Heraklion holidays

The capital city of Crete, Heraklion is a fascinating fusion of ancient and modern. In recent years, walking around the city’s historic centre would’ve been almost impossible, due to the sheer volume of traffic passing through. Today, most of main historic areas have been pedestrianized, giving you the chance to soak up early Cretan architecture or go shopping in sleek, contemporary malls.

While you’re away on holiday, make sure you visit Liondaria. The name translates as ‘Lion Square’, in reference to the four stone lions that guard a beautiful fountain featuring detailed carvings and statues of sea-nymphs, mythical monsters, and other creatures from Greek legend. Liondaria is a hub for everyone and anyone: you’ll see impromptu business meetings being held in cafés, groups of locals arguing animatedly about this and that, and tourists just soaking up the scenery. There are plenty of places to grab a bite and don’t forget to try the bougastsas: a Greek pastry filled with vanilla cream.

Market Street is a must for bargain-hunters taking looking for all sorts of fresh produce. Here you’ll find fresh herbs, meat and fish, sold alongside clothing, honey, cheese and the local spirit, raki.

Whatever you’re looking from your time in the sun, this superb city is sure to deliver.

Things to do

While holidays to Heraklion feature the vibrant, buzzing city, its position close to the sea gives you plenty of opportunities for some lazy days on the beach. If you prefer city life, it really comes into its own after the sun goes down, when many of its ancient monuments are lit by night and the clubs and pubs fill the backstreets with the sounds of music and laughter. There’s a huge variety of restaurants to enjoy, from contemporary eateries, to traditional tavernas, serving genuine Cretan cuisine.

Food and drink

Heraklion has an array of eateries, from upbeat cafés in the main square to authentic tavernas down some of the narrow side streets, so be sure to savour the taste of the city’s delicacies such as the salads, pies and cheeses. As Heraklion has a number of wineries in the surrounding villages, you’ll be able to sample some of the local wines in the more traditional restaurants, which will compliment your meal perfectly. You’ll also be able to pick up some of these specialities from open-air markets. They’re the best place to hunt for souvenirs, where you can pick up wine, honey, dried herbs and tea and of course some of the famous olive oil.

Bustling nightlife

The city comes alive after dark with plenty of lively places to choose from. The majority of Heraklion’s nightlife is found along the harbour where you’ll find trendy bars and clubs, with some hosting DJs in the summer months. Don’t forget the party resort of Malia is also close by if you want to experience its buzzing atmosphere and some of the legendary foam parties. If big nights out aren’t your thing, there are cosy tavernas playing live music dotted all around. You can also join in the celebrations of summer festivals with music, theatre and ballet performances taking place on dates throughout the year.

Map of Heraklion

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11-29 ℃

If you want to make the most of the sunshine, book your getaway between June and August, when the temperatures hover in the mid-to-late twenties.

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3 and a half to 4 hours

Between three and a half and four hours, depending on where you fly from.

Flights land at Heraklion Airport, which is about 3km from the resort.

Heraklion is best for...

Sightseers: Heraklion is one of most exciting Greek cities for sightseeing, with rare gems like the Palace of Knossos and Venetian fortifications. 

Couples: Spend days soaking up the culture of the cobbled old town, and nights experience Heraklion’s upbeat nightlife. 

Night owls: There are nightlife venues to suit all tastes in Heraklion, from tiny Greek restaurants to swanky dance clubs.

Fast facts for Heraklion

Language: The language spoken in Heraklion is Greek 

Currency: The currency used in Heraklion is the Euro (€)

Local time: Heraklion is 2 hours ahead of GMT/UK time

Fly to: Heraklion International Airport (HER)

Flight time from UK: Approximately 4 hours

Tourist Information: Further Heraklion tourist information can be found at www.visitgreece.gr/en/main_cities/heraklion

Visa & Health: Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/greece for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Heraklion

Getting around Heraklion

By bus: Heraklion operates a bus network that runs approximately every 15 minutes. The buses also go to the airport, and are generally a cheap and efficient way of getting around the city. 

By taxi: Taxis are readily available in Heraklion. There is a taxi rank at the harbour, as well as at the airport. Taxis usually operate on a fixed rate, so it’s a good idea to check the price before you jump in. 

On foot: Most of Heraklion’s historic heart is best explored on foot, and many of the local landmarks and places of interest are within walking distance.

Events in Heraklion

Summer arts festival: The Heraklion Summer Arts Festival is the biggest event on the city’s calendar, taking place throughout the summer from June to September. The event features music, theatre and ballet performances at venues across the city, including outdoor theatres and open-air cinemas. 

Carnival: Carnival celebrations are big in Crete, with lots of events and festivities taking place in Heraklion in the two weeks leading up to Lent. Expect parades, floats and colourful costumes as well as concerts, activities for kids. In the evenings, there’s plenty of food, dancing and an exciting party atmosphere.

Heraklion weather

Temperature: 12-25 (°C)

Heraklion starts to warm up in the spring, with temperatures hovering in the mid-teens throughout the season. By July, temperatures have generally creeped up to the mid-20s, but it’s not uncommon to see highs of 28 throughout the summer. The days start to shorten in the autumn and there is a noticeable increase in rainfall, but you can still enjoy plenty of sunshine. The amount of rain continues to rise during the winter, but the weather is  mild enough to get out and about so it’s a  great time to explore the historic attractions. 

Best hotels in Heraklion

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