Insider's Guide to Heraklion

Major attractions, tips and our top things to see and do.

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The fifth-biggest city in Greece, Crete’s capital buzzes with energy, mixing ancient origins and modern-day big-city bustle. Away from Heraklion there are beaches for relaxing, ancient ruins to explore, lovely villages and one of the world’s most ... 

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3 star rating: Worth doing
September 2014

Very well organised and knowledgeable tour guide. Would have preferred to independently explore museum but was fantastic at knossos.

Doing what: Ancient Palace of Knossos Tour

3 star rating: Worth doing
September 2014

The Samaria Gorge and National Park is beautiful and a great experience. Wearing the proper shoes is a must, as this is an 11 mile hike along very rocky trails. Only downside was that its a longer day that perhaps it needs to be. Because the tour included 50 other people, my pick up from the hotel in Kolymbari was 515 and I didn't get dropped off until 2130. After finishing the hike, we had to stay the afternoon (about 4 add'l hours) in Agio Roumeli, and then ferry back to get a 1-2 hour bus ride back to the hotel. Due to ferry schedule, it's possible that cannot be helped. Also, I'm under the impression from talking with several other individuals on the bus that if you purchase your tour tickets in Chania, the price for the trip is less than half the price of what I paid through Viator. All in all, a great experience, but it's a very long day, even before and after the hike. Not sure that Viator is the way to go.

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Samaria Gorge

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
September 2014

Went on this tour on the 26th, coach was prompt collected us on time, although almost immediately after we were moved onto another coach, we then picked up seemingly many other visitors from other hotels, this took up another hour and then it was finally onto the tour, the first thing you'll notice is you will get a english/german speaking guide, I was hoping to be in English, the actual tour of Knossos was informative, but being an English/German speaking guide it took double the amount of time to see and in the immense heat as well was not too good i thought. After this we went to Peza to try out the wine sampling this strangely isnt documented at all on Viator but it is in the local iternarys over there in Crete, I actually enjoyed this and we actually got a bottle back home, the guide mentions we were meant to be taken to a factory but this definitely didn't happen, instead we were shown a 10 minute DVD. The Heraklion tour was literally a coach ride into the city, and then from the fountain we were left to roam around on our own for a hour and a bit, I expected this to be guided but this didnt happen hence we only located the church and by the time we found the archelogical museum it was time to get back on the coach, all in all we felt the tour could have been better and because of the lack of guiding at Heraklion, we felt the tour was incomplete.

Improvements they got to streamline the amount of people they collect at hotel, if we specify an english guide, you expect an english guide, the speaker was ok but it just felt like a school lesson and i swear some people got frustrated by this, mention the tour goes to Peza on Viator for wine sampling, get an enthusiastic english only speaker and if you say you will get a guided tour of Heraklion from the air condition coach, then please make it happen!

Doing what: Ancient Palace of Knossos Tour

4 star rating: Recommended
August 2014

I signed up very last minute and the local operator did a good job being in touch and helping me get on the tour. The Spinalonga guide also did a nice job with the tour, on a very hot day. Overall, the experience was a good one. I found Spinalonga very interesting. I also enjoyed the swimming area and the town of Agios Nicolaus. The BBQ lunch was good, though it was challenging eating it on a crowded boat. One negative was that I felt unprepared for the late hour of the lunch (3:30) and therefore needed to find an ATM and get food in Agios Nicolaus. Since I joined the tour late, it's possible that information would have come to me if I'd had more time.

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Spinalonga Island with BBQ Lunch

3 star rating: Worth doing
August 2014

Travel by coach was too long - inevitable when so many people to be picked up but it could be made clearer in the advertising that this would happen. The bay where we stopped for swimming was really unsuitable - stony and not particularly clean. There must surely be better places to stop?

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Spinalonga Island with BBQ Lunch

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
August 2014

A long hot day! Driver and your guide were courteous and helpful.

Doing what: Ancient Palace of Knossos Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
July 2014

From the bus pickup in front of our hotel to the very professional and skilled guides, this was a great way to do this hike.

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Samaria Gorge

4 star rating: Recommended
July 2014

amazing scenery to admire, and a feeling of freedom and being in the middle of nature. the gorge is really a tour for those who like the outdoors and who can handle a 5/6 hour hike. during the hike people will go at different speeds so likely the group will disperse

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Samaria Gorge

4 star rating: Recommended
July 2014

Our guide was knowledgeable and thorough, and she led us around the site expertly. I found some of what she said repetitious, but as a teacher, I realize it may have been intentional; some people just don't listen very well! Our travel schedule posed some difficulties for us (our flight was to leave only an hour after the proposed end of the afternoon segment at the Archaeological Museum), but our guide helpfully explained what highlights to see and let us skip lunch to visit the museum on our own ahead of the group. Despite this personal glitch, the tour was informative, enjoyable, and well conducted.

Doing what: Ancient Palace of Knossos Tour

3 star rating: Worth doing
July 2014

The visit to Spinalonga was good, I would have liked to spend more time on the island than was given. Other than that it was a nice tour.

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Spinalonga Island with BBQ Lunch

1 star rating: I do not recommend this
July 2014

The tour started with an 7:30 pick-up at our hotel. After 2.5 hours later and countless other hotel pick-ups, we made it to Knossos. There must have been a couple thousand people at the site (cruise ship tours) and i estimate Knossos can comfortably accommodate 500 people. We had a bi-lingual tour guide that gave half the tour in English, and half in German which was very difficult to follow/understand. She took a couple cell phone calls in the middle of the tour - I got the impression she was in a rush to finish and get back to the air conditioned bus.
We then went to a small co-op winery that was more of a plug for local business and farmers - waste of time. Following the winery, we went back to Heraklion for some free time, shopping, or museum visit. I was in no mood for more crowds and German/English doublespeak, so I opted for a small cafe and several cold beers.
Traffic was worse in the afternoon, meaning it took us over three hours to make it back to our hotel after all of the stops at other hotels. All said, the tour was close to 12 hours long, 2 hours being at the Knossos site.
This tour needs to be streamlined to make the customer hotel pick-up more efficient. I was told tat we could have hired a local cab company to drive me around in a Mercedes to see Knossos in four hours, skipping the wine and Heraklion side trips.
I went on other Viator tours on this vacation that were fantastic with great tour guides and efficient operation. Unfortunately, this one was a complete dud.

Doing what: Ancient Palace of Knossos Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2014

We enjoyed it greatly and encourage everyone pondering this idea to go ahead. You won't regret it! Our guide Thomas was very helpful, giving us valuable advice and at the same time, amusing us greatly.

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Samaria Gorge

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2014

This was a great tour, you need 2 euro pp to pay for entry on spinalonga. The barbecue and swim at lunch were great , luckily we had good weather highly recommend

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Spinalonga Island with BBQ Lunch

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2014

I really loved Santorini but I would prefer to go there and stay for a few days as we spent too many hours traveling (bus+boat+bus). The guide was really kind and funny, we could see that she knows a lot about her island (she lives there), unfortunately I don't remember her name but she said that we could call her "mama" :) also she recommended a good restaurant by the beach!

Doing what: Santorini Island Day Trip

1 star rating: I do not recommend this
June 2014

Cab picked us up in the morning and dropped us off at the bus. The bus dropped us back off at the same meeting point after the tour but the cab never came back to pick us up leaving us stranded in the cold after a long day. I was very disappointed in the traveled arrangements.

Doing what: Full Day Tour to Samaria Gorge

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