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Visit These Local Gems in Heraklion

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Heraklion harbour. Crete, GreeceJust because you’re a tourist while visiting Heraklion on the island of Crete, that doesn’t mean you need to act like it! There’s nothing more frustrating than going to a restaurant or bar that has nothing but tourists in it. In order to get a feel for the local culture, you need to find out where the locals go to eat, drink, and have fun! Here’s a list of some of the best ways to experience the true culture of this beautiful city.

Enjoy the Music

Cretan music is slightly different than the traditional music found throughout the rest of Greece. The reason for this is because of the Cretan lyra, a special stringed instrument that is played with a bough, and the Cretan lute, an instrument that is strummed like a guitar. Other traditional musical styles throughout Greece feature the bouzouki, instead. The Alai Cretan Cuisine restaurant in Heraklion has a traditional Cretan band every Thursday night. Sample the local cuisine while taking in the music!

Shop With the Locals

The Laiki Agora, or people’s market, is a time honored Greek tradition that most larger towns and cities adhere to. In Heraklion, the Laiki Agora market takes place every Saturday and is popular with visitors and tourists alike. For locals, this is a chance for them to buy fresh, local food that is straight from the source. Visitors to the city can catch a glimpse of local culture while searching for traditional Cretan goods to bring home.

Learn About Cretan History

Cretans are proud of their history and there are several opportunities throughout Heraklion to explore it. For example, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a great place in the city to learn about the past. With artifacts starting in the Neolithic Period (7000-6500 BC) and going all the way up to Roman times, the museum gives a 5000 year overview of the history of Heraklion. You should also visit the ruins of Knossos Palace. Most of the artifacts from the palace, however, are housed in the Archaeological Museum.

Eat Traditional Cretan Food

Experiencing the cuisine on the island of Crete will be one of the highlights of your trip, as long as you find the right places to visit! You will find fresh produce in abundance on the island, and the cuisine reflects this. Ippokambos is a traditional restaurant located near the water and is known for having some of the best seafood in the city. When you arrive at your hotel, just ask them where their favorite restaurant is. If you tell them you want to dine with locals, they’ll point you in the right direction.

Experience Nightlife With the Cretans

When it’s time to hit the town, it’s fun to go wherever the locals go. Cretans love their traditional food and music and many of the popular hotspots feature both.Peninta-Peninta is a local hotspot that also features fresh, local food and even has bands playing traditional Greek music while you dine. Don’t let the fact that it serves food fool you! The best time to go is after 10 PM and continues until people go home, as is typical for most of Greece!

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