Heraklion

Heraklion

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About Heraklion

The archetypal Greek island retreat with resplendent views of the Aegean Sea

The classic Greek island escape, Heraklion is an impressive city wonderfully positioned to benefit from the vast, sparkling views of the Aegean Sea. Local independent stores and restaurants abound, offering the perennially delicious selection of Greek dishes and one-of-a-kind trinkets, while the more adventurous can indulge in the local hiking, rock climbing and water sports.

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Most of Heraklion’s city-centre hotels lie inside the medieval walls, with just a few located outside. Some can be overpriced and susceptible to noisy traffic, but two boutique choices close to each other provide a welcome exception - Marin Dream (Epimenídou 46) and Lato (Epimenídou 15) both offer sea views from some of their rooms. Meanwhile, outside the walls a good value luxury option is the Galaxy (Dimokratías 75), which boasts an inviting pool and wellness centre.

It is not unfair to say that Heraklion is one of the Greek towns that was affected badly by the recent crisis, meaning there are plenty of abandoned shopfronts. However, a range of independent and chain fashion outlets remain, including along pedestrianised Dedálou, and at the vast mall in the western suburb of Tálos. Elsewhere the old bazaar of 1866 Street is great for a wander, selling ethnic souvenirs and local foodstuffs. Those after a couple of holiday reads should head to Planet (Hándakos 73), which stocks plenty of English-language books, while music-lovers can find some cheap CDs at Aerakis (Dedálou 37).

Central Heraklion throws up a selection of decent haunts that are popular with the locals, while seafood is unsurprisingly most prominent along the seafront. Ippokambos (Sofoklí Venizélou 3) overlooks the Venetian port, while Karnagio (Mínoös 3) in the Tálos suburb is great for fish, cephalopods and their house wine. Head to the central bazaar and give Giakoumis (Fotíou Theodosáki 8) a whirl for its delicious lamb chops, while breakfast or a quick lunch can be enjoyed in much worse spots than atmospheric Kirkor (Lion Fountain Square). This establishment was founded in 1922 and serves up superb coffee to go with the bougátsa (custard pie) and tyrópitta (cheese pie).

Apókreas (Carnival)

February/March

Heraklion’s Carnival may well have been overtaken in reputation by the offering in Réthymno, but this party remains a great occasion where masquers parade and party along the streets.

Sheep blessing, Asi Gonia

April

This Easter-time blessing takes place on the border of Réthymno and Haniá provinces, and sees shepherds bring hundreds of sheep to the village church where they are blessed and milked, with spectators given the milk to sample.

Wine Festivals

July-August

Cretan wine production centres on Heraklion, and a number of villages in the surrounding hills throw wine festivals that feature free tastings and a variety of exhibits. Look out for the events put on at Dafnés in the first half of July and Arhánes in mid-August.

Heraklion Festival

July-September

A series of concerts, dances and drama events are put on under the shadow of Heraklion’s medieval walls during this festival.

Houdetsi Festival

August

This event celebrates traditional music, art and food in a setting 23km south of Heraklion, with renowned musician Ross Daly and his Lavyrinth Musical Workshop the driving forces behind the event.

Useful Information

Key facts

Language:Greek
Currency:Euro
Time zone:GMT +2 hours
Flight time:4 hours 15 mins
Airport code:HER
Holiday type:Beach / City Break / Summer Sun

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