Hersonissos is a mega-tourist resort, 25km east of Heraklion. Its little port provides, without a doubt, one of the prettiest views of Hersonissos, with fishing boats bobbing on the water and the little church of Ayía Paraskeví on the background, half-hidden in the cave-like opening of the rock. Most of the tourist scene is clustered around here, with a cosy pedestrian zone lined with shops, cafeterias and taverns, some of which are really enjoyable. On the hill slope over Hersonissos there are three neat, picturesque villages that offer a welcome escape from the crowds and the frenzy, with a beautiful panoramic view of the bay below, a wonderful relaxed atmosphere and plenty of romantic taverns.
Koutouloufari - Piskopiano:
These two picturesque villages on the hill slope over Hersonissos offer great views of the Gulf below and an escape from the crowds and the frenzy. You' re spoilt for choice with nice tavernas in a relaxed atmosphere and there are some ceramics and jewlerry shops with tastefully displayed windows.
The idyllic mountain village Krassi is the easternmost village of the prefecture of Iraklio with a population of 350. Perched on the northern slopes of Mt. Selena, at an altitude of 600m above sea level, it breathes a feeling of serenity with a giant plane tree – proudly presented as the oldest one in Crete – and with a well that has water running directly from the springs of Mt. Selena; there’s nothing like its cool shade on hot summer days! Chill out and relax in the cozy surroundings of one of the inviting taverns that serve delicious, authentic Cretan cooking with pure ingredients or enjoy Greek coffee or home-distilled rakí in the tiny coffeehouses.
This pretty mountain village on the way to the upland plateau of Lassithi has preserved its traditional character and takes you back in time, with picturesque alleys and flower-filled courtyards, where locals are sitting outside their doorstep in the loom of the evening, chit-chatting about everyday things, with lovely whitewashed churches and chapels, like the church of Panayía and its impressive Byzantine icons and wall paintings. Relax and enjoy Cretan hospitality on the shady village square for either a typical Greek coffee or rakí, or a hearty, home-made Cretan dish. Weekends you may even witness a typical Cretan wedding or a traditional (organized) Cretan night.
Lassithi Upland Plateau:
Let the attractive landscape of the upland plateau of Lassithi charm you: With its orchards, crop fields, a deep cave, vast mountains and the occasional white-sailed windmill, you get the feeling of driving away from the bustle of the tourist resorts, straight into the tranquility of rural Crete, where life still follows a slower rhythm. Beautiful panoramic views of the Bay of Malia alternate with olive and vine groves along the uphill drive and stunning, scenic views of the plateau.
The attractive, bustling capital of Crete and the Minoan site of Knossos – allegedly home to legendary king Minos – are well worth a visit. Heraklion is Crete’s biggest city and the island’s main gateway. Although it won’t easily cast off its disorderly image, the historic quarter inside the old city walls is anything but that. Here, traces of the past go hand in hand with a modern, cosmopolitan way of life: Modern shopping precincts with boutiques, mainstream shops, alluring cafeterias and taverns, alternate with beautiful historical buildings, sight-seeing attractions and museums. You will leave Heraklion with only the best of impressions.