The Heraklion Airport is one of the most convenient airports of a major holiday destination. It’s located very close to the historic center of Heraklion, and also directly beside the major national road that traverses the northern coast of Crete – VOAK/E75/EO90. This gives easy access to many of the most famous destinations in Crete both to the west and to the east, like Chania and Rethymno to the west, and Lassithi to the east. Via that same road, one also has easy access to the E97 that leads to the south coast of the island for destinations such as Agia Galini.
Heraklion Airport – Kazantzakis International Airport (HER)
The Heraklion Airport is officially called the Kazantzakis International Airport, after the famous Cretan author Nikos Kazantakis. Most people know him because he created one of the most famous characters of Greece – Zorba the Greek.
Many people visiting Crete come to the island via the Heraklion Airport and then take off for their destinations at once – which is very easy to do, as there is a car rental station directly at Heraklion airport. But in fact, this main airport of Crete is very close to some worthwhile destinations, as well as conveniently located near shopping, dining, and culture. There are also plenty of convenient places to stay near the airport. Here is a run-down of how to make the most of your time near the airport.
Shopping near Heraklion Airport HER
As the Heraklion Airport is located at the edge of Heraklion, this is where you’ll find many of the larger stores. But, for a traditional shopping experience, you can stop by the most famous Farmer’s Market of Heraklion – the Pateles Market is just a seven-minute drive from the airport. Here, you’ll find the freshest and best of Crete’s stellar produce, plus honey, tsikoudia, and other traditional products. There are also vendors selling housewares, clothing, and various nick-nacks, making for a festive, flea-market mood.
Inside the departure’s terminal you can also find a large and recently renovated duty free shop, many currency exchange offices and a luggage storage facility.
If you are coming to the Heraklion Airport from the west, you might try stopping at Kampos Cretan Products – about 10 km west of the airport. They have a great selection of traditional Cretan products such as dried wild herbs, fine oils, local wines, and handmade pastas, but also health and beauty products from pure Cretan ingredients. This is a good stop for last-minute gift-shopping.
For more specialized boutique shopping, the heart of old-town Heraklion is just 4 kilometers away by car. Here you’ll find jewelry stores such as the well-rated Kosmima, with handmade jewelry of silver and gold.
Where to Park in Heraklion Airport
There is large parking lot just opposite the airport called Municipal Car Parking. It is just 2 minutes walking from the arrivals and departures buildings.
If you want to make a stop in the center of Heraklion en route to the airport, nothing could be simpler. There are ample parking lots all around the center. Three are in the Georgiadi park, at the edge of the old town. Thiseus parking is in the heart of the old town, between the Bembo fountain and the Morosini fountain. By the southern edge of the park – by the Kamara – the “New Gate” of the Venetian city walls, you’ll find a free public parking lot. There are just a few of many lots.
Where to eat near Heraklion Airport HER
There are two good restaurants directly next to the Heraklion airport in the Nea Alikarnassos district. One – Krassas – is a casual and popular Gyros restaurant. It’s perfect for a classic souvlaki and pita with fresh salads and cold beers. If you have a little more time and are looking for something a little fancier, you can try 7 Thalasses (“Seven Seas”). This elegant and beautiful modern restaurant with lovely outdoor seating has a contemporary menu of fish and seafood specialties and sushi and gets rave reviews.
If you just want a superb cup of sustainable, single-estate coffee and a pastry or nutrition bar, you can visit Hacienda. There are a couple of locations, and one is right by the main road as you travel west from the airport, just three minutes away.
Staying near Heraklion Airport HER
If you have an early morning departure or a late-night arrival in Heraklion, not to worry. There are plenty of hotels with convenient access to the airport as well as to all the pleasures of Heraklion in order for you to make the most of your stay.
The Sofia Hotel and the Asterion Hotel are both within 1.5 km from the airport. Both are comfortable choices, and the Sophia also has a seasonal pool. Marvel Deluxe Rooms is 2 km away from the airport, and close to the Venetian Harbor and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
Having a drink near Heraklion Airport
Because the Heraklion Airport is so close to the loveliest parts of Heraklion and the Venetian Port, there are plenty of atmospheric and beautiful places to enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine. Your best choice is to head to the old town. Many excellent cocktail bars are immediately in the vicinity of the Morosini Lions Fountain. Best rated among them are Wets & Drys Days & Nights, Xalvaro Open Bar, and The Bitters Bar.
Xalavro is open to the sky in a charming courtyard and offers inventive international bar food and a fusion menu in addition to interesting craft cocktail choices. Visitors rave about the cozy and chic decor of Wets & Drys, Days & Nights, where you can also enjoy some interesting menu choices with your drinks. Fans of the classic cocktail experience will love The Bitters Bar with its 1920’s speakeasy vibe.
Excursions and Cultural Activities near Nikos Kazantzakis Airport
Less than 10 minutes drive south of the Heraklion Airport is one of the most famous Archaeological sites of not just Crete, but of all Greece – and, for that matter, the world. The Palace of Knossos showcases the advanced Bronze Age civilization of Crete – the Minoans, who flourished over a millennium before the Parthenon was even built. This gorgeous and vivid excavation/restoration is a fantastic archaeological experience. You can complete it by visiting the world-class Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, where many of the findings are now housed. It’s seven minutes from the airport directly, and just over 10 minutes from Knossos.
Apart from the Archaeology, the whole of Heraklion’s Venetian port and old town are just enchanting. Make sure to visit the Morosini Lions Fountain, the Bembo Fountain, the Venetian Loggia, and the Koules Fortress for a romantic view of the Venetian heritage of Heraklion.
Car Rental at Heraklion Airport in Greece
The best way to discover the beauty of Crete while on holidays is by renting a car. Check our car rental located right opposite to the arrival’s hall at Heraklion Airport, where you can easily pick-up and drop-off your car. By pre-booking your car online you will have a car waiting for you upon your arrival at the Heraklion Airport.