Flights to Heraklion
On the Greek island of Crete is the city of Heraklion and it’s the capital and largest city of the island. Overall, Heraklion is the fourth largest city in Greece and is an ancient settlement that offers a great deal of history to the visiting tourist.
Flights to Heraklion are served by the local Heraklion International Airport (airport code: HER). It’s just outside the city. Most flights to Heraklion have 2 connections when coming from South Africa with the exception of Swiss Air. They offer a 1-stop flight that goes through Zurich. Turkish Airlines will have transfers in Istanbul and Athens, and Lufthansa has connections in Frankfurt and Athens. You can also get a flight to Heraklion with South African Airways, and they stop in Cairo and Athens.
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The Tourist Attractions of Heraklion:
Though Crete has many resort towns, Heraklion can’t really be considered one of these as it’s actually a sprawling and busy city. If you’re thinking of staying in Heraklion itself it’s going to suit tourists who are coming to see the history and culture rather than those looking for a beach holiday. Having said that, there are many places in Crete that you could stay for a beach holiday, then take a couple of day trips into Heraklion to see the sights. This way you get to enjoy the best of both worlds!
Historcal Attractions of Heraklion
Heraklion was founded in the year 824AD by the Saracens, so it’s an ancient city. Nearby are the ruins of the palace of Knossos, an even older settlement which was important during Minoan times as it was the largest settlement on Crete.
Knossos is one of the top attractions of the Heraklion area and it’s the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete. There are some well preserved ruins here as well as sections that have been substantially restored by archaeologists to show visitors just how impressive they would have been in ancient times.
Much later Heraklion was a Venetian city (from the 1200s) and there are still buildings from those times in the city centre today. The Venetian walls are a major landmark, as is the Venetian Fortress that guards the harbour, called Rocca al Mare, built between 1523 and 1540. The Venetian Loggia is a striking building with its arches, typical of Venetian architecture – it was built between 1626 and 1628.
After the Venetians came the Ottomans, taking over the city in 1669. Their legacy can be seen in buildings like the Ottoman Vezir Mosque which was built in 1856.
Museums in Heraklion
Heraklion has a number of museums where you will be able to find out more about the city’s long and varied history. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum would be the best place to start as it includes finds from the Minoan civilisation that have been excavated from all across the island of Crete. There are finds from later civilisations too, including the Romans.
The Historical Museum of Crete is another in Heraklion though it does not have quite the same wow factor as the Archaeological Museum.
When Should You Visit?:
There is lots of sun and hot weather during the summer months, typical of Heraklion’s Mediterranean climate. Temperatures peak in July and August around 28.5C, and dropping only to around 21C over night. There’s barely any rainfall from June to August, and a little in May and September, then the rainy season starts in earnest from October through the March.