9 things to do in Heraklion, Greece

16 amazing sights of Heraklion

City of Heraklion

In this article I will look at the most popular sights of Heraklion, located on the island of Crete in Greece. This is where the ancient civilization of Europe flourished many thousands of years ago. This area has preserved the history of the heroic defense in 1941. Of course, for a couple of days it is difficult to see an interesting place and enjoy the local color, but for the first acquaintance will be good to visit at least the popular attractions.

What to see on your own in Heraklion and its vicinity

You can see Heraklion not only with a guide, but also independently. To understand where to go and what to see, it is better to buy a map. The independent routes include visits to the Loggia building, the Water City water park, the Aquarium, the Venetian harbor, the pedestrian street August 25, and the street Daedalus.


The city is also called Heraklion, after the hero Hercules.

The help of a guide will be required when visiting:

  • Kulesa Fortress;
  • The Cathedral of St. Mina and the Church of St. Catherine;
  • Archaeological Museum;
  • The Palace of Knossos;
  • Museum of Natural History.

What to see in Heraklion in one day

Coming to the famous Greek city for just one day, you can see the most popular sights:

  • The archaeological museum;
  • St. Mina Cathedral;
  • Koules Fortress;
  • Venetian Loggia;
  • natural history.


The population of Heraklion is 144,422

In case you arrive for the weekend, to the above itinerary you can add a visit to: Museum of Defense of Crete; Church of St. Catherine. You should go to Water City water park; Venetian harbor. It is best to visit the legendary city for at least 5 days.

During this time you should not only take a leisurely stroll around the monuments, explore the historical past, but also enjoy the entertainment at the largest water park or just lie on the shore of the Cretan Sea. We also advise sights that are close by, in the vicinity of the city, for this you will need a car or bus. This kind of transport will not cost you too much. In Crete, you must also visit the city of Agios Nikolaos.

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Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

In the museum you can find the most important exhibits, which are related to the era of Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is considered the largest museum in Greece and the best institution in the world that collects and preserves information on the Minoan art. The rooms of the museum are systematically replenished with new exhibits, which are brought directly from the excavation sites. The Phaistos disk, a unique monument of writing of the Minoan culture of the Middle Bronze Age, is the pride of the museum. Among the exhibits you can find:

ancient goldware; ivory combs and mirrors: an ancient eyebrow tweezers; a sword with a golden hilt, etc.

Venetian Harbor.

From this place were exported: wine, raisins, olive oil and honey, cheese and salt, silk and cotton.

The harbor of Venice is the oldest port in Greece, where fishing boats and yachts find shelter. The natural harbor, despite its small size, has become the most important port of the Eastern Mediterranean. In 961, when Crete became part of the Byzantine Empire, Heraklion not only began to flourish as a city. Its port was fortified and greatly improved. In the last 2 centuries it has become the most important harbor of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cules Fortress

The Venetian harbor is home to the Cules Fortress, the city’s famous landmark site, which was used for defense in ancient times. It was here that ammunition, food, and prisoners were once stored. The upper floor was used as a place for commanders, garrison commanders and officers.

August 25 pedestrian street

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The cultural institution is located in the former estate of the surveyor Volchanetsky, built to his design in 1893

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The pedestrian street of August 25 is the main pedestrian street of Heraklion. It was named after the commemoration of the event of August 25th in 1898. On that day the residents of Crete, who were under suspicion of rebellion against the Ottoman conquerors, were executed en masse.

The Cathedral of St. Mina and the Church of St. Catherine

The small cathedral was built in 1735. During the Turkish occupation of the island, the church served as the metropolitan cathedral. On Easter Day, 1826, Turkish Muslims marched to the cathedral wanting to destroy the faithful. However, the mounted officer Ayan Aga, who appeared suddenly in the way of the Muslims intervened and drove the conspirators away. The Greeks perceived such a phenomenon as the intervention of St. Mina. This saint has forever remained the patron saint of Heraklion.

Church of St. Catherine

The Orthodox church was built back in the 16th century. During this period the church became a branch of St. Catherine Monastery of Sinai. The monks of this institution opened an Orthodox school where Greek children were taught.

Bembo Fountain and Street 1866

On the street 1866 is the Central Market, where you can buy delicious local fruits and vegetables, seafood and meat.

Venetian Fountain is the oldest fountain of Heraklion, which is located in Kornaro Square. The fountain was built by the Venetian Gianmatteo Bembo, who was the first to bring water to the city, using a special aqueduct. The fountain was built of marble parts. It was decorated with a Venetian coat of arms and a statue without a head, which is set on a pedestal. Street 1866 is a place where you can find souvenir shops and buy an unusual thing to remember. The street is named after the Cretan uprising. It is here that one can purchase:

spices; jewelry; cheese and oil; local cosmetics; brightly painted jugs; Cretan honey.

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Dedalou Street

The street Dedalou is located in the central part of Heraklion. It is named after Daedalus, who was a genius and a symbol of scientific and technological progress in Minoan mythology. Because of his works the Minotaur and the Labyrinth appeared.

Liberty Square

Place Eleftheria (Freedom in Greek) is built on an elevated site, it is considered to be the highest point of the ancient fortress buildings, which were built during the Venetian domination.

Although the whole city, boasts places for walking, but here it is a park area, the cars are separated as much as possible

The traditional main square of the city is a favorite place for tourists and residents of Heraklion. The square is surrounded by cozy cafes and fine restaurants. From this place it is easy to get to all parts of the city.

Knossos Palace

The excavations of the Palace of Knossos were first begun in 1878 by the Cretan collector of antiquities and merchant Minos Kalokerinos.

The palace was multi-storied and had a complex plan with hundreds of different rooms connected by passages and staircases grouped around a large ceremonial courtyard.

The enormous palace is a legendary place. It is believed that this structure was home to a terrifying creature with a human body and a bull’s head. The creature inflicted terrible fear and terror on the inhabitants of the island, as it ate people. According to myths, Theseus searched for the monster through the labyrinth located in the castle. He managed to find his way back only thanks to a magic cup, which was given to him by the King’s daughter Ariadne. After killing the beast, Theseus was only able to find his way back thanks to the thread of the magic goblet, with which he marked his way. Whether this is true or a myth is anyone’s guess, but the layout of the castle does resemble a labyrinth.

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Aquarium of Crete

The Aquarium of Crete was opened near Heraklion in 2005. In the aquarium you can see many exhibits representing the marine fauna of the Mediterranean. There is a mini-cinema in the premises, where you can watch films describing the mysteries of underwater life.

Museum of Natural History

Walking to the Diorama of the Deciduous Forests and Shrublands of the Mediterranean you can encounter displays of bears, wildcat, wild boar, fox and wolf.

Walking among the huge dioramas, where nature is represented as realistically as possible, you can plunge into the atmosphere of various eras and see:

Deuteronomy; a living museum; animal fossils; a discovery center; an earthquake simulator; and educational films in the multimedia room.

Water City Water Park

The water park has a “crazy river” where fans of extreme entertainment go down on inflatable rafts, as if on a mountain river.

The largest water park in Crete will not leave anyone indifferent. A large number of attractions will make your holidays bright and unforgettable. The most popular attractions are:

Extreme Downhill Hydro Tubes & Free Fall. Slide in the form of parallel pipes constructed at a steep incline. Going down the slide you can feel an incredible burst of adrenaline. Kamikaze, in this attraction people are literally tossed up at high speed and for a short period of time soar in the air. The Body Slide Cyclone is a circuit with some mind-blowing turns.

St. Titus Cathedral

The history of the cathedral keeps the memory of the many conquests of the city. In the 16th century the Orthodox church was converted into a Catholic cathedral. During the Turkish occupation, the church was converted into a mosque, which was called Vizir Jami.

Loggia building

No less famous place is considered to be the Venetian Loggia. In ancient times in this legendary place nobles gathered, who solved important economic and political issues within the walls of the building.

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Various ceremonies such as weddings, baptisms, and other ceremonies are still held in the Intercession Cathedral

The famous settlement of Minoan Crete. At this site the residential, religious and economic buildings are arranged around the main palace. The main distinguishing feature of the Phaistos Palace is the large size of the theater and the grand grand staircase.

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