Koules Fortress, Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Language and Currency
What is Heraklion Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
A valid passport is required but no visa is required for stays under 90 days.
The official language of Greece is Greek, but some English is spoken in the tourist areas. Greece has accepted the euro as its formal currency, however you may still see some Greek drachma being traded. US dollars are accepted in the tourist areas.
Heraklion is a wonderful medieval city surrounded by modern day civilization. The old section of Heraklion is a wonderful maze of pedestrian streets with numerous shops and boutiques. Crete is blessed with numerous sights.
Crete offers wonderful weather with little rain in the summer and not much more in the winter. Expect temperatures to be in the low 80s in the summer and the low 60s in the winter.
Ships dock inside the harbor right next to the downtown area that is marked by Koules Fortress. It is truly a unique harbor. The main downtown area of Heraklion resides on the hillside above the fort that marks the imposing breakwater of the harbor.
Typical Street in Heraklion, Crete
After leaving the ship you simply take about a fifteen-minute walk along the coastline of the harbor, past the marina to the foot of the breakwater and then turn inland up the hill at the traffic circle. The first couple of blocks are not too exciting and you begin to think that Heraklion might be a bust. Then the city opens up before you. Dating back centuries, Heraklion is ruled by narrow lanes that wind their way endlessly throughout the maze. There are shops of every kind selling an unimaginable array of products.
There are fabulous restaurants and bakeries, folks selling roasted chestnuts on street corners, fruit, vegetable, meat and fish stands everywhere. There seem to be hundreds of men’s and women’s clothing stores selling all types of apparel, shoe stores, and hardware stores, just everything you can imagine. There are also many designer shops to explore as well.
Palace of Knossos Ruins, Crete, Greece
Exploring Heraklion's wonderful shopping areas is well worth the investment of time, but Crete also offers some extremely interesting sights as well. Certainly lunch at one of Heraklion's excellent restaurants looking over the fort and harbor is well worth the experience as the overview is stunning, but one should not visit Heraklion without making the trek out to the Palace of Knossos ruins
Interior Room in Palace of Knossos
Located about two or three miles from downtown Heraklion, the Palace of Knossos is breathtaking. The ruins cover quite a large area and are fully accessible. It is almost unbelievable that you can stand on, touch and generally become a part of items thousands of years old. The palace consists of hundreds of rooms and many artifacts that have been unearthed are on display. The huge storage pots and fabulous stairways done in rockwork are what impressed me the most. Guided tours of the Palace are offered every hour, but I elected to simply wander around and listen in to passing tours in the areas I wanted more information.
Ancient Pots Unearthed at the Palace of Knossos
The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is also very well worth visiting. Considered one of the best archaeological museums in the world. This museum is especially interesting after visiting Knossos as it fill in all the details and offers lots of information about the Palace. Many of the ancient statutes and other artifacts from Crete are on display and offer an incredible perspective of ancient Minoan culture.
Yes, I would give a visit to the Palace of Knossos this level of priority. You can do it on a ship's tour or do it on your own, either way, I am sure you will find it fascinating.
Not that I can hare from personal experience, but the restaurants on the side of Heraklion overlooking the harbor offer stunning views and excellent menus.