Is Heraklion worth visiting? Unveiling the capital of Crete

Is Heraklion worth visiting? Unveiling the capital of Crete

Heraklion, the capital of Crete, often sparks curiosity among travelers. Is it just a transit point to the island’s famous beaches on the far west or east side, or does the city itself hold treasures worth exploring? Let’s dive into Heraklion and discover why it’s a destination you should definitely NOT overlook.
So, the short answer is YES. Heraklion positively surprised me and is, in my opinion, definitely worth a 1-3 day visit! Below I will discuss the reasons why.

Remember to check out my other Crete blogs as well!

1. History on every corner

Heraklion has a crazy rich history. From the ancient Minoan civilization to Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman influences, every corner tells a story. The iconic Knossos Palace, just a short drive from the city center, is a testament to the island’s ancient roots and is often dubbed as Europe’s oldest city and the place our modern European civilization was born. In the city center, don’t he side of the port, the Koules Fortress stands out as a reminder of the Venetian era. But do not forget the stunning Morosini fountain, the Church of Agios Titos or the Venetian Loggia! The city has an old part full of amazing historical buildings, pedestrian streets and squares. And it has impressive stone city walls. Also, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum houses some of the most significant Minoan artifacts, making it one of the most important museums in Greece. More than enough history to keep you entertained for at least 2 days.

2. Vibrant Culinary Scene

Cretan cuisine is renowned worldwide for its health benefits and rich flavors. In Heraklion, you can savor authentic dishes like dakos salad and hohloi (snails). Heraklion is a city where mostly locals live. Therefore, there are so many options, from cheap traditional tavernas to fine dining. An amazing restaurant where I tried the cooked Cretain snails, and that gets almost all ingredients locally, is Peskesi! Defenitely rcommended. Also, a must is to eat traditional Bougatsa on the square of the Morosini fountain. Kagiampi street is where I found the locals at night.

3. Locals & shopping

As I said previously said, Heraklion (in comparison to the old towns of Chania and Rethymno) is not a city totally taken over by tourism. Many locals live there and there are so many Greek people on the street. Even in the very city center. I personally loved this vibe, which adds something else than Rethymno and Chania. Also, because it is the capital of Crete, the larger brands have their shops here, while there are countless boutiques and tourist shops as well.

4. Beaches

Ok, I know we’re talking about Heraklion city here. And yes, the most beautiful beaches of Crete are not near Heraklion. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t very good beaches near Heraklion. It is just a stone’s throw away from for instance Amnisos beach, a gorgeous sandy beach with some nice hotels and resorts on it. But also nice beach bars you can go to if you’re not staying there, such as Cicada Seascape Experience. This area is definitely underrated as well. Just 15-20 minutes away from the airport and the center! So if you’d like to stay on the beach while visiting Heraklion, that is also very well possible.

Where to stay in Heraklion

Might you decide to stay in Heraklion for a couple of days, then I have 2 amazing suggestions for you yo stay at that I personally enjoyed very much.

Number 1 are the Blossom Collection Suites, near the heart of the city center and with a view of the port. One of them even has a terrace with jacuzzi. These are brand new and I could find nothing that was missing. Beautiful details, comfortable beds. And not noisy!

Number 2 is the all-inclusive adults only resort Sentido Unique Blue. Located on Amnisos beach, has delicious food, is not too massive and the staff is a 10/10.


Halfway my 81-day Greece trip I picked up my mum from Heraklion airport ✈️ and I said: “I am tired 😴, I want to do absolutely nothing today”. So she agreed to spontaneously book (no spon, €240 in May) a luxury hotel close to the airport for a night before our departure for Milos - and - something we NEVER do normally cause we ALWAYS ate out local for the past 30 years - all inclusive 😂. But it seemed like a great idea not to have to set a foot out of this beach 🏝️ front hotel for once . When we arrived to our surprise we got a free upgrade 🤩 to a swim up room. We spent the rest of the day on the beach (great beach!) and our terrace, swimming and relaxing. As I never go all inclusive this was an interesting experience for me. You could just tap as many soft drinks as you want, also take as many balls of ice cream 🍦 as you wanted, and a whole lot of other stuff such as cocktails 🍸. The food was actually good 👍🏻. I guess it would be boring staying on the premises of one hotel all week, but to rest a bit is perfect. . Dear everyone, Crete is a country of its own, it is extremely large (6 hours drive 🚗 East to West) and traveling this island can be exhausting. So if you are doing a road trip it is an excellent idea to book a nice beachfront hotel for the last 1-3 days to rest! 🙏🏻 Just as you would probably do when travelling Asia or South America. And for this purpose (if you’re flying from Heraklion) I can wholeheartedly recommend this hotel! . 📍 Sentido Unique Blue . #crete #heraklion #sentidouniqueblue #greecehotels #hoteltok #creteresort #greece #travel #amnisos #creteisland #cretegreece

♬ original sound - Sped up songs full versions

Thanks for reading this blog on the reasons why Heraklion is worth visiting. I hope you will have a wonderful time on the beautiful island of Crete.

Disclosure: some of the above may be affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for the support to my travel tips service for Greece!

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