Capital of Crete

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Iraklio, Iraklion or Heraklion Crete

Capital of Crete - Heraklion

Heraklion Ηράκλειο

The Capital of Crete has many names Heraklion, Heraklio, Iraklio, Iraklion, and in the past Handax and Candia.

The township has a colourful history and is located in the central north of the island. As the main administrative capital, it has many government buildings, a hospital, a university, as well as the international Heraklion airport and huge ferry port.

About Heraklion

With a population of over 210,000, it is the capital of the region also called Heraklion, as well as the capital of the island.

Heraklion has the largest archaeological museum in Crete, which is one of the most fascinating on the island, and the site of the Palace of Knossos lies just 5 km outside the city.

Iraklio is a modern town, with a lot of history interwoven amongst its bustling streets. From the central Morosini Fountain to the beautiful Kornaros Square and Eleftherias Square, the architecture, monuments and museums are surprising amongst the concrete buildings.

At the old harbour side lies the ruined Venetian fortress, and large Venetian arsenals form wide arcs. Traditional fishing boats ring the harbour side, and fishing nets trip up the tourists as they wander by. Good fish tavernas are here, close to the marina.

Agios Titos Church Heraklion Crete (image by bongo vongo)Agios Titos Church, Heraklion Crete

Capital of Crete
Walking Notes

Municipality of Heraklion

Capital of Crete - walking along 25th of August Street from the port to the city centre reveals much of the city’s character, with charming restored Venetian buildings on either side, a large and beautiful tree-lined plateia in front of the exquisite Agios Titos church (above), and as one approaches the square of the Liondaria, the beautiful Venetian Loggia (below) is on your left.

Heraklion - Venetian LoggiaThe Venetian Loggia on 25 August Street

Near the Liondaria is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy a bougatsa Greek pastry and Greek coffee, then continue on to explore the local markets on 1866 Street.

In the evenings, the cafe bars of the Koraii district are full to overflowing, a loose and friendly atmosphere prevails, one thousand conversations are all happening at the same time, these narrow pedestrian streets are wonderful to explore in the evenings.

Strolling up from the port along 25 August Street, the visitor will see many of the prettiest parts of the town and then come upon the intersection where the markets or laiki agora begins.

After walking through the markets, relax in the large plateia or square of Kornaros, circled by cafes near the Bembo Venetian Fountain and Turkish Fountain (pictured below).

The Bembo Fountain in HeraklionThe Bembo Fountain in Heraklion dating from 1554 bearing the Gritti coat of arms

The old Turkish fountain is now a kafenion in Kournarou Square, HeraklionThe old Turkish fountain is now a kafenion in Kournarou Square

Heraklion is very central to the whole of Crete, from here you can explore not only the ancient history of the Palace of Knossos but local beaches such as Ammoudara and Agia Pelagia.

See more about travelling in the Heraklion region with Q&As here...


Kings Blue Port View Apartment in downtown Heraklion looks out across the Old Harbour

Town accommodation in Heraklion - Capital of Crete

Lena Hotel in Heraklion town
This is the budget symbol

Budget accommodation in Heraklion town


Capital of Crete - at the very centre of the island, Heraklion makes a great base from which to embark on the most fascinating experiences on Crete.

Knossos Full Day Experience

Enjoy a Full Day Knossos Experience
with a guide - taking in the ancient Minoan palace and visiting Lasithi plateau and the cave of Zeus. See the countryside and mountains of Crete.

Knossos Half Day Experience

Be amazed with a Half Day Knossos Experience - see the ancient site with a knowledgeable guide. Discover the stories which bring the stones to life. Then enjoy the sights of Heraklion such as Koules Fortress, Morosini Fountain and St Titos Church.

Knossos is set in a verdant valley

Skip the Line - 90 minute guided tour of Knossos with an expert local historian, be taken back 3500 years and hear about the Minoan culture. This ticket also gives you entrance to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, for use later in the day.

Gourmet Food and Wine Experiences Heraklion

Enjoy a History and Culture Walking Tour with Food Tasting in Heraklion - take 2 hours to get to know the place with a local, trying provenance olive oil, tasty mezedes, coffee and raki...a 2 hour tour for a small group only. Hear about El Greco and Kazantzakis, visit its churches, monuments and fountains.

Hop on Hop Off Bus Heraklion

Explore Heraklion with a little help from the Hop On Hop Off Bus one day one ticket which gives you 10 stops including Knossos, Koules Fortress, the Archaeological Museum and the city centre. HoHo Bus with top deck offering 360 degree views.

Exploring Heraklion Crete

Ancient Gortyna

In the region of Heraklion, there is just so much to explore:

Explore the beaches of the region


Map of Heraklion with our suggestions for accommodation marked.


A video homage to the Capital of Crete - Heraklion - where modern life is woven with the threads of time...

"Where the Thread of History Begins"

Enjoy the Cretan Cuisine Festival in Heraklion

Here Apo shows us the top 5 free things to do in his home town of Heraklion.

All abut Heraklion, featuring the Venetian Loggia, Agios Titos Church and Plateia, Morosini Fountain and 25 August Street, as well as the local markets. This traveller discovers Koules Fortress and the Old Harbour with its fishing boats, ancient churches, vineyards, Knossos ancient palace, and so much more in Heraklion ...

Getting Here

Travel to Heraklion on a one hour flight from Athens with Olympic Air or Aegean Airlines.

There are many flights per day.

Ferries leave Pireaus port of Athens every evening bound for Crete, the crossing takes around 9 hours.

Ferries from Santorini (Thira) are available and faster in summer, the crossing takes only 2 hours.

See more details below.

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Anastasi & Apostoli - authors of We Love Crete

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