Cheap Flights to Heraklion, Crete
- Area Municipality : 244.6km² (94.4 sq mi)
- Area Code : 281
- Currency : Euro
- Population Municipality : 173,993 (2011)
- Official Languages : Greek
- Time Zone : EET (UTC+2) Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
- Airport : Heraklion Airport (HER)
‘HER’ opened in 1937 and is Greece’s second busiest airport located at Alikarnassos just 4km from the city centre. To get to the city passengers can hire a vehicle, take a taxi or travel by bus. For car hire, located at the airport are ‘Eurodollar’, ‘Avis’, ‘Autohellas’ and ‘Travel Star’. The taxi rank is located outside the passenger terminal with taxis available during operation hours of the airport. ‘Global Transfer Services Ltd’ is the most popular taxi service where internet reservations can be made. Buses depart to the city from early morning to late evening every few minutes but are less frequent on Sundays.
Airlines departing from ‘Cape Town International Airport’ with one or more stops to ‘HER’ include:
- Turkish, Olympic (via Istanbul, Athens) 16h 25m+
- Ethiopian, Austrian (via Addis Ababa, Vienna) 17h 45m+
- South African, Lufthansa (via Johannesburg, Munich) 18h 25m+
- Air France, Luxair (via Paris, Luxembourg City) 19h 0m+
- Aegean (via Frankfurt) 19h 20m+
- Olympic (via Athens) 19h 30m+
- British Airways, Brussels (via London, Brussels) 19h 55m+
- Meridiana (via Milan) 20h 5m+
- Air Namibia, Condor (via Windhoek, Frankfurt) 20h 10m+
Additional airlines flying to ‘HER’ include:
- Air Berlin
- Air Italy
- Air Finland
- Air Malta
- Arkia Israel
- Primera Air
- Wizz Air
Reasons to Visit Heraklion:
- Capital of Crete, Heraklion is its administrative heart, largest city and Greece’s fourth largest. Present day Heraklion was established in 824 by the Muslims who took Crete over from the Eastern Roman Empire renaming it the ‘Emirate of Crete’. In 961 Byzantine forces took control, slaughtering Saracen inhabitants, totally destroying the city, rebuilding it and renaming it to ‘Chandax. In 1204 it was purchased by the Republic of Venice and the deposed Eastern Roman Emperor Isaac II Angelus was reinstated. The ‘Ottoman Empire’ then took over besieging the city for 21 years during the ‘Cretan War’ with over 100,000 deaths. The city was then officially known as ‘Kandiye’. In 1898 the self-governing Cretan State was formed.
- The city affords a variety of museums, pleasurable tours, historical sites that include statues, busts and sculptures observing major events and people of the city’s history as well as preserved Venetian-era fountains and beautiful landscapes. Enjoy the day sailing or cherish a romantic sunset cruise, swim in crystal clear waters, indulge in wine tasting at some of the island’s top wineries or take a ferry to Santorini, los Island, Paros, Mykonos or Rhodes.
- Visitors have plenty of hotels, more than 140 holiday rentals, Inns, B&Bs and Speciality Lodgings to choose from. A few less expensive hotels include ‘Hotel Lena’, ‘Hotel Mirabello’, ‘Athinaikon Hotel’ and ‘El Greco Hotel’. If its luxury accommodation you’re after there’s ‘Candia Maris Resort & Spa Crete’, ‘Aquila Atlantis Hotel’, ‘Galaxy Hotel Iraklio’ and more.
- With a fabulous range of eateries for meat, chicken or seafood it’s hard to choose. For American, Greek or Southwestern cuisine, the place to go is ‘Amalias Kitchen’, with great food, friendly staff and perfect for dinner during summer. Dining at ‘Hagiati’ offers Greek, Mediterranean and vegetarian dishes in a relaxed tavern atmosphere with plenty of character and absolutely delicious meals. Booking is essential.
- Heraklion affords an array of great places for drinks and cocktails. A hotspot is ‘Dish Café Bar Restaurant’ on Agios Titos Square. Besides great local food there’s unique whiskey, liqueurs and aperitif labels that blend in with pleasing Greek music. To be right next to the ocean, ‘Almyra Seaside’ offers great cocktails and superb Greek food at decent prices. ‘Outopia Café Beer’ is great for snacks and sweets, but it’s the best place for beer with a wide range on offer. For clubbing till the morning hours there’s ‘Amnesia’ going since 2001 located in Hersonissos, as is ‘Murphys’ with friendly vibes and great music. In Malia there’s ‘Banana’ ‘Apollo’ and one the largest nightclubs ‘Zig Zag.
When to Visit Heraklion:
The hottest months in Heraklion are July, August and September with average highs of 30, 31, 29°C respectively. July has very little rain, August just 9mm and September around 25mm. Dry periods occur from June through August with the latter being the best time for swimming. Anytime between May and September is good but for cooler weather the ideal time to go is from October to December with the latter month having around 105mm rainfall.
Places to Visit Heraklion:
- Deemed Europe’s ‘oldest city’ ‘Knossos’ is Crete’s largest Bronze Age archaeological site where its first settlement dates to around 7000BC and the ‘Minoan Palace of Knossos’ to 1900BC.
- Located at the entrance of the Heraklion’s old port is the formidable Venetian fortress ‘Castello a Mare’ constructed by the Venetians after conquering the town in the early 13th century. It was initially built for food storage and military supplies but also served as guard quarters and a prison.
- The ‘Venetian walls of Heraklion’ are one of the finest examples of preserved 16th century AD fortification architecture in the Mediterranean basin with a wealth of history to be gleaned.
- Once a military gate, the ‘Gate Bethlehem’ is on the western side of the ‘Venetian Walls’. The ‘Saint George Gate’ for decades was buried under Eleftherias Square until after recent discovery was restored. It was built in 1565 and linked the walled city to East Crete.
- In the ‘Heraklion Archaeological Museum’, amongst other incredible relics view the 1600 BC snake goddess or the 2nd millennium BC ‘Phaistos disk’. Other museums include the ‘Cretaquarium’, the ‘Historical Museum of Crete’, the ‘Natural History Museum’, ‘The Battle of Crete and National Resistance Museum’, ‘Nikos Kazantzakis Museum’ and the ‘Lychnostatis Open Air Museum’,
- ‘Saint Titus Church’ is one of the most imperative sites of the city built around 961 dedicated to the disciple Titus. The splendid ‘Agios Minas Cathedral’ had its foundation stone laid in 1862. The ‘Orthodox Church of Agios Mattheos’ of Sinai was built in 1508 on the remains of an earlier a Byzantine church and affords an interesting exhibition of important works. Built by the Venetians in 1239, ‘Saint Mark Basilica’ was destroyed by an earthquake in 1303 and immediately restored. The ‘Church of Saints Peter and Paul’ was built in the early years of Venetian rule serving as the main temple of the monastery of Dominican Order. In Europe and Greece, it’s one of the oldest monuments of architecture of Cistercian monks of the 12th century.
- Take in pleasing Venetian fountains such as ‘Bembo’, ‘Priuli’, ‘Palmeti’, ‘Sagredo’ and ‘Morosini’ and the one is ‘Lion’s Square’.
- The elegant ‘Venetian Loggia’ was built from 1626 to 1628 by Francesco Morosini, who also built the ‘Lions Fountain’ (Fontana Morosini) in Eleftherious Venizelou Square.
- Take time out with the family at ‘Georgiadis Park’, the largest lush area of 17 acres that gets fairly busy over weekend.
Buses are operated by ‘Kino Tamio Eispraxeon Leoforon’ (KTEL) that are affordable, reliable and clean with a fairly comprehensive network making it easy to travel around the city and island. Heraklion has two bus stations ‘A’ and ‘B’ with many convenient stops to get on along the way.
‘Bus station A’ is located between the old harbour, the new port and town and provides trips to destinations along the north coast of Crete as well as Rethymnon and Chania and east to Agios Nikolaos.
‘Bus station B’ is situated on the fringe of town at Chanioporta, alongside the buttress walls with buses departing to destinations south of the city such as Mires and Matala including towns in between. Buses to Anogia, Gortys and Festos also depart from here.
Purchase tickets before boarding from kiosks or periptero and for more comprehensive information go to www.cretetravel.com.
Visitors planning on using taxis should at the airport, obtain an up-to-date guidebook advising rates for taxis, in order not to be overcharged and if you’ve got a fair amount of luggage, this will be charged for. Tipping the driver is also expected. Taxis can be booked online that’s slightly more expensive or local taxis can be waved down or found on the street.
Taxi providers in Heraklion include ‘Heraklion Taxi’, ‘Crete Taxi Services’ and others.
There are a number rental companies that include ‘Car Hire Crete’, ‘Heraklion Car Rental’ and others. It’s less expensive hiring a vehicle from a local company rather than an international one. Requirements are a valid credit card and an ‘International Drivers Permit’. If traveling during the busy season of July and August booking in advance is essential.