Things to do in Heraklion when you visit.

Crete is one of the most visited places in Greece, especially in the summer months. Many travelers visit Crete to discover its splendid archaeological sites, enjoy the vibrant lifestyle and the natural beauty of the island. Heraklion, the capital of the island, is a port with astonishing history from centuries ago.

During the late Medieval and Renaissance periods, when the Venetians were dominating the island, many sophisticated buildings were built, which are preserved today. Knossos, on the other hand, is considered to be the oldest city in Greece. It was a center for the Minoan Civilization. Many Minoan treasures are kept at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which is undoubtedly worth checking out.

Heraklion has a large number of accommodation options, excellent restaurants to have mouthwatering Greek food, stores, and shops. In a word, there are so many more things to do and see in Heraklion. The main ones will be disclosed below.

Venetian Harbor and Koules Fortress

The Venetian Harbor on Crete is probably one of the most iconic highlights of Heraklion. It represents the ancient city’s maritime activity that happened during Venetian times. Right at the entrance of the port, you can capture the Koules Fortress, a prominent site in Heraklion and Crete.

The name Koules is translated as “Fortress” from Turkish. This square-shaped legendary Venetian fortress was built in the 13th century and surrounded the city’s harbor. This splendid building has external walls up to 8.7 meters thick, which is how it survived so long. Going up to the fort’s top, you can admire an exquisite view of the harbor and the entire city.

Nowadays, the fortress hosts art exhibitions, concerts, and plays from time to time. Koules Fortress is the symbol of Heraklion Town, and it is highly recommended to stop by.

Heraklion, Koules
Heraclion Koules Photo by Juli Kosolapova on Unsplash

Heraklion Archeological Museum

The Archeological Museum of Heraklion opens its doors to travelers wishing to explore the Minoan history and reveal the history of Crete in general. All the treasures and masterpieces of historical art found from Minoan sites scattered across the island have been brought here.

One of the highlights of the museum is the iconic Prince of the Lilies from the fresco at the entrance of the Palace of Knossos. This piece has been preserved from around 1600-1500 BC. You will find a huge array of ancient clay figurines, pottery, frescoes, gold jewelry, and decorative weapons.

Explore Knossos

The Minoan Palace of Knossos, located around 5km away from Heraklion Town, is an ancient Bronze Age city and palace built by the Minoan civilization. The palace was discovered in the early 20th century and has become a vital part of Greek history.

As a matter of fact, there are many Greek mythological figures associated with this city, and it plays an important role not only for Greece but for the entire civilization of humankind. Knossos is truly one of the most prominent sites in Crete worth visiting and exploring the ruins, labyrinths of the palace on Kephala Hill and admire the unique architecture and the interior of this ancient palace.


Heraklion, Knossos
Knossos Image by: Davestem from Pixabay

Amoudara Beach

Amoudara is one of the best beaches in Crete, located on the western side of Heraklion city center. It is alongshore, stretching six kilometers. These exquisite shores are awarded the Blue Flag every year for the quality of the water as well as the amenities and a large number of attractions. The sandy beach and the peaceful atmosphere of this area is excellent for families with kids. It is also the windsurfers paradise because of the moderate waves and the perfect wind conditions.

The nature around Amoudra beach is simply stunning, especially towards the western edge where you’ll notice the majestic Almiros Gorge. At the entrance of it is located the Almiros Wetlands, which is a green oasis with the breathtaking view you won’t get enough of. This is one of the best locations in Crete and certainly one of the top things you can do around Heraklion.

Visit the Wineries in Heraklion

Heading to the south of Heraklion, you will come across Crete’s ancient history and breathtaking landscapes rich with vineyards. Crete indeed has excellent soil conditions to grow grapes and consequently make delicious wine from it.

A large number of grape varieties such as Greek Vilana, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and many more grow on this land. It is surely worth including visiting some wineries near Heraklion to your itinerary to Crete. 

It is highly recommended to check out Domaine Paterianakis, Lyrarakis, and Douloufakis. You will have the opportunity to have a tour around the vineyards as well as taste some special wines such as Plyto and Dafni, two of the ancient Cretan wines.

Crete is one of the best islands in Greece for so many reasons; it has a long, rich history and mythological past, exquisite nature and landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and hospitable locals. The capital of the island, Heraklion, is surely the epicenter of all the tourist attractions in Crete. There is so much to do and see around here that you might get confused about where to start.

If you’re a fan of history and museums, you can surely check out the Heraklion Archeological Museum, admire the highlight of Heraklion, the Koules Fortress, and the Venetian port.

The city of Heraklion beautifully lavished with architectural buildings from ancient times, narrow streets with a number of stores, cafes, and tavernas will offer you a wide variety of activities and things to do to have an enjoyable time. Rich with some of the best beaches in Greece, Crete offers some of the most fabulous shores you can have a peaceful and fun time with your friends and family. The beautiful mix of sun, sand, and the sea will grant you unforgettable memories.

See the Map of Heraklion

Read also: Best Islands in Greece