It’s the capital of Crete and one of the main ports of the island: Heraklion is a vivid city, with many modern buildings, and traffic, but also with emblematic Venetian monuments, interesting nightlife, beautiful beaches nearby, fancy restaurants and the famous Knossos Temple not far away. Although Heraklion could not be considered as a particularly picturesque town, there is so much going on in this prefecture that we totally recommend you to book the cheapest ferry tickets to Heraklion and visit spectacular Crete!
Travel to Heraklion with Minoan Lines (ships: Knossos Palace and Festos Palace) or ANEK-Superfast (ships: Blue Horizon and Kriti II). Daily departures take place from Piraeus (Gate E3). The fleet of both ferry companies is modern and full of facilities that guarantee your comfort. Usually, the Cretan ships depart at 21:00 or 22:00 and arrive early in the next morning (at 06:00 approximately). During high season Minoan Lines programs departures at 11:00 (arrival at Heraklion at 18:00, estimated time of travel seven hours). Heraklion is also connected through daily itineraries with the most popular islands of the Aegean Sea such as Santorini, Mykonos, Ios Paros and Naxos. These itineraries are performed by catamarans, so the travel time between Heraklion and Santorini is not more than two hours.
Dedicate at least one day at Heraklion so that you appreciate its multicultural history. Start your city tour from the famous “Lions Square”. The name of this square is related to the Venetian fountain which dominates the place and captures the visitor’s eye: Four lions support this impressive fountain by forming a circle. Nymphs and mythical creatures inspired from the ancient Greek times complete the masterpiece. This fountain has been built to celebrate the Venetians success into bringing water to the city through a clever viaduct system. The Venetian administration was abruptly interrupted by the Turkish invasion to the island. Trace the street “1866” which leads to the local market. Mingle with the locals, and feel the freshness of the local herbs and other available natural products at the market. Find the pedestrian “25th August” street and discover the Loggia, which used to house the Venetian aristocracy during their leisure time and the Saint Marcus Basilica, which hosts nowadays the Municipal Art Gallery. This road leads to the Old Harbor. Last but not least, don’t miss the chance to admire the medieval walls which were built to protect the city against the pirates and the enemies.
Although dedicating a day to Knossos Palace and to Festos Palace respectively is a must, it is quite understandable that you wish to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Heraklion. We suggest you to rent a car so that you manage to explore the south side of the prefecture, because that’s where the most breathtaking sceneries are. The highways of Heraklion prefecture are newly constructed. The Euroferries team recommends a visit to “Lendas”, to “Agiofarago”, “Kali Limenes”, “Koudouma”, “Aspi” and “Palaiokastro” beaches. Most of these beaches have pebbles, crystal blue waters and facilities (e.g. umbrellas) which will be highly appreciated once you realize how hot it can be in these places (after all, this is as south as you can get in Europe).
Crete is a huge island full of sights and all types of beaches (sandy, exotic, with pebbles). This island is also well known for the local food and the outdoor activities (trekking, climbing, horse riding, diving) due to the multiple gorges, mountains, and fantastic landscapes. Book at once your ferry tickets to Heraklion provided that you have at least five days at your disposal, otherwise you might consider the option of a smaller island (e.g., Cyclades islands).