Heraklion Sights & Attractions
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 many interesting sites 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.
You can see below the best Sites in Heraklion: Ancient sites, Museums, Churches, Castles and more. You can filter them by category and location.
Do you want to learn about available activities? Check the best Things to do in Heraklion.
✔ DISCOVER THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SITES WITH US!
Want to discover the most beautiful things to see and attractions of Heraklion with ease and totally carefree? View our organized tours & activities or book a car rental at the best prices!
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.
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.
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.
The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion Crete is one of the richest in collections. It houses findings exclusively from Crete and the most important collections come from Knossos, Phaestos, Gortyn, Aharnes and other ancient sites.
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.
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.
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.
The Monastery of Panagia Kaliviani is located close to Mires village, on the south western side of Heraklion Crete. This is a relatively modern monastery, as it was probably built in the early 20th century.
The church of Agia Ekaterini of Sinaites was built in the 16th century by the Venetians and during the Ottoman rule, it was converted into a mosque. The church is located in the heart of the town, next to the church of Agios Minas.
The church of Agios Titos was originally constructed in the 10th century by the Byzantines. Later on, it was renovated by the Venetians and when Crete was conquered by the Ottomans, it was turned into a mosque. This is where the skull of Saint Titus is guarded.
Rizinia is the ancient town of Prinias, located about halfway between Gortyn and Knossos. This archaeological site has revealed a 7th century BC temple that has striking similarities to the Egyptian architecture.
Housed in the Venetian building “Palazzo d’ Ittar” at 18 Epimenidou Street, in the heart of Heraklion city, Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology offers a unique opportunity to discover the secrets of Ancient Greek Technology, by promoting interactive learning and analytical thinking for both greek and english speaking visitors of all ages.
This museum is housed in a modern building in Myrtia. Nikos Kazantzakis was born in Heraklion and is considered to be one of the most important Greek writers of the 20th century.
The tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis is located outside the city walls, in Martinego Tower. On his tomb, the following words have been carved, as was his will: "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free".
Located in the village of Hersonissos, east of Heraklion, this museum offers an original and creative approach to the culture and nature of Crete. Frequently it organizes many cultural events, such as educational seminars for kids, audiovisual performances or traditional dancing events.
This beautiful cave can be reached on foot from Skoteino village. It used to be an important sanctuary in the Minoan times. Outside the cave, there is a nice chapel of Agia Paraskevi and a celebration is performed there on 26th July, the name day of the saint.
In the center of the town and close to the old port of Heraklion, there is an impressive building, the Venetian Loggia. This building of elegant architecture, that now houses the Town Hall, was constructed in the 17th century and was used as a meeting point for the noblemen.
The Natural History Museum of Crete allows visitors to see and experience the biodiversity of Crete. It is housed in a modern building at the port of Heraklion Town.
The Historical Museum of Heraklion was established in 1953 by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies. The museum presents the history and culture of Crete from the early Christian times till modern era.
This impressive church in the heart of the town is the cathedral of Heraklion Town. It was constructed during 1862-1895 next to the smaller church dedicated to Agios Minas.
The Monastery of Agios Antonios Vrontissi is situated close to the village of Zaros, in southern Heraklion. It is a male monastery and its location gives a great view to the Gulf of Messara and Asteroussia Mountains.
This collection is housed in the beautiful 15th-century basilica of Saint Ekaterini, Heraklion Town. It houses valuable ecclesiastical items and rare Byzantine icons.
Minos Winery was the first to bottle the delicious wine of Crete. Its premises in Peza, about 18 km southeast of Heraklion Town, also work as a museum and visitors can see the wine production process and buy local products.
Located at a distance of 5 km from Hersonissos, this is an amazing waterpark with lots of games for all ages, including Black Holes, Octopus Spacebowl, Kamikaze Hydrotube, and others.
This cave was used as a place for worship of the goddess Eileithyia (truth), who was protecting childbirth. During Early Christian times, the Christians were using this cave to hide and practice their religion, while in the Minoan times it was also used for cult rituals. The cave lays 7 km east of Heraklion Town.
Close to the Gate of Bethlehem, in the Venetian Walls of Heraklion, a new museum recently opened dedicated to the famous Cretan painter Domenicos Theotokopoulos, also known as "El Greco". He was born in Heraklion in 1542 but worked and died in Spain in 1614. The museum includes copies of his paintings and costumes of the awarded movie "El Greco" (2007), directed by the Greek director Iannis Smaragdis.
Located high up in the mountains, the Monastery of Agia Irini in Kroussonas probably dates from the Venetian period. It was destroyed during the Turkish occupation but it was later rebuilt in 1940. Today the monastery is still active.
The Monastery of Koudoumas is located in southern Crete, close to the bay of Tris Klisies. It was constructed in the 19th century and it is dedicated to Virgin Mary and celebrates on August 15th.