Heraklion, Greece | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Heraklion, Greece

Heraklion (Greek Ηράκλειον, also transliterated as Heraklio, Iraklion or Irakleio) is the major city and capital of the largest Greek island, Crete. Its

Archaeological Museum

holds the remains of the 3000-year old Minoan civilization, which grew around the nearby legendary

palace of Knossos

(of Minotaur fame), as well as Byzantine churches and a well-preserved Venetian wall and fortress from the 15th century.

Heraklion (or Herakleion, Iraklio, Irakleion) is the capital of Crete and an industrialized city of around 155,000 residents. The modern city is densely populated and traffic-choked, at first overwhelming the visitor. However,... Read more

Heraklion, Greece

Heraklion (Greek Ηράκλειον, also transliterated as Heraklio, Iraklion or Irakleio) is the major city and capital of the largest Greek island, Crete. Its

Archaeological Museum

holds the remains of the 3000-year old Minoan civilization, which grew around the nearby legendary

palace of Knossos

(of Minotaur fame), as well as Byzantine churches and a well-preserved Venetian wall and fortress from the 15th century.

Heraklion (or Herakleion, Iraklio, Irakleion) is the capital of Crete and an industrialized city of around 155,000 residents. The modern city is densely populated and traffic-choked, at first overwhelming the visitor. However, in recent years, things have begun to change and efforts are being made to bring out the beauty of the city's rich cultural history. Strolling along the coastline, the city wall, or down a park can reveal various historical remains of potentially immense interest to the watchful eye. The knowledgeable visitor will be able to trace the past under the urban sprawl of the present. The core of the city is still enclosed and defined by the Venetian wall, which includes seven outjutting bastions. In the southernmost of these, the Martinengo Bastion, is the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis standing on a windswept hilltop with its moving inscription, "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free."


Heraklion has a hot-summer-Mediterranean climate (Csa in the Köppen climate classification). Summers are warm to hot and dry with clear skies. Dry hot days are often relieved by seasonal breezes. Winters are very mild with moderate rain. Because Heraklion is further south than Athens, it has a milder climate. The maximum temperature during the summer period is usually not more than 28 - 30°C (Athens normal maximum temperature is about 6°C hotter). The minimum temperature record is -0.2 °C. 
A new temperature record for February was set at 27.8°C, reached on 15 February 2016.

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Heraklion, Greece: Port Information

The city has a big cruise port with several piers for cruise liners and great facilities for cruise travelers. It is located near the Venetian Harbour and Marina.
The port is close to the center of the city, less than half a mile northeast of the main tourist area. Most of the town's attractions are within a 20-minute walk.

Get around Heraklion, Greece

By bus

You can use public city bus network to get around Heraklion but you have to figure out the line to your destination. There are usually no routes or schedules posted at the bus stops. Buses do not stop at bus stops unless you signal the driver by raising your arm. 

When you get on the bus, hold the bottom half of your ticket in your right hand. The bus driver will take the top half (the side with the number value of the ticket) and the two of you will rip it in half. Tickets are available inside buses with increased prices.

  • Line 1 goes to/from the airport
  • Line 2 takes you to/from Knossos
  • Line 7 goes to Amnissos
  • Line 8 goes to FORTH
  • Line 12 takes you to TEI
Within reach of a day-trip, are Rethymno (the most charming old town on the island), Chania, and Agios Nikolaos. Chania is the best base for exploring the Samaria Gorge, and Agios Nikolaos is your base for seeing Spinalonga. You’ll need your own car to see Anogia, or Phaistos Palace and Matala beach, on a day trip.

What to see in Heraklion, Greece


  • 'The Minoan Palace of Knossos', ☎ +30 2810 231940, +30 2810 226470, +30 2810 226092, +30 2810 224630, fax: +30 2810 241515, e-mail: protocol@kgepka.culture.gr. Winter: Daily 08.30-15.00 Summer: 08.00-19.30. Knossos (Greek Κνωσός, the accent is on the second syllable) is the site of the most important and best known Minoan palace complex in Crete. It is located some 5 km (3 mi) south of Heraklion. According to tradition, Knossos was the seat of the legendary Cretan king Minos. The palace is also connected to other legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur, as well as the story of Daidalos and Ikaros. Excavation has revealed that the site was continuously inhabited from the Neolithic period (7000-3000 B.C.) until Roman times.
  • Koules, the Venetian castle in the Harbour (Greek: Κούλες). It is a long walk out to the end of the pier which extends past the fort, but it offers nice views out to the Mediterranean and back to the harbor.
  • Venetian Walls (Greek: Τείχη). It takes over an hour's stroll to circumnavigate the city walls, stretches of which have been turned into parkland. It is frequented by people running and walking dogs.
  • Loggia (Greek: Λότζια)
  • Morosini Fountain (a.k.a. Lions Square) (Greek: Λιοντάρια)
  • St Minas Cathedral

    (Greek: Άγιος Μηνάς)
  • St Titus Church (Greek: Άγιος Τίτος)
  • St Catherine of the Sinaites Church (Greek: Αγία Αικατερίνη Σιναϊτών)
  • St Mark's Basilica (Greek: Βασιλική Αγίου Μάρκου)
  • Dominican Church of St Peter (Greek: Άγιος Πέτρος Δομηνικανών)

Museums and Galleries

  • Heraklion Archaeological Museum, 2 Xanthoudidou St, ☎ +30 2810-224630, +30 2810-280370, fax: +30 2810-332610. Houses the most important and representative finds from Minoan civilization and excavations across the island of Crete. Highlights include statues of the Snake Goddess, the famous Bull-Leaping Fresco, the enigmatic and mysterious Phaistos Disk, and Minoan seals and jewelry. Also includes a number of finds from Classical Greek and Roman periods. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the world's great museums, embodying a whole splendid vanished culture. At least two hours should be allowed to see it, and it could easily take longer. For those particularly interested in that culture, it will be worthwhile to make two visits to the museum, one before, and one after, visiting Knossos and other Minoan sites: seeing the museum first will enhance your understanding of the sites, and after seeing the sites, you'll be better able to understand the artifacts in the museum when you return.
  • Museum of the Battle for Crete and National Resistance - Recounts the tale of Cretan and Allied resistance against Nazi invaders in World War II.
  • Museum of Natural History, University of Crete, S. Venizelou Ave, fax: +30 2810 324366.
  • Historical Museum of Crete, 27, Sofokli Venizelou Ave. /7, Lysimachou Kalokerinou St., Tel: (++30) 2810 283219, 288708, 3.
  • Lychnostatis, ☎ +30 28970-23660. Su-F 00:00-14:00. Open-air Cretan folklore museum.
  • CretAquarium Thalassocosmos open June-September 9:00-21:00 October–May 9:00-19:00 tel Reception: +30 2810-337788 Bookings: +30 2810-337888, fax: +30 2810-337882 4, the biggest aquarium in the Eastern Mediterranean. Located about 14 km east of Heraklion on the National Road (signposted) or by Cretan Intercity Bus (tel +30 2810 246530); for more information call the Reception number, above.
  • Nikos Kazantzakis Museum. Open daily from 09:00-19:00 (Mar-Oct); 10:00-15:00 (Nov-Feb), tel +30 2810-741689, in the village of Myrtia (Varvari) 15 km south of Heraklion, focuses on Crete's most prominent modern intellectual figure.

What to do in Heraklion, Greece

  • Heraklion Summer Arts Festival - from June to September
  • Amoudara the city's beach area; a 3 km strip of sandy beach, lots of cafes, bars and hotels and the site of "Technopolis", a modern multiplex cinema and open-air theatre.
  • Horseback ridingso-called experienced and amateur riders can ride at the beach of Karteros, or take riding lessons at Ippikos Omilos Hrakliou, located 6 km east of Heraklion, in Karteros.
  • Rock climbing, locals and visitors can climb a 15 m rock at the suburb of Karteros, east of Heraklion. Safety equipment is provided
  • Water fun, at the nearby Water City and Aqua Plus water parks.
  • Sailing (Heraklion Sailing Club ~ Ιστιοπλοϊκός Όμιλος Ηρακλείου Tel:2810242120 - email: istiopl@her.forthnet.gr) - take sailing lessons, enjoy sailing trips, Charter a yacht and discover the Aegean islands. Located in the former premises of the port refrigeration plant, East of the Port Authorities.

What to eat and drink in Heraklion, Greece



Throughout most of the downtown, it is easy to find cheap tavernas (ταβερνα) A strict budget can be met by sticking to the supermarkets which provide the usual array of fruits, vegetables, and cheese for modest prices. Central cafes serve the local breakfast treat bougatsa, a local pastry with cottage cheese, served with honey, or cinnamon and sugar. Also available are the usual complement of pastry shops for standard meals such as spanakopita (spinach pie) and various cheap deserts.


  • Heraklion Sailing Club (Greek: Istioploikos or Ιστιοπλοϊκός), ☎ +30 2810 22 8118. Heraklion Harbour. Classic seafood restaurant facing the Venetian Castle. Specialties include charcoal grilled fish, seafood salads, clams, and the award-winning mussel risotto. Located in the former premises of the port refrigeration plant, east of the Port Authority. Sailing Club membership is not required for the restaurant.
  • Pagopieion (Ice-Factory) is a "quirky," very different restaurant and cafe/bar, at St Titus square, by the church. You can sit outside and enjoy the setting, or you might be tempted by the dramatic decor to sit inside. The food is excellent, and the menu different and interesting.
  • Herb's Garden (The Roof Garden of Lato Boutique Hotel) The name has been inspired by the traditional Cretan herbs. Offers a spectacular view to Heraklion’s Venetian fortress and Cretan Sea. Opens from early afternoon and serves fresh fish and salads accompanied by local aperitifs and a variety of fine wines. Later in the afternoon, there is special coffee and tea arrangements, fresh fruit juices, ice cream, and cocktails.


  • Raki, also known as Tsikoudia, is the trademark of Cretan day and nightlife, a strong clear drink similar to Grappa in Italy or Orujo in Spain. It is made out of the 'must' of grape skins and twigs after the local production of the white wine. It doesn't taste like aniseed, as opposed to the Turkish raki. Most raki is 80 o proof, about the strength of most vodkas, but some are much stronger. It's often served in small glasses after dinner with a plate of fruit or other desserts.
  • Cretan Wine: Try the distinctive Cretan wine, produced in the island for at least 4000 years. Labels: Sitia, Peza Union. The Cretans themselves drink so-called 'open' wine, straight out of the barrel, like fresh white wine, and the sometimes very old dark rusty red wine, a bit like port. Typical Cretan wine varieties are Marouvas and Kotsifali (both red wines).
  • Alimeli, Alikarnassos (near the main road ikarou), ☎ +30 2813 009281. From 07:00 to 00:00. Sweets, crepes, waffles, ice cream.

Shopping in Heraklion, Greece

Visit the central open market in Meidani square and buy mountain herbs, spices, and folk natural remedies.

Safety in Heraklion, Greece

Road safety is wanting and generally, the attitudes of all road users are poor and reckless. For pedestrians, there are haphazard pavements, usually entirely obstructed by parked cars and bikes, meaning the road itself has to be used by pedestrians. Other roads lack pavements. Road crossings for pedestrians do not seem to be recognized by motorists, making crossing difficult in busy roads. Drivers and bikers may even drive through junctions when the "green man" is indicating it is safe for pedestrians to cross. The bikers seem to be the worst, usually wearing no helmet and happily talking on a mobile phone or reading a text message while driving. Sometimes bikers ride on the pavements and expect pedestrians to move out their way.

There are many stray cats and dogs in the city. The dogs can often be seen in small packs and may bark and growl but do not attack if they are left alone.

Language spoken in Heraklion, Greece

Modern Greek is the main language in Crete. English is widely spoken in tourist places. 


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Walk Around Heraklion, Crete

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