Airport Iraklio

Heraklion Airport is by far the largest airport in Crete and with 6 million passengers per year the second largest airport in Greece. Only the airport in Athens is much larger with 18 million passengers, Thessaloniki and Rhodes are slightly smaller with around 5 million passengers. The official name is "Nikos Kazantzakis Airport Heraklion", but hardly anyone says so. Since there is only one airport in the capital of Crete, Heraklion Airport is sufficient. One should pay attention to the different spellings of the city. Iraklio, Iraklion and Heraklio are the same city.

The international abbreviation (IATO code), for example on checked baggage, is "HER".
It is a typical seasonal airport. In winter there are about 10 flights a day, the majority to Athens. In summer there are often 20 flights per hour. Then the planes bring mainly holidaymakers to Crete. After Mallorca, Crete is currently the most popular holiday island of the Germans. There are also many flights from Crete to Great Britain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and France.


The location of the airport is quite favourable, at least as far as the distance to the city centre is concerned. It is only three to four kilometres to the city centre and port of Heraklion. The airport is almost directly at the sea. It is located east of the city centre on the north coast of Crete. This has the advantage that one does not have to drive through the city to the big tourist places like Chersonissos or Malia, as these places are approximately 20 kilometres further east along the sea.

Important tickets for Crete

Some tickets for Crete can be bought in advance on the Internet. This improves the planning of your holiday and saves time as you don't have to queue up at the ticket offices or search for ticket sales points on Crete. Tickets for the 3 most important sights on Crete:

1. Excavation of Knossos, often long queues at the cash desk: tickets Click here

2. A good overview of bus tours to the famous Samaria Gorge, which can be booked online: Click here

3. Former leprosy island of Spinalonga. Various tickets, ferries, tours: Click here

See also: Many other tickets, excursions on Crete: Tickets Crete

Approach by car

Only about 300 meters from the airport Heraklion there is an entrance directly into an expressway along the north coast of Crete. This main road of Crete is marked on the map above with the number 90. The "Highway of Crete" is also called E 75, often official signs often simply "New Road". In west direction you drive on this road on a kind of motorway through the capital of Crete Heraklion further to the two other bigger cities of Crete Rethimno and Chania. As already mentioned above, the way to the east leads to the big tourist resorts of Crete. These are mainly the three villages Chersonissos, Stalida and Malia. Later you reach the city Agios Nikolaos (fourth largest city on Crete) on the expressway. Thus all 4 bigger cities on Crete are located at this national road number 90. The road connection of the airport of Iraklio can thus be drawn as very good. Within 2 minutes from the airport you are on an expressway, on which you can quickly reach all major cities of Crete. Traffic jams are very rare on the big road, you can get there quickly. Those who have never driven a car in Greece will probably have problems with the driving style of the other road users in Greece at the beginning. Drive slowly and carefully!

Orientation at Heraklion Airport

The airport is not very large and bursts at the seams in summer. A new building has been planned for a long time. Given the current financial situation of Greece, however, a new, large airport is not very likely in the next 10 years. The airport looks a bit old and run down. The toilets are often not very clean, sometimes there is even no toilet paper anymore. But you find your way around quickly. In general the airport seems a bit chaotic. On the other hand, as far as we know, there has never been an accident with dead or seriously injured people

Arrival and departure are next to each other. If you leave the airport building, you will find the bus stop for the public buses about 50 metres straight ahead. Most car rental companies are about two minutes' walk to the right of the exit. But some are also on the left. The "motorway", actually an expressway, is about 200 metres in front of the airport building. At the airport there is an entrance in both directions. Behind the airport is the Mediterranean Sea. On the small road (not expressway) towards the city centre there is a petrol station (BP) after about 200 metres. This is important when the tank is empty. If the BP is closed: Some other petrol stations on both sides are only a few hundred metres further. On the expressway in the direction of Heraklion, the first petrol station is only about 40 kilometres away.

Airport Heraklio Gastronomy

The gastronomy at the airport is rather modest and overpriced by Central European standards. In several cafes in the airport, a simple sandwich costs around 5 euros. This is a lot of money for Greece. A can of coke to take away or a simple coffee usually costs more than 3 euros. On the first floor there is a simple self-service restaurant called "Cooking". Snacks and drinks are not cheaper here, but there are simple Greek main courses like Mousaka, Pastitio or Souvlaki for about 10 Euro. An insider tip from us is the kiosk about 100 meters before the entrance to the departure (Departures). Here you can get tasty pastries and other snacks as well as good cafe and frape and soft drinks for much less money. A cold can of cola is available here for 90 cents, mineral water is even cheaper. Tables and chairs are available in a small garden behind the kiosk. Not a bad place to wait for a flight. Most guests are taxi drivers or bus drivers..

Arrival by bus

We feel less happy about the connection of the public buses. There are buses from Heraklon airport to the city centre at least every 15 minutes, except in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, most buses neither go to one of the two bus stations nor to the harbour with the big ferries. This is a constant nuisance for tourists. For people who know their way around, this is a rather small problem. There is a bus stop for the buses on the way to the center opposite a Mc Donald's. From there it is only a 200 meter walk to the big bus station and the harbour. It is best to talk to the driver. Almost all bus drivers in Crete speak English. A ticket in the centre is very cheap. One pays about 1,30 Euro (beginning of 2018) if one buys the ticket at the kiosk at the bus stop at the airport. In the bus, with the driver, it is clearly more expensive (1.70 euros). A ticket to distant suburbs as to the beach Amoudara is slightly more expensive (1,70 Euro or 2,30 for the driver). The line 6 goes from the airport through the city directly to Amoudara.

The bus stop at the airport is very easy to find. It is about 50 meters away from the main exits and signposted. You can also simply ask for "Bus Stop", almost everybody understands that in Greece.

There are also direct buses from the airport to Chersonissos, Malia and Agios Nikolaos. In summer there are several buses per hour to Chersonissos and Malia and about one bus per hour to Agios Nikolaos. These buses are operated by KTEL. The bus stop is about 50 meters from the city bus stop in the direction of Heraklio city on the other side of the street.

There is no train, tram or subway in Iraklio or in the whole of Crete. Some real travellers also walk from the city centre to the airport. One walks for approximately one hour through not very beautiful suburbs. The distance from the harbour and the big bus station to the airport is similar (3 to 4 km).

Taxi at the airport

The taxi drivers at Heraklion airport don't have a very good reputation. However, the majority of drivers are honest. But there are some black sheep. Almost all taxi drivers speak English, German is rarely spoken. The prices are high for Greece. For a trip in the city centre often more than 10 Euro are required. In our opinion it is better to take the bus to the city centre and find a taxi there.

Rent a car

There are at least 20 car rental companies at Heraklion Airport. Almost all are next to each other to the right of the exit on a small hill. Some pick up their customers directly upon arrival at the exit of the main building. Almost all customers have booked the car in advance on the Internet. Of course, you can also rent a car directly at the airport with ID, driving licence and credit card. Since credit cards are not so popular with the locals in Greece, one should also find a car rental company that rents a car without security in the form of a credit card or a high deposit. At least sometimes we weren't even asked for a card. Then you simply pay cash. But you should know a lot about renting a car and read the small print. Under no circumstances should you be able to sign a contract in Greek and understand a contract in English. The most difficult points can be, for example, fully comprehensive insurance (own contribution, etc.). We also had problems with the tank filling. In our rental contract it was translated "Car was handed over with half full tank". In reality the tank was not even a quarter full. In our experience, bargaining and bargaining is quite common, especially with the smaller car rental companies. After our experience the company Citycar is relatively inexpensive. I have never had any problems with this company.

In principle, rental cars in Heraklion are cheaper outside the high season (July to September) than in Germany. A small car should cost less than 25 Euro per day. In the high season also inexpensive small wafers can be clearly more expensive. Some suppliers also offer special vehicles such as off-road vehicles and similar vehicles with all-wheel drive. Whether a child seat costs extra is often a matter of negotiation. Gasoline is more expensive on Crete due to the many tax increases in recent years about 20 to 30 cents per litre than in Germany (as of January 2018). In Heraklion petrol and diesel are somewhat cheaper than in remote parts of the island. So full refuelling at the beginning of the Kretaurlaub is not a mistake.

Our tip: delays, flight cancellations and the like

Unfortunately there are always long delays in flights to Crete. For some years now, passengers have very often been entitled to high compensation under EU law. However, the airlines usually do not inform passengers about this. Only a small proportion of passengers apply for such compensation at all. If a flight to or from Crete is delayed for more than three hours, you very often get 400 euros in compensation. You can file such an application 3 years retroactively. You get the entire sum of EUR 400, even if the flight did not cost so much!

The problem is that many airlines do not pay voluntarily. To enforce this alone or with a lawyer is difficult, a lot of work and often not successful. But there is a great possibility to get compensation without own financial risk. The company Flightright takes over the risk and the work for a part of the compensation amount. You don't take any financial risk personally, Flightright takes over all costs. If you have had a flight with more than 3 hours delay in the last 3 years, you should definitely click here.

Fares and destinations Heraklion

From the biggest airport of Crete you can fly directly to many cities in Europe during the season. The season is approximately from April to October. Not all airlines start flying in April. Most flights are in the haptic season. This is on Crete in the three months July, August and September. In some places, especially on the south coast, September is the strongest month in tourism. In the seaside resorts, August is the most booked month in Crete. In this mobat the flights to Crete are often full and particularly expensive.

If you are looking for a cheap outward flight from Germany to Heraklion and are flexible in time, you should fly to Crete when others fly back. Especially at the end of the holidays many planes fly almost empty to Crete to pick up holidaymakers. This applies not only to the summer holidays, but also to the Easter holidays. Depending on the federal state, this can also apply to Whitsun holidays and autumn holidays. Of course this trick also works in the other direction. Cheap flights from Crete to Germany are available at the beginning of your holiday in Germany. Then the planes come full and fly back almost empty. Often at this time tickets in one direction are more than half cheaper than in the other direction. Who for example is a teacher and for another reason like some children on school holidays is dependent, has thus of course bad luck. For a flight to Heraklion, for example at Easter or during the summer holidays, he has to dig deep into his pocket on the way there and on the way back..

Some data

Coordinates of Heraklion Airport: North: 35° 20' 23'' ; East: 25° 10' 49''

IATA code: HER


Name of the airport: Kratikos Aerolimenas Nikos Kazantzakis (Greek), translated: State Airport "Nikos Kazantzakis". Nikos Kazantzakis is a very famous writer from Crete (among others Alexis Sorbas). English is often read: Iraklio International Airport.

Flight time from Germany to Crete: This depends mainly on the departure airport in Germany. Some aircrafts are also slightly faster or slower than other types of aircrafts. From Hamburg or Bremen a flight to Heraklion is of course longer than from Munich. The pure flight time from Germany to Crete is usually between 2.25 and 3.5 hours.

Airlines from and to Heraklion on Crete (examples)

Aegean Airlines: A large Greek airline with a good reputation. Direct flights from Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Geneva (Switzerland), Zurich (Switzerland), Vienna (Austria), Amsterdam, Copenhagen and many more.

Air Berlin: e.g. Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg as well as Basel and Zurich in Switzerland.

Condor: Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hanover, Stuttgart, Munich etc.

Easy Jet: Often inexpensive from Germany from Berlin and Hamburg

Germania: This airline often flies from smaller airports to Crete (Iraklio) like Bremen, Dresden, Kassel, Erfurt, Münster and Rostock.

Germanwings: Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Hanover, Stuttgart and othersBerlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Hanover, Stuttgart and others

Lufthansa: To our knowledge direct to Crete from Munich only

Sun Express Germany: from some airports like Munich, Nuremberg, Düsseldorf and Hanover to the biggest airport on Crete

TUI-Fly: Many flights to Crete, often not expensive, e.g. from and to Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg, Saarbrücken, also Vienna (Austria) and Basel (Switzerland) among others

Austrian Airlines from Vienna (Austria) to Heraklion

Niki: From several cities in Austria like Vienna, Graz, Linz and Salzburg

In principle, Germany has the most flights from Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Munich and Berlin to Heraklion, in the high season these are on average more than three flights a day. For Berlin we have added the flights from Schoenefeld and Tegel.

You can also fly directly from Heraklion to some other Greek islands. Examples are the island of Santorini, the island of Kos and the island of Rhodes. But most national flights go to Athens and Thessaloniki. In the Crete season, there are also frequent flights to Great Britain, France, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. In Poland and the Czech Republic, too, air travel to Crete has become very popular.

All details are of course, like everything on this website, without guarantee and refer predominantly to the year 2016, 2017 or 2018. There are more airlines and connections than shown above, they are only examples.

The figures refer to the months of the tourist season. In winter there are very few or no direct flights from abroad to Crete. You almost always have to change at Athens airport or less often in Thessaloniki.


Distances from Heraklion (airport)

Distance to Heraklion city center: 3,5 km

Distance from Chania: 142 km

Distance from Chania airport: 148 km

Distance Rethymno: 85 km

Distance Malia: 32 km

Distance Chersonissos: 26 km

Distance to Agios Nikolaos: 64 km

Distance Sitia: 140 km

Distance from Ierapetra: 101 km

Distance to Bali (Crete): 56 km

Distance Matala: 75 km

Distance to Plakias: 119 km

Distance Chora Sfakia: 150 km

Distance to Paleochora: 208 km

Distance to Elofonissi: 230 km (this is the most distant place on Crete from Iraklio Airport)

All figures are in road kilometres and not as the crow flies. All figures are approximate estimates.

The nearest beach is in Karteros, just east of the airport. However, there is a military gliding in between, so it is too far on foot.


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