Heraklion & Crete

The island of Crete

Crete is the most southern region of Greece and Europe, separating the Aegean Sea from the Libyan Sea, it marks a physical boundary between Europe and Africa. It is the largest Greek island and one of the largest in the Mediterranean basin, with a total surface of 8,336 km², 1,100 km of coastline and approximately 623,000 inhabitants.

The island of Crete boasts a long and turbulent history and a fascinating culture. Cultural influences from other civilizations of the West and the East, as well as the remains of the glorious Minoan civilization (c. 2700-1420 BC), are found across the island. This mix of civilizations has marked contemporary Cretan culture, which is still vibrant and distinctive as it has always been.

The Cretan land encompasses an amazing variety of landscapes and landforms. Crete is renowned for its breathtaking mountain ranges, fertile valleys, the plethora of caves, gorges and plateaus of exceptional beauty as well as for its long sandy beaches and clear blue seas. Historic and cultural attractions, Cretan traditions, traditional settlements, monuments, archaeological sites, social mores, the local proceedings, the Cretan cuisine, the natural environment, the folkloric richness, remarkable ecosystems and unique landscapes are waiting to be discovered.

The climate of Crete is characterized as mild and Mediterranean with four distinct seasons. It is dry and warm, which means lots of sunshine all year round, very small seasonal changes in temperatures and no extreme weather phenomena. The average year temperature is 19°C. During May, expect the temperature to range between 20°C (at night) and 30°C, with occasional rain.

Heraklion, the capital of Crete

Heraklion, is the capital of Crete, the largest urban centre in Crete and the economic centre of the island with approximately 200,000 people. The town of Heraklion is a vibrant small metropolis and combines urban scenery, archaeological and cultural heritage with natural beauty.

The first European civilization, the Minoan civilization, flourished on this land 5000 years ago and can still be experienced today by visiting the ancient palace of Knossos Archaeological Site and the Archeological Museum of Heraklion.

During the last 20 years, the city has also made remarkable advances in the academic and technological fields as it hosts the University of Crete and the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas.

Getting to Heraklion

By air

The principal airport in Crete is Heraklion International Airport, “Nikos Kazantzakis” (airport code: HER). It is the closest airport to the venue.

It is located about 5 km east of the city centre of Heraklion and is directly connected to Athens International Airport (airport code: ATH) with several daily domestic flights run by Aegean Airlines, and SkyExpress Airlines. The flight duration from/to Athens is about 35min. During the summer period, there are also many direct scheduled airline connections from major European cities as well as many charter flights from most European countries.

The website of Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport is www.heraklion-airport.info.

By boat

It is also possible to arrive by boat from Piraeus (major port of Greece) to Heraklion as Minoan lines and ANEK lines provide daily ferry services from and towards Crete. In particular, at least two ferry boats sail daily to Heraklion from Piraeus. The boats sail in the evening (usually around 9-10 pm) and reach their destination early in the morning (around 5:30-6:00 am) after an 8-9 hour journey.