5 good reasons to go to Heraklion
To see / do
Culture and history
The island’s capital
Heraklion’s Venetian port is guarded by Koules Fortress and is one of the main attractions for visitors to the island. And you can get to know the city by taking a walk around its fortifications. You’ll be able to see fountains, city squares and churches. Agios Minas is the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Heraklion and was constructed in the 19th century. Why not visit the Archaeological Museum which features a number of very beautiful collections.
History and mythology
You really must visit the archaeological site at Knossos, just 5 km from Heraklion. Excavations have revealed an impressive palace. The one you can see was built on top of an even older palace, constructed around 2000 BC. Over the centuries, natural disasters destroyed several different versions of Knossos. Archaeologist Arthur Evans thought he’d found the palace of ‘King Minos’, a mythical Cretan king and constructor of the Minotaur’s Labyrinth.
In the west of Crete lies Samaria Gorge National Park. From May to October, you can follow the 16 km hiking route between Omalos and Agia Roumeli. The pathway is all downhill and takes you through a treasure trove of Cretan nature. You’ll be surrounded by plants and wildlife for the length of your walk and all the way to the sea.
The artisans of Crete
It’s easy to find souvenirs in Heraklion and all over the island. You’ll be able to buy knives, leather items (lots of boots), ceramics, wickerwork etc, all made by genuine artisans. If you’re interested in fine woven items or embroidery, then you must visit Anogia village.
Crete is scattered with vineyards producing high-quality wines, especially reds. On the ‘wine roads’ of Crete, you’ll discover PDOs from Peza, Ahinos, Dafni and Sitia. You’ll be able to taste high-quality wines with plenty of character from the Heraklion region, Chania and Lasithi Plateau.
It’s not just the French who eat snails. The Cretans are also partial to a few. If you’d like to try a traditional snail dish, then boubouristi is just for you. The snails are boiled in water then sautéed in a frying pan. And the dish is finished off with a few herbs and wine or wine vinegar.
You can’t leave Crete without trying kalitsounias. Kalitsounias are delicious little pastry parcels made using mizithra, a mild, soft, white cheese. They are often flavoured with cinnamon, but other flavourings such as honey can sometimes be used. Cretans often make them in the period leading up to Easter.
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