There’s no shortage of things to do in Heraklion, the bustling and ancient capital of Crete. Also known as Iraklio, this city is packed with opportunities for adventure, exploration, and fun!

Adrenaline junkies can get their fix with activities like paragliding and quad tours. Prefer your feet firmly on the ground? You’ll find many tasty treats and hidden secrets in the narrow, twisting alleys of Old Town. In fact, many of the best things to do in Heraklion are conveniently located within walking distance of each other, including museums, shops, and markets.

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The Historical Sights of Heraklion

It seems there’s an ancient monument everywhere you turn in Heraklion! Strolling through the heart of the city, you’ll come across features like the Morosini Fountain, the Venetian Loggia, and the Saint Titus church.

Other notable landmarks include the Koules Fortress and Venetian City Walls. Standing strong at the port, they were once part of a formidable defense. Today, tourists flock in their thousands to admire the well-preserved architecture.

Perhaps the most famous sight is the Palace of Knossos. Its ruins lie five kilometers south of Heraklion. This fascinating archaeological site is attributed to the Bronze Age Minoan civilization.

If you’re a proper history buff, you’ll love the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Its reputation as one of the most significant museums in Europe makes it one of the top things to do in Heraklion.


Palace of Knossos

Enjoying Heraklion's Culinary Scene

For an authentic experience, duck into one of the traditional tavernas around town. The mouthwatering meals, music, and famous Cretan hospitality will have you eating, drinking, and dancing well into the night. 


The mouthwatering meals, music, and famous Cretan hospitality will have you eating, drinking, and dancing well into the night. It would be rude not to try the raki, a potent grape-based booze and a symbol of friendship and camaraderie.

Looking for something on-the-go? It’s hard to resist the aroma of rich buttery pastry wafting from the bakeries. Give into temptation and try some Kalitsounia, miniature soft cheese pies often sweetened with cinnamon, vanilla, and citrus. Another popular option is Xerotigana, chewy dough sticks drenched in syrup and topped with nuts.

Local Markets in Heraklion

When it comes to shopping, the Open Air Bazaar of Heraklion is a bustling flea market in the southeast of the city. Frequented mostly by residents, here you’ll find enthusiastic traders selling fresh fruit and vegetables from nearby farms.

For something more touristic, head to The Heraklion Central Market on 1866 Street. It’s a great place to source local cheeses, olives, and other food, as well as souvenirs, shoes, clothes, and handicrafts.

The busiest and best time to go is early morning—a smart move to avoid the sweltering midday sun. Plus, you get to experience the magnificent market chaos and mix with the locals!

Whether you’re just browsing or plan to shop ‘til you drop, there’s everything from independent stores to mega-chains like Zara all within a few minutes walk. Need to rest your weary feet? Retreat to a shady café, sip a Greek coffee, and watch the passers-by at one of the city’s gorgeous parks or squares.


Outdoor Things to Do in Heraklion

Heraklion is an adventurer’s playground, providing exciting activities from the sky to the sea. Feel the rush of paragliding or sink into the colorful underwater world from Mononaftis Beach. The dive spot there is known for its diverse marine life and is the best in the area.

Other outdoor excursions include quad safaris, jet skiing, and luxury catamaran cruises. Landlubbers might prefer to see the island via a 4×4 cabriolet. Expect to see local olive oil producers, ancient monasteries, and breathtaking caves along the way.

Heraklion's Nightlife and Entertainment

It may not be known for its wild party scene, but Heraklion can hold its own when it comes to nightlife! Malia, Stalis, and Hersonissos are the busiest nightlife spots near Heraklion, a short distance from the city itself. These lively areas have a mix of Greek and British-style drinking holes as well as exclusive beach bars to please all tastes.

Heraklion’s style is more pubs and bars than nightclubs, but you can still put your dancing shoes on at venues like Halavro Open Bar or Island of Desire.

If you’re unlucky with the weather, there’s Indoor entertainment nearby, too. Check out Iraklio Bowling Centre or visit one of the many escape rooms or the aquarium.


Come Visit Heraklion

Whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure or deep cultural immersion, there are plenty of things to do in Heraklion. At Oreo, we have charming villas and stunning houses to suit every budget, perfect as a base to explore Heraklion’s attractions.

One thing’s for sure: with its rich cultural wonders and modern, cosmopolitan atmosphere, Heraklion promises to be a destination you’ll never forget.