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Port Of Heraklion Cruise Guide, Crete


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Anastassia Arruda



Welcome to the Port of Heraklion, located on the mesmerizing island of Crete, Greece. This bustling maritime hub welcomes numerous cruise ships each year, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes of this enchanting region.


As the largest and busiest port in Crete, the Port of Heraklion serves as the gateway to the island’s many treasures. Steeped in ancient mythology and historical significance, Heraklion captivates visitors with its archaeological sites, charming neighborhoods, and mouthwatering cuisine. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a sun-seeking beach lover, there’s something for everyone in this captivating destination.


The Port of Heraklion is strategically located to provide easy access to some of Crete’s most renowned attractions, offering a perfect balance of modern amenities and old-world charm. From the moment you set foot on land, you’ll be immersed in the captivating ambiance and warm hospitality of the Cretan people.


With this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the Port of Heraklion, providing valuable information and insights to make the most of your visit. From the facilities at the cruise ship terminal to transportation options, attractions, shopping, dining, and cultural sites, we have you covered. Whether you have a few hours or a full day in port, we will help you create unforgettable memories in Heraklion.


So, get ready to explore the wonders of the Port of Heraklion and discover the hidden gems of Crete. Let the adventure begin!


Port of Heraklion Overview

The Port of Heraklion, also known as Heraklion Port or Heraklion Harbor, is a bustling maritime gateway located on the northern coast of Crete. It serves as the primary port for incoming and outgoing ferry services, as well as a popular destination for cruise ships.


With its strategic location, the Port of Heraklion offers a seamless connection to the rest of the island and beyond. It is conveniently situated just a stone’s throw away from the vibrant city center of Heraklion, making it easily accessible for visitors to explore the city’s historic attractions, cultural sites, and vibrant dining scene.


The port itself boasts modern facilities and infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of cruise ships and ferry services. With its well-designed layout and efficient services, the port ensures a smooth and hassle-free arrival and departure process for tourists.


Visitors arriving at the Port of Heraklion will be greeted by a vibrant waterfront promenade, lined with charming cafes, restaurants, and shops. The exhilarating atmosphere of the port, with its constant buzz of activity, creates a sense of anticipation and excitement for travelers eager to explore the wonders of Crete.


From the port, you can catch a glimpse of the Venetian Walls, a historical landmark that once protected the city of Heraklion. These imposing fortifications date back to the 16th century and stand as a testament to the island’s rich history and strategic importance.


Whether you’re embarking on a cruise or arriving by ferry, the Port of Heraklion offers a warm welcome to all visitors. With its prime location, modern amenities, and easy access to the city’s attractions, it sets the stage for an unforgettable experience in Crete.


As you step off the ship and into the Port of Heraklion, you’ll feel the vibrant energy and allure of this captivating destination. Get ready to embark on a journey filled with ancient wonders, stunning landscapes, and the warm embrace of Cretan hospitality.


Cruise Ship Terminal Facilities

The Cruise Ship Terminal at the Port of Heraklion offers a range of facilities to ensure a comfortable and convenient experience for passengers. From the moment you disembark from your ship, you’ll find a well-organized terminal that caters to the needs of visitors.


One of the key features of the terminal is its spacious and modern design, providing ample room for passengers to navigate and explore. The terminal has a clear layout, making it easy for travelers to find their way around and access the various amenities.


Inside the terminal, you’ll find a variety of services and facilities to enhance your stay. There are information desks where friendly staff members are available to provide assistance, answer questions, and offer guidance on local attractions and transportation options.


For those in need of currency exchange, banking services, or access to ATMs, the terminal provides convenient banking facilities. This makes it easy for visitors to obtain local currency and handle any financial transactions they may require during their time in Heraklion.


Additionally, the terminal offers luggage storage facilities, allowing passengers to safely store their bags while they explore the city. This provides the freedom to wander unencumbered and make the most of your time ashore.


Accessibility is also a priority at the Cruise Ship Terminal. The facilities are designed to accommodate passengers with disabilities, ensuring equal access and comfort for all travelers. Wheelchair ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms are available to cater to the diverse needs of visitors.


To make your visit even more enjoyable, the terminal also features a variety of shops, boutiques, and duty-free outlets. Here, you can browse for souvenirs, clothing, accessories, and local products. The array of choices allows you to find the perfect memento to commemorate your time in Heraklion.


Moreover, the terminal boasts inviting cafes and restaurants where you can indulge in delicious Greek cuisine or enjoy a refreshing beverage. Take a moment to relax, savor the flavors, and soak in the lively ambiance of the terminal.


Overall, the Cruise Ship Terminal at the Port of Heraklion provides a seamless and pleasant experience for passengers. Its modern facilities, range of services, and convenient layout ensure a smooth transition from ship to shore, setting the stage for a memorable visit to Crete.


Transportation Options from the Port

Once you arrive at the Port of Heraklion, you’ll have several transportation options available to explore the city and beyond. Whether you prefer convenience, affordability, or flexibility, there’s a mode of transportation to suit your needs.


One of the most convenient ways to get around Heraklion is by taxi. Taxis are readily available right outside the port, and they offer a hassle-free way to reach your desired destination. Make sure to agree on the fare with the driver before starting your journey.


If you’re looking for a more economical option, public buses are a popular choice. The main bus station is located near the port, and you’ll find a range of routes that can take you to various attractions within Heraklion and other parts of the island.


Another popular transportation option is renting a car. There are several car rental agencies located near the port, giving you the flexibility to explore Crete at your own pace. With a car, you can venture beyond Heraklion and discover the many hidden gems of the island.


For those who enjoy a more active approach to transportation, bicycles can be rented from various rental shops near the port. This allows you to explore the city at a leisurely pace and enjoy the beautiful coastal views along the way.


If you’re interested in experiencing the local culture and getting a taste of traditional life, consider taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. It’s a unique and memorable way to explore the streets of Heraklion while enjoying the nostalgic charm of this mode of transportation.


Additionally, if you’re short on time or simply want a hassle-free option, guided tours are readily available. These tours provide transportation from the port to popular attractions, allowing you to make the most of your limited time ashore and gain insights from knowledgeable local guides.


It’s important to note that Heraklion is a relatively walkable city, and many of its main attractions are within a reasonable distance from the port. If you enjoy exploring on foot, take advantage of the pedestrian-friendly streets and discover the hidden corners and authentic charm of Heraklion at your own pace.


Whatever mode of transportation you choose, keep in mind that traffic can be congested in Heraklion, especially during peak tourist seasons. It’s advisable to plan your itinerary accordingly and allow some extra time for travel.


With a range of transportation options available, getting around Heraklion from the Port of Heraklion is easy and convenient. Choose the mode of transportation that suits your preferences and embark on an adventure to discover the treasures of this beautiful island.


Attractions Near Port of Heraklion

The Port of Heraklion is perfectly situated to provide easy access to a plethora of captivating attractions within close proximity. Whether you have a few hours or a full day in port, there are numerous sights and landmarks that you can explore to immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of Heraklion.


One of the must-visit attractions near the port is the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Located just a short distance away, this museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the Minoan civilization, including the famous Phaistos Disc and the Bull-Leaping Fresco. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the ancient past of Crete and is a haven for history enthusiasts.


Close to the museum is the iconic Koules Fortress. This Venetian fortress stands proudly at the entrance of the old harbor and offers panoramic views of the city. Explore its ancient walls, climb to the top, and marvel at the stunning vistas of the harbor and the surrounding coastline.


For those interested in ancient history, a visit to the Palace of Knossos is a must. Just a short drive from the port, this archaeological site is home to the legendary labyrinth of King Minos and is considered the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete. Immerse yourself in the mythology and explore the ruins of the once-glorious palace.


If you’re seeking a slice of local life and authentic cultural experiences, head to the bustling central market of Heraklion, known as the Agora. Here, you’ll find a vibrant mix of stalls selling fresh produce, local delicacies, and traditional crafts. Stroll through the market, soak in the lively atmosphere, and indulge in some delicious local treats.


Located within walking distance of the port is the historical district of Eleftherias Square. This charming square is a popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike and is surrounded by cafes, tavernas, and shops. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets, admire the beautiful architecture, and soak in the authentic ambiance of this vibrant neighborhood.


For those seeking a relaxing escape, the sandy beaches of Amoudara are just a short drive from the port. Spend a few hours lounging under the warm Mediterranean sun, take a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters, or indulge in water sports activities. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of Crete.


These are just a few of the many attractions near the Port of Heraklion. Whether you’re fascinated by history, intrigued by local culture, or simply want to soak in the beauty of Crete, there’s something for everyone within easy reach of the port. Explore, discover, and create memorable experiences as you delve into the wonders of Heraklion.


Shopping and Dining Options

When it comes to shopping and dining, the Port of Heraklion offers an array of options to satisfy all tastes and preferences. From traditional markets to modern shopping centers and local tavernas to international cuisine, there is something to please every palate and fulfill every shopping desire.


If you’re looking to experience the local culture and find unique souvenirs, head to the bustling central market of Heraklion, known as the Agora. Here, you’ll find a vibrant mix of stalls selling fresh produce, spices, olive oil, local cheeses, and traditional Cretan products. It’s the perfect place to pick up authentic gifts or sample some of the delectable local flavors.


For those who prefer a more modern shopping experience, head to one of the city’s shopping centers, such as the Heraklion Mall or Talos Plaza. These malls offer a variety of shops ranging from international brands to local boutiques, catering to all your shopping needs.


When it comes to dining options, Heraklion is a food lover’s paradise. From traditional tavernas serving authentic Cretan cuisine to international restaurants offering a diverse range of flavors, there’s something for every taste bud.


For an authentic Greek dining experience, sample some of the local specialties such as moussaka, souvlaki, and dakos. Explore the narrow streets of the city center, and you’ll discover hidden gems serving traditional dishes made with the freshest local ingredients.


If you’re in the mood for seafood, head to one of the tavernas along the waterfront and indulge in the catch of the day. From grilled octopus to succulent fish dishes, you’ll savor the flavors of the Mediterranean while enjoying the idyllic coastal views.


For those looking for a taste of international cuisine, Heraklion boasts a wide range of restaurants offering flavors from around the world. From Italian pasta to Asian fusion and everything in between, you’ll find something to satisfy your cravings.


Don’t forget to immerse yourself in the local coffee culture. Sit back, relax, and sip on a traditional Greek coffee or a frappé while people-watching and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of the city.


After a day of exploring and indulging, make sure to save room for dessert. Treat yourself to some authentic Greek pastries, such as baklava or loukoumades, or indulge in a scoop of local ice cream made with delicious local ingredients.


Whether you’re looking to shop for unique souvenirs or indulge in mouthwatering cuisine, the Port of Heraklion has it all. Explore the markets, immerse yourself in the local flavors, and savor the culinary delights that Crete has to offer.


Cultural and Historical Sites to Visit

The Port of Heraklion is a gateway to a wealth of cultural and historical sites that offer a glimpse into the rich heritage of Crete. From ancient ruins to well-preserved landmarks, these attractions provide a fascinating insight into the island’s past and its vibrant cultural traditions.


One of the most prominent historical sites near the port is the Palace of Knossos. This famed archaeological site is believed to be the center of the Minoan civilization, dating back over 3,000 years. Explore the ruins of this ancient palace, marvel at the intricate frescoes, and immerse yourself in the myths and legends that surround this remarkable site.


As you wander through the streets of Heraklion, you’ll encounter the impressive Venetian Walls. This well-preserved fortification system once protected the city and stands as a testament to the island’s turbulent history. Walk along the walls, enjoy panoramic views, and admire the bastions and gates that make up this architectural marvel.


Step back in time and visit the historical Koules Fortress, located at the entrance of the old harbor. This Venetian fortress offers a glimpse into the strategic importance of Heraklion throughout history. Climb to the top of the fortress, take in the breathtaking views of the city and sea, and imagine the stories that this ancient structure holds.


To delve further into the island’s history, a visit to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a must. Explore the vast collection of artifacts from the Minoan civilization, including pottery, jewelry, and intricate sculptures. The museum offers an unparalleled opportunity to understand the ancient history and culture of Crete.


For a taste of traditional Cretan life, visit the open-air museum of Lychnostatis. This unique museum showcases the customs, traditions, and way of life of the Cretan people. Explore traditional houses, gardens, and workshops, and gain insights into the island’s folk heritage.


As you wander through the streets of Heraklion, you’ll also encounter numerous churches and monasteries that reflect the island’s strong religious heritage. The Agios Titos Church and the Agia Ekaterini Church are notable examples, both showcasing stunning architecture and religious art.


Additionally, take a moment to visit the historic Eleftherios Venizelos Square, named after the renowned Cretan statesman. Here, you’ll find the iconic Morosini Fountain, a symbol of the city, and the Loggia, an elegant public building that once served as a gathering place for Venetian nobles.


These cultural and historical sites near the Port of Heraklion provide a window into the past, allowing visitors to connect with the intriguing history and vibrant traditions of Crete. Immerse yourself in the captivating stories and marvel at the architectural masterpieces that have stood the test of time.


Sample Shore Excursions

When visiting the Port of Heraklion, there are a variety of exciting shore excursions to choose from that will allow you to make the most of your time in this captivating destination. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, these sample excursions offer a taste of what Heraklion and its surrounding areas have to offer.


1. Explore the Palace of Knossos: Embark on a guided tour to the Palace of Knossos, one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. Marvel at the ancient ruins, intricate frescoes, and winding passageways as you learn about the fascinating Minoan civilization that once thrived here.


2. Discover the Heraklion Museum and City Tour: Immerse yourself in Heraklion’s vibrant culture and history with a visit to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Explore its impressive collection of artifacts and then embark on a city tour, visiting landmarks such as the Venetian Walls, Koules Fortress, and the vibrant central market.


3. Visit the Historical City of Rethymno: Take a trip to the picturesque city of Rethymno, located on the north coast of Crete. Discover its charming Venetian harbor, stroll through the narrow streets of the old town, and visit the imposing Fortezza, a magnificent hilltop fortress.


4. Experience the Beautiful South Coast: Journey along the stunning south coast of Crete and visit the picturesque villages of Matala and Agia Galini. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Libyan Sea, explore ancient caves, and soak up the sun on the golden sandy beaches.


5. Wine Tasting in the Vineyards: Indulge in a wine tasting excursion to the scenic vineyards of Peza or Archanes. Sample delicious local wines, learn about the winemaking process, and immerse yourself in the flavors and aromas of Cretan wine culture.


6. Discover the Natural Beauty of Spinalonga Island: Take a boat trip to the island of Spinalonga, known for its rich history and stunning beauty. Explore the well-preserved Venetian fortress, learn about its fascinating past as a leper colony, and enjoy the crystal-clear waters surrounding the island.


7. Immerse in Cretan Cuisine and Traditions: Embark on a culinary excursion to experience traditional Cretan flavors and cultural traditions. Visit a local farm, learn about olive oil production, participate in a cooking class to prepare authentic Cretan dishes, and savor a delicious lunch feasting on local delicacies.


These sample shore excursions offer just a glimpse of the incredible experiences awaiting visitors to the Port of Heraklion. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or gastronomy, there are plenty of options to cater to your interests and create unforgettable memories in this captivating part of Crete.


Tips for Cruising to Heraklion

As you embark on a cruise to Heraklion, here are some helpful tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  1. Plan Your Itinerary: Research and plan your shore excursions in advance to make the most of your time in Heraklion. Determine which attractions and activities are a priority for you and create a flexible schedule to maximize your exploration.
  2. Be Mindful of the Time: Take into consideration the time you have in port and the operating hours of attractions. Give yourself enough time to enjoy the highlights of Heraklion without feeling rushed or stressed.
  3. Stay Hydrated: The Mediterranean sun can be intense, especially during the summer months. Carry a water bottle and stay hydrated throughout the day to ensure you’re comfortable and energized while exploring the city.
  4. Dress Comfortably and Respectfully: Wear comfortable walking shoes and lightweight clothing suitable for the weather. When visiting religious sites or museums, be mindful of dress codes and cover your shoulders and knees out of respect.
  5. Carry Essentials: Bring a small backpack or bag to carry essentials such as sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a map, and a camera. It’s also recommended to carry a photocopy of your passport and other important documents, leaving the originals securely locked onboard your cruise ship.
  6. Stay Connected: Check your phone plan for international roaming options, or consider purchasing a local SIM card for internet access and calling capabilities while in port. This will allow you to stay connected and easily navigate your way around Heraklion.
  7. Try Local Cuisine: Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the delicious flavors of Cretan cuisine. Seek out local tavernas and restaurants to indulge in traditional dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Don’t forget to try the local olive oil, feta cheese, and wines!
  8. Respect the Local Customs and Traditions: Familiarize yourself with some basic Greek customs to show respect for the local culture. Greeks are known for their warmth and hospitality, so reciprocate that kindness and ensure you’re mindful of local etiquette.
  9. Budget Accordingly: Set a budget for your spending in Heraklion, including souvenirs, dining, and any additional activities. While bargaining is not common in stores, it’s always a good idea to compare prices before making a purchase.
  10. Leave No Trace: Respect the natural beauty of Heraklion and follow sustainability practices. Dispose of waste properly and be respectful of the environment, ensuring that you leave no trace behind.

By following these tips, you’ll have a memorable and enjoyable experience cruising to Heraklion. Immerse yourself in the local culture, explore the historical sites, and savor the culinary delights that make this beautiful destination so unique.



As you disembark at the Port of Heraklion, you’ll be greeted by a vibrant and historically rich city, ready to be explored. From the moment you step ashore, you’ll be immersed in the captivating allure of this captivating destination. With its diverse range of attractions, including ancient ruins, museums, charming neighborhoods, and mouthwatering cuisine, Heraklion offers a unique blend of cultural, historical, and natural treasures.


Whether you choose to visit iconic landmarks such as the Palace of Knossos and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, or wander through the narrow streets of the old town, each step will transport you back in time, revealing the layers of mythology, history, and heritage that have shaped this remarkable city.


The Port of Heraklion serves as the gateway to a plethora of experiences that cater to all interests and preferences. Whether you’re a history enthusiast looking to explore ancient ruins, a nature lover seeking the pristine beaches and rugged landscapes of Crete, or a food lover eager to indulge in the flavors of Cretan cuisine, there is something for everyone to enjoy.


From the convenience of the cruise ship terminal to the variety of transportation options, the Port of Heraklion makes it easy for visitors to navigate the city and its surroundings. The warm hospitality of the Cretan people, combined with the modern amenities and well-preserved historical sites, make for a truly memorable experience.


As you explore the streets of Heraklion, you’ll be immersed in the vibrant culture and unique traditions of Crete. From the local markets to the charming tavernas, you’ll have the opportunity to sample the authentic flavors, interact with friendly locals, and create lasting memories.


Whether you have a few hours or a full day in port, the Port of Heraklion offers a captivating glimpse into the captivating island of Crete. So, delve into the rich history, immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, and experience the natural beauty that awaits you in this extraordinary destination.


As you embark on your cruise adventure to the Port of Heraklion, get ready to create unforgettable memories that will stay with you long after you depart. Soak in the sun, marvel at the ancient ruins, indulge in the delicious cuisine, and embrace the warm hospitality of the Cretan people. Your journey to Heraklion will be one filled with wonder, discovery, and an appreciation for the rich heritage of this enchanting region of Greece.