The Archaeological Museum
The archaeological museum is undoubtedly the richest museum of Crete, it is a place not to be missed to discover the Minoan civilization, among others, moreover, the chronological organization of the museum invites you to discover Crete through the ages.
Take a stroll through the city’s lively streets to visit some of the remarkable museums that will cross your path.
In the Archaeological Museum, located in Eleftherias Square, you can see one of the richest collections in the world of Minoan treasures discovered on the island, and a large part of the frescoes of Knossos. You will also discover artifacts dating from the Neolithic and the great Roman era.
7. Heraklion by night
Dormant during the day, Heraklion comes alive at night!
In the shade of the terraces, on straw chairs, a few men are sipping a raki, oblivious to the music that resounds a few streets away.
Because the Cretan capital is also a student city which vibrates to the rhythm of the dozens of bars brightening up its pedestrian center, on the side of the street (odos) Koraï or around the park El Greco.
You still need to decipher the Greek alphabet to find your way!
8. The walls
Heraklion is surrounded by a formidable medieval wall, used to protect it from enemies. As a result, the city enjoyed the reputation of a fortified state in the Mediterranean basin. It resisted a Turkish siege for 21 years, but was finally taken in 1669 after the treachery of a Greek-Venetian engineer who informed the invaders of the weaknesses of the walls of the eastern and western bastions. It is now possible to walk along these walls and enjoy the view of the city.
Walking on the walls, you will discover the whole city from above.
You will rest in the small shady parks and admire the art of the famous Venetian engineer Michele Sanmicheli, author of the plans which took more than 100 years to build.
The Venetian walls still surround the old town and represent an admirable work that has made Heraklion the best fortified city in the Mediterranean.
What to eat in Heraklion?
Experience typical Cretan food by booking a food activity below!
After visiting the museums and other sites of interest, get a full taste of the city’s culture and traditions by sampling local specialties in some of Heraklion’s best restaurants:
- mezzes with stuffed vine leaves,
- or meatballs…
But you will also find many restaurants offering fresh seafood, grilled lamb and lots of cheese.
Don’t miss the flaky pastries filled with cheese and honey (bougatsa) in the cafes of Lions Square!
Please note that in January and December, there are an average of 12 days of rain per month.
Finally, note that from June to September, the water temperature oscillates between 23 and 26°!
How to get around Heraklion?
From the airport
The Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport is connected to the city center by a shuttle bus (1 to 2€ only).
The cab will cost you 5 to 7€ from the airport to the center.
You will find car rental agencies in Heraklion. Prefer local agencies, less expensive, and adapt to the Cretan way of driving. This is also the charm of Greece! The city center is partly pedestrianized so park outside the center.
Also, if you want to book your transfer from or to Heraklion airport, click below:
How to visit Heraklion?
It is quite possible to visit Heraklion on foot from the cruise terminal. The main tourist attractions in and around the city can be reached fairly quickly by :
- car rental
- or by taking the city‘s tourist bus.
Taking the bus in Heraklion
This last method of transport remains in our opinion the best way to discover your stopover in all tranquillity. This service is very practical for a visit of Heraklion in 1 or 2 days, the time of a stopover of cruise thus.
Stops in the main tourist places of Heraklion will be offered and will allow you to reach the site of Knossos Palace and its archaeological ruins.
Count about 15 € per adult and per day, 8 € for children between 5 and 12 years old, tickets are free for children under 5 years old.
The ticket is valid for 2 days. 2 lines are available, a red line allowing tourists to visit the cultural part of the city up to the archaeological sites of Knossos Palace and a blue line dedicated to the beach part.
The terminal is located in the port of Heraklion.
Attractions very close to the Port
Located outside the city walls next to the harbor and the Venetian marina, the port remains extremely close to the heart of the city, less than a kilometer northeast of the main tourist area.
The historic center of Heraklion is within walking distance.
In fact, most of the city’s attractions are only a 20-minute walk from the cruise ships.
Passengers can take a free shuttle bus to the port exit, which is very convenient especially for ships that dock far from the terminal. To get to the site of Knossos, you will need to choose a transport.
The History of Heraklion
Heraklion, a bustling port city, is considered one of the cradles of European civilization.
Capital of Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, it is built on the side of a hill overlooking the port and developed from the ancient Roman city of the same name.
Arabs and Venetians
The city was founded in 824 by the Arabs under the name of Kandar. They then sold it in 1204 to the Venetians who completely rebuilt the city incorporating massive fortifications, many of which are still intact today such as the small fortified port of Koules.
The Venetians made it the main square of the island. Under Venetian rule, the port prospered and the city attracted many scholars and artists who landed on the island to join the famous University of St. Catherine.
This was the time of the famous Cretan school of painting, from which emerged its most famous painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El-Greco.
Second World War
Although Heraklion was almost destroyed in World War II and has retained little trace of its past, it has managed to perfectly balance its ancient identity and traditional customs with a modern and energetic atmosphere.
With its 175,000 inhabitants, “Iraklio” is one of the largest cities in Greece.
Therefore it is very different from other traditional Greek vacation spots such as the islands.
It is a busy port city, but it is also the economic and administrative center of Crete. The province of Heraklion (Ηράκλειο) is the most dynamic region of Crete.
It hosts almost half of the island’s population and its most prestigious tourist site, the Minoan palace of Knossos.