Located between the prefectures of Rethymno and Lassithi, on the eastern side of Crete, Heraklion is the most popular region of the island. It hosts many busy places with intense nightlife, including Malia, Hersonissos, Ammoudara and Agia Pelagia, but also many peaceful family places, particularly on the southern side. As Heraklion Greece was the main field where the Minoan civilization flourished, you should not miss a visit to the Minoan Palaces of Knossos and Phaestos. A drive around Heraklion will also bring you to traditional villages, Medieval castles, Byzantine monasteries and nice beach places to relax. This region combines busy resorts and secluded coves.
Heraklion as seen by our members
Travel guide to Heraklion, Greece
The region of Heraklion gets very popular in summer as this is the main transportation hub to Crete. In fact, many charter flights from abroad and ferries arrive in Heraklion Town, carrying millions of visitors.
Here is a detailed travel guide about Heraklion in Crete. Have a look on the most interesting sightseeings, villages, beaches, museums and outdoor activities in the region. Also see photos, maps and videos to organize better your trip to Heraklion.
Things to see and do
The prefecture of Heraklion Greece is the most popular region of Crete island, one of the most popular Greek islands. The Town works as the main transportation hub and capital of the island and has many developed tourist places. Malia, Hersonissos and Stalida are the most popular resorts attracting mainly young people due to the vivid nightlife. The rest of Heraklion is great for family holidays, as the beaches are calm, relaxing and lined up with restaurants.
Apart from relaxing in the amazing beach resorts, do not miss a visit to the archaeological sites of the region: the Minoan Palaces of Knossos and Phaestos, the Caves of Matala, the Medieval Castles, the Byzantine monasteries and the ancient sites. Many festivals and panigiria are organized in summer in various villages and attending such a festival is a nice experience of local tradition.
Have a look in this guide of Heraklion and find all the necessary information about vacations there. Due to its central location, this is also a convenient region for excursions to Chania and Rethymno. From the port of Heraklion, in summer there are also ferries to the Cycladic islands of Santorini and Mykonos.
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In the region of Heraklion, you can find some of the most luxurious hotels in Crete. Ammoudara, Hersonissos, Gouves and Kokkini Hani have large spa resorts next to small studios. Malia and Hersonissos are tourist hot spots with intense nightlife for the younger crowds. More secluded and traditional accommodation are found in the southern side of Heraklion, including Matala, Tymbaki and other beaches. Heraklion Town offers impressive five star hotels and spa resorts, but also smaller boutique hotels.
Highlights in Heraklion
The Minoan Palace of Knossos is the most famous sight in Crete. Located in close distance to Heraklion Town, this palace was found almost intact covered by volcanic ashes.
The Minoan Palace of Phaestos is located on the southern side of Heraklion, on the way to Matala. It is famous for the Disk of Phaestos, which has not been decoded till today.
The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion Town hosts exhibits from various excavations in Crete. The most interesting items date from the Minoan Times, such as the famous Disk of Phaestos.
Located in the southern side of Heraklion Town, the beach of Matala is a former hippies place. Over the last years, there is a large hippies festival there in summer.
Hersonissos gets busy in summer due to the many tourist facilities and the intense nightlife. Many luxurious hotels and spa resorts are found in the region.
Over the last years, scuba diving in greadually developing in Heraklion. The seabed of Crete has interesting spots to explore, including reefs and ancient shipwrecks.
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