If you have a day to spend in Heraklion, you should plan a visit to the main sites within the city, which is the shopping and business centre of Crete, and then a small cruise around the most relaxing spots in Heraklion, to enjoy good food and drinks.
Heraklion is a bustling city featuring the typical craze of Greek city centres with crazy moped riders and scooters and a general chaotic look during rush hour. However, there are plenty of things to see and do and many ways to escape the craze and enjoy a nice walk or coffee. Therefore you should either park your hire car somewhere and walk around the city, or if you have opted for a small city car, put your GPS on and go.
Starting from the heart of the city, you should visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion that features a large and impressive collection of the artifacts and findings during the excavations on the island.
Crete is a rich historic island, home to the famous Minoan Civilization; therefore, the findings are truly amazing: the disc of Phaistos, the Snake Goddesses, frescoes and mosaics from the Knossos Palace and much more can be found in the museum. You will spend a couple of hours in it, and it’s really worth the visit; it is a very intriguing way to start your day in Heraklion, especially if you have already visited some of the actual archaeological sites with your hire car.
If you are craving a nice and refreshing coffee after your history lesson, you can go to Korai Street in the city centre. Korai Street is a pedestrian street full of well appointed cafés, a meeting point for visitors and locals. Although typical for Greeks, foreigners are always surprised to see people of all ages enjoying their coffees and long conversations in open air cafés along with their friends.
If you walk down Korai Street you will see the Lions’ Square and the Morosini Fountain, one of the most important landmarks of the city of Heraklion. Take the necessary pictures here and head to Daidalou Street – parallel to Korai – for shopping.
The entire Daidalou street is also a Pedestrian Street, therefore you can enjoy a leisurely stroll while window shopping and choosing gifts and memorabilia from the city of Heraklion. According to the locals, in Daidalou Street you will find the largest concentration of music stores.
If you are interested in some more of sightseeing, you should visit Loggia, a Venetian monument just after the Lions’ Square. Loggia was constructed in 1628 by Morosini and it used to be a gathering place for the nobles and officials in the city of Heraklion. Today it is a lovely landmark and an absolute must see in downtown.
Normally after your daily tour you would like to relax and enjoy some of the infamous Cretan dishes to regain your strength. Head towards Koules, the Venetian Fortress at the old harbor of Heraklion, park your hire car in the port parking lot and walk along the sea wall; the path is called “Bedenaki” and stands for the little wall in Greek.
Across the road there are many taverns and “ouzeri” where you can enjoy ouzo or tsipouro and a vast array of local flavors, while relaxing and enjoying the sea breeze away from the noisy city centre of Heraklion.