Heraklion is the capital of Crete, and the island’s largest city. Known for the ruins of the Minoan Palace of Knossos, Heraklion also has an attractive port and a large Archaeological Museum.

The easiest way to reach Heraklion is by flying into its international airport. It is also possible to reach the city by ferry, or by bus from the rest of Crete. 

If you’re looking for an exciting taste of Crete and the Greek islands, check out this ten-day itinerary.

From Athens

Duration: 1-8 hours

The fastest way to reach Heraklion from Athens is via a direct flight from Athens airport. Flights run frequently, and usually take one hour or less. 

You also have the option of taking a ferry from the port of Piraeus to Heraklion. Piraeus is about half an hour from downtown Athens, and can be accessed via metro, taxi, or rental car (cars can be brought with you on the ferry). 

Ferries are operated by two different companies, each of which runs about ten ferries a week. Booking in advance is recommended.

While the ferry route is long, it is also scenic and offers a nice view of the Aegean. You may be able to see some of the Cyclades islands from the ship. Most ferries have a cafeteria onboard, and a viewing deck from which you can watch the sea. You will also have the option of booking a designated seat or a cabin. 

From Chania

Duration: 2-3 hours

You can get from Chania in western Crete to Heraklion via private transfer, rental car, or bus.

The drive from Chania to Heraklion takes about two hours. The route runs along the northern coast of Crete. On the way, you have the option of stopping in Rethimno, a charming but well-touristed port city with an old Venetian harbor and fortress.

KTEL also runs regular buses from Chania to Heraklion. The bus makes some stops along the way, including Rethimno.

Tickets can be booked in advance, or purchased at the bus station. 

From Santorini

Duration: 2-6 hours

A trip to Crete is frequently combined with a visit to the island of Santorini. There are no direct flights from Santorini to Heraklion. The best way to get between the two is by ferry.

This route is currently serviced by four companies, running about thirty ferries per week. High-speed ferries are available which only take two hours, or you can take the regular ferry for six hours. Only the regular ferry runs during the winter months (November-February). Cars can be brought on the ferry, and food is typically sold onboard.

Getting from Santorini to Heraklion is a straightforward trip south through the Sea of Crete. Near the end of your trip, you will pass by the uninhabited island of Dia