Heraklion holidays have it all. We’re talking bevies of beaches and a selection box of historical big-hitters, as well as some famous after-sundown spots.
You’ll find the Heraklion area on Crete’s north coast. The city itself is Crete’s capital, and it’s packed with giveaways that Heraklion was once under Venetian rule, like the city-centre Lions Square – the statue-featuring fountain gives it its name. Aghios Minas Cathedral’s another pic-friendly place. The Heraklion area’s got its own international airport, too. It’s named after Nikos Kazantzakis, a famous Greek author who was born in the city. By night, bar-spangled spots like Hersonissos have you covered, and the bright lights of Malia are 30 minutes away by taxi.
Once you’ve had your fill of urban adventures, you can explore Heraklion’s wild side. If you’re up for a challenge, strap on your boots and hike the 16-kilometre Samaria Gorge – one of Europe’s longest canyons. If you’re a more chilled-out type, you’ve got plenty of beaches to hit up, too. Amoudara’s white sand swirls out for three miles, Hersonissos has a necklace of bustling beaches, and laidback Kokkini Hani boasts a 400-metre, perfect-for-paddling swathe.
Big helpings of history are on the holiday menu in Heraklion. In the city itself, the Archaeological Museum is a must-visit. Some of the artefacts hosted here have been around for over five thousand years. The Palace of Knossos is the biggest hitter of the bunch, though. This Bronze-Age beauty has been branded Europe’s oldest city, and the complex spills out over 10 kilometres. This ancient spot was said to be the haunt of the legendary half man, half-bull minotaur.
Places To Stay In Heraklion Area View all places to stay »
The peaceful village of Gournes is a relative newcomer on Crete’s northern coast. That said, its unhurried, laid-back vibe leads you to believe it’s been around much longer. Pint-sized guesthouses and apartments are sprinkled across the rugged landscape, which centres around a charming waterfront and a pristine stretch of sandy beach. And the better-known tourist spots of Gouves and Kokkini are within strolling distance.
If ‘close to the beach’ and ‘sightseeing’ are your holiday must-haves, you can kill two birds with one stone in Amoudara. This beach resort brings a fat dose of sun, sea and sand, with a close-to-the-city postcode to boot. It’s practically a suburb of Heraklion, it’s that close – we’re talking 15 minutes’ drive to the Cretan capital.
When you go to Gouves, you actually get two places for the price of one. The old village of Pano Gouves, with its whitewashed houses and churches, is built into the side of Mount Ederi. Then, at the bottom of the hill, there’s the seaside town of Kato Gouves, where you’ll find the bars, restaurants and hotels. It’s all just 25 minutes from Crete’s capital Heraklion, and 15 minutes from the island’s biggest resort, Hersonissos.
Things To Do View all »