Why go to Crete?
Crete is a land of ancient legends, but the port of Herkalion is impressively modern amid all of the history
Because signage is primarily in the Greek alphabet, navigating the city can pose a challenge
From ancient ruins to scenic beaches and shops selling local wares, there's always something to do in Crete
Crete Cruise Port Facilities?
A Venetian fort completed in 1540 sits right next to the harbor, and exploring its massive ramparts and cavernous interior can easily occupy an hour or two. Children will especially love poking around the fort, which looks like something you'd find on a Hollywood movie set. A curving pedestrian walkway leads to the fort then snakes out into the sea, offering a picturesque place to jog or stroll. Several restaurants of varying quality line the streets across from the harbor, and during the tourist season it's common to find an outdoor carnival with a Ferris wheel and other rides set up near the shoreline as well.
Good to Know?
For a tourist hotbed, Iraklion is amazingly difficult to navigate. In many Greek cities, streets are identified by both the Greek alphabet (which combines characters and letters) and an English interpretation; not so here. The challenge is that guidebooks in English (including this port profile) feature the, er, English spelling.
Tip: I compared the street names and memorized a few of the Greek letters so I didn't have too much of a problem. Another quirk is that in small towns like this, the street numbers sometimes aren't posted on the shops and restaurants so you just have to wander the street until you find the place you're looking for. I'm one of those people who asks for a lot of directions when I'm traveling because it's a good way for me to chat with the locals, and I normally don't stay lost for very long.
On Foot: Walking is by far the easiest way to explore Iraklion. The majority of its attractions are clustered in an area five or six blocks wide, and walking from one end of town to the other can be done in less than an hour.
By Taxi: Greek taxis would be fairly inexpensive if drivers didn't tack on so many surcharges; some legitimate and others not. In theory, a cab ride to any location within Iraklion's city limits should never cost more than about 6 euros, but always agree on the fare before you enter the cab to avoid an unpleasant surprise at the end of your trip.
Note: legitimate surcharges include extra baggage, extra passengers, picking you up from the airport/harbor etc; where it becomes bogus is when drivers will try to add these on when they don't apply! Also, some will try to charge passengers the night rate (the one they use between midnight and 5 a.m.) during the day, and if you don't notice that the meter is set that way (to rate 2 instead of rate 1) you could end up paying nearly double. You'll also find the occasional driver who won't use his meter at all -- he might claim that it's broken and simply quote you a really high price instead.
By Rental Car: There are plenty of rental car agencies in town, most of them located on 25 Avgusto Street or one of its side streets. You'll find both large chains and small independent shops, and visitors should expect to pay around 60 euro per day for a small no-frills car, although it never hurts to ask about discounts.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
As a member of the EU, Greece uses the euro. Banks are easy to find with several located on 25 Avgusto Street, which bisects the central part of town. Normal banking hours are 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., but most banks close a little early on Friday and hours can also fluctuate according to the season. ATM's are common in case you need cash after the banks are closed.