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Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Heraklion, Greece. #Top Attractions

Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Heraklion, Greece. #Top Attractions

Have you been thinking about visiting Heraklion, Greece? Look at our carefully selected list of top Heraklion, Greece attractions below on the best thing to do in Heraklion, Greece, and places to go in Heraklion, Greece. Wondrous Drifter is a cutting-edge, Web 3.0 travel startup that aspires to change the world.

The Palace of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos / Nelo Hotsuma / Flickr

Just five kilometers south of Heraklion, the largest and best-preserved Minoan site on Crete may be found. It’s a major draw for visitors to the island of Crete.

At the center of a sprawling, four-winged palace, Knossos is thought to have been the Labyrinth of King Minos. It was incredibly well-designed, with ceremonial sections, dwelling quarters, storage chambers, ornate décor, and a smart drainage system.

Excavations have shown a palace on this site as far back as 2000 BC, although most of what you see now comes from 1450 BC or later. When visiting the site, keep in mind that some of the original architecture has been reconstructed with a bit of a whimsical eye toward the early twentieth century. 

The original paintings may be seen at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses the copies you see here.

Visiting Knossos is a breeze because of Old Town’s frequent summer bus service. With a personal vehicle, parking is free.

Address: Φειδίου 8, Iraklio 714 09, Greece

Old Town

Old Town

Picturesque alley in Chania. Greece / Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho / Flickr

The Old Town is a great place to spend a few hours wandering about, taking in the sights and mood. Heraklion was built around the sea, and the ancient town still has a solid connection to the water.

A 16th-century Venetian Fort known as Koules is located next to the port. Along the shoreline, where a promenade connects to fishing boats, there is a bustle of activity.

They may be identified by their stone front and massive arches on each side of the road, which lead to the Venetian Arsenals. In this location, the Venetians repaired their vessels. Fishing piers flank the seafront promenade extending from the port to the west.

Massive defensive walls have been dismantled in portions around the Old Town. Attractions including aristocratic houses, churches, and boutiques surround the city’s narrow lanes, which open to lush squares dotted with fountains and bustling cafes.

Koules Fortress

Koules fortress

Koules Fortress / taver / Flickr

The Koules Castle, a Venetian fortress built in the early 16th century, is on the shoreline of Heraklion. It is a short walk from the beach to the main entrance, which may be found on the right.

In spite of its intimidating appearance from a distance, the newly restored interior is just as striking. Grand wooden doors entrance into chambers with historical items and plaques that tell the narrative of the place. You may easily spend hours exploring the 26 sections and cellars because of the 8.7-meter-thick walls. These secluded rooms contain ancient items, such as cannons, amphorae, and stone sculptures, dating back to antiquity.

By taking the stairwell to the top, you can see for miles out to sea and over the port to the city below. Watch out for sea spray if it’s windy; the waves breaking against the cliffs may be very dangerous in high winds.

Address: Heraklion 712 02, Greece

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum / George M. Groutas / Flickr

For centuries, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum has been one of Greece’s most renowned museums.

The 3,500-year-old frescoes of Knossos, notably the Prince of the Lilies and the Bull-Leaping, are displayed in this museum. In particular, look at the 1600 BC Snake Goddess and the 100 BC Phaistos Disk, both of which depict a woman holding two snakes in her lap.

For more than 5,500 years of history, the museum’s artifacts have been scattered out throughout 27 separate galleries. St. Francis’ Venetian Monastery of St. Francis, damaged in an earthquake in 1856, is maintained in the courtyard area.

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is part of the Ministry of Culture’s Special Regional Service. Additionally, the museum hosts a wide variety of cultural events, develops and conducts educational programs in Greece and abroad, interacts with scientific and intellectual institutes, and hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions.

While tourists may come to Heraklion primarily for the site of Knossos itself, this world-class museum is a must-see for anybody visiting the city’s historic east end.

Address: Xanthoudidou 1, Heraklion, Crete

Natural History Museum of Crete

Natural History Museum of Crete, Heraklion, Greece

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Visiting the Natural History Museum of Crete is a great activity for families to participate in together. This striking new museum highlights the finest of Cretan culture just across the street from the Historical Museum.

Among the activities available to children and adults are simulations of earthquakes and tsunamis. On top of that, there’s a whole level of plush creatures from the Mediterranean region and beyond. The illusion exhibit is a must-see for a mind-blowing experience.

The other divisions are zoological, botanical, archaeological, paleontological, and geological-mineralogy. The museum has worked hard to build up its holdings, mount exhibitions, and hold events to serve its patrons better. In reality, in addition to the museum’s regular displays of Cretan wildlife and flora, it frequently has special exhibitions.

The Palace of Knossos’ relics is also on show here. The information on the displays is available in a variety of languages. Amid Heraklion’s midday heat, this air-conditioned structure provides a welcome respite.

Cathedral of St. Minas

Cathedral of St. Minas, Heraklion, Greece

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Located in the heart of Heraklion’s Old Town, the stunning Cathedral of St. Minas honors the city’s patron saint with its construction. As Crete’s biggest church, this late-19th-century structure is known for its rich display of sacred art.

A spectacular chandelier illuminates the church’s beautifully decorated interior walls. A must-see fresco of Christ Pantocrator may be seen in the dome. The area in front of the cathedral is beautiful.

Regular services are held here, and it also serves as the official residence of the Archbishop of Crete.

Even though he is Heraklion’s patron saint, Minas’s name is uncommon. A long-forgotten tale explains why this is the case.

Illegitimate children were regularly placed on the stairs of the church of Saint Minas during the Turkish occupation. The church cared for the youngsters and called the boys Minas after the saint at whose church they had been placed. As a result, parents avoided giving their kids the name Minas for many years in Heraklion since it denoted illegitimacy.

Historical Museum of Crete

Historical Museum of Crete

Historical Museum of Crete / tedbassman / Flickr

Despite the museum’s limited size, visitors found it a worthwhile experience. Most notable are two El Grecos: The Baptism of Christ and The Mount Sinai and the Monastery of Saint Catherine.

Crete’s history is complicated yet intriguing due to the numerous foreign conquerors that have occupied the island. The island’s 1,700-year history is chronicled here, from the earliest Christian era up to the present day.

From the Byzantine to the Venetian to the Ottoman eras, you’ll be able to witness religious artifacts, including icons, stone sculptures, pottery, fabrics, and costumes, and a solemn room devoted to those who sacrificed their lives during WWII.

The Baptism of Christ with the View of Mt. Sinai and St. Catharine’s Monastery, painted in the 16th century, are two standouts.

All of the items are well-organized and labeled, and there is a lovely garden café. Within a 10-minute walk of the ancient port, in a restored neoclassical house.

Agios Titos Church

Agios Titos Church

Agios Titos Church / Olivier Duquesne / Flickr

Heraklion’s medieval church is a common sight in the city’s pedestrian area. There are two large palms in front of it, making it a definite landmark.

Late in the 10th century, the ancient Agios Titos Church was erected here. The ancient structures were reduced to rubble over time due to earthquakes and other natural calamities. The solid-looking edifice that survives was formerly a mosque, built in the middle of the 19th century.

The chandeliers in the church may be seen if it’s open, so have a peek inside. Several small cafés with patios line the area in front of the church, making it lush and verdant.

Crete’s Heraklion Town’s Agios Titos Church: This cathedral in Heraklion is one of the most prominent landmarks in Crete, and it is located in Heraklion. It is located on August 25th street, one of its main roads. A charming area with tiny cafés and restaurants surrounds the church.

Morosini Fountain in Lion Square

Morosini Fountain in Lion Square

Morosini Fountain in Lion Square / taver / Flickr

The Morosini Fountain is located in the heart of Heraklion’s Old Town, at a short distance from the Loggia. To get your bearings while you tour the nearby streets, it’s a good spot to start.

This fountain, which dates back to 1628 and is flanked by mature trees and cafes, is the heart of the ancient city. Locals and visitors alike congregate at the nearby cafés and ice cream parlors during warm weather. In the evening, the area around the fountain is alive, with revelers taking advantage of the local nightlife.

Heraklion’s residents depended on the Morosini Fountain for clean, safe water. It was initially connected to a 14-kilometer aqueduct that carried water to the city from the Mt. Juktas slopes.

Thanks to the fountain’s eight-lobed basin, several people may fill their water bottles at once, resting on a circular base. Each lobe had a fountain that around five persons at a time could use.

After years of neglect, the fountain has been restored to its former form, with four lions spitting water into a basin below.

Loggia (Town Hall)

Loggia (Town Hall), Heraklion, Greece

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Heraklion’s town hall, the Loggia, is located in the city’s Old Town center. One of the best-preserved Venetian structures in Crete, this beautiful edifice is open to the public and is worth a brief glance. During the scorching summer months, you may seek refuge from the heat in the expansive arched arcade.

Even in Venice’s colonies, the Loggia was an essential public edifice, and the Loggia was not an exception. A Palladian-style example, Loggia is regarded as one of the most beautiful architectural remains of the Venetian period in Candia. 

Government officials and nobles used Loggia as their official meeting site during the Venetian period when they addressed a wide range of business, commercial, and political issues. It was also utilized as a sort of gentleman’s club, a chamber, and a location where individuals might relax. 

Our current Loggia is the fourth to be constructed; the first three were either abandoned or rendered outdated over time.

You’ll find charming boutiques and restaurants with outdoor patios in the neighborhood.

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Waterfront

Waterfront, Greece

Waterfront / Daan Huttinga / Unsplash

A stroll along the coastline is an excellent option if you want to stretch your legs after a long flight or boat trip. Here you can discover some of Heraklion’s finest seafood restaurants, an old fortification, museums, and breathtaking vistas.

The walks consist of two sections: the main waterfront stroll, which runs from east to west along the lake, and the breakwater walk, which goes beyond the medieval fort.

The walk along the lake begins at the breakwater. It extends east to the traffic roundabout, through the old Venetian arches, and west to the Natural History Museum. Choose this option if you want to stop for a bite to eat or learn a little about the island.

This might be a strenuous stroll during the middle of the day. The high breakwater blocks the prevailing breezes, causing the weather to remain calm and humid, with little relief from the sun.

Ancient Venetian Walls

Ancient Venetian Walls, Heraklion, Greece

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As one of the outstanding examples of 16th-century fortress construction in the Mediterranean, the Venetian walls of Heraklion, or the Heraklion fortifications, are a must-see.

You feel like you’re unraveling the city’s history as you walk around the walls of Heraklion. Although the city’s residents generally overlook the Venetian Walls in Heraklion, they are worth visiting.

The Old Town neighborhood of Heraklion is bordered on three sides by towering Venetian Walls. The walls date back to the Middle Ages, although they have been repaired and expanded over the centuries. 

Today, after much hard work and perseverance, the walls have been restored to their former beauty and are a popular walking and exploring site for residents and tourists.

Access usually is close to a gate, and once on top of the walls, the views of Old Town and the surrounding region are breathtaking. The length of the walls is roughly 4.5 kilometers.

Ammoudara Beach

Ammoudara Beach

Ammoudara Beach / Marina / Flickr

Ammoudara Beach is just a short drive from Heraklion’s city center. The sun-starved are greeted with golden sand and sparkling seas surrounded by tavernas.

There are frequently small to medium-sized waves and a refreshing wind in this area. If you buy beverages or food from one of the roving waiters, you may use the sun loungers and umbrellas for free. The beach’s length and width make it an ideal place to promenade.

One of Crete’s most popular kiteboarding sites may be found here. If you’re interested in learning how to fly a kite or renting one, there’s a kite school right on the beach where you can do so.

Many alternatives are available, from those who want a quieter environment to those who prefer a more social one. Several organized beaches along the coast, with loungers, umbrellas, beach bars, lifeguards, showers, changing rooms, water sports, and more. Because of the year-round high winds, Ammoudara is a popular destination for windsurfers.

El Greco Museum, Fodele

El Greco Museum, Fodele, Heraklion, Greece

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One of Europe’s most renowned religious icon painting schools was in Heraklion in the 16th century. Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1541-1614), better known as El Greco, was a member of this group and became a world-renowned artist.

Fodele, a sleepy town nestled among orange trees about 28 kilometers west of Heraklion, is where he was raised as a young boy. The stone cottage where he was born is now a museum. 

Upon his arrival in Spain in 1577, Theotokopoulos made his home and worked there for the remainder of his life. You may view various examples of his paintings, known for their vibrant colors and dramatic scenes.

A cafe in front of the museum has a very laid-back atmosphere and open air. They serve coffee, tea, and freshly squeezed orange juice made from delectable Fodele fruit.

Address: Fodele, 71500 Heraklion, Crete

Cretaquarium Thalassocosmos

Cretaquarium Thalassocosmos

Cretaquarium Thalassocosmos / Scotland by Camera / Flickr

Visit the CretAquarium on the coast of Crete while you’re there and get a taste of the Mediterranean’s underwater world. Astonish yourself with over 2,000 marine animals of 200 different kinds. 

In Greek, “sea world” is translated as “cretaquarium,” Crete’s shining white sea aquarium, Greece’s largest.

Support the aquarium’s educational and animal rescue activities while learning about the rich biodiversity of the Cretan and Mediterranean seafloors.

At this sophisticated aquarium, you may observe 2,500 marine creatures in 1.7 million gallons of saltwater from the Mediterranean undersea realm.

32 large glass tanks exhibit everything from hunting sharks to tiny seahorses, jellyfish, turtles, lobster, and octopus, all in beautifully lighted blue seawater against a backdrop of rocks and seaweed. It is a fascinating day out for youngsters and adults alike.’

Gournes, a former American military post 13 kilometers east of Heraklion, now houses the aquarium. The on-site café offers light fare and cool drinks in a pleasant outdoor setting.

Address: Gournes, 71003 Heraklion, Crete

Matala

Matala

Matala / Olivier Duquesne / Flickr

Matala’s long and broad beach is surrounded by rocky headlands on two sides, producing a tranquil, clean beach ideal for swimming. It’s one of the most unusual beaches on Crete because of the numerous caverns carved into the rock face. 

Restaurants on the opposite side of the street provide stunning views of the bay and its pristine white sands.

On Crete’s isolated south coast, Matala overlooks the Libyan Sea and is about 67 kilometers southwest of Heraklion. Matala, unlike Plakias, is more of a day-trip location and does not have much in the way of beachside lodging. 

Unlike Plakias, even though eateries surround the whole bay’s eastern shore and all of the beach, hotels and other facilities are tucked away.

Hippies of the 1960s, notably Joni Mitchell, who penned a song about it, made Matala famous in the 1960s by living in the caves at the end of the beach.

Matala’s incredible caves are a mystery, although some researchers believe they were Roman or early Christian burials.

Palace of Phaestos

Palace of Phaestos

Palace of Phaestos / Andrew Skudder / Flickr

Thousands of people visit Phaistos each year, making it a significant archaeological site in Crete.

Phaestos, another great Minoan palace, is favored by some above Knossos because it has remained almost untouched and has a more evocative atmosphere. 

Archaeological evidence suggests that this palace, erected approximately 1600 BC, was situated on an elevated slope overlooking the Libyan Sea, with an open-air paved courtyard in its center, surrounded by the craggy peaks of Mount Psiloritis.

The most renowned Minoan pictographic writing was discovered in a tiny chamber of the Phaistos palace, making it a one-of-a-kind find. Early Neopalatial era, and it’s still intact. Imprinted on both sides are two spiraling lines that begin and stop at the disc’s perimeter.

The views from the location are breathtaking, and in the summer, a refreshing wind blows in. Archaeologists are still trying to figure out why Phaestos was abandoned about the same period as Knossos. 62 kilometers south of Heraklion, it is a 15-minute journey from Matala and is accessible by car.

Venetian Harbour

Venetian Harbour Heraklion

Venetian Harbour Heraklion / Ania Mendrek / Flickr

It is thought that Heraklion’s early maritime history may be traced in a small area west of its modern harbor.

There is a Koules Fortress at the mouth of the harbor, which we’ll discuss later.

Venetian arsenals or shipbuilding warehouses may be seen on the dry land facing the sea in two independent rows of arches.

Structures like this provide a modest glimpse into the sophistication of Venetian nautical activities during the period.

You may continue along the mole, past the fortress, to gaze back at the contemporary port’s big cruise ships.

You’ll find a group of amateur anglers awaiting their turn to catch a fish throughout the day and night. A canteen serving soft drinks, ice cream, and fast food may be found amid the mole.

The Venetian Arsenals, or shipyards, are also located in the Venetian Harbour.

The Marina café may be found across the mooring field from Koules. Next door to a seafood restaurant is the Heraklion Port Authority, located behind it. Little Koules, which stood beside the bigger fortification, controlled the entrance to Heraklion Harbor.

St. Catherine of Sinai

St. Catherine of Sinai, Heraklion, Greece

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Located below the cathedral, Saint Catherine Square is immediately north of Saint Minas. The church of Saint Catherine, which once stood in the area, gave the square its name.

Saint Catherine Square is a beautiful place to relax and unwind in the city’s center. There are cafes for adults and plenty of room for kids to run about. Pigeons are a prominent element of the square, attracting many residents to feed them.

A 10th-century monastic church sits adjacent to the cathedral on St. Catherine Square.

The church, which is still standing, was built in the 16th century and served as a school for science, literature, and the arts.

El Greco’s pupil, Doménikos Theotokópoulos, was rumored to be among the students.

He is recognized as one of the most outstanding post-Byzantine Cretan artists, and the star of the Cretan School, by Michael Damaskinos.

There is a possibility that he painted the six magnificent icons that make up the museum of Christian art within the cathedral.

Paintings, manuscripts, vestments, and wooden sculptures are all on display.                                                                                                                                   

Address: Monis Odigitrias, Iraklio 712 01, Greece 

Gortyn Archaeological Site

Gortyn Archaeological Site, Heraklion, Greece

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Gortyn, a notable archaeological site, is located 45 kilometers south of Heraklion in the Messara valley. Gortyn was a great and mighty metropolis during prehistoric and historical times. 

The city’s population is estimated to have been over 300,000, and the site has been surprisingly well maintained. Gortyn has a rich mythology, but it is also tied to Christianity’s most important characters, including the apostle Paul and the Holy Ten Martyrs.

A structured archaeological site includes ruins such as the Roman Odeum, which contains the Law Code of Gortyn, the Byzantine-era church of Saint Titus, and the Antiquarium, which is located adjacent to a modern refreshment hall. 

In addition to the other important monuments that have been unearthed, scholars and anybody else with a genuine interest can see them by making an appointment with the Archaeological Service and being accompanied by one of the service’s guards.

There are 4 square kilometers of Gortyn remains, including the Acropolis and the cemeteries, spread out over the Messara plain.

Still wondering if you should visit Heraklion, Greece? Visit why visit Heraklion, Greece, at least once in your lifetime here.

Address: ΤΚ, Agii Deka 700 12, Greece