The over-populated prefecture of Heraklion in Crete is a special destination for holidays as it offers its visitors impressive beaches, remarkable monuments, excellent food and nightlife. Although Heraklion is a relatively modern city, it has not lost its traditional Cretan character and along with its Venetian monuments, it stands proud over the years, combining the contemporary way of life with the Cretan traditions and customs of the island. Heraklion has its own airport offering direct flights from and to the Athens International Airport. Taverns and restaurants in Heraklion serve delicious local snacks and local dishes that you have to enjoy along with the traditional tsikoudia. Most beaches in Heraklion are organized and offer a variety of sea sports. Then again, if you are interested in the history of the land, the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and the Historic-Ethnographic Museum are definitely worth a visit. Furthermore, the churches in Heraklion and all around Crete have ecclesiastical heirlooms. Wherever you walk in Heraklion you get to see sights like the exquisite fountain with the lions at the square of the lions and the Agios Georgios gate at the Eleftheria square. Heraklion is famous for its intense nightlife and visitors can choose from a wide variety of bars and clubs. Heraklion is waiting for you and all you have to do is book your ferry tickets now.
The Heraklion Port
Ferries depart from the Piraeus port for Heraklion and the itineraries are regular and frequent. Book your ferry tickets online via aktoploika.gr and travel to Crete comfortably and carefree. The journey from Piraeus to Heraklion lasts about 10 hours. The Heraklion port is divided to the old and the new port. The old port is the Venetian one which is considered one of the attractions of the city. The new port is where the passenger station and close to the port there are enough restaurants and cafes. Outside the port you will find bus stops and taxis to get to the center of the city or to any other area of the island.
Connection with other ports
Heraklion has a ferry connection with the following ports: Piraeus (Athens), Thessaloniki, Halki, Chania, Ios, Karpathos, Kasos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Rhodes, Santorini, Sitia, Halki.
You can now book ferry tickets online for Heraklion via Aktoploika.gr. If you plan to travel during July and August, it's best if you have booked several days or weeks earlier to avoid hitches. You should also know that round-trip/return ferry tickets come with a considerable discount.
You can easily get to all the areas of the island from the Heraklion port thanks to the modern road network of Crete. There are a lot of bus itineraries for the villages and the beaches of the area while there are others for the rest of the prefectures of Crete. Moreover, taxis are always available to take you to your destination. Additionally, you can always rent a vehicle from the several car and motorbike rental agencies in Heraklion so you can travel as you wish, explore the Heraklion prefecture as well as the whole island which is very big.
Using buses can untie your hands in your transportation, as Iraklio has over twenty (20) urban routes, covering all the city, as well as near popular sights, like Knosos. Tickets cost between 1.20 and 1.80 euros and there are special kiosks, you can buy them from. Iraklio Interurban Buses daily connect the city with all Crete's cities and towns. The bus station for destinations in Iraklio District is by the port, while buses for the rest of Crete start in Eleftherias Square. You can get more information about interurban buses in www.ktelherlas.gr
''Fifty centuries'' changes within five minutes
Crete is vast, with unique and unexplored corners and pockets. Magical places, where one can cross ' fifty centuries'' changes within five minutes 'as Henry Miller once wrote. Heraclion is a place like this.
Olive trees, vineyards that their story soars to the Minoan culture and stunning vineyard flashes, with most important the ruins of Knossos, the iconography of the Cretan school and the mansions of the Venetians. Wine roads, gorges, wild beauty, fabulous caves, modern cultural festivals with an international luster, model villages and above all people!
From the typical urban landscape of the city of Heraklion within a short time, crossing the suburban green, the olive groves, the vineyards and the orange groves, you can reach the most fascinating mountainous landscape, while next lurks the deep blue sea and the golden beaches.
The prefecture, basically flat and semi-mountainous, is separated from its neighbouring by two mountains, Psiloritis and Dikti. Among them, the semi-mountainous area does not exceed the altitude of 1,000 m. To the South, Asterousia mountains close the horizon, forming a curtain to the Libyan Sea. Between the central mountains of the prefecture and the Kofinas peak, the Mesara plain is the largest lowland of Crete. From water volumes, the most important are Geropotamos and Anapodaris, who pour in Libyan.
On Psiloritis, to the west of the prefecture, nowadays there is a dense vegetation. The forest of Ruva, has an enormous ecological and aesthetic value, because it gives us the iamge of the verdant Crete of historical times. Dominant species of the forest is the holly, and basically this is the largest cluster of hollies of Europe. Still, there are maples, trees, cypresses and pines. Geomorphologically displays great variety, with lots of canyons, coves, caves and abysses. The Asterousia mountains, with the highest peak Kofinas at 1,231 meters, are forming the southernmost massif of Greece. Divided into three sections, the first in the center of the mountain, which is rocky with cliffs and gorges, the second in the west, runs to Kokinos Pirgos comprising a big part of the coastline of Mesara baz, and the third includes the eastern area of massif.
The prefecture of Heraklion owns also the southeastern part of the mountain Diktis, with a unique range of habitats, rich in endemic species of flora and fauna. Finally, the mountain Giuchtas, who by ancient writers was regarded as the tomb of Zeus, stands out for its very steep slopes, while the highest peak reaches the 811 m. This mountain is one of the last wildlife refuges. The mountains of the prefecture are ideal places for bird-watching. Lovers of nature will meet the nisoperdika, the vulture, the eagle, the lanner falcon, the kokinokaliakuda, the mavrotsirobako and the goldeneagles.
The endemic plants that flourish in the region attract nature lovers from all around the world. Most of them can be found at high altitudes, in the canyons and in the areas with reduced human activity. There you will also find the peony or pigunia, already known by Dioscorides, the famous burning bush, the iperikos, the marulitsa, the kampanules, the beautiful mountain teas, the cyclamens, the petromarula and the Cretan and ebony or else archontoksilo.
A trip to "Agiofaraggo" is an experience that can't be forgotten. You'll have to drive for an hour and a half to get there from Iraklio city, until the end of the road, and then walk for another half an hour. It may sound tiring and tough -especially the course's second part – but everything you see will compensate you: there are many caves across the path leading to the sea, where hermits used to live a long time ago. You can also stop at Agios Antonios Church and see its well. Be sure you'll have with you anything you want (water, food, etc), as there aren't any facilities on the beach. You can also spend the night there. Avoid to visit the place during weekends, as the beach is too crowded.
Fodele village, 30 kilometers away from Iraklio city is considered to be El Greco's birthplace. You'll have the chance to see replicas of all the famous artist's paintings, enjoy the gorgeous beach and have a coffee or a dinner on the village's central square.
Those of you, who love wandering in the nature, must visit Zarou, located at Psiloritis foothills. You'll enjoy a scenery parted by many natural water springs and an artificial lake and you can follow the path to Agios Nikolaos Canyon and beyond that, after 3 kilometers, arrive in Rouvas forest, a picturesque place.
Happy holidays!!! Crete awaits you!