The rich history of Hersonissos is estimated for thousands of years, and the current state is a huge number of tourists who come to relax under the hot sun and get acquainted with local attractions. It is located 25 km from the capital of Crete Heraklion. The city has comfortable hotels, numerous bars and nightclubs. Compared to other settlements of the coast, many young people come here. Travelers are attracted by the spacious beaches of the Gulf of Malia, picturesque views from anywhere in the city, historical and natural monuments. You can walk both through the streets of the ancient settlement and in its surroundings.
- 1 Open-air museum “Lichnostatis”
- 2 Church of St. Nicholas. Ruins of an early Christian basilica.
- 3 Hersonissos Embankment. Roman Fountain
- 4 Church of St. Paraskeva in Hersonissos
- 5 Basilica of Castries
- 6 Eleftherios Venizelos Street
- 7 Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- 8 Aquaworld Aquarium
- 9 Star Beach Water Park
- 10 Labyrinth Theme Park
- 11 Scotino Cave
- 12 Palace of Knossos
- 13 Sissi Village
- 14 Arion Stable
- 15 Ancient ruins on Spinalonga
- 16 Mountain village of Ano Hersonissos
- 17 The village of Piskopiano. Agricultural Museum
- 18 Koutouloufari Village
Open-air museum “Lichnostatis”
A 15-minute drive from the city is the ethnographic museum “Lichnostatis”. It was established in 1991 and is the main historical landmark, immersing visitors in the culture, life and folk art of different eras. The first settlers appeared in Hersonissos during the Minoan period. During archaeological excavations, many objects dating back to the Bronze Age were discovered here. During the reign of the Roman Empire, the port of Tiganis was located in the bay. The city was so important that it even printed its own money. The population moved 2 km from the coastline in the early Christian period, when the raids of sea pirates became more frequent. The open-air museum contains unique buildings that have survived from those times. This is a shepherd’s hut, a traditional cretan house, a mill, household items, devices for pressing olive oil and grapes. “Liknostatis” is open to the public every day, except Saturday, from 09.00 to 14.00. The entrance ticket costs 6 euros, on Wednesday – 12 euros (local wine tasting is held). You can get there on the national highway 90. Regular buses stop near the museum.
Official site: http://www.lychnostatis.gr/
Address: Chersonisos , Crete, Greece
Church of St. Nicholas. Ruins of an early Christian basilica.
To the west of the Museum “Lichnostatis” is an early Christian basilica. It is not difficult to find it if you focus on the snow-white church of St. Nicholas. Its ruins date back to the 5th century AD, the new church was built relatively recently. In the ancient building, mosaic floors are well preserved. The drawing includes elements of plants and images of animals. Archaeologists have determined that the building was three-nave with an apse, in the south-eastern section of the altar was a martirium or baptistery. In the western part there was an atrium.
Address: Kolokotroni 2, Chersonisos 700 14, Greece. Next to the Ethnographic Museum “Lychnostatis”, Hersonissos, Crete, Greece
Hersonissos Embankment. Roman Fountain
Parallel to the shore is the city embankment. On it you can go through the entire bay, from the cape to the cape. The length is 3 km. The opposite side of the sea is built up with small shops, bars, pubs and other entertainment venues. Here you can sit, have a cup of coffee, admire the views. A little further behind the pier there are estuary, thanks to which the resort has gained worldwide fame. On the territory of the embankment there are ruins of buildings of the Roman period. One of them is the Sarakino Fountain. In ancient times, it was built in the courtyard of a rich villa. The building collapsed under the influence of wind, sun, water and sand. The fountain has been inactive for fifteen hundred years. It is interesting to look at the external design of the structure. Each tourist finds in the ornament hidden plots on the sea theme: about the life of aquatic inhabitants, the difficult fate of the fisherman, references to mythology.
Address: Naberezhnaya, Hersonissos, Crete, Greece
Church of St. Paraskeva in Hersonissos
From the embankment of the resort street, the temple of St. Paraskeva, located on the cape near the port, is perfectly visible. The snow-white single-nave basilica is both a symbol of faith and adorns the surrounding area. The rounded roof is painted blue. Above the entrance is a small belfry with two bells. The cave church of Agia Paraskeva was built in 1870. There were a lot of parishioners, so the room was slightly expanded. Inside is a carved iconostasis. The painting, unfortunately, was destroyed in 1994 during a fire. There are two entrances to the temple. You can visit from dawn to dusk.
Address: Port of Hersonissos, Kastri district, Crete, Greece
Basilica of Castries
When studying the area, archaeologists found the ruins of three early Christian basilicas. One of them is located on the territory of the port on the hill of Castries. Scientists came to the conclusion that earlier in Hersonissos there was an episcopal see. All buildings belong to the 5th century. The Basilica of Castries was the most important find. It is built on the foundation of a Hellenic building of the pre-Christian period. Previously, this place was supposedly the pagan temple of Vritomartidos Artemidos, and then an unknown building of the 4th century, from which a floor mosaic has been preserved. Until the 616th century, the church was reconstructed on a large scale. There was a new triple opening, floor tiles made of tuff. Presumably the basilica collapsed as a result of an earthquake in the mid-600s.
Address: Port of Hersonissos, Kastri Hill, Crete, Greece
Eleftherios Venizelos Street
The main tourist center of the city is located on Eleftherios Venizelos Street. It is named after the largest Greek politician, who from 1910 to 1933 served as prime minister of the country. On the street there are hotels, shops, souvenir shops. Tourists like to come here to sit in cozy bars in the evenings and buy memorables about Hersonissos. Sellers offer a wide range of souvenirs of different price categories. For example, magnets with views can be bought for 1-2 euros, and for carpets with national patterns you will have to pay more than 20 euros. on the street there are two shops selling banknotes and coins. They will be of interest to numismatists. For collectors of figurines, there is also something to choose from. On the shelves you can find Roman soldiers, ancient Greek gods and much more.
Address: Hersonissos Centre, Crete, Greece
Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The central temple of the city is the Church of the Blessed Virgin. The building is built in the traditional Byzantine style. The Greek flag flies in front of the main entrance. This is an orthodox Orthodox church, where at the entrance women will have to cover their heads and shoulders with a handkerchief, with bare legs it is also not customary to enter. Believers come here to pray, to put a candle. The interior decoration has to communicate with the creator. Idle tourists who do not consider themselves to be of the Orthodox confession, before coming here, need to dress properly so as not to offend the feelings of believers.
Address: El. Venizelou 67-69, Limenas Chersonisou, Hersonissos, Crete 70014, Greece
After getting acquainted with the main historical sights, you can plunge into the resort life, and in the literal sense of this concept. Aquarium «Aquaworld» is open to the public every day, except Sunday, from 10.00 to 17.00. Ticket sales stop at 4:15 p.m. The price for adults is 8 euros, small children – 4 euros. Here are collected the inhabitants of the local seas and reptiles from around the world. Some animals were injured before getting here. Aquarium staff cured them, and now they are part of a large live exhibition. They can be photographed, direct interaction with animals is encouraged. In fact, this is a petting zoo where children can get acquainted with lizards, turtles, snakes and stop being afraid of them.
Official site: https://aquaworld-crete.com/
Address: Filikis Etairias 7, Limenas Hersonissou, Crete 700 14, Greece
Star Beach Water Park
You can continue the theme of sea adventures in the entertainment center – the Star Beach water park. This is one of the very first coastal parks in Europe, offering a variety of recreation. It is located on a 4-acre plot. Entrance to the territory is free. For payment, rental of beach accessories, attractions, including “bungee”, water-motor sports, parachute flights, banana riding are offered. Vacationers are waiting for 7 large pools, slides, lazy river, every evening there are “foam parties”. Within walking distance are the hotels«Star Beach Village & Water Park»,«Iliostasi Beach Apartments».
Address: Star Beach Waterpark, Hersonissos 20, PC 71 302, Heraklion, Crete
Labyrinth Theme Park
A unique place for the whole family to relax is the theme park “Labyrinth”. His concept is based on ancient Greek mythology. Visitors take part in the search for the Mintaur. They have to walk difficult and winding paths before they reach the center of the labyrinth. The new attraction, which is positioned by the owners of the park, is called the “Laser Labyrinth”. It is based on interactive technologies. Lasers are used in the process of passing. Participants expect tricky puzzles, online quests, minigolf, jeep riding, quad biking, horse riding, visiting the farm, pottery workshop and many other interesting activities.
Official site: http://www.labyrinthpark.gr/gr
Address: Labyrinth Park, Hersonissos 700 14, Crete, Greece
The surroundings of Hersonissos are no less interesting than the city itself. You can go to them by rented car, public transport, or hotels will assist in the organization of excursion transfers. The nearest natural attraction is the Skotino Cave. It is one of the most important cult caves of Crete with elements of worship of the goddess Artemis named Vrytomartis, while Paul Faure identifies her with the labyrinth of the Minotaur in Knossos. Excavations by Evans and Pendlebury (1933) and Davara (1962) testify to the use of the cave during the Late Neolithic (5th millennium), Middle and Late Minoan (3rd 2nd millennium), Protogeometric and Roman periods. The continuation of the excavations is carried out by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and the Institute of Aegean Prehistory of Eastern Crete in collaboration with the Ephorate of Paleoanthropology-Speleology of Southern Greece. The cave is located in the municipality of Gouves next to the church of Ayia Paraskevi.
Address: Skotino Cave, Gouves, Greece
Palace of Knossos
The main attraction of Crete – the “Palace of Knossos” – is located near the capital of the island of Heraklion. This largest archaeological site of the Minoan era is also known as the Labyrinth of the Minotaur. It is located on the hill of Kefal, next to the ancient settlement of Knossos. To Heraklion from Hersonissos there are buses. The palace occupies a huge area. Its comparison with the labyrinth is not accidental. Its corridors and passages are built in such a way that it is easy to get lost. It was a majestic structure, striking in its size. Knossos was of great strategic and commercial importance in the development of the area during the Minoan period. In 1628 and 1500 BC, the strongest tsunamis and earthquakes destroyed the main buildings. After 50 years, the fire, which arose for unknown reasons, completed the complete destruction of the palace. The first excavations began in 1878. The ruins were found by the merchant and local collector of antiquities Milos Kalokerinos. In 1900, these lands were bought by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans. For five years, the palace was completely excavated, until 1936, restoration and excavation of small areas continued. In parallel, restoration work was carried out on the original appearance of the structure, but in a way that Evans himself saw it. Therefore, today it is difficult to determine what remains of the heritage, and what was set up by an English archaeologist.
Address: Knossos Palace, Minoiton, Heraklion 71409, Crete, Greece
In order to get better acquainted with the life of the Cretans, you can go to the fishing village of Sissi. From Hersonissos, boat trips are organized here. Sellers of tours usually lure tourists with stories about meeting sea turtles, dolphins, swimming in a picturesque lagoon, acquaintance with the village. Along the way, the boat really enters a small bay, where a beach holiday is organized. Then he goes to the village, where travelers will have a tour of the fishing expanses, narrow streets of the village with authentic taverns and real Cretan food. Here you can stay for a couple of days. Local hotels offer good living conditions and different diets. It is not necessary to take full board. On the shore there are a large number of fish restaurants, each of which serves dishes prepared according to special recipes. Motorists need to go on the highway Heraklion – Malia. The village is located on the 43rd kilometer.
Address: Sissi village, Lassithi Prefecture, Crete, Greece
The park of active recreation “Stables of Arion” does not cooperate with travel agencies, so excursions, horseback riding and other entertainment are ordered on the site via e-mail. This is a family business that has been developing since 2006. In addition to horses, a small petting zoo is organized on the territory. The park employs experienced instructors who give riding lessons. Visitors have access to all kinds of leisure – horseback riding in the countryside, children’s skiing, adventure quests with a guide. For those who do not want to go on horseback, harness a carriage or cart. A traditional Cretan tavern is available on site. Snails, artichokes, lamb, beef, pork, chicken with aromatic sauces and extra virgin olive oil are served. For those who want to stay on vacation, apartments are provided. These are compact and comfortable duplex rooms. A children’s playground has been built near the residential building.
Address: Arion Stables PoBox 2112 70014 A. Hersonissos Crete, Greece
Ancient ruins on Spinalonga
Spinalonga is a small inhabited island located near the coast. In ancient times, there was an ancient Greek acropolis. It was an impregnable citadel, surrounded on all sides by high walls and water. With the arrival of the Venetians, a fortress was built on the foundation of the acropolis, the ruins of which today are of great historical and cultural interest. During the Turkish occupation, the Cretans placed a leprosarium on the island, and above the entrance hung a quote from Dante: “Give up hope to everyone who enters here.” Muslims did not invade the territory of lepers. Boat and bus excursions go to the island. In the morning, fishermen catch fish here and immediately sell fresh catch right on the shore. The ruins were chosen by directors for the filming of historical and fantastic films.
Address: Hersonissos, Crete, Greece. From Agios Nikolaos to Plaka and Elounda there are regular buses.
Mountain village of Ano Hersonissos
From the sea coast you can return to the hills and visit the traditional Cretan village of Ano. It is located 2 km south of Hersonissos. It is also called the “Old Town” or its historic district. The settlement was formed when the people, fleeing from pirates, moved 2 km from the coast. Then the city of Ano Hersonissos appeared. It flourished until the 1950s, when a resort area began to settle on the coast. All business structures gradually moved back to the coast, and the village remained on a hill, fenced off from noisy beaches and crowds of tourists. People come here to plunge into the authentic world of Cretan life, stroll through the narrow streets, dine in a traditional tavern.
Address: Hersonissos, Crete, Greece
The village of Piskopiano. Agricultural Museum
4 km from Hersonissos (one and a half km from Ano) is the village of Piskopiano. It is better to get to it by car or scooter. A long climb up the hill can tire even the most persistent traveler. In the village, tourists will enjoy a pleasant walk through the streets, as well as two attractions. One of them is a 19th-century church with a preserved wall of an ancient 5th-century temple. The second is the modern museum of agriculture. It is located in the restored building of the stone olive mill (XIX century). The exposition is divided into three parts. The first is a winery, the second is devoted to village crafts, the third is to Cretan textiles. The collection includes an ancient distillation machine for making raki, agricultural implements, a restored forge and pottery workshop, clothes and home textiles collected throughout Crete. The Museum in Piskopiano is part of the Heraklion Historical Museum.
Official site: https://www.historical-museum.gr/
Address: Piskopiano village, Crete, Greece
If you climb higher into the mountains, there is another interesting village of Koutouloufari. The way to it lies through an olive grove in the middle of green mountain slopes. The village itself is adjacent to Piskopiano, which is almost adjacent to the Old Ano Hersonissos. Koutouloufari was built on the slope of Mount Pyrgia. The first written mention of the village appeared in 1577. Travelers who love the mountain air, try to stay here. Locals offer accommodation in guest houses equipped in old restored buildings, meals in taverns with traditional Cretan cuisine. the population is friendly to their guests. The main attraction of the village is the Church of St. Basil built in 1840. An extensive network of hiking trails and highways leads to the beaches, thanks to which guests will not remain without swimming in the sea.
Address: Koutouloufari, Crete, Greece