Heraklion travel guide

Experts in travel to Europe
We have years of experience and local knowledge
24/7 customer support
Reach us any time of the day in just a few seconds

Introduction to Heraklion

Heraklion, known for its incredible Knossos Palace, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, and Morosini Fountain, is a travel destination everyone should visit once in their lifetime. This city in the island of Crete, Greece has plenty of experiences to offer curious travelers. Home to a variety of natural beauty and architecture, a unique historical background, and a culture as rich as its population of more than 156.8 thousand people, Heraklion is truly one of the main highlights of Greece.

Travelers looking to experience the best of Greece often choose to stay in Heraklion. Easily accessible from Heraklion International, Heraklion is the perfect base for a memorable and unique vacation in Greece. For a deeper understanding of the city's history, culture, and local events, the official website of Heraklion is a treasure trove of knowledge.

History of Heraklion

Heraklion, the capital city of Crete, has a rich history dating back to the Neolithic period. It was the main port of the Minoan Civilization, the first advanced civilization in Europe, and home to the legendary King Minos.

In 824 AD, the Arabs conquered Crete and established their capital in Heraklion, then known as Rabdh El Khandak. The Byzantines reclaimed the city in 961 AD, only for it to fall into the hands of the Venetians in 1204.

The Venetians fortified the city, building massive walls and impressive buildings, leaving behind a rich architectural heritage that attracts tourists today. In 1669, after a 21-year siege, the city was taken by the Ottomans, who ruled until 1898, when Crete became an autonomous state.

Heraklion officially became part of Greece in 1913. Throughout the 20th century, the city expanded and modernized, while preserving its historical charm. Today, it is a vibrant city that beautifully blends ancient history and modern lifestyle.

Local culture and customs in Heraklion

Heraklion, the capital of Crete, is steeped in a rich cultural history that is deeply entwined with its customs and traditions. The locals here are known for their warm hospitality, a characteristic feature of Greek culture. It's commonplace to be offered a glass of 'raki' or 'tsikoudia', traditional Cretan spirits, as a welcome gesture in homes and restaurants.

The people of Heraklion value their afternoon siestas, usually taken between 2 and 5 pm, so don't be surprised to find many establishments closed during this time. Heraklion's culture is also reflected in its vibrant festivals and events. The Feast of Agios Titos in August, for instance, is a major event featuring food, music, dancing, and religious processions. It's also customary to tip waiters, taxi drivers, and hotel staff; a small amount of change is usually sufficient.

Cretan music and dance play an integral role in Heraklion's culture. The 'pentozali', a traditional Cretan dance, is often performed at local festivals. Remember, the city is staunchly proud of its heritage, so showing respect for local traditions and customs is highly appreciated by the inhabitants.

Language tips for travelers in Heraklion

When traveling in Heraklion, Greece, it would be beneficial to familiarize yourself with basic Greek phrases as Greek is the main language spoken. English is widely understood, especially in tourist areas, but showing respect and effort by learning some Greek will be appreciated. Some useful phrases include 'Kalimera' (Good morning), 'Efharisto' (Thank you), and 'Parakalo' (Please/You're welcome).

Also, keep in mind that Greeks are expressive and passionate communicators, often using their hands when speaking. They appreciate politeness, so always greet with a smile and a 'Yassas' (Hello). When reading signs, menus, or maps, remember that Greek uses its own alphabet, which can be confusing. However, in many places, translations are provided. Ultimately, while language barriers may exist, Greeks are generally hospitable and patient, making communication easier.

Best time to visit Heraklion

The best time to explore Heraklion, the largest city and capital of Crete, Greece, is during the late spring (May) and early autumn (September). These periods offer warm, sunny weather with average temperatures ranging from 20-28°C, ideal for outdoor exploration and beach activities. Avoiding the summer high season (July and August) means fewer crowds at major attractions like the Palace of Knossos and Heraklion Archaeological Museum. The city's vibrant cultural life is especially evident in September during the Heraklion Summer Arts Festival, offering numerous concerts, theatre performances, and art exhibitions. Visitors in May can witness the Feast of Saint George, featuring traditional music, dancing, and food. For wine lovers, the harvest period in September presents a unique opportunity to visit local vineyards and sample the region's renowned wines. We recommend booking accommodation and activities well in advance for these periods to secure the best deals. Remember, the best time to explore Heraklion depends on your personal preferences regarding weather, crowd levels, and cultural activities.

Local tip for visiting Heraklion

When in Heraklion, the insider tip is to visit the local markets, particularly the 1866 Street Market. This bustling market is often overlooked by tourists, but it is here where you can experience the local culture at its most authentic. It's a lively spot where locals buy their fresh produce, meat, fish, and other everyday essentials. But, it's not just a place for shopping. The market is also a gastronomic delight with numerous taverns offering traditional Cretan dishes and local wines. Make sure you try 'Bougatsa,' a local pastry filled with cream or cheese, often enjoyed for breakfast. While the market operates daily, it's especially vibrant on Saturdays. So, for an authentic taste of Heraklion life, skip the tourist traps and head to the 1866 Street Market.

Learn more about Greece

With destinations such as Heraklion, a trip to Greece needs no further explanation. Spanning over 131,957 square kilometers, Greece is an expansive playground of discovery, offering a wealth of diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and captivating experiences awaiting exploration. From bustling metropolises to historic towns and modern urban hubs, Greece has something to enchant every traveler.

In Heraklion alone, travelers are spoiled for choice with an array of experiences and world-famous attractions such as Knossos Palace, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, and Morosini Fountain. Thus, a trip to Greece becomes essential. Whether you're drawn to historical sites, natural wonders, or vibrant cultural experiences, Greece offers an abundance of treasures waiting to be discovered.

There's so much to explore and uncover in Greece. Click or tap the link below to discover more about Greece and its offers.

What to see in Heraklion

Photo of aerial view of lake almyros in Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

Expect an exhilarating journey through Heraklion, a haven brimming with attractions to suit every traveler’s taste. From historical landmarks to natural wonders, and delectable cuisine, Heraklion offers an abundance of experiences waiting to be discovered. Dive into this ultimate Heraklion travel guide to uncover must-visit spots and get the scoop on what makes the city so special.

Top attractions in Heraklion

With its blend of traditional and modern culture, Heraklion is more than just a wonderful city in Greece. It's a hub for diverse experiences, boasting top attractions that range from historical landmarks to modern marvels, offering a glimpse into Greece's rich heritage and innovative spirit.

One popular place to visit in Heraklion is the unforgettable Knossos Palace. Considered one of the most well-known attractions in the city, a visit to this spectacular travel destination is something you shouldn't miss on your trip to Heraklion. This remarkable attraction is located at Φειδίου 8, Ηράκλειο 714 09, Greece, and is open for visitors Monday - Sunday, between 08:00-20:00.

For more information about what you can expect during a vacation in Heraklion, check out our list of top attractions below. Discover the best places to visit in Heraklion, including the fascinating Knossos Palace, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Morosini Fountain, Rocca a Mare Fortress, and Venetian Port of Heraklion.

Map of attractions

Take a closer look at the city map below for the exact locations of all the top attractions in Heraklion.

Things to do in Heraklion

Photo of remote village of Maridaki at the south of Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

You've explored Heraklion's top attractions and marked them on your map. So now, it's time to delve deeper and discover the top things to do in Heraklion. These activities not only offer excitement and adventure but also provide unique insights into the city's culture and heritage. Take your experience to the next level by checking out the best sights with a knowledgeable guide, embarking on fun adventures unique to Heraklion, or learning more about the city's rich history and traditions.

Discover the most popular tours and experiences in the city below.

Most popular experiences in Heraklion

A visit to Heraklion gets more exciting with memorable experiences. And the city is just perfect for that, with plenty of fun activities. Guided Day Trips, Bus Tours, Full-day Tours, and more are just some of the options you could explore to fully immerse yourself and make the most of your time.

In this travel guide, we've included some of the best things to do in Heraklion, adding a special touch to your journey in this vibrant city. Explore bustling markets, embark on scenic hikes, sample local delicacies, or immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of Heraklion. Browse this diverse array of unforgettable experiences Heraklion offers and let your adventures begin!

Top tours & tickets starting in Heraklion

In Heraklion, travelers are spoiled for choice with a dazzling array of 23 categories of top-rated tours and tickets. But among this sea of options, one category reigns supreme: Trips & Excursions.

Trips & Excursions offer an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Heraklion. For example, the fantastic Private Full-Day East Crete Tour from Heraklion.

Heraklion also offers plenty of budget-friendly tours and activities that promise travelers a unique experience. CRETAquarium Entrance Ticket in Crete, for example, is the cheapest Art Gallery Ticket option in the city. This experience costs around 8 EUR.

Elevate your upcoming Heraklion adventure with unforgettable experiences by booking top-rated tours in the city. Uncover the finest tours, activities, and tickets awaiting you in Heraklion right below.

Search for things to do in Heraklion

Discover the best things to do in Heraklion. Choose from 356 fantastic tours and activities available in the city.

Select your dates and number of travelers in the search bar below to receive the best recommendations for your vacation in Heraklion. Click the green button to view your options and discover a variety of exciting things to do in Heraklion.

What to eat in Heraklion

Indulge your taste buds on a culinary journey through Heraklion, a city boasting a rich gastronomic heritage. Heraklion offers a wide range of dining experiences, from bustling street food markets to upscale restaurants. For a casual bite, Odos 1866 market is a must-visit. Here, you'll find a variety of local delicacies like souvlaki, gyros, and the sweet treat, loukoumades. If fine dining is more your style, one of the best places to eat in Heraklion is Peskesi, renowned for its authentic Cretan cuisine. Make sure to try traditional dishes such as dakos, a barley rusk topped with tomatoes and cheese, and bougatsa, a local pastry filled with cream or cheese. Enhance your dining experience by pairing your meal with local wines or raki, a traditional Greek spirit. As a practical tip, most restaurants in Heraklion offer 'mezedes', small plates of various dishes, allowing you to sample a wide range of local flavors. In Heraklion, food is not just sustenance, it is a way of life.

Best Shopping in Heraklion

Heraklion, the capital of Crete, offers an enchanting shopping experience, harmoniously blending traditional Greek craftsmanship with modern fashion trends. The city's central shopping district, around Dedalou Street, is the best place to go shopping in Heraklion. It's bustling with a variety of boutiques, souvenir shops, and local markets where you can find unique, locally-made products, from exquisite Cretan ceramics and embroideries to locally produced olive oil and raki. Don't miss out on exploring the vibrant Heraklion Market, a bustling hub of activity where you can buy fresh produce, traditional spices, and local specialties.

For a more contemporary shopping experience, visit Talos Plaza, the largest shopping mall in Heraklion, housing numerous international and Greek brands. Remember, most shops in Heraklion close in the afternoon for 'siesta' and reopen in the evening, aligning with the local lifestyle. Moreover, bargaining is common in local markets, so don't hesitate to negotiate for a better price. The city's rich shopping offerings make it a paradise for shoppers, adding a unique flavor to your Heraklion adventure.

Best Free Things to Do in Heraklion

Heraklion, the capital of Crete, Greece, offers a rich tapestry of experiences that you can enjoy without spending a dime. Among the best free things to do in Heraklion is a visit to the bustling Heraklion Market, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture, sampling Cretan cuisine and observing the dazzling array of goods on offer. Likewise, the city's Venetian Walls and Fortifications, an impressive architectural feat, provide a panoramic view of the city and its coastline. Stroll along the historic 25th of August Street, a pedestrian pathway lined with neoclassical buildings, shops, and cafes. Here, you'll find Morosini Fountain, an iconic Venetian monument. The city's parks, including the Gardens of Georgiadis and Rea, offer a tranquil escape amidst exotic plants and ancient statues. Additionally, the Old Port, with its Koules Fortress, is a must-visit. You can enjoy a leisurely walk along the seafront, taking in the mesmerizing views of the Aegean Sea. Lastly, visit the Saint Minas Cathedral and the Church of Saint Titus, both of which are stunning examples of Greek Orthodox architecture.

How to get to Heraklion

International travelers can fly to Heraklion by booking flights with Jet2, Aegean, Eurowings, Condor, and Transavia, offering flights to Heraklion International. From the arrival airport, travelers can choose from various public and private transfer options to Heraklion.

For those seeking the best flight ticket deals to Heraklion, knowing the cheapest travel times and which airlines offer the most affordable flights is helpful. Luckily, we provide this information to help you discover the cheapest and most popular flights to Heraklion. Go to this page to compare all flights to Heraklion.

Find cheap flights to Heraklion

Photo of Heraklion harbour with old venetian fort Koule and shipyards, Crete, Greece.

Booking budget-friendly flights to Heraklion is a crucial part of planning your trip to the city. This section will guide you through the process, helping you find the best deals for your journey.

Booking in advance is a smart move when traveling to Heraklion. Airlines release their best deals months ahead of departure, so early birds catch the lower fares. Consider flexible travel dates while planning your visit to the city. Mid-week and off-peak seasons often offer more wallet-friendly options.

To help you find cheap flights to Heraklion, you can use the powerful booking widget below. Enter your departure city, choose between round trip or one-way, pick your fare class, select travel dates, and specify the number of travelers. Click "Search" and the widget will do the rest. You'll see a list of flights matching your criteria, making your trip to Heraklion even more convenient.

Fine-tune your search with filters to sort by price, airline, layovers, and more. Once you've found your ideal flight, click "Book" and you'll be redirected to the booking page to complete your reservation. Enter your payment details and receive a confirmation – it's that simple!

Remember to book ahead, stay flexible, and utilize the widget's features to make your journey to Heraklion both affordable and unforgettable.

Where to stay in Heraklion

Photo of tourist woman on vacation in Heraklion Crete walking at the port.

An essential factor to consider when traveling to a new place or country is accommodation. While visiting a city as fantastic as Heraklion is always exciting, any avid traveler knows that accommodations often make or break the vacation experience. The best place to stay in Heraklion usually depends on travelers' needs and preferences. However, booking accommodations in central Heraklion offers a ton of benefits.

Staying in the heart of the city allows you to easily walk to many of the top sights and dining areas in Heraklion and cut down on your travel expenses. Centrally located accommodations are also an excellent choice for travelers in Heraklion planning to go on a quick tour or drive to the neighboring regions.

In Heraklion, you'll find 6 different types of places to stay, catering to every taste, budget, and reason for travel. For example, honeymooners or travelers on a romantic getaway in Greece can experience the ultimate relaxation at one of the luxury hotels in Heraklion. Travelers whose purpose is sightseeing can also find plenty of mid-range and budget-friendly hotels in the city, allowing access to many of the top attractions in Heraklion.

Learn more about the most popular places to stay and the top-rated hotels in Heraklion in the following sections.

Popular types of accommodation in Heraklion

A trip to Heraklion means opportunities to relax at any of the 6 different types of places to stay in the city. While each type offers varying amenities and rates, there is no denying that Heraklion provides a great selection of lodging options ready to cater to every kind of guest.

Among all the choices available in the city, Athinaikon is one of the top picks of travelers in Heraklion. Athinaikon is a 2-star stay with an average rating of 4246 stars out of 5 from 4 guests. The hotel is located at Leof. Eth. Antistaseos 89 and boasts many great utilities, including air conditioning, bar, and free wi-fi.

Budget accommodations are also incredibly popular among travelers in Heraklion. Cheaper alternatives allow travelers to save on accommodation costs and have more to spend on other experiences.

In Heraklion, travelers looking for an economical yet top-rated place to stay usually choose So Young Hostel. For approximately 30 EUR, guests can book a comfortable Single Room at this popular hostel, which also offers restaurant, free wi-fi, and more.

Below is a list of all 6 different types of places to stay in Heraklion. Select the type you prefer to compare options under each category and find the best accommodation.

Search for accommodation in Heraklion

Finding the perfect stay for your visit to Heraklion is made easy with our search tool. With just a few clicks, explore a range of available hotels and accommodations, complete with prices and amenities for easy comparison. Simply input your check-in and check-out dates, along with the number of guests and rooms needed. Start planning your trip to Heraklion effortlessly now!

Car rentals in Heraklion

Photo of old venetian harbor with boats in Heraklion, Crete island, Greece.

To navigate Heraklion effortlessly, renting a car is an excellent choice. With your own wheels, you can explore every nook and cranny of the destination without relying on public transportation and even venture off the beaten path. On our website, you'll discover a selection of over 16 car rental companies in Heraklion, ready to provide you with the perfect vehicle for your travels.

Automatic cars for rent in Heraklion start at 19 EUR per day or 136 EUR per week. The cheapest automatic rental car is a Peugeot 308, Hyundai I30 Automatic. If you prefer driving a manual car, you'll find multiple options for rent in Heraklion, starting at 7 EUR per day or 52 EUR per week. The cheapest manual rental car is a Fiat 500 Manual.

Learn more about the different types of cars you can rent in Heraklion, Greece below.

Search for car rentals in Heraklion

Get ready to hit the road and explore the beautiful city of Heraklion. Find the best deals on a variety of popular car rentals in Heraklion, Greece, or any other destination in Europe by using the search tool below.

Enter your pick-up and drop-off location, driver's age, and dates. Click the green button to view your options.

Transportation in Heraklion

Heraklion, the capital of Crete, boasts a variety of transportation options to navigate the city and its surrounding areas. The local bus service, operated by KTEL, is reliable and covers most parts of the city and its suburbs, as well as routes to other towns on the island. The buses are frequent, affordable, and a great way to immerse yourself in local life.

Taxis are readily available in Heraklion and are a convenient but slightly more expensive way to get around. They can be hailed from the street or booked in advance. If you prefer to drive, there are numerous car rental agencies in the city offering a range of vehicles to suit your needs. Car rental provides the flexibility to explore at your own pace.

For a unique local experience, consider renting a bicycle or motorcycle. This is a popular mode of transportation in Crete and allows you to experience the city just like a local. It's an ideal choice for short trips within the city or for exploring the scenic coastal roads.

Popular destinations to visit after Heraklion

Photo of Knossos palace at Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

The city of Heraklion is just one of the many unique and scenic destinations you can visit in Greece. So if you're itching for another cultural adventure, a relaxing road trip, an action-filled city break, or a memorable weekend getaway, know that Greece has it all.

Each destination in Greece offers something unique to experience! Take the opportunity to visit other captivating places in Greece that are as magical as the city of Heraklion. The most popular travel destinations in Greece are listed below. Click on the name of the place you want to explore next to learn more about it.

All the best destinations in Greece

When unsure about where to go next, use the map below. This map shows the locations of all the best destinations in Greece. Use the map to plan your trip and find the best routes.

Domestic flights from Heraklion

Photo of the Koules or Castello a Mare is a fortress at the entrance of the old port of Heraklion city

Experience the authentic charm of Greece by expanding your travels beyond the boundaries of Heraklion. Explore other destinations around Greece with a domestic flight. A domestic flight is typically a short-haul flight, with the longest duration not exceeding two hours. To find the best flights from Heraklion to other amazing locations in Greece, add the required details below and select 'Search' to view the best domestic flights in Greece for your chosen dates. You can also jump to the last section of this travel guide to find the most popular domestic flights from Heraklion.

Popular domestic flights from Heraklion

Travelers in Greece can catch flights to domestic airports in Alexandroupoli, Preveza, Athens, Chania, and Kos. Domestic flights in Greece are operated by 12 airlines, including Jet2, Eurowings, Aegean, Condor, and Transavia. There are around 30 scheduled flight routes operating to Heraklion on a weekly basis.

From Heraklion, travelers can book scheduled flights to 19 domestic destinations. The most popular flights from Heraklion depart to many top-rated destinations in Greece and are offered by Jet2, Eurowings, and Aegean.

Search domestic flights from Heraklion

Traveling to another city or region in Greece? Use the flight search tool below to quickly find the cheapest one-way or round-trip flights from Heraklion to different local destinations.

Enter all the necessary information and click or tap on the Search button to see a list of the available domestic flights in Greece on the selected dates.

Most popular countries in Europe

Link to appstore phone
Install Europe’s biggest travel app

Download Europe’s biggest travel marketplace to your phone to manage your entire trip in one place

Scan this QR code with your phone camera and press the link that appears to add Europe’s biggest travel marketplace into your pocket. Enter your phone number or email address to receive an SMS or email with the download link.