Hersonissos - Top 20 Attractions and Things To Do

Holiday Experiences In and Around Hersonissos

 Hersonissos is a versatile resort where you can embrace the spirit of exploration and adventure as you combine relaxation and fun. With its friendly and welcoming locals, youthful atmosphere, and an abundance of attractions, Hersonissos stands as one of the top destinations in the Heraklion region. Whether you're seeking thrilling outdoor activities, exciting nightlife, delightful shopping, or enriching cultural experiences, Hersonissos has it all.

If you want to make the most of your holiday in Hersonissos, here are some recommendations you can consider:

1. Enjoy the beach! With its lacy shores and crystal clear waters in shades of enchanting blue, Hersonissos offers a picturesque setting for the much-desired beach holiday. The fine sandy beaches of the small coves of Limanakia exude a feeling of tranquility and privacy, while the beaches adjacent to the harbor offer ample space for sunbathing and various water sports such as diving, snorkeling, jet skiing or paddle boarding. For those who want a more relaxing experience, there are cafes and bars on the seafront, where you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail while admiring the panoramic views of Malia Bay. Find details about Hersonissos beaches in this blog post.

2. Discover the timeless charm of the port. Attracting tourists from all over the resort, the harbor and waterfront are the non-stop epicenter of holiday activities, with the most easily accessible beaches nearby. A short walk takes you to three landmarks for the historical importance of the area: the Church of Agia Paraskevi and the Early Christian Basilica on Kastri Hill, above the harbor, and a little further down, Sarakino, the pyramid-shaped Roman fountain decorated with mosaics, dating from the 4th century. By day, you can admire the dozens of boats bringing adventures to life at sea or enjoy food and drinks at restaurants, taverns, and cocktail bars with a great view of the sea. After nightfall, shows and parties invade the seafront, creating a joyful and exciting atmosphere.

3. Venture out on a boat trip. The port of Hersonissos serves as a departure point for a variety of themed boat tours. Choose from surprise and adrenaline-filled sea adventures, relic exploration tours, pirate ship cruises, glass-deck boat rides or sunset parties at sea. If you can explore the beauty of Crete's northern coast, opt for half-day or full-day tours, with barbecues, drinks, and entertainment on board. Whatever maritime experience you venture on, you'll be in the care of friendly and attentive crews, or you can rent and drive the boat yourself, without the need for a license.

4. Enjoy a romantic sunset. At the very peak of the Cape Sarandaris, west of the port, you will discover the little old Church of St. George Sarandaris. Nearby there are traces of a stone quarry dating back to Minoan times, now partially covered by water. Several natural pools are formed in the volcanic rock a few steps beyond the church. But the highlight of this location is the breathtaking view of the sea, especially during sunset. As the sun sets below the horizon, the water is illuminated, creating a peaceful and enchanting atmosphere. This location is known to have the most romantic sunset in Hersonissos, so it's a must-see!

5. Stroll and shopping. If you are wondering where to do the best shopping in Hersonissos, then the central area is where you should go. The main thoroughfare of the town, lively and crowded in the evening, has a variety of shops, boutiques, and bazaars with a wide range of products, from traditional Cretan items to elegant and unique souvenirs. Shop windows and stands along the streets, even on the sidewalks, make the shopping experience even more enticing. Are you ready for a good few hours of shopping?

6. Immerse yourself in the electrifying nightlife! Taste the vibrant and extravagant spirit of Hersonissos nightlife, where the fun is contagious and the party never stops! Start your evening by exploring the waterfront with bars and clubs, where the neon lights, the rhythms of the music and the appetite for socializing create an electrifying atmosphere. Blend into the diverse crowd, indulge in delicious refreshing cocktails and dance under the starry sky to the music of the most famous international DJs, enjoy themed parties with special guests or live concerts by local artists, letting yourself be caressed by the gentle sea breeze!

7. Visit Lychnostatis Open Air Museum, where you can Immerse yourself in the traditional life and popular culture of Crete! This open-air museum offers a captivating experience, allowing visitors to learn about the customs and features of the islanders. Explore exhibits such as the traditional Greek farm, weaving, pottery workshops, and a distillery. The museum provides a warm and hospitable atmosphere, and free guided tours in multiple languages to enhance the experience. You find here the official website of the museum. 

8. Explore the underwater world, a great experience of discovering the fascinating aquatic fauna, for both adults and children. Hersonissos is home to the Aquaworld Aquarium & Reptile Rescue Center, which showcases local marine life and reptiles from Crete and around the world, as well as many animals rescued in various ecological missions. Also, not far from Hersonissos, is the CRETAquarium - one of the largest aquariums in Europe - where you can admire a variety of more than 2,000 specimens such as sharks, jellyfish, crustaceans, shells, and multi-colored fish species, letting you be carried away in a fascinating underwater journey!

9. How about a Happy Train circuit?  You can choose from two captivating tours, with the steward on board: a 2-hour village and city tour that combines the traditional settlement of Old Hersonissos, the cosmopolitan Port of Hersonissos, and the beautiful beaches of Anisaras and Analipsis, or a half day tour that allows you to admire the natural beauty of Crete. These tours provide a delightful way to explore the region, showcasing Hersonissos's traditional charm, picturesque narrow streets, and coastal allure while offering a deeper exploration of the area's rich natural beauty and cultural heritage. 
Information about this service can be found at traintour.gr

10. Explore the beaches by bike. Venture on a scenic bike tour along the Gulf of Malia, from Cape Sarandaris to Cape Drapanos! Explore the quiet "Limanakia" beaches west of the port, take a coffee break on the cliff, and then continue your journey through the captivating coastal scenery to the eastern beaches and small sandy bays near the Stalida resort. If you are a snapper, this several-kilometer trail is perfect for capturing beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.

11. Visit the traditional villages. Visit Ano Hersonissos, Piskopiano, and Koutouloufari, the traditional villages on the slopes of Mount Harakas above Hersonissos. With picturesque streets and houses, a quiet rural atmosphere, and the embrace of the surrounding nature, these villages offer a unique insight into the richness and rustic charm of the island. Koutouloufari and Piskopiano are renowned for their distinctive architectural and artisanal character, boasting old houses that have been brought back to life, modernized, and made available to tourists. Take the chance to experience the true essence of Crete! 

 12. Find the Minotaur in the Labyrinth! The Labyrinth theme park is a modern tourist attraction, that combines fun and interactive education for all members of the family. Located on a 15-hectare domain in the hills surrounding Hersonissos, the park brings to life the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur through a three-dimensional labyrinth. Visitors can explore tunnels, staircases, bridges, towers, and numerous rooms, solving puzzles and researching the history of Crete. The park also offers activities such as horse riding, archery, mini-golf, and quad biking, making it the ideal half-day getaway for families with children. The park is easily accessible from Hersonissos, with a return transport option available.

13. Explore the mountains. Hersonissos safari tours offer a thrilling off-road adventure, allowing you to explore the rugged and scenic landscapes of Crete. With 4x4 adapted jeeps and the help of professional driver-guides, you will discover the island's hidden treasures adding a touch of fun to every moment. For nature enthusiasts, hiking through the Aposelemis Gorge, also known as the Vulture Gorge, is a rewarding experience that requires some effort. The hike starts near the village of Xerokamares at an altitude of 120 meters and ends on the coast, west of the Agrian village. The Municipality of Hersonissos has recently developed a nice trail along the Aposelemis riverbed, making the hike more accessible and enjoyable.

14. Visit the historic Monastery of Panagia Gouverniotissa, dedicated to the Assumption. The monastery is located 8 km south of Hersonissos, on a hill with a beautiful view over the Lagada region and the Potamies Valley. Founded in the 10th century, after Crete was freed from Arab occupation, Panagia Gouverniotissa is not only a place of worship but also a center of cultural and historical interest, being among the oldest Byzantine monasteries on the island. Here you will find original frescoes from the mid-14th century, a museum of religious objects and church art, and a botanical garden with medicinal and aromatic plants from Crete.

15. Visit Skotino Cave. Also known as Agia Paraskevi Cave, Skotino is one of the largest caves in Crete. It is located on a hill, near the village of Skotino, 16 km west of Hersonissos. The cave measures 160 meters deep and 36 meters wide. Renowned British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans carried out the first archaeological examination of the cave at the beginning of the 20th century, and in the 1960s French and Greek archaeologists carried out a more extensive exploration, discovering numerous bronze votive offerings and ceramic objects, dating from the period early Minoan, now exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

16. Aquatic Adventures. Are you ready for an exciting day at the water parks in the area? Water City, Aqua Plus, and StarBeach offer a wide range of water slides, pools, lazy rivers, and thrilling activities that guarantee a good time and unforgettable experiences. Whether you enjoy hurtling down twisty slides, rafting down the lazy rivers, or simply relaxing in the sun, waterparks are the perfect alternative to a typical beach day. With skilled instructors, safety measures, and facilities suitable for all ages, they provide an ideal opportunity for relaxation and fun with your loved ones.

17. Visit the neighboring Stalis resort. Just about a few bus stops from Hersonissos, Stalis (or Stalida) is renowned for its long, sandy beach and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for sunbathers and water sports enthusiasts. Waterfront bars and taverns along the beach road provide the perfect spot to unwind and soak in the coastal ambiance. Stalis' 4 km long beach promenade is packed with attractions, dining options, shopping, and entertainment. Whether you're looking to indulge in a beach day in a tropical setting, experience Greek and Cretan culture, or enjoy an exciting night of music and dance, Stalis is the most convenient option to experience it all at its best.

18. Discover the Palace of Malia: Delve into the ancient Minoan civilization at Malia Palace, the third-largest after Knossos and Phaistos, dating back to 1900 BC. Located 11 km east of Hersonissos, this archaeological site offers a glimpse into a brilliant prehistoric era, considered the cradle of Hellenic civilization. Exploring the ruins of Malia Palace will transport you back in time, allowing you to appreciate the outstanding achievements of the Bronze Age Minoan civilization, the economic and technological level, and not least, the artistic sophistication. Near the archaeological site, you can relax on Potamos Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the northeast coast.

19. Visit Heraklion and Knossos Palace.  Visiting Heraklion city is an interesting journey into the rich Crete's history and culture. In Heraklion, you will discover a vibrant city full of historical landmarks, irresistible shops, and delicious local food. Take a trip to the Archaeological Museum, among the most modern and large in Europe, and together with it, explore the iconic Knossos, the Minoan palace shrouded in legends and archaeological wonders. By simply walking the streets of Heraklion, you will feel how the charm of the past constantly infiltrates the modern life of the locals. 

20. Take a bus tour by agencies. Discover the famous island's sights by joining coach tours offered by local agencies. Lose yourself in the maze-like streets of Knossos, and explore the charm of traditional villages of Kritsa and Myrtos. You can also take a trip to Spinalonga, Balos, or even Santorini with modern and comfortable coaches &boats, and dedicated guides. If you are fond of history, nature, and adventure, these tours are the perfect way to explore the marvels of Crete. Local travel agencies in Hersonissos offer a variety of tours and excursions, including cruises and boat trips, off-road safaris and quads, or even hiking in the Samaria Gorge. 

Are you prepared to pack your bags for Hersonissos? We hope we have helped you plan the most thrilling vacation! If you need more information about Hersonissos, check out our article ”Hersonissos Travel Guide”!

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