Heraklion Travel Guide for 2024

Written by James
 Last updated: February 11, 2024

As the heart of Crete, Heraklion pulses with a vibrant blend of history, culture, and Mediterranean charm.

Its cobbled streets echo the whispers of Minoan, Venetian, and Ottoman influences. However, Heraklion is not just a living museum; it's a dynamic city bustling with markets, cafes, and festivals.

Nestled between azure seas and undulating vineyards, Heraklion offers an irresistible mix of urban adventure and natural beauty. Its surrounding countryside, dotted with ancient ruins, traditional villages and dreamy beaches, is a playground for history buffs, food lovers and sun worshippers alike.

Why visit Heraklion?

Steeped in history and boasting an enviable location, Heraklion is a compelling destination. It offers:

Historical Richness: Home to the Palace of Knossos, Heraklion is a gateway to the ancient Minoan civilization.

Culinary Delights: The city's food scene, from bustling markets to traditional tavernas, is a feast for the senses.

Natural Beauty: Its proximity to beautiful beaches and stunning countryside makes Heraklion a nature lover's paradise.

Cultural Vibrancy: With a packed calendar of cultural events, there's always something happening in Heraklion.

Warm Hospitality: Cretan hospitality, known as "philoxenia", ensures every visitor feels welcomed.

Reasons to love Heraklion

Heraklion captivates its visitors with its unique charm:

Vibrant Old Town: Explore the winding alleys of the old town, brimming with history and local life.

Archaeological Treasures: The city's rich archaeological sites, like Knossos and the Archaeological Museum, delight history buffs.

Lively Atmosphere: The bustling markets, lively squares, and vibrant nightlife make Heraklion full of energy.

Cretan Cuisine: The local cuisine, focusing on fresh, local produce, is a foodie's dream.

Accessible Nature: From stunning beaches to beautiful vineyards, nature is never far away in Heraklion.

Where to go

Heraklion and its surrounding areas offer a wealth of attractions:

Knossos Palace: Discover the legend of the Minotaur at Crete's most famous archaeological site.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum: Explore one of Europe's finest collections of Minoan artefacts.

Morosini Fountain Square: Enjoy a coffee in the heart of Heraklion's lively old town.

Koules Fortress: Explore this Venetian fortress standing guarding Heraklion's harbour.

Agia Triada Monastery: Visit this beautiful monastery nestled amidst olive groves and vineyards.

What to do

Heraklion offers a myriad of experiences:

Explore Knossos: A tour of Knossos, the ancient Minoan palace, is a must for any visitor.

Visit the Market: Haggle for local produce and handicrafts at the 1866 Street Market.

Try Local Wine: Sample the island's excellent wines in a vineyard.

Walk the City Walls: Enjoy stunning views over Heraklion from the well-preserved city walls.

Beach Day: Take a short drive to Amoudara Beach for a day of sun, sand, and sea.

Flights to Heraklion

Where to stay

Mitsis Laguna Resort & Spa - All Inclusive

Imagine waking up to the gentle sound of waves lapping against the shore. In the picturesque town of Hersonissos, Mitsis Laguna Resort & Spa offers just that and more. This all-inclusive resort, rated 4.5 stars by guests, is a haven of tranquillity. It's 3 miles from Sarandaris Beach and the Port of Hersonissos. The resort boasts a fitness centre and spa services, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration. The average cost per night is approximately £195. Book your stay here

Village Heights Resort

Welcome to Village Heights Resort, a family-friendly oasis in Hersonissos. This 4-star resort offers 3 restaurants, 2 outdoor and indoor pools. It's located near the beach and is just 1.8 miles (2.9 km) from the Crete Golf Club. Free WiFi and a free beach shuttle are also provided. The average cost per night is approximately £54. Book your stay here

Creta Maris Resort - All Inclusive

Experience the epitome of beachfront luxury at Creta Maris Resort. Situated next to a golf course, this 4.5-star property in Hersonissos is a 10-minute walk from the Convention Centre Creta Maris and Port of Hersonissos. The resort offers a full-service spa and 7 restaurants for a gastronomic delight. The average cost per night is approximately £267. Book your stay here

Dom Boutique Hotel

Step into a world of elegance and charm at the Dom Boutique Hotel. This 4-star hotel, nestled in the heart of Heraklion, is a mere 15-minute walk from Heraklion Port. The hotel offers a bar/lounge for those relaxing evenings and free WiFi to keep you connected. The average cost per night is approximately £100. Book your stay here

City Center Studios

City Centre Studios is your go-to for those who prefer a home away from home. Located in the pulsating heart of Heraklion, these apartments offer the comfort of home with the convenience of city life. The average cost per night is approximately £54. Book your stay here

Porta Medina Boutique Hotel - Adults Only

Escape to a tranquil oasis amid the bustling city at the Porta Medina Boutique Hotel. This adults-only hotel is a serene retreat after a day of sightseeing. The average cost per night is approximately £87. Book your stay here

Local foods to try

Indulge in the culinary delights of Heraklion:

Dakos: This traditional Cretan dish features rusks topped with juicy tomatoes, creamy mizithra cheese, and a drizzle of local olive oil.

Bougatsa: This sweet pastry is a favourite breakfast treat in Heraklion.

Gyros: For a quick and tasty meal, grab a gyros filled with meat, fresh vegetables, and tzatziki.

Dolmadakia: These vine leaves stuffed with rice, and herbs are a classic Greek starter.

Cretan Cheeses: Sample local cheeses like graviera and mizithra, each with its unique flavour profile.

Souvenirs to buy

Take a piece of Heraklion back home:

Cretan Herbs: Thyme, oregano, and sage are just a few of the aromatic herbs you can bring back.

Olive Oil: Crete's world-renowned olive oil is a perfect souvenir for food lovers.

Cretan Pottery: Traditional ceramic pieces are not only beautiful but also functional.

Raki: This potent local spirit is an acquired taste but makes for a unique gift.

Local Honey: Crete's honey, especially thyme honey, is renowned for its quality and flavour.

Is Heraklion expensive?

As with any destination, how much you spend in Heraklion can vary widely. While entrance fees to historical sites and prices at high-end restaurants can add up, there are plenty of affordable dining options, accommodation, and entertainment options.

Helpful recommendations

Rent a Car: Consider renting a car to explore Crete's beautiful countryside and beaches.

Wear Comfortable Shoes: Many of Heraklion's streets are cobbled and can be steep.

Stay Hydrated: The Cretan sun can be intense, especially in the summer. Always carry water with you.

Learn a Few Greek Phrases: While many people speak English, a few words in Greek can go a long way.

Nearby locations

Expand your horizons beyond Heraklion:

Rethymno: Discover this charming town's Venetian harbour, fortress, and old town.

Chania: Visit this beautiful city's old harbour and atmospheric old town.

Lasithi Plateau: Explore Crete's fertile heartland with traditional villages and windmills.

Matala: Unwind on this sandy beach, famous for its Roman-era caves.

Agios Nikolaos: Enjoy the cosmopolitan vibe of this picturesque coastal town.

Heraklion offers an enchanting blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether delving into ancient ruins, savouring Cretan cuisine, or simply soaking up the sun, Heraklion promises an unforgettable Greek getaway. So why wait? Start planning your trip to Heraklion today!

Heraklion Weather

Heraklion has a Mediterranean climate and is blessed with 300 days of sunshine yearly. The mild winters, hot summers and blooming flowers make it a great destination all year round. The sunniest months are July and August, while the warmest months are also July and August, making them ideal for swimming. The rainiest months are January, February, November, and December.

JAN

12.8°C / 55°F

7 days rain

FEB

13.6°C / 56°F

7 days rain

MAR

15.6°C / 60°F

6 days rain

APR

18.9°C / 66°F

4 days rain

MAY

23.5°C / 74°F

2 days rain

JUN

28.2°C / 83°F

0 days rain

JUL

29.8°C / 86°F

0 days rain

AUG

29.9°C / 86°F

0 days rain

SEP

27.5°C / 82°F

1 days rain

OCT

23.2°C / 74°F

4 days rain

NOV

18.8°C / 66°F

6 days rain

DEC

14.8°C / 59°F

6 days rain

Best time to visit Heraklion

The best time to visit Heraklion is during the late spring or early autumn, specifically May, June, September, and October. Spring in particular is a charming time to visit when the island is awash with colour and perfect temperatures.

During these months, the weather is warm but not excessively hot, perfect for exploring the island's beaches, ancient ruins, and charming villages. The sea temperatures are also comfortable for swimming. Avoid the winter months if you prefer to stay dry, as they tend to be the rainiest.

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