About Heraklion (Crete Island)
A city, port, commercial centre, historical place, scientific centre, Heraklion has a crucial role in Greece and executes it splendidly. With around 200,000 people it attracts more and more tourists every year and makes them feel just like at home. The illustrious images from the past - the city has a Venetian and Ottoman history - still lingers so splendidly among the old city walls, in the museums, and creates a unique ambience. It is a city with good road infrastructure, Heraklion airport is just a short drive away, and car hire in Heraklion is the way to get around. This is simply because you want the freedom to move around the city but also discover more of the Crete island, have daily trips or even a road trip around this wondrous landscapes.
Basic info and car hire in Heraklion (Crete Island)
- Location: North of the Crete Island
- Population: 200,000 (2011)
- Official language: Greek
- Currency: Euro (€).
- Weather: Subtropical-Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Minimum degrees are from 12 in the winter and jump up to over 30 in the summer. Rainfalls are scarce with summer breeze providing a common relief from the heat.
- Public holidays in Heraklion: For public holidays in Heraklion click here »
- Internet coverage: You will find free wi-fi access in these cafes and you are able to access the city’s free network here »
- Road conditions: The roads are relatively well maintained and signalised. A quality map with a scale of at least 1:200.000 will also be very helpful when getting around with your car hire.
Driving in Heraklion (Crete Island)
The roads vary from well-maintained on the highways and major cities like Heraklion, to narrow and scattered with gravel, the more rural your destination gets. No need to panic, a careful and skilled driver will get around just fine. The city itself may be chaotic for beginners as the locals tend to drive around callously and the city having narrow and one-way road systems.
- Age limits: minimum driving age is 18, however additional fees apply for young drivers younger than 25 years
- International Driving Permit: is required only if your national permit is in non-latin alphabet
- Additional papers: a passport, ID and any other vital document recommended by the specific car hire agency
- Additional requirements: A warning triangle and a reflective vest.
- Children in the car: Children of less than 13 years must be seated in the car hire with an appropriate child od baby seat – choose the best option at the time of the booking of the car.
- Driving side of the road: Right.
- Lights: It is only needed to use the light during night time.
- Towns and cities: 50 Km/h for cars
- Outside towns: be attentive, though limit is usually 90 Km/h or 110 Km/h
- Motorways: the common 120 Km/h
- Parking suggestions: There are few municipal parking areas here, otherwise you will notice smaller Parking areas signalised throughout the city that you can make use of.
What to see in Heraklion (Crete Island)
Our favourite spots
One of the symbols of the city is the harbour with its fortress of Koules. Most will have a walk around the ancient premises, enjoying the views and summer breeze amidst Arab and Byzantine architecture – sadly so little of it survived the 20th century modernisation plans.
You will find several parking areas right in the city centre.
Only few miles separate this archaeological site from Heraklion. Drive there with your car hire and discover the unique sites like The Palace of Minos. The town is the centre of the Minoan culture whose remains still paint the towns’ image and a proof of a magnificent history.
Choose a payable parking close to Knossos main entrance, or try your luck with a free parking in the city centre.
It’s the place where you will have the best insight into Minoan civilisation. It displays the archaeological remains gathered across Crete and has an impressive collection worth seeing.
A car park is located just by the museum, how convenient.
Daedalus shopping street
The exquisitely paved street in the heart of Heraklion is made for a casual evening. You will find unlimited shops and cafes there, with a view over the Arab-Byzantine wall. Its remains give this street the charming appearance attracting a vivid crowd and creating a homely atmosphere.
You will find several parking areas right in the city centre, like Central Parking on Koroneou street.
Hotels in Heraklion (Crete Island)
Galaxy Hotel Iraklio
Olive Green Hotel
Agapi Beach Hotel
GDM Megaron Hotel
The hotel is extremely inviting due to its convenient location in the very city district with a panoramic view over the harbour and sea. The personnel possess the professional level and the accommodation is cosy and undoubtedly esthetic.
Drive your rental car around Heraklion (Crete Island)
Scuba diving in Greece is as popular as always and why not try something new with experts on your side. The Kalypso Dive Center & School will teach you, provide you with the quality equipment and make sure you will fully enjoy your underwater experience. They are located in many locations around the island and you can drive up to the closest with your hired vehicle.
The hilly and even mountainous landscapes are just calling for your attention. What caught or eye instantly is the impressive Agiofarago Canyon. Sculpted by the two nearby streams, close to the Odigitria Monastery and just above the Agiofarago beach, it offers nature, calmness and scenic views over the gorge.
Discover the Labyrinth Cave by the Moroni village. Though closed for safety reasons a small part of it can be accessed from the north side of the Hill. The cave was an ammunition storage during the Second World War and still serves as an inspiration to all sorts of artists. It has manmade galleries and Roman pots showing its ancient past.
Where to eat, drink and party in Heraklion (Crete Island)
Enjoy a traditional seafood dish in a lovely ambiance in the park of Nea Alikarnassos. This location is perfect during summer nights for a romantic dinner.
The Herbs Garden is located on the rooftop of Lato Boutique hotel. It offers spectacular views of the Crete’s capital city and freshly cooked traditional Mediterranean dishes.
Located in the city centre, Granary, is a restaurant which also serves amazing coffee in a fine ambiance on their paved terrace. Indulge in some delicious Greek food combined with a great glass of wine.
Another restaurant located near the Lato Boutique hotel, which offers a spectacular view of the Venetian port. Take a bite into the traditional Cretan tasty meals.
Major events and festivals in Heraklion (Crete Island)
The annual art festival attracts an international crowd of performers and visitors. From theatre to music shows, the choice is divers so make sure you find your place – and tickets this whilst visiting the city.
This one-of-a-kind hippy festival taking place on the sandy beach in the Municipality of Festos will revoque the free-spirited child inside you – and isn’t that just what a vacation is for! Concerts and other spectacles for everyone!
Acknowledge the local culture by visiting this charming summer festival. It’s taking place in Ierapetra and gathers the best of local art scene – folk singers, film productions and local dance groups.
The 5 stages of this amazing festival will give you visual, musical and cultural entertainment you can’t miss out on! Even more, the entrance is free of charge so there’s really no excuse for you if you’re in town!
Every February you get to be a part of the crazy Carnival party that floods the city with numerous masks, costumes and joie de vivre. Pick up a theme and experience first-hand this century old traditional lent festivity.