Heraklion Sightseeing

Heraklion sightseeing
Sightseeing: 36 things to see in Heraklion, Greece

The region of Heraklion on the eastern side of Crete has many developed tourist resorts, including Matala, Malia, and Hersonissos. Heraklion Town is actually the largest town in Crete and serves as the main transportation hub for the island, with a busy port and an international airport. The region of Heraklion has much interesting sightseeing to visit, including the archaeological sites of Knossos, Gortyn, and Phaestos, the Fortress of Heraklion Town and various monasteries. Cretaquarium is also a very fun place to visit, especially for children.

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In this section, you can see the best Heraklion Sightseeing but also things to do by location.
You can also view all things to see in Heraklion by category: villages, beaches, museums, and churches.

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Best Sightseeing

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The Minoan Palace of Knossos lays about 5 km south of Heraklion Town. This is the most famous and largest Minoan site in Greece. Discovered in the early 20th century by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, the site was found almost intact and covered by ashes. This led scientists to believe that the palace was destroyed by a tsunami wave caused by the volcanic eruption of Santorini in 1,550 BC.

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Koules Fortress is the symbol of Heraklion Town. It stands at the entrance of the port and dominates over the lovely Venetian harbor. The fortress was originally built by the Venetians in the 13th century but then it underwent many transformations by the Ottomans, who ruled Crete till the late 19th century.

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The Minoan Palace of Phaistos is the second most important Minoan site in Crete, after Knossos. The design of the palace is a copy of Knossos, but on a smaller scale and without many labyrinths.

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The caves of Matala are formed in the rock formations right above the beach. They were used as residences in the prehistoric times and then as graves in the Hellenistic and the Roman period.

Location: Gouves
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Founded in 2005, this is the largest aquarium in the Mediterranean. It depicts marine life with upgraded and impressive presentations of natural landscapes, offering visitors a chance to see rare sea-living creatures.

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The Doric town of Gortyn was one of the strongest in ancient Crete. It lays 44 km south west of Heraklion, close to the villages Agioi Deka and Kasteli. The famous Minoan law code has been excavated on Gortyn as well as a superb Roman Odeon. The findings testify about the prosperity of the ancient city of Gortyn, which used to be an ally of Rome and the capital of Crete.

Best villages

    3 reviews   312 photos   

Location: On the northern side of Crete
Description: Heraklion Town is the largest city in Crete and the main transportation hub of the island. It distinguishes for its large fortress at the entrance of the port. Many beautiful beaches surround this big town.

Best beaches

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Location: 67 km south west of Heraklion Town
Description: Matala is the most famous resort on the southern side of Heraklion Crete. The organized beach next to some strange rock formations offers a nice environment to relax.

Type: Sandy, Family Friendly, Organised, Water sports

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Location: 28 km east of Heraklion Town
Description: The beaches around Hersonissos are among the most popular in Heraklion Crete. It is well organized and has many watersports centres.

Type: Sandy, Family Friendly, Organised, Party, Diving Club, Water sports

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Location: 5 km west of Heraklion Town
Description: Ammoudara is a very long, sandy beach with clean water. The organized coast and the close distance from Heraklion Town makes it very popular.

Type: Sandy, Family Friendly, Organised, Diving Club, Windsurfing, Water sports

Location: 9 km east of Heraklion Town
Description: Amnissos is a long, sandy beach in close distance to Heraklion. The coast is organized with sunbeds, umbrellas, watersports centres and beach bars.

Type: Sandy, Family Friendly, Organised, Water sports

Location: 70 km south west of Heraklion Town
Description: Tymbaki is a calm and relaxing beach on the south western side of Heraklion Crete, close to the famous resort of Matala.

Type: Pebbled, Family Friendly, Partly Organized

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Location: 33 km east of Heraklion Town
Description: Stalida is a popular beach with many hotels around it. It is located between Hersonissos and Malia, east of Heraklion Town.

Type: Sandy, Organised, Party, Water sports

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Location: 24 km north west of Heraklion Town
Description: Agia Pelagia is a lovely fishing village that turns into a tourist resort in summer. Its calm ambience and the beautiful beaches make it a nice family place.

Type: Sandy, Family Friendly, Organised, Diving Club

Google map of Heraklion excursions

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The port of Heraklion
Lions of the Morosini fountain in the center of Heraklion.
Old bridge in Crete