Heraklion Crete Island – Greece – Things to do
Whether you visit Heraklion, Crete to admire the remains of an ancient civilization or simply to soak in the rays on some of the best beaches in Europe, the city is guaranteed to delight and amaze you. Visiting the 3,000-year-old Palace of Knossos is like traveling back to the time of the Minoans, while exploring the Venetian-era Koules Fortress will allow you to learn about history while taking in sweeping coastal vistas. Crete’s coast is also magnificent. You can sun yourself on Amoudara Beach during the day, then watch the sunset from horseback as you ride down Karteros Beach.
THINGS TO DO IN HERAKLION
DISCOVER 3,000 YEARS OF HISTORY
Crete has been inhabited for thousands of years and you can dig into all of this history, sometimes literally. The museum inside the Minoan-era Palace of Knossos has archaeological exhibitions, and sights like the Morosini Fountain and St. Titus Church depict more traditional Greco-Roman architecture.
GET A TIMELESS TAN
Grab a spot on Amoudara, a beach located right in the city center where you can also enjoy a glass of Cretan wine or a light meal. Whether you stay on shore or beat the heat with a dip in the crystalline waters, spending time on the beaches of Heraklion, Crete makes for a perfect day.
ENJOY AN ACTIVE BEACH DAY
Who says a day at the beach in Heraklion has to be lazy? While horseback rides on the beaches of suburban Karteros are often enjoyed at sunset, they’re fun any time of day. Or try scaling the sheer limestone wall that rises behind the beach for even more heart-pounding fun.
Come to Crete with an empty stomach! Start with a light Cretan salad, which is made with juicy, locally grown tomatoes, soft cheese from the island’s sheep and famous Cretan olive oil, then move on to sumptuous gamopilafo, or “wedding rice,” which pairs creamy lemon-butter rice with fall-off-the-bone lamb or goat meat.
Visit Meidani Square, where locals shop for fragrant spices and colorful vegetables. You’ll find Cretan handicrafts at the large open-air market, including “pithoi” ceramics and traditional leather boots. (Before buying any food to bring back with you, be sure you’ve read your ship’s rules about what’s allowed onboard.)
Crete’s capital Heraklion, a Mediterranean Cruises destination, is an energetic city with a prolific history. Admire majestic Mount Yioúhtas as you dock in the harbour and ancient Koules Fortress on the port’s western pier. Discover the mythical Palace of Knossos or visit historical monasteries and churches. Crete is a fascinating slice of Greek island life just waiting to be explored!
Cruises excursions offer plenty of exciting things to see including:
The Palace of Knossos
The Minoan Palace of Phaestos
Fodele Village and Rethymno Town
The Greek myth of ‘Ariadne’s thread, the labyrinth, and the Minotaur’ is famous throughout the world. On a fascinating Cruise excursion you can visit the Palace of Knossos, the ancient site where the legend was born. Built on the ruins of an extensive Neolithic settlement, you’ll explore a maze of over 800 rooms. Discover Minoan columns, fabulous frescoes, and the King’s throne on a guided tour. Next, visit next the incredible Heraklion Archaeological Museum, home to an impressive collection of Minoan artefacts. View alabaster idols, jewellery, figurines, and the Hagia Triada sarcophagus.
Beautiful Crete is rich with mythology and archaeological sites. On a Cruise excursion, you’ll visit the Palace of Phaestos, a jewel of the Minoan civilisation. Drive through dreamy vineyards and olive groves across the Agia Varvara Pass. There, you’ll reach the alluvial Messara Plain and the remains of its historical palace. Phaestos overlooks rugged Mount Ida, and its ruins are filled with an assortment of wonders. Discover stone staircases, a central court, a pillar crypt, and antique storage jars.
Visit the rural village of Fodele on a Cruise excursion. Birthplace of the Spanish Renaissance painter El Greco, the village is nestled in a pretty valley rich with orange groves. Enjoy a relaxing wander through the town before travelling to the city of Rethymno. There, you’ll admire Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains and a 16th-century fortress. Use some free time to browse the local shops or stroll the enchanting alleys. Take in Rethymno’s stunning architecture with its Turkish and Venetian influences.