Ports: Crete (Heraklion) Cruise Port, Crete (Chania) Cruise Port
HeraklionFusing its ancient treasures with vibrant, modern amenities, the Crete capital of Heraklion is built upon one of Europe’s earliest civilizations. It’s shrouded in myth and legend as where Hercules and King Minos once roamed and encircled by imposing 16th-century walls.
Cruise ships dock at Heraklion’s harbor, which lies a short walk from the heart of the city. Right next to the harbor lies a 16th-century Venetian fort where you can venture into the cavernous interior and wander the immense ramparts. Follow the pedestrian walkway that leads out into the sea or dine at one of the waterfront restaurants to soak up the views.
Don’t miss a visit to Knossos Palace, which is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and is situated a short drive from Heraklion. It’s beneath these 4,000-year-old ruins that King Minos and the evil minotaur are believed to dwell and it’s a fascinating place to gain an insight into how the ancient royals once lived.
Be sure to visit the Archaeological Museum where ornate frescoes and statues from Knossos Palace are on display, together with ancient jewelry and the famous Phaestos Disc. Or head to the Historical Museum of Crete that exhibits Byzantine ceramics, revolutionary-era weapons and uniforms, as well as paintings by El Greco.
Grab a drink in picturesque Fountain Square, which is a great spot for people watching. Then go shopping along the “1866” Market Street that is lined with fresh produce, wine and local handicraft stalls.
If you want to cool off, you can travel to one of the nearby beaches, such as the family-friendly sands at Amoudara. Agia Pelagia boasts calm waters a little further afield that are ideal for water sports, while Paliokastro is a picturesque pebble beach watched over by the remains of a Venetian fortress.
Our Heraklion shore excursions are led by highly knowledgeable guides who will reveal little-known secrets about the Crete capital and enable you to see so much more than you thought possible. If you can’t find the Heraklion shore excursion you are looking for here, please contact us directly so we can customize an itinerary for you.
ChaniaThe second largest city in Crete, picturesque Chania is set around an old Venetian port and castle on the northwest coast of the island. Historic buildings and waterfront restaurants cluster along the harbor, while a maze of narrow streets lined with shops weave behind.
Chania served as the capital of Crete from 1847 to 1972 and exhibits beautifully preserved buildings of both Venetian and Turkish design. After being ruled by the Byzantines, it was conquered by the Venetians in 1252, handed over to the Turks in 1669, then annexed as part of Greece in 1913.
Cruise ships arrive at the Port of Soudia, which lies around four kilometers’ from the center of Chania. Regular buses make the short journey to the town center or you can begin your Crete tour directly from the port.
Chania consists of five interconnected districts that were laid out by Venetian engineer Michelle Sammichelli and are framed by a 16th-century lighthouse. Explore the Splantzia district that is home to Sintrivani Square and the Aghii Anargiri Church, then wander through the Neoria district where the 14th to 16th-century Venetian shipyards were located.
The Kastelli district lies in the heart of the Old Town where the Byzantine citadel was established, with the Hebrew district of Ovraika situated to the southeast. Discover more about the city’s heritage in the Folklore Museum of Chania and visit the Archeological Museum that is set within the 14th-century Aghios Fragkiskos church.
Chania also makes a good base for exploring the mountain villages, national parks and archaeological sites of western Crete, together with the idyllic Mediterranean beaches that dot the coast. If you’re a keen hiker, then be sure to tackle the 16-kilometer-long Samaria Gorge, which is one of Europe’s longest and most beautiful canyons.
Our Chania shore excursions are led by highly knowledgeable guides who will share their insights of western Crete and help you experience as much as possible. If you can’t find the Chania shore excursion you are looking for here, please contact us directly so we can customize an itinerary for you.