Heraklion is the largest city in Crete and is located in the middle of the island’s north coast. The wonderful medieval city centre speaks of a past full of history and great events. Heraklion is the commercial and technological centre of the island and also has a strategic geopolitical position in the south-eastern Mediterranean Sea, connecting three continents and many different cultures. It offers a wealth of museums, a summer-long arts festival, historical sightseeing, amazing nightlife and events throughout the year.
- Fourth largest city in Greece
- During the 2004 Olympic Games, Heraklion provided one of the venues for the football tournament.
- Population: 173,993 (2011 census)
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Heraklion and Chania International Airports welcome a large amount of charter flights during the summer, connecting to a large number of European cities.
From Athens International Airport, Aegean Airlines fly seven times a day to Heraklion and four times a day to Chania.
The trip from Piraeus to Heraklion takes about eight hours. Ferries leave in the evenings and arrive in Heraklion the following morning around 6am.
Distances between Crete’s main towns/cities:
Heraklion-Rethymno - 78 kilometres
Rethymno-Chania - 60 kilometres
Chania-Heraklion - 138 kilometres
The 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship will be staged in two venues.
- Heraklion Arena
Heraklion Arena at Dyo Aorakia Capacity: 5,200 spectators
- University Hall
- Capacity : 1,080 spectators, all seated.
How to get to the venues
It is recommended to hire a car or to get a taxi.
Located between the prefectures of Rethymno and Lassithi, on the eastern side of Crete, Heraklion is the most popular region of the island.
The area is home to many busy places with active nightlife, including Malia, Hersonissos, Ammoudara and Agia Pelagia, but also has many peaceful family-friendly places, particularly on the southern part of the island, on the Libyan Sea.
As Heraklion was the main field where the Minoan civilisation flourished, a visit to the Minoan Palaces of Knossos and Phaestos cannot be missed.
A drive around Heraklion in Crete will also bring you to traditional villages, medieval castles, Byzantine monasteries and nice beaches to relax. This region combines busy resorts and secluded coves.
As well as relaxing in the amazing beach resorts, it is worth visiting the various villages where many festivals (panigiria) are organised during the summer and attending such a festival gives a nice taste of local tradition.
Due to its central location, this is also a convenient region for excursions to Chania and Rethymno. During the summer, ferries depart from the port of Heraklion to the Cycladic islands of Santorini and Mykonos.
Among the most outstanding sights of Heraklion are the fortification walls that delimit the “old city”. The first fortifications were built by the Arabs and were later reinforced by the Venetians (15th century).
Many monuments in the heart of the city date back to the Middle Ages, a period in which Heraklion witnessed great prosperity. A typical feature of Heraklion is its Venetian and Turkish fountains, scattered all around the city.
One should not miss out on a visit to the Archaeological Museum, one of the most important museums in Greece; it contains almost all the unique treasures of the Minoan civilisation unearthed at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and other sites.
In the market of Heraklion, one of the richest in the Mediterranean, visitors can find all sorts of modern products, as well as traditional Cretan products such the famous Cretan olive oil, raki, local wine, honey, herbs, etc.
On the outskirts of Heraklion you can visit Knossos, the legendary centre of the Minoan civilisation from 1900 to 1400 BC, Phaistos Palace, second in importance in Minoan Crete, inhabited since the Neolithic times and of course long sandy beaches.