weather 32°C / 90°F Heraklion

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Heraklion is the largest city of Crete, the island’s capital, and an ideal destination for a city break. It is also one of the most important urban centres in Greece, a commercial and innovation hub, the headquarters of the Institute of Technology and Research, while this is the home of many of the faculties of the University of Crete, the University Hospital, etc.

Historical Handax, the Great Castle, developed anarchically in the 20th century, losing elements of its unique character. There are systematic efforts currently under way for the city of Heraklion to regain its former glory through major projects. Heraklion also boasts the largest airport on Crete, which is where millions of visitors begin their tour of Minoan civilization, starting from the famous palace of Knossos. They come into contact with Cretan tradition and culture, enjoy the sun and the sea, and become acquainted with famous Cretan gastronomy and hospitality. Heraklion, after all, is one of the few cities worldwide to be named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2023 for its creativity in this sector.

The largest port of Crete is also located here. It is one of the most important cruise stops nationwide.  

One of the most characteristic monuments of Heraklion is Koules, the 16th century Venetian fortress that dominates the entrance of the port, while the famous Lions or Morizini Fountain, located in the historic city centre near the church of Saint Titus and the Venetian Loggia, is a meeting place for locals and tourists alike.

Also particularly interesting are the museums of Heraklion, with the Archaeological Museum leading the way, gathering some of the most important treasures of Minoan civilization, both from Knossos, which is a few kilometres away, and from Phaistos, Malia, and other areas.                     

Heraklion is surrounded by massive Venetian walls, which made the city impregnable and helped it withstand the Ottoman siege for twenty-five years, and only falling into Ottoman hands after treason. Martinengo bastion rises on the south wall, where the tomb of great Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis is located.

Cosmopolitan and commercial, the city of Heraklion is bustling with life day and night, with locals and visitors strolling through its pedestrianised centre and enjoying shopping, coffee, and the abundant gastronomy options. Other nearby destinations, such as Hersonissos, Malia, Agia Pelagia etc., are known for their liveliness, night life, beach bars, and beautiful sandy beaches, while the south dominates here, with destinations such as Matala, Lentas, etc.           

The prefecture of Heraklion also boasts the largest and most fertile plain of the island, the famous plain of Messara, where vegetables, olives, vines, and so much more is cultivated.

Archaeological Sites




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