Heraklion (Crete)


Heraklion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete and the fourth largest city in Greece. A preferred destination in Europe, Heraklion can combine modernity and antiquity due its lively urban life and close proximity to historical monuments. The city's ancient name was revived in the 19th century and stems from the nearby Roman port of Heracleum (Heracles's city), whose exact location is unknown.

Heraklion has been a central hub and point of strategic importance due to its location for millennia and has thus been influenced by a number of different civilizations which have all contributed to its unique modern identity. The city's Archaeological Museum is a testament to that and a visit is highly encouraged, if only to give you an idea of its historic importance. The Bronze Age palace of Knossos, also known as the Palace of Minos, is located nearby and day trips to this ancient marvel are all but mandatory for first-timers. In the port, you will find the old Venetian fortress of the aptly named Castello de Molo and around it fish taverns and various gift shops. Downtown is a stone's throw away and filled with restaurants and bars that stay open till late throughout the year. Aimlessly walking in the city center might end up leading you the the Cathedral of Saint Minas or the Church of Agios Titos. Finally if you have a bit of a sommelier in you, Heraklion is home to many wineries which can be visited during the day.   

Perhaps the best reason to visit Heraklion is authentic Cretan cuisine. Mediterranean ingredients locally grown in a unique way combine to create a majestic culinary experience. Soft Cretan cheeses, honey, green vegetables and a pallet of spices underused everywhere else, become a bridge that connects Greek food with Anatolia.

If you want to experience the Greek summer, sun and sea, the best months to travel to Heraklion are from May to October, with June, July, August and September being ideal for swimming in the island’s beautiful beaches. For those who would like to focus on the cultural and local life of the island but are prepared to risk some rainy, windy days and an colder weather with fewer tourists, November to April is a great period, with December to February being the coldest months.

Visitors can reach the city via the Nikos Kazantzakis international airport or by ferry to the main port of Heraklion. Scheduling should not cause any concerns as there are very frequent routes towards the city. Crete can be combined with an island hopping itinerary, including Santorini and Rhodes and of course Athens.

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crete aegean Islands