Port of Hersonissos (Limin Hersonissou)
Hersonissos is a mega-tourist resort, 25km east of Heraklion. Its little port provides without doubt one of the prettiest views of Hersonissos, with fishing boats bobbing on the water and the little church of Ayía Paraskeví on the background, half-hidden in the cave-like opening of the rock. Most of the tourist scene is clustered around here, with a cosy pedestrian zone lined with shops, cafeterias and taverns, some of which are really enjoyable. On the hill slope over Hersonissos there are three neat, picturesque villages that offer a welcome escape from the crowds and the frenzy, with a beautiful panoramic view of the bay below, a wonderful relaxed atmosphere and plenty of romantic taverns.
Koutouloufari - Piskopiano - Old Hersonissos
These three picturesque villages on the hill slope over Hersonissos offer great views of the Gulf below and an escape from the crowds and the busy tourist resort of Port Hersonissos. (Text about Koutouloufari, Piskopiano and Old Hersonissos courtesy of www.explorecrete.com.)
Koutouloufari is a village of roughly 600 inhabitants on the slope of Mt Pyrgias at an altitude of 100 metres. It is 29 km east of Heraklion and less than 1km from coastal Hersonissos. Koutouloufari with its narrow paved streets and old Cretan houses attracts those who want to spend their holidays in the busy tourist area in Crete - which stretches from Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos, offering many beaches, attractions, sights and activities and is near archaeological sites such as Knossos and Malia - but who prefer to stay in a quiet environment with a traditional flavour and a lovely view of the Sea of Crete. In Koutouloufari you will find old stone houses with arches, arched doorways and inner courtyards roofed with vines offering shade and grapes in summer. You can stroll through the paved streets or take the road down to Hersonissos through the hills covered with olive trees. You can even see Cretans in traditional costume on the Cretan Nights held in the nearby village of Ano Hersonissos every Monday. More information about Koutouloufari
Piskopiano is a traditional village of 450 inhabitants, about 25km east of Heraklion. It is the middle one of the three traditional villages (Ano Hersonissos, Piskopiano, Koutouloufari) found 1km south of coastal Hersonissos, or Limin Hersonissou as is it officially known. Piskopiano, like the other two villages of Ano Hersonissos and Koutouloufari, lies on the slopes of Mt Harakas, quite a bit higher than coastal Hersonissos. This makes it a great place to sit on your hotel balcony or in a café or restaurant and enjoy the panoramic view. More information about Piskopiano
Although it is so close to coastal Hersonissos, picturesque Ano Hersonissos is a vastly different place, without the dozens of bars, shops, hotels and intense nightlife of its neighbour. Ano Hersonissos is small, picturesque and quiet. Although affected by tourism, it retains most of its traditional architecture and the pace of life is slower than that of the modern cities on the north coast of Crete. You can wander through the narrow alleys and admire the stone houses with their courtyards full of flowers, the old wells and the outdoor wood-burning ovens. There are two churches in the village, one in the main square and one at the end of the village. Both are typical examples of Byzantine art and are worth a visit. The best spot in Ano Hersonissos is definitely the round village square, surrounded by little tavernas and with a fountain in the middle. In daytime the square is almost empty, but on summer evenings it is full of life. Locals and tourists fill the tavernas to try tasty Cretan dishes, drink the local wine and have fun with their friends. In recent years the tavern owners have organised a Cretan evening once a week, usually on Mondays, with live music and traditional dances. But things change every year, so ask if they’re still on. More information about Ano Hersonissos
Museum of rural life
The Museum of Rural life in Piskopiano opened in 1988. This new museum is located in the traditional village of Piskopiano, 3km south of Port Hersonissos. It is housed in the village’s old olive-oil mill (named ‘fabrika’ by the locals), which was constructed in the mid 19th century. The restoration of the building and the addition of the museum extension were funded and supervised by the Society of Cretan and Historical Studies (EKIM). The visitor can gain an understanding of daily life and occupations of the Cretan farmer before the introduction of modern technology. The exhibits are grouped according to themes: The cooper’s workshop – The olive-oil press – The carpenter’s workshop – The blacksmith’s workshop – The daily household chores, tasks. Many of the wooden and metal tools on display are no longer in use and have become valuable collectors’ items. These items capture the toil and the character of rural life before the advent of the modern life style. The museum collections are supplemented by exhibition of photographs on the upper floor. Visiting hours: 09:00 – 14:00 daily.
A visit to this open-air folk museum, whose name implies a traditional little oil lamp holder, is propably the most attractive alternative if you haven't had a chance to explore the “real” inland of Crete. Situated on the cost between Stalida and Hersonissos, it offers an authentic view on traditional life and housing by way of recreating a Cretan village, complete with chapel, windmil and an exhibition on the island's mineral wealth. More information about Lychnostatis (in Greek)
Cretaquarium is part of the Thalassocosmos complex, the largest research, technology and entertainment centre in the Mediterranean.Thalassocosmos extends over 6 hectares in the northwest shoreward section of the former American Base at Gournes, Heraklion. It includes the Central Building (approx. 5,500m2), which houses research facilities for marine sciences such as Oceanography, Marine Biology and Genetics and Marine Biological Resources, alongside the administrative and financial services of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (Crete). Added to this is the Institute of Aquaculture Building (approx. 3,500m2) and Cretaquarium (approx. 3.500m2). The Cretaquarium building lies about 100m from a long sandy bathing beach. More information about Cretaquarium
Crete Golf Club Hersonissos
A modern 18-hole championship golf course that covers a surface area of 6,400 yards. With each hole individually sculptured and seamlessly blended into the surrounding scenery, the course provides extensive practice facilities, including a covered driving range with 38 positions for players. Each hole has a selection of four tee beds, thus providing a challenge for all golfers, regardless their level of play. An excellent desert-style course with stunning views and a terrace opening overlooking its three lakes and the green course, with a spacious restaurant and golf equipment shop. Clubs, trolleys and buggies are for rent. More information about Crete Golf Club
Malia is a place with many aspects that combines splendid beaches, stunning landscapes and charming mountain villages with a touch of traditional charm. Apart from that Malia has also established a reputation of being one of the most dynamic and vibrant places in Crete. Have a walk in Malia's Old Town to absorb a touch of its traditional charm. Especially in the evening, the labyrinth-like alleys and picturesque, flower-filled courtyards give it that little something that makes it appealing and cherished. Have a look inside of one of the small, white-washed, Byzantine churches and their beautiful wall paintings and icons; you’ll be amazed at the refined atmosphere there is inside. For your dining pleasure, experience the culinary Cretan delights or flavours from around the world in one of the inviting taverns. Some of them are located in beautifully restored old Cretan houses that have kept their initial character.
The idyllic mountain village Krassi is the easternmost village of the prefecture of Iraklio with a population of 350. Perched on the northern slopes of Mt. Selena, at an altitude of 600m above sea level, it breathes a feeling of serenity with a giant plane tree – proudly presented as the oldest one in Crete – and with a well that has water running directly from the springs of Mt. Selena; there’s nothing like its cool shade on hot summer days! Chill out and relax in the cozy surroundings of one of the inviting taverns that serve delicious, authentic Cretan cooking with pure ingredients or enjoy Greek coffee or home-distilled rakí in the tiny coffeehouses.
This pretty mountain village on the way to the upland plateau of Lassithi has preserved its traditional character and takes you back in time, with picturesque alleys and flower-filled courtyards, where locals are sitting outside their doorstep in the loom of the evening, chit-chatting about everyday things, with lovely whitewashed churches and chapels, like the church of Panayía and its impressive Byzantine icons and wall paintings. Relax and enjoy Cretan hospitality on the shady village square for either a typical Greek coffee or rakí, or a hearty, home-made Cretan dish. Weekends you may even witness a typical Cretan wedding or a traditional (organized) Cretan night.
Lassithi Upland Plateau
Let the attractive landscape of the upland plateau of Lassithi charm you: With its orchards, crop fields, a deep cave, vast mountains and the occasional white-sailed windmill, you get the feeling of driving away from the bustle of the tourist resorts, straight into the tranquility of rural Crete, where life still follows a slower rhythm. Beautiful panoramic views of the Bay of Malia alternate with olive and vine groves along the uphill drive and stunning, scenic views of the plateau.
The attractive, bustling capital of Crete and the Minoan site of Knossos – allegedly home to legendary king Minos – are well worth a visit. Heraklion is Crete’s biggest city and the island’s main gateway. Although it won’t easily cast off its disorderly image, the historic quarter inside the old city walls is anything but that. Here, traces of the past go hand in hand with a modern, cosmopolitan way of life: Modern shopping precincts with boutiques, mainstream shops, alluring cafeterias and taverns, alternate with beautiful historical buildings, sight-seeing attractions and museums. You will leave Heraklion with only the best of impressions.