The complete guide to: Heraklion, Crete

August 22, 2016
Rebecca Skevaki

If gorgeous views, Greek mythology, and history pique your interest, consider paying a visit to Crete. Nestled in the Mediterranean Sea, this Greek island is a treasure trove. Packed with beaches, mountains, and hilltops, it’s also a great place to learn about Minoan history! Check out our complete guide to Heraklion, the largest city on the island, for some ideas on what to do when you’re there.

If you’re coming to Crete for the views, you definitely won’t be disappointed…

Getting to and from HER

Public transit: Getting into the city from Heraklion International Airport is super easy. There are buses that depart from the airport every 10 minutes and head toward the city centre. They operate from 7am to 11am daily. The buses only cost EUR 1,20 per person, although there are some routes that charge EUR 1,70 — but these tend to be for further destinations. Most of the buses head to the city centre or to another bus station, and from there, you can hop on another bus if you wish to continue to other nearby sites, such as the famous Knossos Palace.

On Sundays and public holidays, the buses run a little less frequently — every 15-20 minutes instead of the usual 10. We’d recommend checking the bus schedules just in case.

Taxis: If you’re not up for a crowded bus ride and are looking for something a little more comfortable, there are plenty of taxis available at the airport. It’s a relatively cheap choice, and definitely convenient. All taxis are metered, so consult the tariff list located at the taxi station if you’re wondering about price points; an average trip into the centre of town is about EUR 13.

Taxi drivers are generally very kind and extremely helpful with tourists. You can relax and enjoy your trip — there is no need to stress out about safety. But if you’re wondering about any specific taxi companies to look out for, Crete Taxi is a good one to check out. Radiotaxi Knossos is their app and is available for download on both iOS and Android. You can use the app to make reservations on your own.

Hiring a car: If you’re feeling a little fancy, or want the freedom and independence to go where you want when you want, perhaps hiring or renting a car is the way to go. At the airport there are many car rental offices, so you can ask and compare prices before you make your decision. Normally, local car rentals have much better prices, but it always depends on the season.

Getting around Heraklion

Walking and public transit are definitely the best ways to see the city – otherwise you miss out on all the lesser-known gems!

Public transit: You will always need cash on bus services, with tickets costing either EUR 1,20 or EUR 1,70. Tickets must be bought before you get on the bus, usually from the bus stops or the kiosks. Buses run from 7am to 11pm.

Taxis: We mentioned before that taxis are definitely a more convenient way to get around Heraklion. They are safe, and as all taxis are metered, prices will depend upon distance.

Walking: Walking throughout the city is totally safe at any time of day or night. We know you’ve heard this time and time again, but walking really is the best way to see the city.

Buses: There are some tourist buses that offer routes that visit the most important and tourist-friendly points in town.

Things to do in Heraklion

There are plenty of things to do in the city, but we’d recommend starting off with a bike tour around the city. There is a free bike service from the Municipality of Heraklion. It is completely free, and the only thing you need to borrow a bike is your passport or any form of ID. We’d recommend taking the bike for a ride around the seaside and the Venetian walls. The best time to go is early in the morning, or late in the evening because otherwise the midday heat can be too much.

In between all the biking and sightseeing, make sure to try some Cretan food – it’s super healthy and incredibly delicious!

If you’re into music and art, there are plenty of music festivals about traditional Cretan music, as well as music from the Eastern Mediterranean. Some of them take place in the city, and some in villages around Heraklion — either way, there is tons of variety!

Normally, at organised music festivals, entrance is free. For the rest of the music events, the price varies depending on the artists involved, the organiser, etc. There is always a ton of information available.

If you want to see how music connects people from a variety of different backgrounds and with different musical preferences, check out the Houdetsi Music Festival or Festivalaki.

Crete Day Tours

Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers day tours in Heraklion and beyond, all led by local experts that will give you a taste for local life on Crete:

Heraklion Bites and Sights
Bypass the concrete and head straight for the heart of Heraklion. Hit the backstreets and hidden pathways, checking out the highlights, sampling local treats, and discovering all the forces that have combined to make Heraklion the city it is today.

Foodies’ Feast of Heraklion
Crete is a foodies’ paradise and Heraklion is the capital! Come experience the city like a local and explore the neighbourhoods where residents live, eat, and shop, all while snacking away on the best local treats on the island.

In Focus: A Night with the Gods Stargazing Tour
Do you know your Zeus from your zodiac? We’re diving into ancient Greek mythology and astronomy (along with some ancient recipes) on this star-studded, food-fuelled adventure!

Antiquity and Adventurers Tour
If you’ve come to Crete seeking adventure, then this tour is perfect for you! Tap into your inner Indiana Jones as you explore a Cretan village, trek a gorge, wander through an ancient city, drink ‘healing water,’ swim in a turquoise sea, and try your hand at preparing local dishes!

The Best of Far West Crete
Head to Sfakia on the far west side of the island, where towering mountains, deep gorges, tales of adventure, and local cuisine await. You’ll get it all on this full-day Crete tour that combines everything you could want from a great Greek day: hiking, cooking, wine-tasting, cheese-sampling, storytelling and more.


Heraklion on the big screen

While there is no film that has Heraklion as its main backdrop, feel free to check out what the city is like on YouTube.

Heraklion on record

Heraklion has great traditions in music, with the world famous Psarantonis and his son Psarogiorgis being from Crete. We highly recommend listening to some of their music if you are interested in getting to know quality Cretan music.

Heraklion in books

There are a ton of history books that focus on Heraklion and Crete in particular, but if you find those types of books a little dry, there is a ton of interesting information about Heraklion on the municipality’s website, and in guide books as well.

What’s on in Heraklion

With so many events to keep track of, your best bet would be to check Now Heraklion for the updates on what’s happening in town. You’ll find everything from concerts and festivals, to movie screenings and cultural events.

You can also check out other blog posts from Urban Adventures for ideas on what to do in Heraklion and elsewhere Crete (or maybe jump on one of our day tours!).

Get in touch with us

If you have any questions about Urban Adventures on Crete, feel free to contact us through email at, or at +30 69 86 78 09 70. Check out our InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more information and travel inspiration!