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Heraklion is the capital of the Greek island of Crete. For most tourists it is their first impression of the island. In and around the city there are still many reminders of the past. In the city itself, for example, there are fortifications that were built by the Venetians. A little to the south of the city lies the palace complex of Knossos, where the legendary king Minos has his headquarters. Artefacts that were discovered have been placed in the city's Archaeological museum.
Heraklion has about 150,000 inhabitants, which makes it the fifth largest city of Greece.
Heraklion is located centrally on the island's north coast, in the Mediterranean, 100 kilometers to the west of the Greek mainland and 300 kilometers north of Lybia.
The city is the commercial center of Crete. The port plays an important role in the export of products like olives, olive oil, citrus fruit, tomatoes and cheese. The city's industry consists mainly of factories that process or package these products. Agriculture and livestock were the main sources of income until the emergence of tourism in the 1970's. Nowadays, tourism is the main source of income. Crete attracts 2 million tourists a year, most of whom arrive in Heraklion.
Five kilometers to the east of Heraklion lies the most important international airport of Crete, Nikos Kazantzakis. It is a busy airport, which processes many chartered flights, especially during the summer. There are regular flights to other Greek islands and the Greek mainland. Transavia maintains a direct connection with Amsterdam. The road that leads to the airport is called Karou Street.
Crete's other international airport - Daskalogiannis - is located near Chania, 140 kilometers to the west of Heraklion.
There are two bus stations. From station A (opposite the harbor) local buses and buses leave for the palace complex of Knossos and the airport, as well as to the north coast and places in the west of Crete. These buses leave frequently and on time. For all other destinations you need to go to station B, which is located on the west side of the city center, near the old city wall.
People in Greece have a different style of driving than you are used to. Sometimes it appears that traffic lights and road signs have a merely decorative purpose, rather than to indicate what is and isn't permitted. Do keep that in mind! For example: a green light doesn't mean that there won't be traffic coming at you from all sides. In one-way streets you may encounter cars headed in the wrong direction.
Many roads haven't been maintained for years, which means they can be slippery even in dry weather conditions. Furthermore, you may encounter herds of sheep or goats. The basic rule when you are driving on Crete is: always expect the unexpected. On roads outside towns and cities, the speed limit is 90 km/h).
The center of Heraklion is fairly small. Leave your car at your hotel or in one of the car parks around the old city wall and proceed on foot. If you do decide to take your car into the center: there are parking spaces near the old harbor and at El Greko park.
There are many hotels in Heraklion. During the peak season we strongly recommend booking in advance. During the off season you will most likely find a hotel room when you arrive. There are also apartments for rent, both for short and for longer periods.
For more information about Heraklion, we recommend Google, and the following sources: