Greece › Crete › Heraklion Hotels
by Santorini Dave • Updated: March 8, 2023
Best Places to Stay in Heraklion
- Best Luxury Hotel: GDM Megaron
- Best Hotel for Families: Aquila Atlantis
- Best Hotel for Honeymoons: Legacy Gastro
- Heraklion is the capital and largest city in Crete, where you’ll find the main international airport and ferry port. Though not as immediately charming as some of the smaller seaside villages, this mid-size city is filled with hearty character, rich culture, and deep historical roots. Heraklion is an excellent jumping-off point for exploring Crete’s archaeological sites, wine regions, and culinary heritage.
- One of Greece’s most important archaeological sites, Knossos Palace, sits just southeast of the city. Knossos is the mythological home of King Minos, who imprisoned the Minotaur. Koules Fortress (9th-century Arab construction; further fortified by the 16th-century Venetians) guards the city’s harbor at the north and withstood 21 years of constant siege before falling to the Ottomans. The Minoan Palace of Phaistos, a Bronze Age complex where the Phaistos Disk was found, is about an hour away by car. The heart of Crete’s wine country is immediately south of Heraklion in the villages Archanes, Peza, and Dafnes – all within 15 to 20 km of the city. The city itself houses a plethora of museums, galleries, and historic sites that can easily a few days of sightseeing on their own.
- Travelers should plan on staying in the Old Town of Heraklion to take advantage of the city’s walkability, with tons of restaurants, nightlife, shops, and sights in the compact core – under 2km wide at the most. Specifically, stay within the Venetian walls, which trace out a roughly triangular shape with the sea, port, and fortress making the northern border and the grave of Nikos Kazantakis (celebrated author of Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ) at the southernmost point. For stays in Heraklion’s Old Town, a car is not necessary.
- The Old Town is the best area for experiencing the city’s sights. But for a low-key, beach vacation with less emphasis on sightseeing, the beaches west of the city make wonderful home bases. Ammoudara Beach, about five km from the port, is not the closest beach to the city center, but it is the best one nearby. A long stretch of soft sand, sunbed/umbrella sets for rent, and plenty of options for food and drink all along the beach strip.
The 8 Best Hotels in Heraklion
1. GDM Megaron Hotel
Hotel Phone: +30 28103 05300
Stately, five-star hotel in a historic 1925 mansion with a rooftop pool and harbor views facing Koules Fortress. The top floor hosts a contemporary Cretan-Mediterannean restaurant, while complimentary breakfast is served downstairs in a stylish cafe. The wellness center features a hammam, sauna, and jacuzzi. Rooms and suites include balconies, king-size beds, and coffee and tea facilities; top-tier suites offer views of the sea and fortress, espresso makers, and a welcome bottle of ouzo. Ideal location a short walk from the Venetian harbor and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
2. Legacy Gastro Suites
Hotel Phone: +30 28102 21200
Food-cetric, five-star, boutique hotel in the Old Town, near the Archaeological Museum, Bembo Fountain, and one the seven Venetian gates into the city, St. George (or Lazaretto) Gate. Each art-themed suite features both indoor and outdoor dining spaces and pantries stocked with local delicacies: olive oils, tapenades, cold cuts, cheeses, honey, Greek wines, and spirits. The onsite restaurant, Papi, is helmed by renowned chef Ettore Botrini and features Italian dishes prepared with local, Cretan ingredients and paired with Greek and Italian wines. Full-board and half-board options available.
3. Aquila Atlantis Hotel
Hotel Phone: +30 28102 29103
Luxury hotel with a holistic spa and two swimming pools: one rooftop pool with harbor views and bar service and one semi-covered pool on the patio level. A Cretan-Mediterannean restaurant serves casual lunches and fine dining, while the lounge bar serves light fare and drinks in a relaxed setting throughout the day. Rooms and suites feature tasteful decor, rain showers, and city or sea views toward the fortress. Most rooms have balconies; the one-bedroom Grand Suite adds a living room, dining room, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Wonderful Old Town location near the Venetian walls at the Sampionara (Sand) Gate, a short walk to the Archaeological Museum and port.
4. Veneziano Boutique Hotel
Hotel Phone: +30 28103 44758
Striking boutique hotel in a lovingly-restored, landmark building: the ground floor was built in the Venetian era (1510) and the upper floor added during the Ottoman reign (1730). Its four double rooms and two 2-story apartments feature walk-in showers, coffee and tea facilities, and comfortable, contemporary furnishings. Breakfast is served in a charming, interior courtyard, which operates as a wine bar later in the day. Excellent walkable location near Lion’s Square (Morosini Fountain), the Basilica of St. Mark (now an art gallery), and the Venetian Loggia.
5. Olive Green Hotel
Hotel Phone: +30 28103 02900
Eco-chic, tech-savvy hotel in the historic heart of the city, steps from the Archaeological Museum, Venetian Loggia, and the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology. Rooms feature walk-in showers, and digital photos above the beds of Cretan landscapes, each with a QR code giving t0he location of the subject, all within a one-hour drive of the hotel. Almost all have balconies; OG Club Elite rooms on the top floor have generous terraces. A buffet breakfast is included in the room rate with the option to upgrade to a la carte. Cretan an international fare, cocktails, and coffee are on offer at the lively, casual 626 All Day Lounge & City Garden.
6. Lato Boutique Hotel
Hotel Phone: +30 28102 28103
The closest hotel to the port of Heraklion, Lato sits right behind the Venetian Neoria, the stone-arched dockyards used to build and repair galleon ships. Rooms and suites all have soundproof windows and views of the city or of the sea and fortress. One-bedroom Executive Suites have king-sized beds, separate living rooms, and jacuzzi baths. The hotel has two seasonal, Cretan restaurants: Herb’s Garden, the rooftop summer restaurant, and Brilliant, the ground-floor winter restaurant.
7. Pavo Art Hotel
Hotel Phone: +30 69867 18545
Sunny, mural-filled boutique hotel right outside the Venetian Walls near Talos Plaza Mall. A 10-minute walk east into Heraklion leads to the Natural History Museum; a 15-minute walk west leads to the beach. Studio, one, and two-bedroom suites feature playful decor, fully equipped kitchens, and walk-in showers. Most have private balconies; some add sofa beds. The largest suite sleeps up to six guests. Excellent value for money, if you don’t mind a little walking.
8. Enorme Teatro Beach Hotel
Hotel Phone: +30 281 022 7000
The best beach hotel near Heraklion. Located on Amoudara Beach, 5 km to the west of the ferry port on a wonderful stretch of sand. Trendy beach club, great restaurant, and a nice pool area.
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