Crete’s gleaming white sea aquarium opened in the island’s former American Base in December 2005 and is the largest in Greece, showcasing the magical fish and marine ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea. As well as educating visitors on the mysteries of the deep, the aquarium plays a serious role in researching and conserving sea life and in caring for injured fish and marine life.
More than 2,500 fish from more than 250 indigenous species, ranging from sand tiger sharks to microscopic sea horses, can be seen in 60 tanks filled with 1.7 million liters of seawater, each carefully themed for a local Mediterranean marine environment. The aquarium has walk-through tanks with sharks, loggerhead turtles, comical groupers and velvety rays floating overhead, as well as 100 observation spots where entertaining and informative information is laid out for children as colorful shoals of fish flit in front of their eyes. Specially designed ‘touch pools’ allow interaction with marine invertebrates and there are daily workshops and lectures for families.
Former American Base, Gournes, Heraklion. Open daily
May–Sept 9.30am–9pm, Oct–Apr 9.30am–5pm. Admission adults €9; seniors & children aged between five–17 €6, under fives go free. The aquarium is 14 km (8.75 miles) east of Heraklion and is best accessed by car; the route from the city center is marked by brown signposts. Car parking is available.