Heraklion is a city full of surprises! From ancient ruins, to modern shopping centres, it has everything you could possibly need to make your holiday a memorable one. Despite its daily hustle and bustle, you can explore and enjoy the wealth of things to do in Heraklion at your own pace. Within the city walls, there are some fantastic remnants of its glorious past, including the Palace of Knossos and the Turkish fountains found in Leonidas. Look out for buzzing markets, such as the one in the city centre, or stop in one of the squares, grab a coffee and a bougastsa, and watch the world go by. By night, these are lit up, while the bars, clubs and restaurants that have been dozing by day, come to life with food, drink and music.
By day or by night, you won’t have time to wonder what to do in Heraklion, as there’s always something going on!
Hit the Beach
While you might not consider the city for a seaside holiday, going to the beach is one of the most popular things to do in Heraklion! Those found at Malia, Hersonissos and Amoudara attract both locals and visitors, alike, looking to sit on the powder-soft sands and soak up the sun. About 10km east of Heraklion, you’ll find Agia Pelagia Beach, which is home to some outstanding water sports, while Agiofarago Beach to the west is quiet and secluded. Most of the beaches are on bus routes, or you can hire a car and travel under your own steam.
If you’re planning your holidays around March and considering what to do in Heraklion, while you’re there, look out for the Carnival. Carnival time is one of the most widely celebrated festivals on the Cretan calendar and one not to be missed! It takes place the weekend before Lent and lucky visitors will be treated to dancing, live music, delicious street food, outrageous costumes, flamboyant floats, and fabulous fireworks.
However, if you want to make the most of the sunshine and are visiting between June and September, you’ll be in time for the Heraklion Summer Arts Festival. A huge, three-month-long celebration of the arts that celebrates everything from theatre and ballet to movies and song; there’s even events especially for children.
Step into the Past
Most of us have heard of the Ancient Greek legends, but now’s your chance to walk in the footsteps of superhuman heroes, mythical monsters, and even the gods themselves! Heraklion’s Old Town is a treasure trove of magical stories and a visit is one of the most fascinating things to do in Heraklion. In addition to the stunning architecture, one of the many ‘must-sees’ is the Palace Knossos. Once the seat of power of King Minos, it’s also said to be the site on which he built the infamous Labyrinth: home to the monstrous Minotaur.
On top of the Palace of Knossos, there’s also the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which allows you to step back in time and immerse yourself in the region’s past. The museum boasts the finest collection of Minoan artefacts in the whole of Greece, with some exhibits dating back over 5,000 years. However, the museum uses state of the art technology to brings its exhibits to life, giving you a real taste of life as it was lived in one of the greatest civilisations the world has ever seen.