Top 8 things you should do with your family whilst in Heraklion
- The Morosini Fountain, also known by the locals as Lions Square, is a must-visit. Situated in the most central part of the city, the fountain is a meeting point for both locals and tourists. Ask your children to count how many lions they can see, and don’t forget to try the delicious local bougatsa which you can buy at the two traditional bougatsa cafes located right next to the fountain.
Opposite the Morozini Fountain you will see the Basilica of Saint Mark and Lotzia, two well preserved Venetian monuments. Various art exhibitions are hosted inside the basilica from time to time – certainly a pole of attraction for art lovers.
2. Walk along Heraklion beachfront, starting from Talos Plaza Shopping centre and continuing towards the port. Take a deep breath and fill your lungs with fresh sea breeze while looking out to sea to the islet of Dia. Conquer the fortress of Koule dating back to Chandax, the Venetian name of Heraklion.
If you have enough time, visit the Natural History Museum situated halfway along the waterfront. Your children will be fascinated by the exhibits!
3) Visit the Cathedral of Saint Minas, the largest one in the capital city, which is dedicated to Saint Minas, the tutelary saint of Heraklion. The square in front of the main entrance to the church is the absolute ‘meeting point’ for all the city’s pigeons, so arm yourselves with bread, biscuits or seeds and let your children play!
Don’t forget to light a candle, and have a look at the bomb outside of church. This bomb was fired by the German troops during World War II and miraculously never exploded, saving the lives of dozens of faithful Cretans who found shelter inside the church. Don’t worry, there is no fear it will explode anytime soon!
4) Wander up and down the pedestrian streets of 25th of August St. & Daidalou St.where there are several nice shops with clothes, souvenirs and jewellery. Treat the family to some retail shopping therapy!
5) Get a taste of the daily life of locals by strolling along the central open street market starting from 1866 Street and continuing up to Kornarou Square (or Falte Tzami as the locals still call it).
Within the market, you will find some of Heraklion’s most authentic cafes and raki (local firewater!)- places. In one of the market’s side streets, you will smell the central fish market and witness the vivid temperament of the fishmongers as they try to attract passers-by by loudly shouting out how fresh their fish is.
If you are visiting here around noontime, another pleasant aroma will waft your way. Follow it and you will reach Grousouzadika, one of the favourite places of the locals for juicy lamb chops and various other grilled meat delicacies.
6) The world-famous Palace of Knossos is an attraction that cannot be left off this list, even though it is not located inside the city but on its outskirts.
If you want to learn more about the Palace of Knossos and the Minoan civilization, we highly recommend that you download the Kids Love Knossos App, a series of audio stories for children. These stories will change your visit to Knossos into a whole new experience, with fun and highly educational audio stories for all the family.
7) Admire the various Minoan exhibits at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, including the enigmatic Phaistos Disk.
For a combined private guided tour to the Palace of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion with your family, click HERE! We would love to help you make the best out of your experience in Heraklion.
8) If it isn’t too hot, take a walk up the Martinengo Bastion. Once you reach the top of the hill you will see the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, one of the greatest Greek writers, poets and philosophers of the 20th century. His famous works, including ‘Zorba the Greek’ and the ‘The Last Temptation’ have been translated in many languages. His grave is decorated with a big wooden cross and the view from there is outstanding.
If you enjoy walking, follow the path from Kazantzakis grave along the Venetian Walls of the city up to Chanioporta, and enjoy the view of Heraklion from above.
For a private guided tour with your family which combines a visit to the Palace of Knossos, the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and Heraklion city centre, have a look at our Heraklion Private Guided Tours
Kids will love
- The fountain with the lions
- The colourful Minoan frescoes in the Archaeological Museum
Parents will love
- Stop for a meze in the little ‘ouzeris’/ ‘rakadika’ (small tavernas offering the local alcoholic drink ‘raki’)
- Heraklion’s beachfront and Koule fortress
Best season to visit