HERAKLION FAQ'S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Most visitors fly into Heraklion from Athens (50 minute flight time). Fares vary greatly depending on time of year and time of day, and can run from 130€ to 260€ round trip. The airport is about 3 miles east of the city. A taxi to Heraklion costs about 25€ while the public bus costs 4€. Major car rental companies have desks at the airport. Also, you can leave luggage at the airport for 5€ per piece per day; and most hotels will hold luggage for brief periods.

How do I get from the port to my hotel?

Throughout the year, there is at least one ship per day (sometimes as many as two or three in high season) from Athens-Piraeus to Heraklion with a journey time of approximately 10 hours. Catamarans connect Heraklion with several Cycladic islands (Santorini, Ios, Paros, Naxos, and Mykonos) daily in high season. If you have arrived by ship, we recommend you take a taxi up to town as it's a steep climb. Depending on where you want to go, fares range from 8€ to 15€. Alternately, you can take a bus from the depot.

When do the hydrofoils operate between the islands?

Boat travel in Greece is common and relatively inexpensive. Timetables change according to seasonal demand and boats may be delayed by weather conditions, so your plans should be flexible. That being said, ferries/hydrofoils for the Greek Islands only operate between May and September due to annual weather changes including rough seas and high winds. For travel beyond these months, your itinerary will include transportation by flight between the islands.

Note: The Athens airport authority advises you to allow a minimum of 45 minutes to make a flight connection; which should be adequate if you arrive and depart from the main terminal and do not have to clear Customs. Allow at least 60 to 90 minutes if you have to clear Customs or if you arrive or depart from the satellite terminal. At present, many charter flights use the satellite terminal.

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

There are several options for getting around Crete, including public buses, taxis, rental cars and mopeds. You can see much of Crete by using the public bus system. The buses are cheap, relatively frequent and connect to all but the most isolated locales. Where you arrive in Heraklion depends on where you've come from. Those arriving from points to the west, east, or southeast like Chania or Rethymnon, for instance, or Ayios Nikolaos or Sitia to the east will end up at the station along the harbor. From here you must walk, take a taxi or hop a public bus to get into the center of town. Visitors arriving from Phaestos, Matala, and other towns in the south will arrive at Chania Gate, on the southwest edge of town. From here you can take a public bus or taxi.

Where can I rent a motorcycle in Heraklion?

One of the most popular means of getting around the island is by moped or motorcycle. If this option seems tempting, be absolutely sure you can control such a vehicle in chaotic urban traffic and on dangerous mountain roads. Unfortunately, the quality of paved roads is not always good as road surfaces are affected by a number of factors including floods and rock falls in winter and extreme heat in summer. Pot holes and loose gravel surfaces are very common as a result. This makes some roads particularly hazardous for motorcyclists. It's a good idea to check the brakes and steering before you ride off. Greek law now requires wearing a helmet, but not all agents supply one. Also, be sure to get full insurance and get a phone number, in case of breakdown.

Warning: Beware of the heat (sunstroke) and take plenty of water with you!

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Taxis are reasonable if two or three people share a trip to a site; no place on Crete is more than a day's round trip from Heraklion. Ask a local travel agent to find you a driver who speaks at least rudimentary English and can then serve as your guide as well. It might cost 100€ to tour the city and get out to Knossos, but for a party of three or four it is well worth it.

Should I rent a car on Crete?

The best way to get around Crete is by car as it will provide the most freedom and comfort for travel. Driving in Greece, and driving in Crete, in particular, might seem a daunting prospect at first, but provided you take appropriate care your trips will be safe and result in enormous pleasure. The island is 162 by 38 miles, so it is a large island. If you plan to do a lot of exploring, keep in mind that narrow winding roads can often mean that journey times are longer than might be expected from distances calculated from a map. Plan your itinerary in advance to avoid spending excessive amounts of time behind the wheel. You can rent a car in any major city as well as at the Heraklion International Airport and the Chania International Airport.

Please Note: If you park in a no-parking area, the police will remove your license plates, and you, not the car rental office, will have to pay a hefty fine to get them back!

Warning: Drive with caution, especially at night, when you will undoubtedly be sharing the roads with motorists returning from an evening of drinking.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Greece is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. There are numerous banks and ATMs as well as several currency exchange machines located throughout the center of Heraklion, with many along 25th Augusto. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Greece by clicking here.

I don't speak Greek. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. Greeks do have great regard for those that try to speak Greek so it is a good idea to learn a few phrases. We suggest you get a good English-Greek guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

What is Greek food like?

Greek food comes in many shapes, forms and varieties to keep even the most demanding traveler satisfied! Crete has its own culinary specilaties and eating customs. Learn all about food in Crete so you know what to eat and what to drink when dining out; and don't be afraid to sample the best each area has to offer.

Avoid eating at Fountain Square or Liberty Square (Plateia Eleftheria) as the food is nothing special. Save these spots for a coffee or beer break only!

Where can I buy necessities like bottled water and toiletries?

Most villages have small markets where you can buy water and food and other household items. Greek pharmacies are usually excellent with a qualified doctor or medic on staff (who usually speaks some English), but medicines can be more expensive than at home.

What are the best beaches in Heraklion?

Crete is the largest island of Greece and its 650 miles of coastline provide hundreds of beautiful beaches that are famous for their crystal blue waters and relaxing atmosphere. Crete is very popular in the summer due to its mild climate, gorgeous beaches and the traditional lifestyle of the locals. No matter which region of the island you are visiting, you will certainly find the best beach for your holiday - small or large, organized or secluded - all of Crete's beaches have something special to offer and are wonderful places to spend a long day under the sun. Please visit our dedicated page on Heraklion's beaches for more information.

Please note: It is common for women to go topless on beaches. And while public nudity is illegal in Greece, every island has at least one beach where nudity is allowed.

What are the most popular clubs in Heraklion? Where are they located?

Crete offers a little bit of something for everyone in terms of its nightlife. In Heraklion, join the locals in their early evening 'volta' (a stroll with no particular aim or destination in mind) before enjoying some prime people watching with coffee or cocktail in hand. Bars and clubs around the main squares start to fill up after midnight featuring everything from international rock 'n' roll to Greek pop music; and some hotels now host a Cretan Night, when performers dance and play traditional music. During the summer, Heraklion hosts a big arts festival with various entertainment ranging from ancient Greek and renaissance dramas to ballet and Greek music, both modern and traditional. Most of the events take place either on the roof of the Koules Venetian fort or at the Kazantzakis Garden Theatre and the Hadzidaksis Theatre. There are also three outdoor movie venues in town.

What else is there to do in Heraklion?

There is more to Heraklion than its nightlife and beaches! Crete has a rich history and you will want to take time to explore Heraklion in depth including the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Palace of Phaistos and the Gortyn Archaeological Site. In addition to its quaint villages and other attractions, you will also find a wide variety of activities like walking trails, winery tours, scuba diving, boat tours and ferry excursions. The National Tourist Office (tel. 2810/228-225) is at 1 Xanthoudidou, opposite the Archaeological Museum. Its hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Maps and pamphlets are provided for free, but the information is often a bit basic.

What are the best areas for shopping?

There is no shortage of shopping opportunities on Crete! The best shopping experiences are found in the island's lively markets where you can haggle for Greek specialties as well as local handicrafts. In Heraklion, visit Daedalou Galerie, 11 Daedalou, between Fountain Square and Plateia Eleftheria (tel. 2810/346-353), for a tasteful selection of traditional Cretan-Greek arts and crafts including icons, jewelry, porcelain, silverware and more. Also be sure to check out Eleni Kastrinoyanni-Cretan Folk Art, 3 Ikarou, opposite the Archaeological Museum (tel. 2810/226-186). This is the premier store in Heraklion for some of the finest in embroidery, weavings, ceramics and jewelry. The work is new but reflects traditional Cretan folk methods and motifs. Lately, stores that sell local agricultural products have sprung up all over town. Crete's olive oil, which is among the finest in the world, can be found along with honey, wines and spirits, raisins, olives, herbs and spices.