With Heraklion being the largest urban area on the island of Crete the city offers the most comprehensive range of options for hitting the shops.
Be it shopping for food, clothes, gifts, electrical goods, jewellery or getting into town to buy furniture or supplies for your home here we break down each aspect of shopping and give you a guide on where to go to get the best from your time.
Internet or online shopping exists in Greece but is not as prevalent as in countries such as the UK, the USA or Western Europe so the act of getting out and about to shop is still the most common way of obtaining what you need. The great aspect of shopping in Crete is that the locals are loyal to local business so unlike other countries who have adopted the large international shopping chains in Crete you will find a few chain stores but also a large mix of vibrant and helpful independent outlets that offer a high quality range of goods and an excellent personal service.
So get out there and delve into all that Heraklion has to offer you won't be disappointed.
Social / Gift / Clothes Shopping: If you want to get into the city have and have a browse for gifts or clothes or just be social and have a spot of lunch along the way the very centre of the city is where to go. Unless you go early parking will become a challenge as more of the centre has now been pedestrianised (making the centre shopping experience much better) but also pushing the cars parking to visit the centre further out of town. Driving directly to the centre around Eleftherias (Freedom Square) will leave you in traffic probably stressed and unable to park so look to park either:
In the car parks or road side pots on Ikarou Street as you approach the walls towards Freedom Square or enter the marina at the old port turning 1st exit right off of the roundabout with the fountain at Nearchou Street for the car park there. Alternatively you can look to park around the Georgiadi Park along Trikoupi Street where there is street parking and paid car parks.
Once you have set down then head for Dikeosinis Street where it meets Freedom Square at the Astoria Hotel. The street has recently been pedestrianised and has a Zara, Marks & Spencer (yes the UK chain) and a Jack & Jones along with other clothes and electrical shops.
Once you've explored here to do a circuit of the main shopping streets turn left up 1866 Street through the bazaar with it's gift shops, jewellery and hat stands.
A shady browse through the market will bring you out at the top on Kornarou Square and turn right along Karterou then right again after 50m onto 1821 Street where you will find the cities more up market clothes offerings along with a couple of toy shops and sportswear. Once you've browsed the boutiques of 1821 at the end it's straight over picking up some grab and go food from the street food stands on this junction or a little to the left onto Idis Street. If you would like a sit down lunch then walk to the Lion's Square and keep going past it on your left then turn left along the path toward Theotokopoulos Park where you will find shady cafe bars all around the edge of the little part offering tables with coffees, cool drinks and lunch.
Having refuelled and enjoyed some people watching head back to the Lions Square then turn left down the pedestrianised Dedalou Street. Here you will find more clothes, books, gifts and jewellery and the little side streets (if you care to explore) will provide more places to sit and while away the afternoon with a drink or snack.
You've now explored the central shopping streets of Heraklion but if your appetite is for more browsing then back at the end of Dedalou where it meets the Lions Square a turn right will take you along 25th August Street with it's tourist gift shops and H&M or of it's more clothes and goods you are seeking turn left instead at Lions Square then right onto Idis Street (opposite the bazaar) the head downhill on Kalokerinou Street (towards Chanionporta) and this newly partly pedestrianised street has a further large selection of shops.
At the end of the street once you've reached Chaniaporta (The large gate in the city walls) if you've had enough then it's back up Kalokerinou to return the centre but a turn right about half way back onto Agiou Minou will not only take you past more of the cities stores but also to the spectacular Agiou Minas Cathedral with spectacular frescoes inside and a shady square behind to take a cool drink in a cafe.
Taking Karterou Street to the right behind the cathedral will bring you back to 1821 Street and the centre with numerous alleys and little streets along the way to explore if you'd like with more shops and little cafes.
Supermarket Shopping: As you'd expect a large city like Heraklion has some of the islands biggest supermarkets. Xalkiadakis is the most well known chain of supermarkets on the island and you'll find them dotted about small and large everywhere.
Here is a list of the biggest supermarkets in the city with car parking:
Supermarket Xalkiadakis Max: Leof. Eth. Antistaseos 16
Carrefour/Marinopoulos: Leof. Ikarou 20, Nea Alikarnassos
Lidl: National Highway 90, Heraklion 716 01
AB Vassilopoulos: 191 62 Martyrs Street, Heraklion, 713 04
Furniture: If you are lucky enough to have a home in Crete then you'll need furniture. Heraklion has a selection of outlets to cater for all tastes and budgets. We've tried to break down our guide into different price ranges so you'll know where to shop based on how much you're looking to spend.
On a budget:
Praktiker Karterou 22, Nea Alikarnassos, Heraklion 716 01
When you think Praktiker think a DIY shed like B&Q in the UK.
The large store complete with ample parking has all you'll need to conduct work on your home along with a huge range of furniture, bathrooms and kitchens. Tiles and garden items are also in abundance. You can also shop online with Praktiker (you'll need to translate if you can't read Greek) and the company also offers a delivery service for a fee.
Xaritakis 174 62 Martiron Street, Heraklion 713 03
Furniture on a budget for all of your home. I recommend this store as I have used them myself and they speak good English and are very helpful. They have a web site (translation needed) and offer reliable and reasonable delivery services.
IKEA Velissariou 1 & Ikarou Avenue, Heraklion 716 01
Yes IKEA are in Heraklion. It's not an enormous barn of a place like you're used to at home but a small showroom with a selection of the companies items on display. The rest is ordered via web site or catalogue and will be delivered to your home once ordered in. Prices and range are familiar to what you know from home.
Haniotakis 119 Menelaou Parlama, Heraklion 714 10
I add this option with caution. Yes the furniture it reasonably priced and yes there's a huge range but purchase with caution. Wait times can vary (as most of the items are ordered in) and if you use the web site to see the full range and order (translation required) the delivery charged quoted at the time of order will be increased once delivery date nears. IF you are going to buy from this store then my strong advice is to visit and do the deal in person or if you cannot visit phone them to order. They speak decent English and take time to have a full discussion about the ACTUAL delivery charges and lead times to avoid disappointment. My last order had 90 euros added for delivery to my home or else it was another 50 euros and I had to drive to the store and collect the items myself!
High Quality / Designer Furniture:
If you have a bigger budget and want to make a statement of your own style in your furniture then the place to head is Knosou Street. The wide tree lined road that leads from the city to the world famous archaeological site of the Palace of Knossos is lined with up market furniture and decor stores one after the other. I'm going to be honest and say that I've only ever shopped on a budget so this is not somewhere I have looked to purchase my furnishings but the window displays and range as you pass the large glazed shop fronts is impressive and a morning exploring the stores of Knosou Street is sure to provide some top quality options. There are a few cafes and eateries along the way so why not make a morning of it with lunch?! Hugs Cafe is a good choice for a pavement side drink or bite to eat. Oh I wish I had the budget!
Jumbo 193 62 Martiron Street, Heraklion 713 04
This enormous store deserves a mention all of its own!
I'm a huge fan of this monster store on the outskirts of the city and will always pay a visit when in town. Car parking is plentiful and this Greek mainstay has so many different things for different needs. Split into 2 huge stores opposite each other the store provides:
An enormous toy shop with everything you could think of
A massive offering of stationery and school work supplies
A huge and cheap selection of clothes from underwear to baby wear & adults
A large range of home wares such as cutlery, picture frames, crockery
An extensive offering of beach items be it a snorkel a lilo or some trunks
Babies are hugely catered for with everything you could ever desire for your little one
And then there's chocolates, little gifts, hair care, push chairs, child car seats, DIY goods and more.
It's an Aladdin's cave of all sorts of stuff useful for holidays or kitting out your house. An absolute must on a shopping trip into Heraklion but a little out of the centre so a car is recommended.
The bakery forms an important part of Heraklion life. If you are working then the bakery will be your go to place on the way to your job to pick up breakfast or lunch and maybe even for a quick pavement side sit down morning coffee and treat. In the city there are a myriad of bakeries on offer but for simplicity if you are in the city and you want a tasty pastry or cake and maybe even a quick sit down coffee and a sandwich then there are two local chains of bakeries which will set you on the right road to a decent breakfast, lunch or late snack. Savoidakis and Kritikos Fournos are 2 of the cities best know and relied upon bakery chains and wont let you down. Why do I put this into a shipping guide? Well if you're out and about in Heraklion and get thirsty or peckish then these are the go to places for a quick pit stop and in addition you might want to pick up some delicious cake(s) whilst in town to take home for the family to enjoy and these bakeries offer a wonderful array of treats to fetch back to your loved ones after a day hitting the shops.
Heraklion is quite a vast metropolitan area and you can find pretty much everything you will need be it gifts or day to day home life. Here we conclude our guide with some go to advice if you are heading into the city to get what you need.
DIY/Homewares: Praktiker or Jumbo as mentioned in the detail above. Praktiker leaning more toward your tools / supplies for work on your home or garden and Jumbo if you need home wares or supplies to kit out your house.
Key Cutting: There are numerous shops offering this service all over the city. The 2 I have used are to be found closer to the centre in the little arcade of shops under the Jesus Gate on Evans Street or along Ikarou Street a little to the East of the centre close to the junction with Artemisias Street in Nea Alikarnassos. Both speak enough English to get by and will be able to help you with good value keys while you wait or collect in an hour if they are busy.
Local Football/ OFI Crete Souvenirs: If you are a lover of football and are in town the big club is OFI Crete. The stadium is located in the city suburb 'Kaminia' on the West side of town and has a boutique open to satisfy your football curiosity with shirts, keyrings, jackets, t shirts, caps and much more. It's quite a walk from the city centre so a car or bike is an easier journey and you'll need Isavron Street off of the main coast Venizelou Road to find the stadium. Don't be fooled by the huge Pancretan Stadium by the sea that catches some out as this was built for the 2004 Olympic Games but is not the home of OFI. You'll find Nikos in the OFI boutique who is incredibly welcoming, friendly and speaks fantastic English. He takes cash and card and whilst you might find a few bits and pieces related to the club in the city centre they are usually priced at a premium and the stadium boutique is the best option.
Heraklion is a vibrant, friendly and welcoming city with a huge offering of retail therapy to cater for every taste. Don't be afraid to explore and immerse yourself into the local culture you won't be disappointed and the city is full of adventures that in my experience will live warmly in your heart for a lifetime.
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© Simon Mcilvenna 2020