The Venetian walls, the Ottoman monuments, the famous Lion’s Square with the well-known Morosini Fountain (called Jigante before the centrally placed giant statue of Poseidon was destroyed), the impressive Loggia building that once was the meeting point of Venetian and local noblemen today houses the Town Hall, the Central Market, St. Mark’s Basilica and the imposing Koules Building are just a few of the landmarks of a city that may struggle to retain its identity in its newest building blossom but still keeps in touch with its past. And the city’s Archaeological Museum; a treasure trove of Minoan art (among the exhibits there is the Phaistos Disc), is one of the most important prehistoric art museums in the world.
Probably the best example of the concept of an open air museum in Europe today, the Palace of Minos, built around 1900 BC. and being the largest center of Minoan civilization, it is an imperative immersion in the country’s heritage. The visit starts of course from the Palace (from the royal apartments, the vaults and the throne room to the customs in the north wing and the south Propylon), however there are monuments outside of it, most distinct being the Royal Manor House, the House of the Frescoes and the Royal Temple-Tomb.
Highly youthful and full of sun loungers, parasols and sea activities, Hersonissos Beach is the most vibrant beach near Heraklion. Malia beach is a well-organized option too, while the neighbouring beach of Agia Pelagia, proposes a peaceful choice. The vast, 5km coastline of Amoudara is at the top of surfers’ preferences, with other highly rated options being the Kartero with its large beach bars and Arina with its wide range of beach sports. To the south, the golden-brown Matala beach is a landmark of the county, yet nearby is the quiet Red Sand beach accessible either by sea or on foot (20-minute walk). The beautiful Chrysostomos beach offers swimming with an archeological twist. It is where ancient Lassaia was located and ruins of its harbor are still distinguished between the rocks of the beach and on the nearby small islet.
The ultimate street food of Heraklion, as well as a comfort food for night crawlers, Bougatsa is served in all variations found across Greece, plus the sour mizithra cheese cream which is produced in Crete. The main treat around which the New Year’s table is set up, bougatsa (or “bogatsa” as the locals call it) is associated with the urban customs of the city, as it is rumoured that it was established by the gamblers who had just returned to their homes on New Year’s day and wished to treat their family before bringing the bitter news of their loss of money. Hence it is the first dessert that locals eat on every New Year’s Day, either at home or in the outdoor kiosks that spread out on the streets during the holidays.
Boubouristi, in tomato sauce or with hondro (groats); hohli (escargots) is a Cretan gourmet specialty causing controversy amongst consumers. The flesh of escargots, either harvested by the elderly in the fields after the first autumn rains, or farmed in special organic farms, has a taste and texture so special that it is difficult to forget or describe, while the process itself of preparing and consuming them has a rite of passage that makes their experience almost mystical.
Although the residents of Heraklion boast about their raki (against the tsikoudia represented by the neighbours of Chania), the region is mainly famous for its wine, which complements the dinner table along with amazing cooked dishes such as hohli, artichokes with beans and rooster cooked with wine. Follow the local wine routes of the wineries and pay close attention to Archanes, an area that produces famous wine from its rosé grapes.
Useful phone numbers
Tourist Police: 2810274040
Port Authority: 2813406910
Radio Taxi: 2810210102
General Hospital: 2813408000
All Inclusive Dining has carefully selected a collection of authentic local restaurants in Heraklion and surroundings to provide delicious culinary experiences with the touch of the famous Cretan hospitality.
All Inclusive Dining’s packages, offer the Pre-budgeted, Cash free, Credit Card free, Stress free experience of an all-inclusive hotel, regardless of your accommodation preferences. With freedom to choose your dining time and place you get the opportunity taste local food at it’s authentic source.