This active island-hopping itinerary visits two gems in the Aegean Sea—both world-famous for different reasons. You'll start in Crete, largest of the Greek islands and home of ancient Minoan palaces and striking landscapes like canyons, gorges, mountains, and beautiful beaches. You'll then ferry over to the smaller volcanic island of Santorini and have three days to explore its whitewashed cliff-side villages with hiking, swimming, sea kayaking, and, of course, romantic sunsets.
Still, there's much to see and a lot to discover in Heraklion, making it a hidden gem of sorts! As you explore the Old Town, start with the Morosini Lions Fountain, a Venetian highlight from the 17th century. Then admire the old city walls. These fortifications were first built by the Arabs and later reinforced by the Venetians in the 15th century. They survived the second-longest siege in history, a 21-year battle before Heraklion fell to the Ottomans.
The walls remain mostly intact to this day, making the city known as one of the best-preserved Venetian fortifications in Europe. The walled city used to have several gates, but today you'll only find the New Gate and Chanioporta Gate, with its characteristic winged Lion of Saint-Marc. "Chanioporta" means "gate to Chania," which is the second-largest city in Crete.
Next, head to the Martinengo Bastion, where you'll also find the winged lion and pass through the Venetian walls to one of the city's highest points. Here you'll find the tomb of the renowned writer Nikos Kazantzakis. In Greek, the tomb reads, "I don't hope in anything. I don't fear anything. I am free."
Next, visit Heraklion's food market, which is one of the most abundant in the Mediterranean. You'll find various modern goods, as well as traditional Cretan products, like the famous Cretan olive oil, raki, local wine, honey, herbs, and more.
Read more about unique and interesting activities on Crete.
Itineraries with Heraklion Walking Tour
Experience some of the greatest aspects of Greece and its islands with this itinerary. You'll start in Athens, traveling back in time with visits to the Acropolis and the archaeological site at Delphi. Head into the islands next, starting with a tour of Mykonos and its neighboring mythological island of Delos. Then it's off to Santorini for sunsets and a caldera cruise, followed by the historic sites and traditional villages of Crete before you return to Athens.
This family-focused trip features all that Greece has to offer, but with a kid-friendly twist. Start in the bustling capital of Athens where you'll take an interactive language class and tour the incredible Acropolis, followed by an archeological tour and beach day in Nafplio. End the trip on the island of Crete, where you'll visit beaches, enjoy guided tours of historic sites, and become archeologists and artists in a simulated excavation and a mosaic-making class.
Visit some of Greece's most important sites on this archeology and mythology tour, starting in the buzzy capital of Athens, atop the famous Acropolis Hill, and at the Temples of Delphi. Then head to the islands, stopping in Crete to explore Heraklion, Chania, and the Arkadi Monastery, followed by Mykonos and Santorini for prehistoric ruins. End your trip on the island of Delos where you'll walk the Terrace of Lions, then head back to Athens for one final day visiting the Temple of Poseidon and chasing the sunset along the Athenian Riviera.
This itinerary offers a chance to experience the rich history and mythology of ancient Greece from up close. Start in Athens with a tour of the Acropolis and the Parthenon, followed by an island-hopping adventure to historical sites in Mykonos, Delos, and Santorini. In Crete, you'll explore the Palace of Knossos and the Minotaur's labyrinth before returning to the mainland. Next, you'll learn about the Eleusinian Mysteries, visit the home of Helen of Troy at Mycenae, and see the best-preserved ancient Greek theater at Epidaurus. End your journey with a spectacular sunset at the Temple of Poseidon.