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Heraklio

Knossos Phaestos Matala Where to eat How to get there

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Heraklio Heraklion Crete Greece
is the largest town in Crete - the fifth largest in Greece - and also the capital of the prefecture. Due to its geographical position, Heraklio is the administrative capital and the transport hub of the island, with an international airport and a seaport. It lies just outside Knossos and near Phaistos and has one of the most important archaeological museums. Near Heraklio are the beaches of Ammoudara and Amnissou but for really nice beaches you can visit Matala, which is located southwest of Heraklio city.

Museums
Archaeological Museum:Archaeological Museum - Heraklion Crete Greece
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is an outstanding museum second in size and importance only to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. It contains a concentration of almost all the discoveries, which have been made on Minoan civilization. The exhibits are arranged in 20 large galleries (rooms) of the museum with the material classified chronologically. The exhibits are classified into the following main categories: Ceramic. Vases belonging to the Vasilike style, the polychrome vases from the Kamares Caves, the vases of plant and marine style and those of the palace style are especially notable. Stoneware. Mainly vases made of marble, semi-precious and precious stones. Those, which come from the sacred treasuries of the palaces at Knossos and Zakros, are outstanding. A special category is formed by the stone utensils used in religious ritual, which carry various representations in relief. Seal stones. These have been usually carved out of semi-precious stones. Miniature sculpture. Clay figurines and others made of stone or precious materials. Goldsmith's work, ornaments in general Metalwork. Household utensils, tools, weapons and ceremonial axes. Frescoes. From the large and the small palaces, villas of the wealthy classes and mansions. Mural paintings combined with reliefs form a category of their own. Sarcophagi. The one from Agia Triada, made of stone is unique.

Historical Museum of Crete:
This museum contains fascinating pieces from Crete's more recent past. Photograpfs, charts, maps form Byzantine to Turkish rule, an El Greco painting the only one in Crete. In the 2nd floor there is a library with manuscripts and books of the author Nikos Kazantzakis.

Knossos Minoan Palace of Knossos - Heraklion Crete Greece
The most famous archaeological site on Crete was brought to light in the late 19th century by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans. The Minoan Palace of Knossos lies at a distance of 5km from the town centre or Heraklion. The imposing Palace was built in a site, which was admired for its natural advantages. It provided good water supplies, access to the sea and proximity to a large fertile forest and strong position. The site has been inhabited as early as the Neolithic era and later, in the 3rd millennium BC during the Pre-palatial period, it developed into an important settlement. The first Palace was built around 2000 BC and destroyed 300 years later. In the Neo-palatial period, between 1700 and 1400 BC, a second, more luxurious palace was erected. This was also destroyed, most likely by the terrible eruption of the volcano on Santorini. Following this event, it is restored once more and used by the Achaean rulers as a residence. During the middle Ages, Knossos was an unimportant small village called "Makrys Toichos". The archaeological site at Knossos covers 20.000 sq meters. A wall with several entrances encircles the palace, which has no fortifications or walls. The palace was both the residence of the royal family and a major shrine of the Minoan religion.

Phaestos
After Knossos, this is Crete's most important archaeological site, where Radamanthys, Minos brother, had his luxurious palace. Phaestos - like Knossos, was both a centre of religious and economic activities. The palace was built twice. The ruins of the second palace are what the visitor mainly sees today. The palace architecture is Minoan and its orientation wad towards the west, serving religious and practical purposes. Most of the Phaestos findings can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklio.

Matala Matala Village - Heraklion Crete Greece
A small fishing village located southwest of Heraklio. Matala developed in the past few years, with increased tourism. There is a sandy beach 300 meters in length, at either end of which are limestone cliffs, which make the cove a rather private place. Once the famous caves of Matala were the homes of the fishermen who live here, during the 1960's they became one of the centres of the international hippie movement. Today, the caves are fenced off by the archaeological service and it is forbidden to stay or spend the night in them.

Where to eat
Bougatsa Serraikon:
For a small snack don't forget to try bougatsa. An excellent sweet - (custard filled) or savoury ( cheese filled)

Ippokampos Ouzeri:
It offers huge range of mezedes, fish dishes like calamari and grilled octopus.

Giovanni:
Is located in a very nicely decorated old house in the center of Heraklio. In summer there is outdoor eating on a quiet street. The cuisine is a mix of a Greek and Italian specialties.

Thalassina:
A simple restaurant serving fresh, good quality fish. Other local dishes are served. The service is excellent.

How to get there

  • By air: from Eleutherios Venizelos airport in Athens, from Macedonia airport in Thessaloniki
  • By ferry: from Piraeus in 12 hours or from Thessaloniki in 22 hours.

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