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CruiseDirection - Magazine May 2019

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The island of Crete is one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. The main city of the island is Heraklion and it is the key business centre of the island. A major cruise destination, the city is consistently bustling with activity day and night. You can find the usual types of shop in the city if shopping is your passion, but if you look closer, you will find a unique shop here and there that holds a treasure you never would expect.  

With beautiful weather all year long, visitors to Heraklion can stay at one of the many hotels the city offers or they can relax in the warm setting of homely Bed & Breakfasts. Self-catering accommodation is also readily available. Plus, the city offers plenty of restaurants for your enjoyment, serving all types of cuisine, but you should make it a point to try at least one Greek dish before going home.

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Why visit Heraklion ?

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Bustling with activity day and night

If you look closer, you will find a unique shop here and there that holds a treasure you never would expect

The Saturday market has always been one of the main attractions of Heraklion and while it is no longer in the city proper, you can still travel to the small suburb that it now calls home. Shopping – for food or souvenirs – is not the only thing the city offers. The Archaeological Museum, which was converted from an old power station, holds many famous pieces of Hellenic and Roman sculpture and other artefacts from the area. Visitors to the city who wish to visit the museum should be warned that it is undergoing renovation and will not be completely finished until 2009.  

The History Museum and the Battle of Crete Museum are close by the Archaeological Museum and within walking distance. The Battle of Crete Museum is a smaller archaeological museum that focuses on the famous battle. The Municipal Gallery and Basilica of St Mark offer visitors consistently changing exhibits from the island and the Koules Venetian Fortress, which has been standing since the 1500s, offers visitors a look at what Heraklion the city was like during the century in which it was built.  

As you make your way towards the Palace of Knossos, make sure you stop at the Natural History Museum of Crete. This beautiful building holds displays with descriptive plaques about the various flora and fauna to be found on the island. This particular museum in Heraklion is one that attracts even the most stubborn child who finds the word ‘museum’ boring! There is also a horticultural garden and wonderful slide show near the establishment’s cafe. Make sure you give yourself at least 2 hours to truly appreciate this museum.  

Additional places to visit include the city’s new aquarium, the newly reconstructed underground gate through the city walls, 25th of August Street, a beautiful pedestrian street with outdoor cafes, and the many churches that are found throughout the city. These churches display a wide variety of architectural styles that include Byzantine and more. No visit to Heraklion and Crete is complete without a visit to the Palace of Knossos. The palace was built by Arthur Evans and gives visitors a glimpse of Minoan life through the ages. There are guided tours and it is well worth the visit, one of the best in Crete.

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