Heraklion Prefecture lies in the central eastern part of Crete and is the most economically developed prefecture of the island and one of the most productive in Greece. The landscape is mainly plain and semi-mountainous. The most extensive lowland of Crete is the fertile plain of Messara, located between the central mountains of the prefecture and Kofinas Mountain.
Due to its geographic position, mild climate, unique natural environment, archeological sites, museums, and vibrant nightlife, prefecture of Heraklion is considered as a high quality all year holiday destination.
Long sandy beaches unfold across the entire northern area, in close proximity to Heraklion city. Visits to the beach can easily be combined with archeological sightseeing, exploration of historical monuments and long walks to countryside. Famous beaches east of Heraklion city, on the road that leads towards Lasithi are Ammoudara (2 km west of Heraklion), Karteros (7 km), Tombrouk (13 km east of Heraklion), Malia (35 km to the east) and Chersonisos (also known as Hersonissos, it offers bungee jumping facilities and is 25 km east of Heraklion). They all offer long sandy beaches, water sport facilities, nightlife, cafes and restaurants. In contrast to intense development of Heraklion prefecture northern resorts, the south presents a completely different picture. This is because of the inaccessibility of the south beaches due to the mountain ranges of Asterousia, Lasithi mountains, and Ida that have created natural walls to human activities and thus they have been for many years the privilege of few local fishermen and farmers that were visiting only during the summer. Some of the most amazing beaches in Greece, are located in south Heraklion. From the peaceful beaches of Tertsa (with grey sand and azure waters, 80 km southeast of Heraklion), Arvi (73 km southeast of Heraklion), Keratokambos (61 km south of Heraklion), Tsoutsouras (also known as Tsoutsourou, 68 km south of Heraklion), Lentas (72 km south of Heraklion) and Agiofarago (located in the exit of Agriofarago Gorge, 73 km from Heraklion) to the busy beach of Matala (with its famous caves, 69 km from Heraklion), Heraklion offers a variety of beautiful beaches.
Heraklion (also known as Iraklio) is the largest city in Crete and capital of Heraklion Prefecture. It is located roughly in the center of the north coast of Crete and counts approximately 3.000 years of existence. Among its many outstanding sights, there are the Lions Square (a famous Venetian fountain with lions), Venetian Loggia (a magnificent, ornate arcaded Venetian building decorated with blazons and trophies) and the Old Venetian Harbour with Koules Fortress. The Archaeological Museum contains almost all the unique treasures of the Minoan civilization unearthed at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and other sites. Other sightseeings worth visiting are the Historical Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Aquarium “CretAquarium”. 5 km south of Heraklion lies Knossos, one of the most important archeological sites in Europe, the legendary center of the Minoan civilization from 1900 to 1400 BC. The site contains the remains of the palace of Minos, of dwellings occupied by officials, priests and residents, as well as of cemeteries. 63 km southwest of Heraklion lie the remains of the Phaistos Palace, second in importance in Minoan Crete, inhabited since the Neolithic times. The architectural layout of the palace is identical to the one of Knossos. Moreover, in the vicinity of Malia (34 km east of Heraklion) excavations have brought to light a palace similar to the one of Knossos and Phaistos.
To reach Heraklion you must use the airplane and land at N. Kazantzakis airport or you can go there by sea as the port of Heraklion is connected to Piraeus and many other islands.