Crete (Heraklion), Greece

Archaeological evidence shows that Heraklion probably arose during the 9th century B.C. and was named in tribute to the Greek goddess Rhea, mother of Zeus. And like most Mediterranean cities, Heraklion has a long and turbulent history. Officially founded by the Saracens in the 9th century, the Byzantine Empire invaded in 961 only to lose control to the Crusaders who sold Crete to the Venetians in 1211 for a thousand silver coins.

Heraklion finally flourished under the Venetians. Throughout the city you'll find stunning reminders of their influence: the Loggia, Venetian Walls, and Fountain of Morosini are just a few must-see examples.

But Heraklion is probably best known as the gateway to the breathtaking 4,000 year-old Minoan ruins at Knossos and to the famous windmills stretched across the Lassithi Plateau.

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Points of Interest

  • Knossos Palace
  • Heraklion
  • Kera Kardiotissa Monastery
  • Spinalonga Island
  • Plateau of Lassithi
  • Elounda
  • Arolithos Cultural Village
  • Thrapsano Village

More about Crete (Heraklion), Greece Points of Interest

  • Knossos Palace

    Crete's archaeological gem is the largest and most important of the Minoan palaces. Dating back 7,000 years, Knossos was the mythological home of King Minos who kept the menacing Minotaur in the palace's underground labyrinth. .

  • Heraklion

    Occupied since the Minoan era, the island's capital was officially founded in 824 by the Saracens. The famed Palace of Knossos and the Archeological Museum are just two of the bustling city's many attractions.

  • Kera Kardiotissa Monastery

    Considered Crete's most important Byzantine church, inside you'll find remarkably vivid frescoes from the 14th and 15th centuries. The monastery is equally famous for its Virgin Mary icon, which is believed to have performed miracles.

  • Spinalonga Island

    Lying just offshore from the seaside resort of Elounda, Spinalonga Island was once the home of a mighty 16th century Venetian fortress. The now-deserted island served as a leper colony until 1957.

  • Plateau of Lassithi

    Rising over 2,700 feet, the plateau offers fertile valleys filled with orange groves, vineyards, and picturesque villages. But it's probably best known for the thousands of charming windmills that dot the lush landscape.

  • Elounda

    Once the stopping off point for lepers heading to Spinalonga Island, today, this picturesque seaside resort boasts luxury hotels, quaint tavernas, stunning beaches and breathtaking sea views that stretch across Mirabello Bay.

  • Arolithos Cultural Village

    Arolithos may look centuries old but it's actually a recreated Cretan village. Built in 1988, the town boasts art workshops, two houses, a hotel, a restaurant and a tavern, a café and a small church.

  • Thrapsano Village

    Thrapsano is renowned for its pottery and ceramics. This ancient art form has flourished here dating back over 4,000 years and Thrapsano's craftsmen are said to be descendents of Minoan potters.

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Heraklion On Your Own

5 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 1 8 5
  • Heraklion

Explore the breathtaking sights and sounds of Heraklion on this create-your-own-adventure tour. Drive into the heart of the city, you'll have time to yourself to discover the many magnificent landmarks, museums, lively cafés and tavernas, colorful shopping districts, and more - all at your own pace.

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Moderate Activity

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$29.95

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Plateau of Lassithi & Kera Monastery

4 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 2 1 0
  • Kera Kardiotissa Monastery
  • Plateau of Lassithi

Travel through the ancient Plateau of Lassithi, home to ancient legends and thousands of windmills. Visit Kera Kardiotissa Monastery, considered the most important church of the Byzantine era on the island. Then, learn how Cretan traditions and culture are being preserved with a tour of the Lassinthos Eco Park.

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Easy Crete & Heraklion Archaeological Museum

3.5 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 2 9 5
  • Heraklion
  • Thrapsano Village

The culturally rich Minoan society is on display on this pleasant half-day adventure that journeys into the heart of Crete to the town of Thrapsano, where skilled craftsmen will demonstrate the art of pottery. Then, peruse the artifacts at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and conclude with a short sightseeing tour.

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Shopping Opportunities, Moderate Activity

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$59.95

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Crete Villages & Folkloric Show

4.5 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 2 9 0
  • Arolithos Cultural Village
  • Thrapsano Village

Immerse yourself in Crete's fascinating culture with a visit to two picturesque villages. Watch craftsmen in their workshops create pottery using age-old techniques in Thrapsano. Stroll through the tree-lined streets of Arolithos, a reconstruction of a traditional Cretan village. Later, enjoy a folkloric performance over a glass of wine.

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Easy Activity, Includes snack

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$69.95

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Knossos

4 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 2 0 0
  • Heraklion
  • Knossos Palace

Experts once believed that Knossos and its civilization were myths - part of the legend of Dædalus and Icarus. Then in 1901, an archaeologist excavated the ruins of Knossos and shed new light on Crete's Bronze Age culture. Explore these ancient ruins and view the restored Throne Room and frescoes.

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Moderate Activity

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$79.95

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クレタ島終日観光(日本語ガイド付き)

7.5 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 9 9 3
  • Heraklion
  • Spinalonga Island
  • Elounda
  • Knossos Palace

Experience the glory of the ancient Minoan civilization on a tour of its treasured attractions. Explore the legendary Knossos Palace, site of the mythical Minotaur. Stop in the charming seaside resort of Elounda for photos of Spinalonga Island, Crete's former leper colony. Then, enjoy lunch and shopping in Aghios Nikolaos.

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Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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$99.95

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Discovery Family Crete & Cretaquariam

7 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 6 0 0
  • Knossos Palace
  • Heraklion

Junior archaeologists and marine biologists will thrill to a day exploring the mythical, ancient ruins of Knossos to unearth the wonders of Crete's Bronze Age culture and Europe's largest, most modern aquarium, with 60 tanks and hands-on exhibits. Lunch and a driving tour of Heraklion's highlights complete this adventure-filled day.

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Shopping Opportunities, Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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Knossos & Boutari Winery

3.5 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 3 0 5
  • Knossos Palace

Get a taste of Greek history with a tour of the famous Knossos Palace, home of the mythical King Minos and the Minotaur. Then, enjoy a visit to the acclaimed Boutari Winery and learn how this 135-year-old winery is reviving endangered 4,000-year old Greek grapes.

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Moderate Activity, Includes snack

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$99.95

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Spinalonga Island Adventure & Elouna Resort

6 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 4 0 0
  • Spinalonga Island
  • Elounda

Visit haunting Spinalonga Island, a 20-minute boat ride off Crete's north coast, for a look at this abandoned village and one-time leper colony. See the preserved buildings and hear tales of the lives of those who were exiled there. Then, explore the seaside resort of Elounda on your own.

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Shopping Opportunities, Moderate Activity

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$99.95

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克里特岛精选之旅(普通话导游) / 最美克里特島(中文導遊)

7.5 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 9 9 0
  • Heraklion
  • Spinalonga Island
  • Elounda
  • Knossos Palace

Experience the glory of the ancient Minoan civilization on a tour of its treasured attractions. Explore the legendary Knossos Palace, site of the mythical Minotaur. Stop in the charming seaside resort of Elounda for photos of Spinalonga Island, Crete's former leper colony. Then, enjoy lunch and shopping in Aghios Nikolaos.

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Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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$99.95

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Best of Crete

7.5 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 1 0 0
  • Heraklion
  • Spinalonga Island
  • Elounda
  • Knossos Palace

Experience the glory of the ancient Minoan civilization on a tour of its treasured attractions. Explore the legendary Knossos Palace, site of the mythical Minotaur. Stop in the charming seaside resort of Elounda for photos of Spinalonga Island, Crete's former leper colony. Then, enjoy lunch and shopping in Aghios Nikolaos.

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Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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$99.95

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Knossos & Heraklion on Your Own

6 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 3 8 0
  • Knossos Palace
  • Heraklion

Independent travelers will enjoy the opportunity to discover Heraklion as they please with 2.5 hours to wander the streets of this vibrant capital city starting at Eleftherias Square. But first, visit the exceptional ruins of the Palace of Knossos showcasing Crete's Bronze Age culture, and discover its splendors on a guided tour.

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Shopping Opportunities, Moderate Activity

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$99.95

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Spinalonga & Agios Nikolaos

7.5 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 4 0 5
  • Spinalonga Island
  • Elounda

Situated offshore from the seaside resort of Elounda, Spinalonga Island, once the home of a 16th century Venetian fortress, later became a leper colony until 1957. Explore this now deserted island and learn its haunting history. Then, visit the picture-perfect town of Agios Nikolaos, considered one of the most beautiful in Crete.

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Shopping Opportunities, Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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Knossos in 3D

4 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 2 0 5
  • Knossos Palace

Open a virtual door into the Minoan civilization on this high-tech adventure in Knossos that utilizes a 3D app to travel in time back to the Minoan era. This gadget-oriented tour is great for kids of all ages, seamlessly combining an introduction to this impressive city of antiquity with modern technology.

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Moderate Activity

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$109.95

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Ultimate Crete - A Discovery Exclusive

8 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 1 5 0
  • Knossos Palace
  • Heraklion
  • Arolithos Cultural Village

Immerse yourself in the wonders of ancient and modern Crete on a full-day, Discovery Exclusive adventure. Discover Knossos Palace, an archaeological site and testament to the vibrancy of Minoan culture, visit a local winery and participate in a tasting, and enjoy a cooking demonstration and lunch in Arolithos, a traditional village.

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Shopping Opportunities, Strenuous Activity, Includes meal

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$179.95

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Heraklion by Private Vehicle - Car Class Half Day (With Guide)

4 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 9 1 5
  • Heraklion

Vehicles with an English-speaking guide are available on a half-day basis. A perfect solution for passengers who wish to tour privately or who want the flexibility of designing their own itinerary.

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Shopping Opportunities, Easy Activity

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$799.95

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Heraklion by Private Vehicle - Van Class Half Day (With Guide)

4 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 9 1 0
  • Heraklion

Vehicles with an English-speaking guide are available on a full-day basis. A perfect solution for passengers who wish to tour privately or who want the flexibility of designing their own itinerary.

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$899.95

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Heraklion by Private Vehicle - Van Class Full Day (With Guide)

8 hours | Crete (Heraklion) | H E R - 9 0 0
  • Heraklion

Vehicles with an English-speaking guide are available on a full-day basis. A perfect solution for passengers who wish to tour privately or who want the flexibility of designing their own itinerary.

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Shopping Opportunities, Easy Activity

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$1249.95

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