Things to do in Heraklion
One aspect about Crete that really stood out to me was the friendliness of the locals who were so helpful, smiley and welcoming. Set out below is an idea of things to do in Heraklion for 4 days.
Heraklion City Centre
We went on a 2 hour free walking tour of the city centre which is offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays at 4pm. We visited the following locations:
➜ The Venetian port
➜ Part of the Venetian walls
➜ Liberty Square
➜ Central Market
➜ St. Menas Cathedral
➜ Morosini Fountain
➜ St. Marks Basilica
➜ Archiepiscopal Church of St. Titos –
The meeting point is at Natur Elia opposite the Venetian Port where the dolphin statute is on the roundabout. We had a lovely guide who showed us around the city, showing us the places set out above.
Just tip what you like at the end of the tour!
Spinalonga, Kalydon and Agios Nikolas
We looked at booking a day trip online in advance but decided to wait until we had visited the travel agents in Heraklion. Lucky we did as we managed to get the tour much cheaper for €46!
This was split as follows:
- €26 euros upfront to the travel agent which was for the coach journey,
- €8 for the entrance fee to Spinalonga (which is used for renovating the island)
- €12 for the boat ride and the bbq lunch.
We were offered a hotel pick up at 7.25am and then travelled to other towns to pick the rest of the tour up. At around 9.30am we arrived in Elounda, a small fishing village, where we made our way on to the boat to Spinalonga.
We were given around one hour and 15 minutes in Spinalonga (also known as Kalydon). This did not seem enough time to begin with until you realise how small the island is. Our tour guide took us around for the first 35-40 minutes giving us an insight into the history of Spinalonga.
Originally, Spinalonga was part of the island of Crete but during Venetian occupation the island was carved out of the coast for defence purposes and a fort was built there. In 1903-1957 the island was a leper colony and the last inhabitant, a monk, left in 1962. Since then it has been used as a tourist destination.
We were given almost 2 hours at this island for free time to either swim, lay on the beach or wander around and climb to the top for some beautiful views. You cannot make your way around the entire island in the time period but we visited a small church and saw some really stunning views.
A fresh bbq lunch was served at 1.30 consisting of pork steak, Greek salad, wine and fruit. We then sailed back to Elounda to get back on the coach to Agios Nikolas.
It is a quaint little town (historically a fishing village) with a number of shops, restaurants by the harbour and a lake, which was historically considered bottomless but is actually 63-67m. Make sure you climb up the stairs by the lake to the top for the lovely views.
We also had a lovely cocktail and juice at a cafe bar called Asteria in the sun by the port.
The Minoan Palace of Knossos (situated about 5km from Heraklion) was built for the King in 1900 BC. It was only in 1878 when a local called businessman, Minos Kalokairinos, started excavating it after uncovering part of the West Wing of the Palace.
Despite what some books and websites say, the entrance price has increased from €6 to €15. There is a trick if you want to visit both Knossos and the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion. For only pay €16 the ticket is valid for one day in Knossos and up to three days in the Museum.
I look forward to returning to Crete another time to visit Chania, Rethromoe and the Samaria Gorge.
East London Girl Travel Blog