The capital of the island of Crete, Heraklion is one of the most vibrant and fascinating cities in all of Greece. Founded in 824 AD, this ancient and thriving metropolis has actually been the site of settlements since as early as 2000BC. Many civilisations have put down roots here, from the Saracens to the Ottomans, Romans to the Venetians and the ancient Greeks. This wealth of cultures have all left their mark here, and thanks to the town’s recent and on-going project of renovation, today any knowledgeable visitor can walk through a park or along the beach and find scattered about fragments of the past that were previously hidden beneath the veneer of the present.
With an Arts Festival running for all of summer (June until September) during hot dry summer days; and with Mediterraneanly mild winters, Heraklion is an inspiring and enjoyable place to visit at any time of the year. Apart from exploring the many cultural buildings, ruins and relics; there are a host of activities to occupy holidaymakers of all ages. From traditional shops and markets to water parks, an excellent stretch of sandy beach, authentic Greek restaurants and bars and an entire flock of museums.
Holiday in Heraklion
Any break spent in this beautiful and relaxing corner of Greece is sure to contain the following: trips to the beach, trips to The Ruins of Knossos and trips to a museum or two.
Amoudara, the 3km stretch of golden sand and turquoise water at the edge of the city is home to numerous bars, cafes, restaurants and even a multiplex cinema and open-air theatre. And with water sports such as sailing and jet skiing, a trip to the beach is fun for the whole family. You could even combine this with a venture to one of the area’s two water parks – Water City and Aqua Plus – for an amphibious day or two splashing about.
The Ruins of Knossos is a Bronze Age archaeological site, most famous for being the location of the Palace of Minos. Legends say that this is the spot where you would find the infamous Minotaur and his labyrinth from Greek myth.
With no less than 9 museums in town, Heraklion is a culture-seeker’s nirvana. Make sure to visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, containing relics from as far back as the Minoan civilisation 3000 years ago. Also worth a look is the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum with its collection of artefacts related to Cretan folklore, mythology and culture.
There are many churches from many different epochs to explore, including Byzantine and Roman, so make sure to take a leisurely stroll down any of the bright and interesting streets within this town’s antiquated Venetian city walls. And while you’re walking, visit Meidani Square, the town’s main crossroads to visit the Lions of Heraklion and find a traditional café to enjoy a glass of Cretan wine.
Renting holiday accommodation in Heraklion
When deciding on somewhere to stay in Heraklion, the best option would be to find a holiday rental. This allows you the space to stretch out more than a tourist in a hotel ever could, and living in a residential home allows access to life like a local. This means eating in local restaurants, exploring the authentic sights, sounds and smells of city life here and being able to soak up the Cretan culture more than you ever could any other way. And at the end of a hard day exploring the open-air market at Meidani Square, nothing beats being able to retire to your very own kitchen to prepare an incredible feast, Greek style.