Book a Thomas Cook holiday to Heraklion to experience some of the wonders of ancient Greece, walk around the city’s famous walls and enjoy nights out on the harbour.
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Laganas, Malia, Kavos, Elounda, Stoupa, Arillas, Kassiopi, Roda, Sidari, Aghios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Rethymnon, Stalis, Katelios, Sami, Skala, Kefalos, Lefkas, Petra, Lindos, Pefkos, Rhodes Town, Santorini, Skiathos, Alykanas, Kalamaki, Laganas, Corfu, Crete, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kos, Lefkas, Lesbos, Rhodes, Santorini, Skiathos, Zante
The best way to experience old Heraklion is to throw yourself into its old streets, with Venetian architecture and churches on every corner and lining the open, bustling squares. You can walk around the famous fortifications and visit the legendary Palace of Knossos, former dwelling of King Minos. Wander around the city’s markets to pick up some Cretan olive oil – considered the best in the world – or take a day trip down the coast for a little seaside relaxation. After dark, Heraklion’s multitude of restaurants, tavernas and clubs fill with locals and visitors spending the warm evenings.
Heraklion’s old town is the jewel in the region’s crown, and an essential experience for sightseers. Venetian streets and breezy squares open up between Turkish fountains, architecture and churches like the beautiful Metropolis of Agios Minas. Be sure to walk the city’s trademark Venetian walls, built around the 15th century, and reserve several hours for the Palace of Knossos. Easily the biggest attraction in Heraklion, the palace was the seat of King Minos and is steeped in myth. It is allegedly where the king built the famous labyrinth to contain the Minotaur. Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a must-visit for history buffs, boasting the most important Minoan collection in the whole of Greece.
The shopping in Heraklion is excellent, with local craft shops and markets filling the city streets with handmade jewellery, ceramics and Cretan folk art. The best place in Heraklion for regional produce is the Meidani Square markets, great for Cretan olive oil, honey and wine. When you fancy cooling off, the city is close to some of the region’s best beaches, including the silky white sand of Amnissos. If you’re away with kids, take them to the much-loved Cretaquarium, which houses hundreds of tanks, interactive displays and guided tours through the Mediterranean seascape.
Heraklion has a vibrant nightlife scene with an exciting mix of traditional and modern. The pavement cafes and bars in the old part of town are a favourite among locals, and hotspots like Fountain Square develop a sociable buzz in the evenings with a variety of Greek and international restaurants. The waterfront is notable for its seafood restaurants, and is a lovely area for dinner and drinks with views across the sea. After dinner, there are all kinds of bars and clubs with everything from dance music to Cretan nights. The harbour is the place to visit in Heraklion for clubbing until the early hours.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.