Iraklion (GR: Ηράκλειον - also transliterated as Heraklion or Herakleion) is the largest urban centre in Crete, the capital of the region and the economic centre of the island. The first European civilisation, the Minoan civilisation, flourished on this land 5000 years ago. Currently the population of the municipality of Heraklion is approximately 150.000 people. It is a very dynamic and cosmopolitan town, particularly during the summer period when thousands of visitors can be seen shopping in the market or visiting the museums and other places of interest. During the last 20 years the city has made also a remarkable progress in the academic and technological fields.
Heraklion lies along the North coast of the island, having to the west at about 80 km the town of Rethymnon and at 135 km the city of Hania. To the east is the town of Agios Nikolaos (60km) and the town of Sitia (130km).
Heraklion today, as a modern town, has extensive facilities that cater for all needs of its visitors. There is a lot of hotels ranging from Luxury class to small rent-a-room and youth hostels operating all year round. Most of them are located in the old town.
Travel bureaus offering excursions and special events, car hire companies and other tourist related agencies are also close to the old town's center and the port.
As far as entertainment goes the options are almost unlimited. Herakliotes are a people that enjoy going out a lot, either for lunch, dinner, a coffee or a drink, or all of them - the weather, of course, helps a lot to this. So there is plenty of restaurants, family taverns, luxury café - snack bars, traditional coffee shops (Kafeneia), music halls with traditional Cretan or Bouzouki (Rebetica songs), discos, small pubs and music bars, either indoors or outdoors, open throughout the year and frequented by visitors and locals alike.
Heraklion, being the business center of the area, has plenty of stores selling clothes, shoes, jewelery etc. Stores are open in the morning (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and in the evening (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) with the exception of the evenings of Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.