Introducing Iraklio & Around
Iraklio is Crete’s most dynamic region, home to almost half the island’s population and its top-rated tourist site, the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Priceless treasures unearthed here and at the many other Minoan sites around Crete have catapulted the archaeological museum in the capital city of Iraklio onto the world stage.
Even if the coastal stretch east of Iraklio is one continuous band of hotels and resorts, just a little bit inland villages sweetly lost in time provide pleasing contrast. Taste the increasingly sophisticated tipple produced in the Iraklio Wine Country, walk in the footsteps of El Greco and Nikos Kazantzakis, and revel in the rustic grandeur of such remote mountain villages as Zaros.
On the quieter southern coast, the ex-hippie hang-out of Matala is the only developed resort, while in the charming villages the laid-back life unfolds much the way it has since time immemorial.
South of Iraklio, past Knossos, the urban sprawl segues into an unhurried landscape of undulating hills, olive groves and rows of vineyards clambering up hillsides. It’s all lorded over by the proud silhouette of Mt Yiouhtas (811m). Several Minoan sites are scattered on and around the mountain, including a cemetery, a villa and a sanctuary.