Beaches in Heraklion
The beaches located in the north side of the island are the most visited ones as there beats the heart of touristic industry of the whole island. The most known beaches are Amnisos, Gouves, Analipsi Chersonisou, Chersonisos, Malia, Linoperasma (the closest beach to Heraklion city), Aghia Pelagia and the nearby Ligaria beach. The south coasts are not that organized but are less crowded and have unique beauty. The most known beaches are Kommos, Matala and Lentas while remarkable are also Koloi Limenes and Aghia Galini beaches. In these beaches there is a variety of sports activities: Water ski, surfing, Jet Ski, sea parachuting and diving are just few of the activities you can try there. For people who are fonder of classical sports they can visit the modern facilities of the large hotel complexes.
In the area operate also four Water parks: Aqua splash located close to Chersonisos on the way to Lasithi plateau, which is also the oldest and most famous, Star golden beach located in Chersonisos where among others you can try bungee jumping from 30 m height, Bravo located in Ammoudara beach few kilometers outside Heraklion and Water Ski Park in Anopoli approximately fifteen kilometers east of Heraklion on the old road to Aghios Nikolaos.
You can also visit the Jockey Club located in Pitsidia village 4.5 km NE of Matala. Visitors can go around the nearby beaches areas on horses (Matala, Messara valley, Aghiofarago, Kommos beach and other). Lessons are also given to amateur riders as well as programs with ponies are offered for children.
Museums in Heraklion
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Thousands of visitors come from all over the world to admire the treasures of the Minoan civilization which are exhibited in the Heraklion Archeological Museum. The Museum was built in 1937-1940 by Spyros Marinatos and is located in the north side of Eleftherias square. It is built in the place of the Roman Catholic monastery of Saint-Francis, which was destroyed by an earthquake.
It exhibits findings from all the palaces of the Minoan era (Knossos, Phaistos, Malia etc.), figurines, Neolithic vessels, frescos, coins, sculptures etc. The exhibition is hosted in 20 rooms following a chronological order, from the Neolithic period to the ancient years.
Among the most impressive exhibits are the unique frescos of the Prince, the monkey gathering crocus, the Ladies in Blue, La Parisienne, the Bull-leaping, the ruton, the Blue birds. There are also many findings dating back to the Hellenistic and Roman years.
Sculptures, burial columns, sarcophaguses, mosaic floors.
The museum also exhibits the famous ring of Minos: It found by someone in the early 20th century, but was only handed over to the Museum in the summer of 2002 by his descendants.
Historical Museum of Crete
If you wish to get the full picture regarding the Cretan civilization during the post-Christian years, you should undoubtedly visit the Historical Museum of Crete. On the west of the port, following the coastal road you will find it housed in a neoclassical building, formerly the residence of Andreas Kalokerinos, famous benefactor of the town. You will find very interesting collections of Byzantine sculptures, pictures of Cretan School of Hagiography, coins, heirlooms from the Cretan revolutions, examples of folk art with special textiles, a place dedicated to the great writer Nikos Kazantzakis and Emmanuel Tsouderos. You will have the opportunity to admire the painting of Dominicos Theotokopoulos "View of Mt. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine", which is his only painting exposed in Crete.Address: 27, Sofokli Venizelou Ave
Natural History Museum of Crete
The Natural History Museum of Crete offers its visitors a unique opportunity to familiarize with the natural environment of Crete and its particularities, as revealed through the ecological and cultural complexity of the Eastern Mediterranean area. In specially designed rooms of about 800 m2, with realistic representations of natural habitats, various plant and animal collections and plenty of photographic material, the visitor can experience the natural wealth of Crete and continental Greece.
In the rooms where fossils, rocks and minerals are exposed, you can be informed about the impressive geological past of Crete and the Mediterranean Sea. Finally, the botanical garden with the indigenous plants of Crete and the Mediterranean, the projection hall and as well as the bar on the first floor of the Museum can help the visitor combine learning with entertainment and relaxation.Address: Exhibition Halls of Natural History Museum of Crete, Sofokli Venizelou Avenue, Heraklion
Leaving Chersonisos behind you cannot miss visiting Lychnostatis, the museum of traditional life and folklore heritage of Crete. The museum was created by the adjunct professor of ophthalmology and collector-folklorist Yiorgos Markakis. The Museum was built thoroughly with raw materials (rock - wood - clay) while the use of mechanical means was avoided. Due to its many open-air areas, it can be visited from April1st to October31st. The museum comprises the following sections: a farmer's house("Portego", sitting-room of Kostis Fragoulis), a Cretan urban residence, a "Fabrika", i.e. old olive oil press, a wind mill, a chapel, a shepherd's shelter, a threshing-floor, a wine-press, a distillery for ' raki ' (alcoholic beverage ), a wood oven for ceramics, a weaving and plant-dying workshop, a ceramic workshop, a herbarium, a garden with Cretan fruit - trees, a herb - garden, a flora and cactus – garden as well as a metal resources open air exhibition. There is also a permanent gallery of Cretan folk artists and works of art inspired by the Cretan nature, a 150-seat multiple-use auditorium where seminars, presentations and audio-visual projections are held, and, finally, an 250-seat open-air theatre hosting artistic events.Address: Hersonissos, Crete
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum
The Museum of Nikos Kazantzakis was founded in 1984 by the stage designer Yiorgos Anemoyiannis and is housed in the residence of the famous writer (1885 -1957). The interior of the residence has been designed in such a way that it presents the life and work of the writer in eight languages. Exhibits include personal items, letters, manuscripts, the first editions of his books in Greek, as well as audiovisual material in five languages presenting his life and work.Address: Myrtia, Heraklion
Cretan Ethnology Museum
The museum was established by the Messara Cultural Association in 1973. The exhibition opened its doors in 1988 and in 1992 it received the special award from the Council of Europe. The museum exhibits come from all over Crete. The research center of the museum undertakes various research activities in Crete since1980 and operates as a coordination unit for the study of the Cretan ecosystem (man and environment) covering a period span from 1000 BC until today.Address: Voroi, Heraklion