The Most Interesting Museums in Heraklion (Plus Bonus Tips To Visit Them!)

museums in Heraklion

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, take a walk with me through this list of the most exciting museums in Heraklion and other exhibitions in the city and the surrounding area.

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Best Heraklion Museums

Top Museums and Exhibitions in Heraklion, Crete

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What Museums to Check When Visiting Heraklion

These are some of my favorite museums that I suggest you check when spending time in Crete’s capital.

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

  • Location: 2, Xanthoudidou Street, Heraklion
museums in Heraklion
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

Start your journey into Cretan history with the most important museum in Heraklion and the whole of Crete, and one of the most significant in Europe.

The Archeological Museum of Heraklion holds one of the most precious collections of Minoan Art and numerous collections that cover a period of 5500 thousand years!

Here, you can become familiar with life’s social, artistic, and economic aspects 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 you’ll need 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 what some of the archeological findings looked like in their glory days. The Archeological Museum is in the city center and can be easily found.

The entrance ticket is €12 (total price), and the reduced ticket is €6.

A cool life hack? If you buy the special ticket package, you’ll get 3-day access to the Archeological Museum and Knossos Archeological site (one visit per site allowed in the 3 days).

The package ticket is €12 full, €6 reduced. This ticket costs €20 from April 1 to October 31. If bought separately, the entrance to Knossos is €15.

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.

Historical Museum of Crete

  • Location: 27, Leof. Sofokli Venizelou Heraklion
museums in Heraklion
Historical Museum of Crete (Source: Lourakis – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0).

The Historical Museum of Crete is another important Heraklion museum that 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 and temporary collections devoted to major historical events, such as WW2, and vital local figures (including writers such as Kazantzakis and Elytis).

The museum has excellent media applications, allowing you to discover history interactively.

The building that houses the museum is also worth mentioning. It is an excellent example of Neoclassical architecture, featuring marvelous murals with scenes from the Odyssey and Iliad.

The entrance ticket costs €5, and kids aged 12 and below can access it for free. Remember, every first Sunday of the month, admission is free for everyone!

Historical Museum of Crete Opening Hours
Mon and Wed-Fri from 9 am to 3 pm.
Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.

Natural History Museum of Crete

  • Location: Sofokli Venizelou Avenue, Heraklion
museums in Heraklion
Natural History Museum of Crete (Source: Lourakis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0).

This place is a must if you have kids from 3 to 15! The super interesting and educational Natural History Museum will familiarize you with the Mediterranean’s main ecosystems, 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 to check aquariums and terrariums with living animals.

Finally, take some time to discover the natural environment of Crete interactively. 

The entrance fee to the Natural History Museum of Crete is €7.5, while the ticket costs €4.5

Natural History Museum of Crete Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri from 9 am to 3 pm.
Weekends from 10 am to 6 pm.

Rocca a Mare Fortress

  • Location: Venetian Harbor, ΝW pier, Heraklion. Access is from 18 Agglon Square
museums in Heraklion
The Koules, also known as Rocca a Mare.

Heraklion’s fortress, Rocca a Mare or Koules, is a well-known trademark of the city and a famous museum in Heraklion.

It was built during the 15th century and is an outstanding example of a Venetian fortification castle.

The fortress was used to store food and military supplies and to protect the harbor from sea storms. The Fortress is open to the public and houses several exhibitions.

museums in Heraklion
A shipwreck collection of Rhodian amphorae was found at the bottom of the sea.

Inside the building, check artifacts from 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 nearby 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 seasons, so always check the official website for up-to-date information.

Thyrathen Museum of Musical Instruments

  • Location: Riga Feraioi Square, opposite Agios Minas Cathedral), Heraklion
museums in Heraklion
(Courtesy of Thyrathen Museum).

Opposite Agios Minas Church, Thyrathen is a Museum of Traditional Music, Instruments, Research and Documentation. It was founded in 2012, with its headquarters in the historic village of Krousonas in the Municipality of Malevizi. In December 2023, it opened its doors in a fantastic Neoclassical building in Heraklion city center.

Explore the music of the Mediterranean and get acquainted with Greek traditional music and the traditional instruments of Greece and the Mediterranean. Visitors can experience an interactive tour and a digital tour.

museums in Heraklion
(Courtesy of Thyrathen Museum).

The museum holds frequent seminars and conferences aiming to preserve and continue the spirit of Greek traditional music. Thyrathen also conducts musicological research and studies Greek traditional music, working as a research and documentation center.

The collection of musical instruments is classified according to sounds produced by the corresponding pulsating movements of the materials in aerophones, chordophones, membranophones, and idiophones.

The admission fee is €10, including a guided and digital tour.
Reduced tickets apply to university students and kids 4-15 years old.
Kids up to 3 and other categories enter for free.

Thyrathen Music Museum Opening Hours
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 3.30 pm.
Visits on Sundays must be arranged upon request.

Museum of Christian Art

  • Location: Karterou Street, next to Agios Minas Cathedral, Heraklion
museums in Heraklion
A typical example of Byzantine art.

This Heraklion museum is in the 13th-century Monastery of St Catherine of Sinai. It houses a beautiful collection of religious artifacts from Cretan monasteries dating from the second Byzantine period to the end of the Ottoman reign.

You will find frescoes, wood sculptures, metalwork, old manuscripts, and perfect examples of devotional objects and amphoions here.

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
.

Museum of Ancient Greek Technology of Heraklion “Kostas Kotsanas”

  • Location: 18 Epimenidou Street, Heraklion
museums in Heraklion
Image courtesy of Kotsanas Museum (visit the Official Facebook page for more).

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 we still use nowadays.

The guides will gladly give you a tour and even let you test some of the objects. This is a perfect way to discover history in a 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.

Municipal Museum of the Battle of Crete and the National Resistance

  • Location: Doukos Beaufort and I. Chatzidaki, Heraklion. According to Heraklion’s official website, the museum will soon be transferred to a new venue.
museums in Heraklion
Paratrooper landing operation on Crete (Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-0864 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de).

This museum is a place to remember the events that took place in 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, other objects, and 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.

Nikos Kazantzakis Museum

  • Location: Myrtia village, Heraklion region

Video courtesy myCrete.tv.

This museum is devoted to the life and work of Nikos Kazantzakis, one of 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

This museum has an exclusive collection of this remarkable man’s manuscripts, documents, publications, and letters, 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 related to Nikos Kazantzakis.

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.

The admission is €5. The museum is situated in the village of Myrtia, 15 km away from the city center.

Nikos Kazantzakis Museum Opening Hours:
Winter: Every day from 10 am to 3 pm, Saturdays closed.
Summer: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

Lychnostatis Open-Air Museum

  • Location: Hersonissos, Heraklion region
CRETE - HERAKLION - stone mill
The stone mill is one of the many traditional objects used on the island that you can check in this 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 has been built using only elements such as 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 exploring, you can visit the beach that’s accessible through the back door of the museum!

The entrance is €8, and €2 more for the audio guide. If you come for the second time, admission is free!

Lychnostatis Open-Air Museum Opening Hours:
The museum is open daily, from 9 am to 2 pm. Closed on Saturdays.

BOOK IN ADVANCE:
Book your entry ticket to the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum to learn about Cretan heritage and culture. Add an audio guide and audiovisual film or private tour to your visit.

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! Have you been to any of these museums in Heraklion? Let me know in the comments below!

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More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking out my ultimate guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets for an unforgettable experience.

Use this comprehensive Crete packing list to ensure you have everything you need. Explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches, and check out the best times to experience its beauty.

If you are exploring specific areas like Heraklion or Rethymnon, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Heraklion

No time to read all my accommodation guides? Check out these hotels in the city:

More useful travel resources

  • Check out all the digital travel guides I’ve specifically written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.
  • Discover Cars is the engine I use to find a rental car on the island.
  • To book adventures, tours, and cultural experiences, I recommend Get Your Guide.

Pin this Guide to the Best Museums in Heraklion for Your Next Adventures in Crete

Top Museums and Exhibitions in Heraklion, Crete

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About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the island. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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