Hersonisos, about 25km east of Iraklio, has grown from a small fishing village into one of Crete’s largest and busiest tourist towns that is deluged in summer. The main thoroughfare is lined with sprawling hotels, apartment buildings and a cacophonous strip of bars, cafes, tourist shops, clubs, fast-food eateries, travel agencies and quad-hire places. Its most decent stretch of sand is the quaint Sarandaris Beach.
To escape the bustle, base yourself uphill in one of three adjoining villages: Koutouloufari, Piskopiano or Old Hersonisos. Although touristy, these are nonetheless charming and have some excellent tavernas and accommodation options.