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Heraklion

4.1
History Museums · Fountains · Room Escape Games
Crete's largest city, Heraklion remains best known for its proximity to a sprawling Bronze Age archaeological site, once the center of a vanished Minoan civilization. Founded by Arab raiders sometime in the 9th century, Heraklion swapped its rulers several times over the centuries, eventually coming under Venetian and then Ottoman control. Before retreating, the successive conquerors left an indelible mark on the city's architecture of medieval fortifications, Byzantine churches, and lavish fountains. The birthplace of El Greco, modern Heraklion is a densely populated city infamous for its traffic congestion. Take a break from the big port city and its throngs of tourists by exploring the ancient sites located just a short drive from the busy coastline. Plan your tour of Heraklion and Greece travel itinerary using our Greece travel route planner.
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Popular things to do in Heraklion

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Heraklion Archaeological Museum ©
History Museum
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
4.6
Duration: 2 hours
The Natural History Museum of Crete ©
World heritage site
The Natural History Museum of Crete
4.4
Duration: 1h 30 min
Historical Museum of Crete ©
History Museum
Historical Museum of Crete
4.6
Duration: 1h 30 min
Castello del Molo (Koules)
Castle
Castello del Molo (Koules)
4.4
Duration: 1 hour

Side trips from Heraklion

The Palace of Knossos ©
Ruin
The Palace of Knossos Knosos
3.1
Duration: 3 hours
Cretaquarium - Thalassocosmos ©
Aquarium
Cretaquarium - Thalassocosmos Gournes
4.2
Duration: 1h 30 min
Matala beach ©
Beach
Matala beach Matala
4.3
Duration: 3 hours
Aegeo Spas ©
Spa
Aegeo Spas Istron
4.7
Duration: 2 hours

Hidden gems in Heraklion

Lyrarakis Winery ©
Winery / Vineyard
Lyrarakis Winery
4.8
Duration: 1h 30 min
Douloufakis Winery ©
Winery / Vineyard
Douloufakis Winery
4.8
Duration: 1h 30 min
Thalasso by Aegeo Spas ©
Thermal Spa
Thalasso by Aegeo Spas
4.5
Duration: 1h 30 min
Venetian Walls and Tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis
Historic Site
Venetian Walls and Tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis
3.6
Duration: 2 hours

Historic Sites in Heraklion

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Church of Saint Titus ©
Church
Church of Saint Titus
4.6
Duration: 30 minutes
Cathedral of St. Minas
Religious Site
Cathedral of St. Minas
4.6
Duration: 2 hours
Kera Kardiotissa Monastery ©
Religious Site
Kera Kardiotissa Monastery
4.3
Duration: 2 hours
Church of Agios Mathaios Sinaites
Religious Site
Church of Agios Mathaios Sinaites
4.8
Duration: 30 minutes

Wineries in Heraklion

©
Wine Tour / Tasting
Wine Tours & Tastings
4.9
Duration: 8 hours
Domaine Paterianakis ©
Winery / Vineyard
Domaine Paterianakis
4.9
Duration: 30 minutes
Gavalas Crete Wines ©
Winery / Vineyard
Gavalas Crete Wines
4.5
Duration: 2h 30 min
Boutari Winery
Winery / Vineyard
Boutari Winery
3.2
Duration: 2 hours

Shopping in Heraklion

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Terra mia ©
Gift & Specialty Shop
Terra mia
5.0
Duration: 1h 30 min
Kosmima Gold & Silver ©
Gift & Specialty Shop
Kosmima Gold & Silver
4.9
Duration: 1h 30 min
Zalo ©
Gift & Specialty Shop
Zalo
4.9
Duration: 2 hours
Irida Family Workshop ©
Gift & Specialty Shop
Irida Family Workshop
4.9
Duration: 30 minutes
Tour Experts Private Tours ©
Food Tour
Tour Experts Private Tours
5.0
Duration: 4 hours
Morosini Fountain (Lion's Fountain) ©
Fountain
Morosini Fountain (Lion's Fountain)
3.9
Duration: 2 hours
Winery Stilianou ©
Winery / Vineyard
Winery Stilianou Kounavi
4.9
Duration: 1h 30 min
Snail Farm and Fun ©
Farm
Snail Farm and Fun Tylissos
5.0
Duration: 1h 30 min

Where to stay in Heraklion

Heraklion serves as a convenient base for exploring Crete and draws big crowds with its centrally located hotels, which offer free Wi-Fi, secure parking, private swimming pools, and fitness facilities. Although pricey, staying in the city center also keeps you near the area's top shopping, dining, and entertainment. If you don't mind driving to shops and restaurants, explore the mid-range hotels and small inns farther away from the busy coastline, where you can choose a budget-friendly room with sea views and easy access to quiet beaches.
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