Iraklio (population 160, 000) is the
biggest city of Crete and the 5th biggest city of Greece.
During Minoan times it was the famous port of Knossos.
Iraklio is now the capital of Crete. Many tourists find it
an ugly city, while others like it. In the centre is a
pretty, if small old town. The rest of Iraklio is a
sprawling mass of charmless concrete.
Getting to Iraklio: The airport,
3km away from the city, is the largest on Crete and can be
easily reached from the centre with bus number 1. 80% of
all tourists coming to Crete arrive here. There are
several flights every day between Britain and Iraklio in
the summer, but almost none in the winter. If you want to
take a taxi from the airport, there is a big board next to
the taxi rank with fares listed for the main destinations
of Crete – don’t pay more than that.
Buses remain cheap: you can travel for 100km on €8. There
are two bus stations in Iraklio, which is rather
confusing. Buses along the main Cretan highway (West to
Chania, or east to
Ierapetra) leave at least hourly. Many other buses go to
Knossos, the most famous sight of Crete
is 7km from Iraklio, and has buses every 20 minutes.
The best cheap pension in the town
center is Rea Hotel. Rooms with and
without bathroom, Book here
. The owners are very friendly. They have a lot of
information about Iraklio and Crete.
If full or closed (in winter)
Mirabello Hotel is an other good option.
two youth hostels, ‘Youth Hostel’ and ‘Rent Room
Hellas’. Both are in the centre and quite expensive at €14
a night. Hellas is a bit better than the Youth Hostel, but
other hostels in Crete – especially in Plakias and
Rethymno – are much better places. If you go out to eat in
Iraklio, there are hundreds of places. Go where the locals
go, and you won’t be disappointed; give the tourist
restaurants a wide berth.
(Hellas Rent Rooms in the
central pedestrian area)
IraklioOld Port: In Venetian times, the
port was very important. There is a big monument, Koules,
looking over the harbour. From the port you can walk up a
large street called August 25th to the old town.
Old Town: The street ends at Plateia Elefteriou
Venizilou. Here you can see the Venetian fountain Morozini
(also known as the Lion Fountain), which is the centre of
the Cretan capital. In the old town the main sights are
the church Agios Titos and the ancient library of Vikelea.
Archeological Museum: By far the most important
museum on Crete. It contains countless artefacts from the
Minoan period, many from nearby Knossos. Unfortunately,
the exhibits are poorly described. The museum shop has a
guide, which helps a little bit. The museum is open in
summer until 7pm, and until 5pm in winter. In summer 2008
the museum was closed for renovations – nobody could tell
me when it will open again.