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Ruled by the Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans, and once home to the painter El Greco, Heraklion is a place filled with history, culture and colour. Situated on Crete’s northern coast, it’s a bustling and vibrant city. It boasts a lively bar and club scene, fascinating cultural attractions, and some of the best shopping and dining on the entire island. What’s more, it's close to the airport, making holidays very convenient.
Heraklion has its own international airport, located just over two miles east of the centre. Known officially by the full title "Heraklion International Airport 'Nikos Kazantzakis'" (HER), it is named after the Greek author who wrote Zorba the Greek. It is the second busiest airport in the whole country, and the main travel hub for the island of Crete. As well as serving the city of Heraklion, it is also a jumping-off point for the resort towns of Malia and Hersonissos.
The majority of flights operating out of Heraklion Airport are seasonal, due to the island’s popularity as a summer holiday destination. However year-round flights are available to and from other airports within Greece. Most major airports in Europe offer direct flights to Heraklion during the peak summer season. For origin points outside of Europe, or for off-peak travel, connecting flights can be booked using the Expedia search tool.
When flying to Heraklion direct, it can be difficult to get business class or first class tickets. If you wish to travel in a higher class than economy, try browsing flights with British Airways, Swiss or Air Berlin. If you’re seeking a low-cost carrier, consider flying with Vueling, easyJet or Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Heraklion is the fourth largest city in Greece and boasts a good infrastructure. A number of public buses serve the city, offering transport to and from the airport, and to tourist attractions such as the archaeological site at Knossos. Other buses offer transport around the island and to major cities such as Chania. It’s also easy to travel around by taxi when you are staying in the city, as there are taxi ranks at all the major tourist spots including the airport.
If you would prefer to have your own vehicle, you will be able to hire one at Heraklion Airport. A main highway for the island, the E75, runs through the outskirts and allows easy access to other main areas of Crete.
The beauty of Heraklion as a holiday destination is that it offers a blend of urban hustle and bustle and laid-back relaxation. Highlights include the astonishing Heraklion Archaeological Museum, the Instagram-worthy Morosini Fountain and the formidable city walls, built by the Venetians during the 15th and 16th centuries. When you’re looking to escape the rush for some quiet time in the sun, get out of the city and head west to Ammoudara or east to Karteros. Both can be reached by car in 15 minutes and boast beautiful stretches of beach.