Getaway Guide: Heraklion, Crete

After our days spent in Chania, Crete it was time for us to head to Santorini. BUT, in order to get to Santorini from Crete we had to take a ferry from the town of Heraklion, which is exactly what we did.

Heraklion is actually the largest city in Crete and tends to be a very popular destination on the island. BUT…I did not like Heraklion. At all. (See I don’t love every city we visit!) We were ready to leave just as quickly as we arrived.

In order for us to get to Heraklion from Chania, we took the public bus. (And, no, that is not why we didn’t like Heraklion!) Again, this bus was just as nice as the other buses we had experienced in Greece and I would highly recommend it if you need to get from city to city and don’t have a rental car. It was very affordable, had air conditioning and took just under 3 hours – just FYI no bathroom. The bus does stop for a bit longer in Rethymnon and the bus driver let us run out quickly to go, just something for you to be aware of before hopping on a 3 hour bus ride. Plan accordingly 😉 The views from the bus were very nice as well, which always helps add to a pleasant experience. The bus station in Heraklion is very walkable to the city if (of course) you don’t have too much luggage.

The City of Heraklion: Heraklion is a port city with a very interesting history of rulers passing from Constantinople to the Venetian rule before being conquered by the Turkish army. A very long and interesting history that I encourage you to read about if you’re interested.
Anyways, there are many large ferry ships coming in and out of this town daily, which is maybe why I expected this city to be so much more interesting than it was. I can’t quite explain what this place was missing, just that it fell short. It’s hard to explain. Maybe it was where we stayed, maybe it was the limited waterside restaurants (a bit surprising since this place is on the water!) and maybe it was just the overwhelming feeling of being in an industrial city – though it did not feel dangerous, so don’t worry about that. I can’t quite figure it out. Of course, there are supposedly great museums and historic sites around Heraklion that we did not go to. If those sites are high on your priority list when planning your trip to Greece, don’t forget about Heraklion – BUT, as you know, we were looking for a relaxing vacation on the water so museums and crowded tourist attractions did not fit our description this visit. Now, don’t get me wrong it wasn’t that bad…but it just wasn’t that great either.
I mean, this is the view down the streets. Yes, that is the sea on the horizon. Hard to imagine that we didn’t love it here, huh?
And here is a look at the port where a fisherman sits untangling the nets for the next outing.
There is also a lovely Venetian fortress that visitors can walk to, which was quite lovely.
This stray dog below also liked climbing the walls of the fortress.
And below is a look at the walk back from the fortress (maybe this photo helps you imagine what I am trying to explain?)
Anyways, my recommendation would be to avoid spending too much time in Heraklion. One night, or maybe even a few hours, is more than enough time (unless you’re venturing to museums, of course but I can’t be of too much assistance in that arena this time).

Where We Stayed: We stayed in Heraklion two nights due to the ferry schedule. (We stayed one night before our a.m. ferry departure and one night after our p.m. ferry arrival back to Crete from Santorini). Since we were here on two separate occasions, we stayed in two different hotels: Lato Boutique Hotel and Capsis Astoria Hotel Both hotels were ok, though the Capsis Astoria was nicer and offers a great roof-top pool. Both locations were good/walkable from the port and/or downtown – though the Lato hotel was a bit closer to the port. Cabs to/from the port to either hotel are 6 euros. Though we did not stay here, this hotel looked fabulous and is close proximity as well. It may be worth looking into if you’re planning a trip.
Where We Ate: As I mentioned, we were not too impressed with the food selection here. However, we did eat at one place that was pretty great and deserves a visit if you’re in Heraklion: Ligo Krasi & Ligo Thalasssa. It is kinda on the water (meaning the water is kitty corner but it is not literally “on the water”). The portions were HUGE and the food was tasty. Below is a look at the seafood pasta. The description for this dish did not mention it was for a family of 8 😉 Yum!

That concludes our time spent in Heraklion, Crete. Don’t forget to read about our trip to Chania, complete with day trips to Elafonisi and Balos Beaches!

Santorini post now live 🙂

2 thoughts on “Getaway Guide: Heraklion, Crete

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