Heraklion (Crete), GreeceLocation: Europe
The largest island in Greece, Crete was once the center of Minoan culture, the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. Here, you'll discover ancient architecture and carefully preserved art that tells the story of the island's distant past.
As you travel from one historic site to the next—both in and around the capital city of Heraklion—you'll be surrounded by lively Greek culture and spectacular island scenery.
Things to See and Do
A must-see during your visit is the Minoan palace of Knossos, located just a few miles from Heraklion. Originally built around 1900 BC, this sacred settlement showcases the region's Minoan history.
Other historic sites abound in Heraklion, where you'll find 15th-century Venetian walls and a 16th-century fortress, among other fascinating structures. A variety of museums also preserve the rich history and culture of the island.
Looking for a little rest and relaxation? Enjoy a day of leisure on one of Crete's many beaches and admire the natural beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.
Local Culture and Flavor
When you're ready to refuel after a day of exploration, stop by a taverna for traditional Cretan fare that showcases the finest local ingredients, like snails, seafood and olive oil. For refreshment, Guests ages 21 and older should try the local wine and Cretan raki, a distilled beverage made of grapes.
Past and Present
Beginning around 2700 BC, Crete was the center of Europe's first advanced civilization. Over the years, the island has fallen under the rule of many powers—from the Romans to the Venetians to the Ottomans.
In the late 1800s, Crete became an autonomous state. And shortly thereafter, it was united with Greece.
Today, Crete is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Greece.
Fun Facts & Tips
Crete is the largest and most populated Greek island.
Unlike many Greek islands, ouzo is not a traditional beverage in Crete. The popular local spirit is raki, an anise-flavored beverage that's similar to ouzo.