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Heraklion

Central Crete (see map )

Heraklion Knossos, Cnossos Haraklion or Iraklio

 

Heraklion or Iraklion is the fourth biggest city of Greece. And being at the economical and administrative center of the island, isn’t always what the tourist, wishing to relax, needs. Nevertheless, there are some good reasons to stay here for a day or two, mainly the Archaeological Museum, one of the worlds more important and the palace of Knossos, where the Minoans have developed Europe’s first civilization. And sometimes, around sunset, look from the port promenade at the anarchic cityscape blended with the Venetian ramparts and you may discover a strange charm, not unlike Cairo or Beirut.Think positive!


COFFEE SHOPS

Judging by the number of coffee shops, everybody in town must be a caffeine-addicted, unless it is a terrace-sitting-and-gossiping addiction. Korai place and St. is where the most cafes are congregated. LA BRASSERIE formerly know as AVGO ("the egg") is one of the oldest and it hosts the left intelligentsia MILON TIS ERIDOS is just opposed. REBEL’S, BESTSELLER, SIRIUS, KORAIS, ASTRA, FIX are Heraklion’s meeting points for the young and the beautiful FLASH used to be the oldest American bar in town, now it adhered to the cafe trend. At Daidalou St. FOUR ROOMS is so classy and JAM CAFE looks very Italian. PAGOPOIEION (‘Ice factory") at St. Titos square, probably the nicest square in town, is a caf?-bar-restaurant which you definitely shouldn’t miss. And we arrive at Lion’s square, once the main place in town, more touristic nowadays. ENETIKON is classy and also frequented by locals. KIRKOR and SALKINTZIS offer the renowned "bougatsa", a delicious crusty cheese pie which natives eat all day long but especially after new-year’s eve parties, we don’t know why. AKTARIKA LOUNGE is one of the biggest coffee shops in town, very popular with the young locals. Near El Greco park TAKE FIVE is where all the local yuppies meet and JACKSON HALL is next door. Handako’s St. gets less and less popular but there are some nice places with their own crowd as JASMIN, MAGEMENOS AVLOS, BONSAI, GUERNICA.

 

RESTAURANTS

We have already presented PAGOPOIEION, the "ice factory" as a caf?, we see it again as the cities top restaurant. You’ll be proposed with strange sounding names as Pluribus Unus, Legeretre, Capella Sixtina, Salmotrella, Spirospira, Easy Dizzy, Ave. Caesar, strange names for sound and tasty plates, at one of town’s nicest settings, we repeat ourselves. At Korai St., LOUKOULOS proposes a very pleasant yard for Meditterannean creations and is frequented by Heraklion’s smart set. KYRIAKO’S on the way to GALAXY hotel, is considered a "classic" choice for fine Greek food. In the central market there is a small street named "GROUSOUZADIKA" which means "dirty shops". Don’t take it literally though, as at these little joints you’ll eat very tasty barbequed lamb chops or you’ll visit the kitchen to choose from appetizing - looking casseroles The same goes for IONIA, very popular with locals that don’t have a wife or mother to cook at home, it’s just as good here. For typical Cretan cuisine, spaghetti with "athotyros", cheese pies, boiled goat, and other non traductible specialties you should visit ERGANOS, EMBOLO and STACHY. Should you prefer some Tex-mex tastes you can try CHILIS at Handakos str.. At Aghios Dimitrios square, on the way to the port, there are many ouzeri, serving mezedes. KAPETANIOS, KATSINAS but our favorite is IPPOKAMBOS, for it’s service, quality and prices. It gets crowded though. For fresh fish along with a nice view to the town from terraces overlooking the sea visit ODOS AIGAIOU or take a taxi to go to Linoperamata, about 5 kms west of town, where there are some excellent fish taverns: NYKTERIDA, PAPADAKIS, ALONAKI, DIDIMOI, DELFINI, KALOUBA, MILTOS. The best souvlaki in town is to be had in 62 Martyron St., the main St. going west to Ammudara and the National Road. The souvlaki stands at Lion’s square are rather overpriced.

 

NIGHTLIFE

Heraklion’s nightlife addresses itself mainly to locals, it can look dumb compared to other cities of the island, but that’s because you won’t see the ready-made industrial "fun", specific in tourist areas. However, it’s harder to find the "right" places, unless you go out with a native, which isn’t always possible of course. In summertime, going to Hersonissos or Malia or along the Ammudara bar area, is the rule, but you can still find some interesting places down-town. LIMENIKON is a caf? with nice views at sunset combined with an indoors club LOFT. Around midnight you can hardly pass, let alone park in the area. Alongside the port promenade is also FUSION, the main house-trance-techno location of Heraklion is in the same neighborhood. PAGOPOIEION has also an aesthetically perfect bar. AKTAIOROS is at Eleftherias sq, perfect to watch rollerskaters and skateboarders. KOO, ENVY and PRIVILEGE are very popular with local youth, with nice balconies looking at the port.

BEACHES - GETTING AROUND

Westside, AMMUDARA is an 5 kms long sandy beach fringed by a power plant and an industrial complex. Very post-nuclear, if you’ve read the "Neuromancer" or "Count Zero" you know what I mean. Perfect conditions for windsurfing, the aficionados meet near the estuaries of Almyros river, very convenient to wash out your board after. You can also head east, after the airport where you’ll find KARTEROS, AMNISOS, TOBROUK and ARINA beaches, at that order. All of them very busy, plenty of sports like beach tennis, volley, etc. going on and some tavernas for cool beers. The main attraction though is looking at airplanes landing at Heraklion’ s airport, one every few minutes in summertime. That is if you are interested in planes.

 

 

Source: Stigmes, Crete's magasine

Nikos Papadogeorgakis


Tip of the day

Numerous thematic museums show Crete’s glorious past and modern cultural life:
Heráklion Archaeological Museum exhibits significant findings of the Minoan Civilisation and is considered to be one of the most important museums of its kind in the world. Thousands excavation finds, from the Disc of Phaestos to the gold pendant of Mália and the clay dancers from Kamilári reveal an ancient-old illustrious past.
• Heráklion Historical Museum presents the evolution of the city during the centuries; among the exhibits stand out three paintings by El Greco and manuscripts of the famous author Nikos Kazantzakis.
• Cretan Ethnology Museum at Vóri reveals the island’s folk life.
• Natural History Museum at Dermatás Bay promotes the unique habitats in Crete and the Mediterranean.
Traditional settlements and historic villages built on mountain slopes and valleys are often surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Discover the local architecture and spirit of Crete at Arhánes, where neoclassic nobility coexists with rural simplicity, or visit Episkopí with its Byzantine churches. Áno Hersónissos is a picturesque hamlet with Byzantine churches, old wells and stone ovens.

 

 


Index: Tourist guide of Crete
Agia Galini Agia Roumeli Agia Triada Agios Nikolaos Akrotiri Almirida Anogia Aradena Archanes Arkadi Argiroupoli Balos Bali Chania Chora Sfakion Chersonissos Chrissoskalitissa Cnossos Elafonissi Elounda Falassarna Festos Fodele Frangokastello Gortyna Gramvoussa Hania Heraklion Hersonissos Hora Sfakion Ierapetra Kalyves Kandanos Kastelli Kissamos Knossos Kritsa Lato Lassithi plateau Lendas Loutro Malia Matala Mochlos Omalos Paleokastro Plakias Preveli Rethymnon Rethimno Rodopos Samaria Sitia Sougia Sfakia Spili Vai Vamos Zakros

 

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