With an enchanting and charming vibe, Heraklion is an amazing place to keep your base when traveling to the Greek island of Crete. One of the best ways to explore the city is by taking the Heraklion Hop On Hop Off Bus. In this post, you will find the information on places that are on the route of Heraklion Hop On Hop Off bus.
During the 7-nights Idyellic Aegean cruise by Celestyal Cruises, I have a stopover at Heraklion after traveling to Thessaloniki and Kusadasi in Turkey. I had just one day to explore this beautiful city and I thought instead of walking around, it is best to take the Heraklion Hop On Hop Off Bus.
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Greece Travel Resources
Peloponnese region: Travel Guide to Trikala Korinthias
Second largest city: One Day in Thessaloniki
Greek Islands: Places to see on Heraklion Hop On and Hop Off Bus, Nea Kameni Boat Tour: Hike on an Active Volcano, Mykonos Solo Travel Guide
Bucket List Stays: Pera Alonia Guest House in Trikala Korinthias
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With a history of thousands of years related to Minoan civilisation, Heraklion is the capital and largest city on the island of Crete. Popular for its museums, beautiful beaches and historical sites, Heraklion is a major tourist destination in Greece. Also known as Iraklio, the port city also has a vibrant and colourful nightlife with plenty of bars and pubs.
History of Heraklion
The history of Heraklion goes back to many millennia. Dating back to Minoan civilisation during the Bronze Age, the city thrived as cultural and economic hubs and the Knossos Palace was the seat of power for the Minoan Kings.
In the 4th century, the city came under the rule of Alexander the Great and became part of ancient Greek world. During the Roman era, the city was known as Candia. During the 13th century, the city became part of Venetian rule until it was passed on to the Ottomans and the city’s name changed to Kandiye.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the island of Crete finally became part of Greece, and Heraklion became the capital city of Crete.
Best Time to Visit Heraklion
The best time to visit Heraklion is during the spring (May to June) and autumn (August to October) seasons. The weather is warm and perfect. Note that these are also the busiest and peak seasons on the island. July is the hottest month in Heraklion.
How many days are required for Heraklion?
You need at least 2 to 3 days to explore the city of Heraklion. With plenty of things to see and do, the city offers a lot to its visitors. But if you are visiting the city as part of your cruise travel, usually you have only a day to explore.
Maximizing Your Time: Historical Places on Heraklion Hop On Hop Off Bus
- The entrance tickets for these sights are not included in your Heraklion Hop On Hop Off Bus fare.
- You can explore the places at your own pace and time.
- There are set bus stations where these buses stop. Usually, these bus stations are very close to the sight-seeing places.
- The Hop On Hop Off buses have various routes. For example, the red bus may take you around only to the historical places whereas the blue bus takes you to the beaches. The fare for one day includes both or multiple of these bus lines.
Koules Castle / Rocca a Mare Fortress
Constructed in the early 13th century under the rule of the Republic of Venice, the Koules Castle or the Rocca a Mare Fortress was built as a defence building to protect the harbour and the city from any potential threats. Name Koules is derived from a Turkish word kule which means tower or fortress.
Historical Museum of Crete
Founded in 1953, the Historical Museum of Crete is a very interesting and prominent museum in the city. Showcasing the history of the island, the museum contains artefacts related to Minoan civilisation, dating back to the Bronze Age.
- The museum is open every day between 9 AM and 5 PM during summer season and between 9 AM and 3:30 PM during winter season.
- There is an entrance ticket of Euros 8 per adult. You can pay by cash or credit / debit card.
Built in the 17th century as a meeting place, Venetian Loggia is a historical building. It is located in the centre of the square known as Liontaria or Morosisni Square.
Natural History Museum of Crete
Opened in 1986, the Natural History Museum of Crete is a display of Crete’s natural history such as rocks, minerals, fossils among others. Serving as an educational centre, the Natural History Museum of Crete is an excellent place if you are interested in the ecosystem of the island.
- The museum is open every day between 9 AM and 8 PM during summer season, and Monday to Friday between 9 AM and 3 PM and Weekends between 10 AM and 6 PM during the winter season.
- There is an entrance fee of Euros 7.5 per adult. You can pay by either cash or credit / debit card.
Gate of Jesus
Named after the Church of Jesus, the Gate of Jesus is a remnant of the Venetian fortifications. Featuring a large gate with two stone towers, the gate is a popular tourist destination in Heraklion.
Situated around 5 kilometres from the city centre, Knossos Palace was largest of the Minoan palaces during the Bronze Age. Associated with the legendary Labyrinth of Greek mythology, where the Minotaur was said to reside, the ruins of this palace were excavated and restored in the late 19th century by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans.
- The palace is open every day between 8 AM and 8 PM.
- There is an entrance fee of Euros 15 per adult. You can buy skip the line ticket prior to visiting that will save you time. Or you can also purchase the ticket at the entrance either by paying in cash or credit / debit card.
Founded in 1883, the Archaeological Museum or the Heraklion Museum has extensive collection of artefacts focusing on the Minoan civilisation. You must see the Snake Goddess and the Bull-Leaping Fresco among the other artefacts and exhibits.
- The museum is open Wednesday to Monday between 8 AM and 8 PM, and Tuesday between 10 AM and 8 PM during summer season. During winter season, the museum is open Wednesday to Monday between 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM, and Tuesday between 10 AM and 5 PM.
- There is an entrance fee of Euros 12 per adult.
Located on the blue line of Heraklion Hop On Hop Off bus route, Ammoudara Beach stretches to several kilometres and is ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
Heraklion Hop On Hop Off Bus – Different Operators
The city of Heraklion has plenty of Hop On Hop Off buses operated by various bus tour companies. Most of them have similar routes and they pretty much stop at the sight-seeing and significant places. You can buy tickets online or on the bus itself.
The price for one day is Euros 15 per person and for two days is Euros 28 per person. You are given a pair of ear plugs that you can tune into during the travel. The buses have constant commentary in various languages (the one I took had 8 different languages) and they provide information on the places that you pass by.
When you wish to explore a place, you can get off from the bus at a bus station and after exploring the place, you can get on to the bus at the same bus station. The schedule of when the buses arrive are displayed at the bus stations.
- Usually, these hop on hop off buses have various lines covering many places. The one that I took had a red line and a blue line. The red one covered all the historical places and the blue one covered the beaches. Depending on where you wish to go, you can get into the bus. The cost for both included is Euros 15 for one day.
How to Get to Heraklion?
Heraklion is one of the important and popular ports on the Aegean cruises that travel in Greece. You get one day to explore the city when you reach by a cruise. As part of 7-nights Idyllic Aegean cruise by Celestyal Cruises I was on, we had a stopover at Heraklion to see the sight-seeing places.
Are you cruising for the first time? Then here are 100+ cruise tips for beginners.
You can fly into Heraklion’s own international airport named Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport. It is connected well with many major cities in Europe and domestically as well. From the airport, you can take a public bus operated by KTEL to different places on the island.
Where to Stay in Heraklion?
Heraklion is the largest city on the island of Crete. And it has heaps of accommodation options. Even though a bit pricey when compared to destinations like Athens, the island does have a wide range of options for stay.
If you are a budgeted traveler and want to stay in a hostel, then consider Heraklion Youth Hostel or So Young Hostel.
Is Heraklion Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
Yes! I found Heraklion very safe for solo female travelers. I walked around the city alone and I did not have any issues. However, like any other city in the world, be cautious and always know your surroundings.
Is Heraklion worth visiting?
Absolutely! The ancient city is extremely lovely and has many things to offer. With amazing museums and historical buildings, the city of Heraklion is totally worth visiting. I would in fact make this city as a base and travel in and around Crete.
In conclusion, Heraklion Hop On Hop Off Bus makes the travel in the city very convenient and easy. You can see and stop at historical places and explore them at your own pace. Hope this post has helped you in planning and finding out about the places that you can see on the Heraklion Hop On Hop Off Bus.
Note: The 7-night Idyllic Aegean cruise travel was courtesy Celestyal Cruises.
Thanks to Celestyal Cruises for providing me with this opportunity to work and collaborate with them. And special thanks to Irene from Celestyal Cruises for arranging and coordinating everything on behalf of the cruise company.
Note: Each of the cities and towns were explored by me and they were not a collaboration with anyone.
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