Once the glorious capital of Minoan Crete and one of the most powerful cities in the eastern Mediterranean, ancient Knossos is a place steeped in legend. Today, it’s Crete’s largest and most important archaeological site, crowned by the hilltop Palace of Knossos—built around 2000 BC—and revealing a fascinating history that stretches all the way back to the earliest European civilizations.The Basics
The Palace of Knossos is one of the most popular attractions in Crete, but its immense size, little signage, and complex history means it’s worth visiting with a local guide. The best way to explore is on a guided walking tour, taking in highlights of the Minoan palace such as the Central Court, the Throne Room, the Tripartite Shrine, the Grand Staircase, and the Queen’s Hall.
How to Get to the Palace of Knossos
- Choose between a standard entrance ticket or a combined ticket that includes access to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
- Plan to spend around two hours at the archaeological site, excluding wait times.
- Ticket lines can be long in peak season—arrive early or book a skip-the-line tour to maximize your time.
- Knossos Palace provides little shade, so you should bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water if visiting in the summer months.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven ground.
- Many parts of the archaeological site are wheelchair accessible; entrance is free for visitors with disabilities.
Knossos is located 3 miles (5 km) southeast of Heraklion in the north of Crete and is reachable by public transport and taxi from the city. Most visitors opt for a tour from either Heraklion or Rethimno (just over an hour’s drive away).When to Get There
Knossos is open all year round, but the most popular months to visit are July and August. The site can get extremely busy, so arrive before opening at 8am or after 3pm if you want to avoid the crowds. Expect temperatures of up to 85°F (30°C) in midsummer.Greek Mythology at Knossos Palace
Historic facts and Greek mythology intertwine at Knossos. While King Minos was believed to have been a real figure, the notorious Minotaur—the half-man, half-bull imprisoned in the palace’s labyrinth—and his creators, Daidalos and Ikaros, are characters of Greek legend.