Heraklion, the capital of Crete, features dozens of super interesting museums dedicated to different periods of Cretan history. Some others, instead, focus on Greek art, folklore and local traditions, nature, and more. If Crete is a travel destination on your horizon, then take a walk with me through this list of the most exciting museums and exhibitions in the city of Heraklion and the surrounding area.
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Essentials for your Adventures in Crete!
Getting to Crete: Nothing like sailing from one island to the other. Check Ferryhopper to book your ferry tickets in advance.
Top-rated tours in Crete: If you’re a fan of our beaches, then don’t miss this Cruise to Balos or a Day Trip to Elafonisi. If you came to the island seeking adventure, then hike the Samaria Gorge. Finally, for those interested in Crete’s past and history, don’t miss a visit to Knossos Palace.
Want to see Crete better? Explore it on wheels! Personally, I use Discover Cars to go where my old jalopy won’t take me.
Show me the money! No, really, need cash? Wise is the best online money transfer service with a debit card accepted all over Greece.
Where to Stay in Heraklion
If you’re coming to Heraklion to enjoy the best restaurants in town, the museums, and the thrilling lifestyle of the capital, the best thing to do is to book a place in the center, this way, it’ll be easy to walk everywhere without stressing about transport.
These are some of the places to stay in Heraklion that I recommend, prices for a small budget range between €20 for a bed in a shared room in a hostel to €45 for a small apartment. Mid-range hotels range from €50 to €80 per night. Upscale accommodation can be booked for more than €100 a night. I’ve also written a complete guide to the best hotels in Heraklion as well as a guide to the best holiday homes in Heraklion.
What Museums to Check When Visiting Heraklion
These are some of my favorite museums that I suggest you to check when spending your time in the capital of Crete.
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
Start your journey into Cretan history from the most important museum in Crete, and one of the most significant in Europe. The Archeological Museum holds one of the most precious collections of Minoan Art as well as numerous collections that cover a period of 5500 thousand years!
Here you can get familiar with the social, artistic, and economic aspects of life during prehistoric times. You’ll discover the valuable masterpieces of the Minoan civilization and uncover the secrets that have been gathered from all parts of Crete.
The museum features 27 galleries so account for at least 2 hours to visit them all. There is also a gallery with audio-visual displays that can’t be missed if you want to see how some of the archeological findings looked like in their glory days. The Archeological Museum is in the city center and can be easily found.
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion Opening Hours
Winter: Mon and Wed-Sun from 9 am to 4 pm. Tue from 10 am to 5 pm.
Summer: Mon and Wed-Sun from 8 am to 8 pm. Tue from 10 am to 8 pm.
Schedules might change, so always check the official website for updates.
The entrance ticket is €12 (full price), the reduced ticket €6. A cool lifehack? If you buy the special ticket package you’ll get 3-day access both to the Archeological Museum and Knossos Archeological site (one visit per site allowed in the 3-day period).
The package ticket is €12 full, €6 reduced. The price for this ticket is €20 from April 1 to October 31. If bought separately, the entrance to Knossos is €15.
Location: 2 Xanthoudidou 2 Street, Heraklion.
Historical Museum of Crete
The Historical Museum of Crete houses a precious collection of artifacts spanning from the Byzantine period to the 20th century.
Here you will find permanent collections dedicated to Cretan history and art as well as temporary collections devoted to major historic events, such as WW2, and key local figures (including writers such as Kazantzakis and Elytis).
The museum has great media applications which allow you to discover history in a more interactive way. The building that houses the museum is also worth mentioning. It is a great example of Neoclassical architecture, featuring marvelous murals with the scenes from the Odyssey and Iliad.
Historical Museum of Crete Opening Hours
Mon and Wed-Fri from 9 am to 3 pm.
Sat and Sun from 11 am to 4 pm.
The entrance ticket costs €5 and kids aged 12 and below access for free. Remember, every first Sunday of the month the admission is free for everyone!
Location: Leof. Sofokli Venizelou 27
Natural History Museum of Crete
If you have kids from 3 to 15, then this place is a must! The super interesting and educational Natural History Museum will get you familiar with the main ecosystems of the Mediterranean area including Crete and the whole of Greece.
Find out about the natural inhabitants of this region through the mega-dioramas, experience a real earthquake in the seismic simulator, or visit the Living Museum where you can check aquariums and terrariums with living animals.
Finally, take some time to discover the natural environment of Crete in a totally interactive way.
Natural History Museum of Crete Opening Hours
Mon-Fri from 9 am to 3 pm.
Weekends from 10 am to 6 pm.
The entrance fee to the Natural History Museum of Crete is €7.5, while the ticket costs €4.5
Location: Sofokli Venizelou Avenue, Heraklion.
Rocca a Mare Fortress
Heraklion’s fortress, Rocca a Mare or Koules is a well-known trademark of the city. It was built during the 15th century and it’s a great example of Venetian fortification castles.
The fortress was used to store food and military supplies as well as to serve as a protection from the sea storms to the harbor. Nowadays after much restoration, the Fortress is open to the public and houses several exhibitions.
Inside the building, check artifacts belong to the Ottoman conquest and the resistance of the Cretans during the Cretan War. Also, don’t miss the shipwreck exhibition where you can see some unique underwater archeological findings discovered near the close-by Dia island, by the famous Jacques Custeau. The admission fee is €4.
Rocca a Mare Opening Hours
The Fortress is usually open every day from 8 am to 6 pm.
However, hours can vary during the different seasons, always check with the official website for up-to-date information.
Location: Venetian harbor, ΝW pier, Heraklion. Access is from 18 Agglon Square.
Museum of Christian Art
This museum is situated inside the 13th-century Monastery of St Catherine of Sinai and houses a beautiful collection of religious artifacts from Cretan monasteries dating from the second Byzantine period to the end of the Ottoman reign.
Here you will find frescoes, wood sculptures, and metalwork, as well as old manuscripts and perfect examples of devotional objects and amphoions.
The main exhibition is dedicated to the works of Cretan hagiographer Angelos Akotantos from the 15th century. The entrance fee is €4.
Museum of Christian Art of Heraklion Opening Hours
Winter: Mon-Sat from 9 am to 5 pm.
Summer: Mon-Sat from 9 am to 7.30 pm.
Location: Karterou Street, next to Agios Minas Cathedral.
Museum of Ancient Greek Technology of Heraklion “Kostas Kotsanas”
This relatively small museum is nevertheless absolutely amazing, especially if you are into technology and machinery! Personally, it’s one of my favorite places to visit in Heraklion.
Here, you’ll find a great collection of objects that show and explain the principles of ancient technology which we are using till nowadays. The guides will gladly make you a tour and even let you test some of the objects. This is a perfect way to discover history in completely different and fun way.
The museum is present in different cities of Greece, including Athens, Ancient Olympia, and Katakolo, other than in Heraklion.
The entrance costs €5. If you’re interested in an organized interactive tour, the price for the ticket is €10, and the minimum size of the group is 4 participants.
Museum of Ancient Greek Technology of Heraklion Opening Hours
Every day from 10 am to 6 pm.
Location: 18 Epimenidou Street, Heraklion.
Municipal Museum of the Battle of Crete and the National Resistance
This museum is a place to remember the events that took place on Crete during the Second World War. The broad collection of documents, newspapers, and photos will tell you the story of this tragic period on the island.
Besides, it represents a great opportunity to learn about events that played a crucial role in the history of Crete and Europe.
Inside, you’ll find a collection of well-preserved weapons, uniforms, and other objects, as well as pictures that will make you travel in time. The entrance fee is €4.
Municipal Museum of the Battle of Crete and the National Resistance Opening Hours
The museum is open every day from 8.30 am to 3 pm.
Location: Doukos Beaufort and I. Chatzidaki, Heraklion. According to the Heraklion’s official website, the museum will soon be transferred to a new venue.
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum
This museum is devoted to the life and work of Nikos Kazantzakis, one f Greece’s best-known authors, but also a philosopher, and even a politician. For a better idea about the author and the place, check this awesome video by myCrete.tv
Video courtesy myCrete.tv.
In this museum, you’ll find an exclusive collection of manuscripts, documents, publications, and letters of this remarkable man as well as rare audiovisual content. The museum has 5 different exhibition rooms, dedicated to different aspects of Nikos Kazantzakis’ life.
The venue is in the former house of a local family that was related to Nikos Kazantzakis. The admission is €5. The museum is situated in the village of Myrtia, 15 km away from the city center.
If you decide to visit, take advantage of the ride and visit the magical Neraidospilios, the cave of the fairies, which is just 5 km away from the village.
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum Opening Hours
Winter: Every day from 10 am to 3 pm, Saturdays closed.
Summer: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Location: Myrtia village, Heraklion region.
Lychnostatis Open-Air Museum
This family-owned museum offers a different way to experience the cultural heritage of Crete! First of all, the buildings that make the museum have been built using only elements such as like wood and stone, and no machinery! Yes, the old good way of using bare hands and imagination!
The complex consists of several exhibitions and open-air areas. Here, you can learn about the everyday life of Cretan folks through carefully recreated rooms and workshops. This place breathes tradition, legends, and ethnological heritage.
If you visit, do go for the audio guide as it explains everything in detail. Kids love this place since it’s possible for them to touch all the tools and even try to work them.
The museum frequently organizes events, such as traditional dancing performances, theatre, and wine & honey tasting. After you are done with exploring, you can visit the beach that’s accessible through the back door of the museum!
The entrance is €6 Euros, and €2 more for the audio guide. If you come for the come second time, the admission is free!
The museum operates daily except Saturdays from 09:00 till 14:00.
Lychnostatis Open-Air Museum Opening Hours
The museum is open daily, from 9 am to 2 pm. Closed on Saturdays.
Location: Hersonissos, Heraklion region.
These are just a few of the many wonderful museums you can visit in Heraklion.
As you can see, there’s much more than just a bunch of archaeological sites to visit in the region.
Adding any of these places to your Heraklion itinerary will certainly enrich your trip!
Check ferry tickets to Greece here!
Have you been to any of these museums in Herakion?
Let me know in the comments below!
Travel Plans for Crete?
More Resources to Organize Your Trip!
Start by heading right to my tips to plan a trip to Crete for in-depth details you need to know about Greece. You can also check my post to better know what to pack for a trip to the island or read this info to visit Crete with children!
Get in touch if you need extra help to plan your trip. If you want to tour West Crete, check my guide. Want more? Join my Private Facebook Group to connect with like-minded travelers who love Crete as much as you do!
Make Sure You’ve Got Everything For a Hassle-Free Vacation!
I never move around the islands without my Osprey backpack, a sturdy but light travel partner I just love. For short trips, I carry this little crossbody bag. If I drive, I pack my Nikon D7200 and a good travel guide: Lonely Planet’s Best of Greece & the Greek Islands.
For accommodation, I personally use Booking.com. Traveling to remote places is easier with Discover Cars. Other times, I join organized tours with GetYourGuide, which features anything from cooking lessons to airport transfer!
Are you coming to Crete any time soon?
Get in touch and let me know!
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Pin this Guide to the Best Museums in Heraklion for Your Next Adventures in Crete
About the author of this blog:
Gabi has been living in Crete for the last five years. Here, she juggles being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours in the summer, translating, and working as a tech advisor.
She’s written for Greek Reporter, published two travel guides about Greece, and drunk more glasses of frappe than any regular person would be able to handle.
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