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How to Spend 3 Days in Heraklion

How to Spend 3 Days in Heraklion

With three days in Heraklion (aka Iraklio), you can discover the area’s 4,000 years of history, savor the local cuisine, wander landscapes like the Samaria Gorge—and even visit another island. Here’s how.

Day 1: Historic Heraklion

Even if ruins aren’t normally your thing, make an exception for Heraklion. Star attractions are the Palace of Knossos, a 4,000-year-old city built by the mysterious Minoan civilization, and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, home to ancient treasures from across the island. Check these off, then learn about Crete’s more recent history while exploring the Venetian Walls and 16th-century Koules Fortress. In the afternoon, immerse yourself in Crete’s culinary delights. Tour vineyards and olive groves; sample ingredients at markets and artisan food stores; or treat yourself to a cooking class. Wrap up your first day with a dinner of local seafood (try the red mullet, a Greek favorite) in one of the pretty eateries that dot the Old Venetian Harbor.

Day 2: Off-Road Adventures

Time for an inland adventure. At 10 miles (16 kilometers) long, the Samaria Gorge is one of Europe’s longest canyons, and for hikers, it’s an essential Crete experience that’s particularly beautiful when the wildflowers are in season. Or, head to the mountains around the Lasithi Plateau, known for its white-sailed windmills. Don’t miss the Dikteon Cave—according to legend, the Greek god Zeus was born among the eerie rock formations framing its underground lake. Spend the evening in true Cretan style, at a dinner show—island wines and local favorites like lamb pair perfectly with folk songs and traditional dances.

Day 3: Island Inspiration

On your final day, cruise to another of Greece’s 6,000-ish islands and islets. Uninhabited Dia is closest to Heraklion, with crystal waters and unspoiled beaches perfect for snorkeling. Or, make your way to Spinalonga, a tiny islet once used to quarantine people with leprosy. Even if you’ve not read the novelThe Island, Spinalonga is an atmospheric place, and many tours include a swimming stop at nearby Kolokytha. Farther afield, but easy to reach on a day trip from Heraklion, the famously scenic Santorini boasts blue and white houses perched on the edge of a giant undersea volcano. Back in Heraklion in the evening, finish up your stay by enjoying the city’s modern side, as you crawl the contemporary bars and restaurants around Agios Titos Square

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13 Tours and Activities | All Heraklion Tours

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Full Day Tour to Samaria Gorge

Full Day Tour to Samaria Gorge

star-4
Pull on your walking shoes for a full-day Samaria Gorge hike in Crete. Traveling by air-conditioned coach, head into Crete’s White Mountains to the entrance to the spectacular gorge, one of Europe’s longest. Ogle the awe-inspiring views as you hike down into, and along, the gorge floor past streams, wild goats, deserted settlements and steep cliffs. Walk at your own pace and finish your Samaria Gorge hike at the beachside village of Aghios Roumeli. Ride a boat from here back to your coach for your return journey.
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  • 16 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$84.68
From
$84.68

Heraklion Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Heraklion Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

star-3
Get to know Heraklion and stop to visit the Palace of Knossos just outside the city on this open-top hop-on hop-off tour. With your unlimited-use 1-day ticket, board the open-top, double-decker bus at any of 10 stops around the city. Then, with your free city map, hop off at the stops of interest to visit attractions such as the Minoan relics at Knossos and the harborside Venetian Castle. Otherwise, stay aboard and absorb the panoramic views of the sights as you learn about Heraklion’s past from the onboard audio commentary.
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  • 1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$17.87
From
$17.87

Santorini Island Independent Day Trip from Crete

Santorini Island Independent Day Trip from Crete

star-3
Visit the spectacular volcanic island of Santorini on a full-day independent trip from Crete. After a hotel pickup, cruise to the beautiful Greek island, and explore as you wish. Admire the stunning scenery and clifftop towns, laze on black-sand beaches, browse the shops of the cliffside capital of Fira, visit picturesque Oia, and relax in the tavernas and bars, many with epic views over the caldera. Finally, catch the return boat from Santorini to Crete for a hotel drop-off. All meals and activities on Santorini are at your own expense.
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$226.33
From
$226.33

Private Cooking Class and Wine Tasting in Heraklion

Private Cooking Class and Wine Tasting in Heraklion

Get a masterclass in Cretan cuisine with a private, half-day winery tour and cooking class in Heraklion. Begin with a visit to a renowned winery, where you’ll learn about winemaking and take part in a guided wine tasting. Then, continue to a reconstructed village and visit a folkore museum before receiving hands-on instruction from one of the locals in the delicacies of Cretan cooking.
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  • 5 hours
From
$420.90
Price varies by group size
From
$420.90
Price varies by group size

Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch

Full-Day Land Rover Safari from Heraklion with Lunch

star-5
Discover ancient Minoan history, Cretan farming culture, and magnificent island views on this full-day off-roading adventure from Heraklion. Travel in a rugged Land Rover along historic mountain trails, stopping along the way to visit the mythological Diction Cave, shepherds’ villages, the scenic Lassithi Plateau, and an eco park where traditional ways of life are still practiced. Replenish your energy with an included lunch and taste of ‘raki’ liqueur at a local tavern.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$89.34
From
$89.34
Taking safety measures

Private Arrival Transfer: Heraklion Airport or Port to Crete Hotels

Private Arrival Transfer: Heraklion Airport or Port to Crete Hotels

star-4
Start your stay in Crete in style with this private, one-way transfer service from Heraklion International Airport or Heraklion Port to your Crete hotel or private residence. Meet your courteous driver at the airport terminal or the portside, and hop into your private, climate-controlled vehicle. Then, sit back and relax as your driver whisks you directly to your accommodation in any of Crete's major resorts, such as Heraklion, Chania, Elounda, Rethymnon, Agios Nikolaos and others.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$31.95
Price varies by group size
From
$31.95
Price varies by group size

Private Departure Transfer: Crete Hotels to Heraklion Airport or Port

Private Departure Transfer: Crete Hotels to Heraklion Airport or Port

star-5
Sit back and enjoy a stress-free ride to Heraklion International Airport or Heraklion Port with this private departure transfer from your hotel in Crete. When it’s time to leave this beautiful Greek island by air or by cruise ship, simply meet your professional driver at your hotel or private residence, hop inside your private, air-conditioned vehicle, and relax as you’re whisked straight to the airport or portside. Just select your pickup location from hotels in many of Crete’s towns, including Heraklion, Chania, Malia, Rethymnon and more.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$31.95
Price varies by group size
From
$31.95
Price varies by group size

Private Tour: Ancient Palace of Knossos, Heraklion Archaeological Museum and City Tour

Private Tour: Ancient Palace of Knossos, Heraklion Archaeological Museum and City Tour

Uncover Greek folklore and ancient Minoan legends with this private, 4-hour tour to Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the Palace of Knossos. Hear the famous myth of Theseus and the Minotaur during a guided tour of the Minoan palace, and see highlights such as the Grand Staircase, Central Court and Throne Room. Then, uncover 5,000 years of ancient history as you explore Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the city center with your private guide. Entrance fees are not included.
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  • 4 hours
From
$460.60
Price varies by group size
From
$460.60
Price varies by group size

The Gourmet Wine Tour of Heraklion area

The Gourmet Wine Tour of Heraklion area

star-5
Taste the bounty of ancient Cretan vineyards and olive groves on a delicious, full-day wine tour from Heraklion. Travel with an oenophile and chef guide through the island’s fertile heartland, visit a winery for a vineyard tour and tastings of different varietals. Sample some of the Mediterranean's finest olive oil at a family domain, and indulge in a gourmet chef’s lunch at a local restaurant, complete with plenty of wine! Tour size is limited to 8 for a more personalized, small-group experience.
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  • 8 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$178.68
From
$178.68
Taking safety measures

Palace of Knossos Skip-the-Line Ticket with Tour Guide

Palace of Knossos Skip-the-Line Ticket with Tour Guide

star-4.5
If you want to make the most of your limited time on Crete, get a skip-the-line ticket for the Palace of Knossos.  With over 1500 rooms to explore, you’ll want to maximize your visit to the well-preserved labyrinth. Avoid the long line of tourists and exposure to the elements. Instead, collect your ticket upon arrival from a conveniently located operator.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$76.24
From
$76.24
Taking safety measures

Full-Day Santorini Island Trip from Crete

Full-Day Santorini Island Trip from Crete

star-3.5
Take a day out from Crete to visit Santorini on this day trip. Board a boat to this famous volcanic island, known for its sea-filled caldera (crater) and black cliffs. On arrival, enjoy a caldera cruise to admire the whitewashed houses perched high on the cliffs, and take an island tour to stroll along the clifftops and visit Thira and Oia. Boat transfers, transport on Santorini, and pickup and drop-off at selected Crete hotels included.
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$215.04
From
$215.04
Taking safety measures

Crete Introductory Scuba Diving Experience

Crete Introductory Scuba Diving Experience

star-3.5
Experience Crete’s undersea world and learn the essentials of scuba diving on this half-day experience. With a qualified instructor close at hand, enjoy a theory and pool training session before an open-water dive. Don your diving gear and descend below the surface to waft over coral-and-rock beds and watch for exotic fish and other marine species. Choose an experience in the Heraklion, Chania, or Rethymno-Georgioupolis area, with no previous diving required.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$91.64
From
$91.64
Taking safety measures

Cretan Folklore Night with Live Music, Dance, and Greek Dinner

Cretan Folklore Night with Live Music, Dance, and Greek Dinner

star-2.5
Enjoy an evening of traditional Cretan fun on this evening dinner-show experience, with round-trip transport included. Travel to an outdoor venue and savor a traditional Greek buffet dinner as you enjoy a folklore show. Tap your feet to live music and be swept up by old-time village dances and folk songs, perhaps even taking to the floor yourself. Includes as much food and wine as you wish, plus pickup and drop-off at selected Crete hotels.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$54.80
From
$54.80
Taking safety measures