For a period of 500 years Heraklion was occupied by the Venetian empire. One of their remnants are the Venetian City Walls that cover Heraklion’s city center. There are three points to enter the area outside the walls (Venetian Portal Almighty, Bethlehem Gate & Jesus Gate). You have the opportunity to walk up the walls and enjoy the view over Heraklion. One good spot to do so is right at Nikos Kazantzakis’ graveyard, a famous Greek writer. This viewpoint is close to the entrance “Bethlehem Gate”. From there you are able to walk along the walls and end up at seaside, enjoying the amazing view over the aegean sea and the beautiful sunset.
Crete's famous & unique products
When traveling to Crete it is a must to try 3 things: CHEESE, OIL & HERBS! Crete is famous for local, handmade cheese. Ask for Anthotyro, Kefalotyri and Graviera. Enjoy the great taste of sheep and goat cheese. The island is covered with olive trees. Therefore you will find plenty of opportunities to try real authentic olive oil, right from the producer! Another well-known and exceptional product are the Cretan herbs, around 120 of these only found on this island. Either try at a cafe or go to a shop and get yourself some very healthy Diktamo, Faskomilo and Malotira.
Heraklion's Loggia or fancy city hall
Another Venetian remnant is the “Loggia”. A unique architecture right in city center. Today, in this building you will find Heraklion’s city hall. Have a look at the amazing Venetian architecture, walk to the inner courtyard and take a look up. The building’s style is covered with architectural details. Sometimes in the evenings you will meet Heraklion’s youngsters breakdancing at the Loggia. Enjoy a multicultural spot!
Greek coffee, also known as Turkish Mocha
Go to a cafe and try a mocha. In the menu it will be presented as “Greek coffee”. The mocha is one of the remnants of the Ottoman empire, having invaded Crete in around 1700. It is a non-filtered coffee, usually made on a gas cooker. The mocha is strong in flavor. Locals are convinced that the mocha helps digestion. Another feature, there is an activity mostly older ladies have been practicing for over hundreds of years: coffee cup future telling! Places where you can have your coffee cup read are called “kafemantio”.
"Koules" and the pathway
As a security the Venetian’s have built the Koules Fortress. It is located right at seaside. If you are interested in entering the fortress you have to pay a very small fee. For a nice walk in Heraklion, pass by Koules Fortress and walk along the pathway that is built on the sea. It’s length counts to almost 3km. On your left side you will see a small wall. Climb up and enjoy the magical view.
Underground Street Art
In every proper city you will find a good amount of artists, some more visible and others more underground. Some of Heraklion’s underground artists graced the city with their most beautiful and unique pieces. Walk along Heraklion’s street and spot some art. For sharing, go to Instagram and use #firsttimeisawsusie
Local fish market & restaurant
If you want to visit the local fish market go to seaside. Right at Koules Fortress, on your left hand you will see the fishermen and fish stalls, mostly in the morning hours. If you are into fish and seafood, the best place to try some local goodies is “Ippokampos”, right at seaside!
Rebetiko is a famous Greek music genre played with instruments called “Bouzouki”. Its first appearance dates back to the first decades of the 20th century. “Rebetes”, as the musicians are called, sang about societies no-go’s: sex, drugs and alcohol. It is Greece’s Rock’n’Roll! When traveling to Crete you must visit a taverna (Greek style restaurant) that holds Rebetika live music events. There is plenty in Heraklion. You will find a few on Milatou Street, right in city center, e.g. “Tavernaki o Magos”, o Tempelis” and “Tazediko Tavern”. Do not forget to drink some Raki!
Walk around the city as much as you can. You can also go to more remote areas. People are very friendly and welcoming in Greece. The more you get out main city center, the better things you will be able to discover. The city has a lot of Street Art to offer, especially in the neighborhood of Agia Triada (Street Art Festival) and Lakkos (Residency Art Project).
Greece is not just all about Tzatziki and Souvlaki. The local cuisine is diverse, healthy and has a lot of vegetarian options. Try Stuffed Peppers, Imam and Fasolakia. Experience the mix taste of mediterranean and oriental dishes. Also, join my walking tour called “Meet & Cheese” to have access to a Secret List of Heraklion’s top food choices, and find out the very best spot only locals go to, you will not be able to find online!