Whether visiting Heraklion for just a day or longer Crete's largest metropolitan area has a lot to offer culturally, historically and with vibrancy. We've used our experience of the city to capture what we feel are the sights and attractions of the city that we'd recommend you take the time to check out. We hope you enjoy our guide on what to seek out in Heraklion and we hope that our tips encourage you to take a break from the beach and seek out Crete's capital.
Heraklion Archaelogical Museum. Whether you visit Knossos, The Palace of Phaistos, Malia or beyond almost all of the major historical artefacts discovered at these sites and more are housed in the Heraklion Archaelogical Museum. Be it the Phaistos disk, the bulls head, double axes, bee pendant or the most famous Minoan frescoes there are all here within the walls of this incredible museum. And it not just Minoan artefacts you can find here as the museum takes you through all the ancient eras of the island including classical Greek and even Roman finds. To fit the museum into just one day in the city is a tricky one as you'll find at least half of your day gone in the museum alone so it might be worth putting a separate half day aside for what is one of the most significant museums in Greece.
Heraklion Archaelogical Museum can be found on the edge of Eleftherias (Freedom) Square on Stefanou Xanthoudidou Street. There's no parking on the immediate site so best to look to park a bit further out either down the other side of the walls from the museum or on the opposite side of Freedom Square.
Liontaria / Lions Square & 25th August Street. A short walk around Eleftherias (Freedom) Square and along the newly pedestrianised Dikeosinis Street will bring you to The Lions Square on the right. Officially called Eleftheriou Venizelou Square everyone locally knows it as The Lions Square because of the Venetian Morosini Fountain that dominates this lovely little plaza. The Morosini Fountain was built in 1628 by General Morosini during Venetian rule and the round stone built structure features four lions and from their mouths water spouts hence the square's name and fame. This is 'Heraklion central' and around the square's perimeter sit some pleasant tree shaded cafes and if you want to enjoy a local delicacy then to the south side of the square there are a couple of little cafes that specialise in Bougatsa. This delicious filo pastry is either filled with cream or cheese and if the fancy takes you can even have half and half! These little cafes date back around 100 years and offer the perfect shady spot to take a drink with a delicious treat and watch the tourists have photos around the fountain.
Heading north toward the sea with the Lion's Sqaure to your left next on your right will be The Municipal Art Gallery that often has fascinating exhibitions within it that change over time. However the building is not only notable for the displays as it is one of the most historic buildings in the city built by the Venetians originally in 1239 as the Saint Marcos Basilica. Earthquake meant it was re-built in 1303 and the Turkish converted it into an Islamic Temple in 1669. The building is bathed in history which adds to the atmosphere of the gallery.