Last updated on February 13, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Crete

Where to stay in Heraklion – 4 BEST AREA & HOTELS

Planning a trip to Crete’s vibrant capital and wondering where to stay in Heraklion?

This bustling city, steeped in history offers a plethora of options. From cosy areas to more vibrant or relaxing locations, Heraklion is full of choices to suit all tastes.

In this guide, you will see the best places to stay in Heraklion. I will introduce you to the unique features of each area and the top hotels to book your break away.

But let’s dive into it.

Heraklion main port
Heraklion main port

Where to stay in Heraklion – A quick overview

Heraklion is often bypassed by many travellers and it’s a pity. The town itself is actually quite nice and it surely offers the best shopping experience on the island.

I would suggest spending 2-3 nights to experience the city, the must-visit archaeological site of Knossos, the surprising Paliani Monastery and other places to explore around Heraklion.

After that, you can move on to other unique and amazing places to stay in Crete like the beautiful Chania.

Heraklion is located on the northern coast, right in the centre of the island.

The Historic Centre of the city is a mix of antique, old and new architecture that develops around the main street called 25th Avgoustou.

This is where you will find a ton of shops, bars, and restaurants that get literally full in the late afternoon with both locals and tourists alike.

You walk on the 25th Avgoustou (north direction) and you will be at the lovely harbour in 10-15 minutes

You walk west and you will enter the most modern and not as charming part of the city, a maze of small lanes where cars can hardly drive through. This is where you can find lots of accommodations on a budget, besides my favourite restaurant.

You keep walking to exit the Historic Centre and enter the new part of town, where things are much more relaxed.

Here below is a quick map to have an idea and better understanding of the areas. 

Map of where to stay in Heraklion
Map of where to stay in Heraklion – The 4 best areas

In this table, I summarize the 4 best areas to stay in Heraklion. Swipe left or right on the mobile to see all the information. Click on the area name to explore all the pros and cons and see my top 2/3 hotels suggested there.

Area NameProsConsHotelAccessibilityAttractionsRestaurantsFamiliesNightlifeCharacter (Architecture/History)
Old CentreClose to everything,heart of the cityMore expensive than all other areasJacuzzi suiteExcellent, everything within 5 minutesMany, Venetian Loggia is a mustExcellentExcellent, (pedestrian)ExcellentMix of antique, old and new architecture
Harbour AreaBest view in the city, quiet, boutique hotelsLimited choice of local restaurantsLato BoutiqueExcellent, close to the bus station and the harbourHarbour viewLimitedExcellent
(quiet)
LimitedBeautiful view of the harbour
Budget AreaAffordable accommodationsNot as charming, noisyRea HotelGood, within the Historical CentreNot muchGoodModerateGoodMostly buildings from the 60s and 70s
New TownValue for money, quieter, real Cretan experienceFar from the bus station and the harbourPapyrusFar from the city centreNot muchGoodGoodLimitedBuildings mostly from the 60s and 70s
Where to stay in Heraklion – The 4 best areas

Old Centre – Best place to stay in Heraklion close to everything

This is my favourite part of town when I want to be close to everything. Here you have literally all you need within 5 minutes.

The only missing thing is the beach, but that’s something impossible to find in Heraklion. For that, you need to either take a bus or rent a car in Crete for one of the many beautiful beaches along the coast.

Knossos, Europe's oldest city
Knossos, Europe’s oldest city – You can easily visit it from Heraklion by bus

All of the streets and squares I describe below are pedestrian-only, which is great especially if you are travelling with kids.

The heart of the Old Centre is 25th Avgoustou which packs up with people around 5-6 pm, walking up and down, a great place to see and be seen.

The second most popular street is certainly Agiou Titou, again with plenty of shops, mostly with clothes and shoes for the young crowd.

Agiou Titou Square is where to the two above streets meet, and where you will find plenty of bars and cafes, so beloved by the locals for the frappe or frappuccino in the late afternoon.

This is also where you will find plenty of restaurants like my favourite Domes, facing partially the square and partially the Theotokopoulos Park.

This is the best spot for a beautiful dinner in a romantic spot. The food is Greek inspired but with a modern twist.

Other restaurants I suggest in the area are Amalia’s Kitchen and the organic/vegan Umami.

In the area, you should not miss visiting the Venetian Loggia, the Church of Agios Titos, the Municipal Art Gallery and the Morosini Fountain, all within a few minutes walk from each other, all free to access.

My suggested Hotel

A real gem nestled in the heart of Heraklio, Jacuzzi suite Piazza dei Leoni pulls out all the stops to make your stay an unforgettable experience. Picture this: You wake up in a super comfy bed, and sip on your morning coffee while soaking up the city views from your private balcony. Of course, how could I forget the jacuzzi, a fantastic reward after a long day of exploring?

The ultra-cool design gets a big thumbs up, effortlessly blending style with comfort, while the kitchen is just begging you to try out your culinary skills. The location is just perfect, next to a bunch of top-rated restaurants and shops right at your doorstep.

Here are other 2 great options:

Lions Square($$): Excellent location, stunning sea views, quiet and cosy. Provides modern amenities for a delightful stay.

Central Boutique ($$): prime location, clean rooms, and commendable service.

Heraklion by night
Heraklion Harbour by night

Harbour Area – Best place to stay in Heraklion for a boutique experience with a view

This is my favourite place to stay when I want to have the best view in the city. Full-stop.

I must say that it’s also a very handy location, in fact, the best place to stay in Heraklion if you have an early/late boat, bus or flight.

The bus station is metres away and so is the harbour. This is the main transportation hub of Crete with frequent buses to the International Airport too. So handy!

This area has probably the best boutique hotels in Heraklion, perfect for a romantic stay. It’s also very quiet, for a long night’s sleep.

So what are the main drawbacks? You will be around a 10-15 minute walk to the centre of action of the Old Town, Agiou Titou Square, and unfortunately, you will not have a wide choice of restaurants around the hotel.

The Lato Boutique is my favourite hotel in Heraklion. I so loved my stay there in a beautiful, well-set, trendy room, of course with air conditioning, free WiFi, and even private parking!

The breakfast was absolutely fabulous and included in the price, so I could start my day fully fueled. Plus, they have genius discounts, a sweet treat for the budget.

On my last trip, I had a late flight and they kept my bags and let me a room (for free) for a quick shower before catching the bus to the airport. Stunning service.

Here are other 2 great options:

Infinity City($$$): Exceptional location, modern decor and delightful staff. Breakfast is outstanding.

Irini Hotel ($$): comfort, convenience, and splendid sea views with efficient service and excellent Wi-Fi connectivity

Fishing boats in the Heraklion Harbour
Fishing boats in the Heraklion Harbour

Budget Area – Best if you want to save some money

Once you walk from Agiou Titou Square and pass the rather small Theotokopoulos Park, you will enter a much more modern part of the city that is located still in the Historical Centre but it does not have much old or ancient architecture.

Most of the buildings come from the 60s and 70s and the street are super narrow, with a few points so narrow that cars can hardly drive through.

Surely it is not the most charming part of the city, however, it is certainly the place to book your hotel if you are travelling on a budget.

My only suggestion here is to ask for a room facing the backyard, whenever you can. I had once a room facing the street and it was of course noisy with cars driving through the entire night (that was my first night in Heraklion many many years ago)

Another of my favourite restaurants/tavernas in Crete is here, it’s called the Courtyard of Defkalion. It’s family-run, with real traditional food, big portions, honest prices and the loukoumades are usually on the house.

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in this budget area of Heraklion:

Rea Hotel($): centrally-located, budget-friendly, with friendly staff, clean rooms and convenient amenities. Best value for money in Heraklion.

Mirabello Hotel ($): clean, comfortable, with friendly staff. Great value for money.

Quince ($): superb cleanliness, modern amenities and outstanding service

Venetian Harbour with Heraklion city in the background
Venetian Harbour with Heraklion city in the background

New Town – Best place to stay in Heraklion for a relaxing time

The Historic Centre is sort of delimited by a ring road (Agiou Mina – Averof – Doukos Mpofor).

Once you pass this ring, you will enter the New Town, developed also in the 60s and 70s. Most of the buildings are 2 and 3 floors tall and you will find mainly local shops, local restaurants, local kafenios …you get the point, mostly locals.

I would personally not suggest staying in this area if you plan just 2 or 3 days in Heraklion. You would be far from the bus station and the harbour. You would also need around 20 minutes to walk to the centre of the city. Basically, lots of time gone in walking.

However, this area may be ideal if you are planning a longer stay because you get better value for money, it’s going to be quieter and you will have more of a real Cretan experience.

Here are 2 of the best accommodations in this area

Papyrus ($): 1BR, comfortable, clean, and conveniently located

Athina ($): 1BR, clean and at a good value, though some street noise.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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