Knossos Palace (Heraklion): How to visit the archaeological site?


Palace of Knossos (Crete): the definitive guide to plan your visit

You want to visit the Palace of Knossos (sometimes also spelt as Cnossos) during your stay in Crete?

Great idea!

The most famous archaeological site on the island is one of the best places to visit near Heraklion.

To help you plan your visit, I have prepared this guide of Knossos, with all the practical information (how to get there, opening hours…) and my best tips. I will of course also tell you where to book your entrance ticket to Knossos palace or your guided tour.

In addition, you will also find in this article my list of the best places to see around the Minoan palace and my selection of the best hotels in Heraklion.

So, ready to plan your visit to the Palace of Knossos?

Visit of the Palace of Knossos: Booking your tickets

If you only want to book your priority access tickets to visit Knossos at the best price during your tour in Crete, without reading the article (you should read it anyway to know everything!), here is the summary table of the existing tickets.

Click on the ticket names to buy them:

Skip the line ticketDescriptionPrice (from - depends on the season)
Knossos PalacePriority entrance15€
Knossos PalacePriority entrance + audio guide16.50€
Knossos PalaceDigital tablet rental18€ (+ ticket price)
Knossos + Archaeological museumCombined ticket: Knossos Palace + Heraklion archaeological museum23€
Guided visit of KnossosGuided visit in small group50€
Private guided tour of KnossosPrivate guided visit140€ for 2

The Palace of Knossos: a must-see sight in Crete

How to visit the Palace of Knossos?

To prepare for your visit to the Palace of Knossos during your trip to Crete, I’ll start my guide with some practical information.

Where is the Palace of Knossos? How to get there?

The Palace of Knossos is located in Heraklion, 5 km from the city centre.

Here are the different options to go to Palace of Knossos from Heraklion:

  • By car: it takes 10 minutes from the centre. Large free parking on site.
  • By public bus: the number 2 “Knossos” bus leaves from Heraklion Bus Station (200 metres from the archaeological museum) and takes you to Knossos in 15 minutes. There are departures very regularly.
  • By taxi: you will find taxis in the centre of Heraklion.

Another very practical solution if you choose to visit Heraklion on the same day as the archaeological site of Knossos: take the multi-stop bus. There are stops at the Koules fortress or at the Archaeological Museum.

If you wish to take the Hop-On Hop-Off bus to Knossos, you can book your ticket directly by clicking on the green button below:

Palais de Cnossos
Visiting Cnossos Palace – Heraklion

Opening times of Knossos Palace

The opening hours of the Palace of Knossos vary according to the season:

  • From November to the end of March: From 8:30 to 17:00
  • From April to the end of August: 8am to 8pm
  • In September: 8am to 7pm or 7.30pm
  • In October: 8am to 6pm or 6.30pm.

The last entry is always 1/4 of an hour before closing.

The Palace of Knossos is open every day from Monday to Sunday except:

  • January 1
  • March 25
  • May 1
  • Easter Monday
  • December 25
  • December 26

Rates for the Minoan palace in Knossos

Entrance fee for Knossos: €15 for the full Adults rate (between 25 and 65 years) if you buy it at the ticket office.

Reduced rate at €8 for people over 65 years old.

Free entry to the Palace of Knossos for children and people under 25 years of age living in a European Union country – Upon presentation of a proof at the ticket office.

Entrance to Knossos Palace is also free on certain days of the year for everyone: March 6 – April 18 – May 18 – Last weekend of September – October 28 – Every Sunday between November 1 and March 31.

Voyage Tips - Advice

To visit the Palace of Knossos, you must buy your tickets in advance on the Internet, and not at the ticket office. This will allow you to avoid the queue, which can be quite impressive at certain times of the day.

The priority access tickets and the guided tours to Knossos are available to book online, so you might as well enjoy them! I’ll give you the details below.

Palais de Knossos fresque
Knosso Palace Frescoe

Book your ticket to the Palace of Knossos

To help you choose the different tickets for your visit to the Palace of Knossos, I’ll now explain all the options.

Ticket to Knossos Palace

To avoid the queues at the entrance of the archaeological site, you must reserve your ticket to the Palace of Knossos by clicking on the green button below.

You will just have to show it directly at the counter on your smartphone to enter the site:

Since there are almost no explanatory signs on the site (this is a recurring problem in Greece…), if you want to have an explanation of what you are seeing, you can also buy a priority access ticket with audio guide or digital tablet:

1) For a visit to the Knossos Palace with an audio guide (available in English only), you must book your ticket by clicking here:

2) For a virtual tour of the Palace of Knossos with a digital tablet*:

The tablet allows you to admire certain places of the palace recreated in 3D and to view the places more clearly. There is also an audio guide available in English.

*Beware that this price is only for the tablet rental, you must also have a priority access ticket to enter the site.

Combined Ticket for Knossos + Heraklion Archaeological Museum

During your stay in Heraklion, you must visit the Minoan palace of Knossos and the archaeological museum because both visits are really complementary. Indeed, some of the frescoes and objects discovered in Knossos are now displayed in the Heraklion museum.

In this case, you must buy a combined ticket in advance including:

  • A ticket for Knossos Palace
  • A ticket with priority entrance for the archaeological museum of Heraklion
  • 2 audio guides with explanations in English (1 for each site). You will need to download them on your phone before going there.

It’s very easy to visit these 2 must-see sites on a road trip in Crete on the same day (no matter what the order) but you can also plan to do Knossos one day and the museum the next day or vice versa (your ticket will still be valid).

Opting for this combined ticket will also allow you to save a little money compared to buying 2 separate tickets.

To book your combined priority access ticket for Knossos and the museum, click on the button below:


Guided tour of the Palace of Knossos in English

If you want to know everything about the history of the Palace of Knossos to the smallest detail, you must book a guided tour. 

And good news this tour of Knossos is available in English. The guide is pleasant and professional. He knows his stuff perfectly and will tell you many anecdotes about Greek mythology and Minoan civilisation.

This visit to Knossos offers 3 other advantages:

  • It takes place in small groups of up to 8 people
  • It allows gives you priority access to the site
  • The rate also includes entry to the archaeological museum of Heraklion (without a guide).

The guided tour lasts about 90 minutes but you can then take a tour of the archaeological site alone.

Book your guided tour of the Palace of Knossos in English by clicking on the button below:

Voyage Tips - Advice

Remember to book your guided tour of Knossos as early as possible as there are only 2 or 3 slots a day and the 8 spots are quickly taken.


Private guided tour of the archaeological site of Knossos

To enjoy a 90-minute private guided visit to Knossos Palace, you need to book by clicking on the green button below:

Visiting Knossos from Chania: day trip

If you have not rented a car and plan to stay only in Chania, you can also visit the Palace of Knossos via an organised trip.

The day-trip includes:

  • Pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Chania
  • A guided tour of the site of Knossos (In English)
  • Free visit to the archaeological museum of Heraklion
  • Free time to explore Heraklion.

If you aren’t necessarily planning to drive to Crete, this is the best way to get to the Palace of Knossos from Chania.

This trip can be booked directly by clicking on the button below:

Visiting the Palace of Knossos from Rethymnon

The same guide tour to Knossos and Heraklion is also available from Rethymnon with pick-up service from your hotel.

For detailed information and to reserve tickets, just click here:

site archéologique Knossos

History of Palace of Knossos

To better understand the things you’ll see during your visit to the Palace of Knossos, here’s a brief summary of its history. Of course, if you want a complete and accurate explanation, the best thing is to opt for a guided tour!

Crete’s most famous archaeological site was first discovered in 1878 by a Cretan antique dealer, but the actual excavations only began in 1900.

They were led by the British archaeologist, Sir Arthur Evans, who devoted much of his life and savings to the restoration of the place (with choices that were sometimes rather questionable).

It is he who chose to name the newly discovered civilisation in Knossos as “the Minoan civilisation”, in reference to King Minos*.

*Minos was a legendary king of Crete. In Greek mythology, he is the son of Zeus and it was he who locked the Minotaur in the maze.

The first traces of occupation of the site date back to the 8th millennium BC.  But it is only from the 3rd millennium that the place developed and that a palatial complex and many stone buildings were built.

There were the royal apartments, reception rooms, residences of civil servants, priests, offices, warehouses to store food, and also more modest houses on the outskirts for craftsmen and the population.

At its peak, Knossos was considered the political, religious and cultural centre of Crete.

Things worth seeing during the visit to the Palace of Knossos

You should know not to expect to see a palace when visiting the archaeological site of Knossos. All that remains are ruins and parts of it have been reconstructed according to Evans’ instructions, who let himself get a little carried away by his imagination.

However, here are the main things to see when visiting the Palace of Knossos:

  • The old grain silos, called the “Kouloures” that are located directly on your left after the entrance of the site
  • The shops where huge terracotta jars containing oil and wine were stored. Called “Pithoi”, you will be able see some of them still intact.
  • The frescoes room where copies of the frescoes discovered in Knossos are displayed. The originals are exhibited in the archaeological museum of Heraklion.
  • The throne room. Evans imagined that King Minos used to sit in the room, but archaeologists believe that the place had a religious use.
  • The fresco of the Prince of Lillies, one of the most famous ones.
  • The Queen‘s Megaron, which is nothing more than her room. Here you can see the Dolphins fresco.
  • The Northern entrance has been partially reconstructed with red and black columns and is home to the bull-leaping fresco. This is the place that you can see in all photos of Knossos.
Visiter le palais de Knossos
Visit Knossos Palace

How long does it take to visit Knossos in Heraklion?

For a quick visit to Knossos, it takes about 30 minutes.

To visit the Palace of Knossos with audio guide or digital tablet, it takes between 90 minutes and 2 hours if you stop at all the points of interest mentioned.

If you have decided to take a guided tour of Knossos, it takes about 90 minutes.

What is the best time to visit the Palace of Knossos in Crete?

As the site is sunny in summer, you must reach there early in the morning or late in the day before closing. This will also allow you to avoid the crowds and group visits that arrive around 10:00 am as Knossos remains the most visited archaeological site in Crete.

If you choose to book a guided tour, you will have to follow the schedule anyway, but there is usually one tour in the morning around 9:00 am and one around 4:00 pm.

What are the things to do around Palace of Knossos?

Since Knossos is in Heraklion and the visit there does not take all day, you must take teh chance to visit the city and its surroundings.

To help you organise your visit to Heraklion, you must read my article listing the 13 unmissable things in Heraklion. Just click here: What are the things to do in Heraklion?

Here is my selection of places to see around the Palace of Knossos.

The archaeological museum of Heraklion

As I told you before, the visit to the archaeological museum of Heraklion really goes hand-in-hand and is unmissable since the objects and frescoes discovered in the Minoan palace are displayed there.

Here, you can admire the original frescoes of the Prince of Lillies or the Dolphins. Other famous objects include the snake goddess figurines, a vase shaped like a bull’s head with golden horns and the model of Knossos.

The museum is organised in a very modern way and and follows a chronological order from the Neolithic to the Roman period, with nearly 5,500 years of Cretan history to discover. And here we should acknowledge the presence of explanatory panels in English.

The museum being the most visited site in Heraklion after the Palace of Knossos, you really must buy your ticket in advance to skip the queues.

Here’s the link to buy the Knossos + Archaeological Museum ticket:

Musée archéologique d’Héraklion
Visiting Heraklion archaeological museum and Knossos Palace


As the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is located in the heart of the city, before or after your visit, you must take a short walk to visit the main places of interest.

Things worth seeing in Heraklion:

  • The Koules fortress, built in the 16th century, and which has recently been renovated. You will find an exhibition on the history of the place and you can access the ramparts.
  • The old town, by taking the street that crosses it, the “25 Avgoustou” and then getting losing yourself in the nearby streets lined with small shops and taverns.
  • Religious buildings like the Agios Titos Basilica and the Agios Minas Cathedral
  • The historical museum of Crete which is really great, there is even an audio guide in English.

All the details to visit Heraklion can be found in my dedicated article: The 13 best things to do in Heraklion


Heraklion wine region

Only a few miles south of Heraklion are the majority of the estates producing Cretan wines.

The latter, like the Lyrarakis estate or the Gavalas estate, organise tasting sessions if you are a fan of good wines.

The best way to spend a day on the wine route of Crete is to throughan organised trip. The bus will pick you up from your hotel in or around Heraklion.

You will then visit an olive oil producing estate (+tasting) and a winery where you will have the opportunity to taste 5 wines.

Other benefits: you will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide and you will enjoy an excellent lunch full of local specialities.

To book, click the green button below:

And if you want to go on a little more upscale trip, you can also choose to participate in a tasting of 15 different wines with a visit to 2 estates.

Guests can also enjoy an excellent gourmet lunch in one of the best restaurants in the area.

Click here to book!

Région viticole d'Héraklion
Heraklion wine region

Where to stay in Heraklion

To make the most of your stay in Heraklion, here is my selection of the best hotels near the Palace of Knossos and other places to visit:

  • Intra Muros Hostel: Hostel located a 5-minute walk from the old town. Dormitory bed from 21€. Strong points: comfortable, warm welcome, cleanliness, roof terrace. The best choice for cheap accommodation in Heraklion!
  • Kronos Hotel: Located just next to Heraklion fortress. Double room with impeccable cleanliness and balcony (some with a sea view) from 65€, breakfast included. Strong points: the location is perfect for visiting Heraklion, good breakfast and friendly staff.
  • Atrion Hotel: Located in the historical centre. Comfortable and warm double room with balcony from 85€, breakfast included. Strong points: excellent location and excellent breakfast. It’s my favorite hotel for its excellent value for money in Heraklion!
  • DOM Boutique Hotel: Located in the heart of the old town. Modern, spacious and elegantly decorated double room from 110€, breakfast included. Strong points: excellent breakfast, attentive staff, setting, very good bedding. This is my recommendation for an upscale stay in Heraklion!
  • GDM Megaron: This 5-star hotel is also located in the centre of Heraklion, not far from the Venetian port. The hotel offers beautiful rooms with a balcony from 190€, breakfast included. Strong points: rooftop swimming pool, wellness area, exceptional breakfast, great staff. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Heraklion!
GDM Megaron - Hotel de luxe à Héraklion
GDM Megaron – Luxury hotel in Heraklion

How to get to Heraklion

By plane

To get to Heraklion, the best is to take a flight.

Heraklion Airport is just a 10-minute drive from the city centre.

As always, you should book your plane tickets as early as possible to get the best prices. You have to know that the flight prices to Corsica can vary a lot throughout the year!

So to check the rates and schedules, you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner:

By ferry

Heraklion can also be reached by ferries from the port of Piraeus in Athens. It’s 8h30 to 9h30 journey.

You can also get to Heraklion from many Greek islands of the Cyclades archipelago: Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Tinos.

And lastly, there is a boat that allow you to get to Heraklion from the island of Rhodes.

To check prices and schedules of ferries to Crete, simply click on the button below:

Are you planning to visit the Palace of Knossos during your stay in Crete?

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You’re traveling to Crete? These articles will help you!

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Palace of Knossos Crete
Palace of Knossos Crete

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. AmyR

    Nice info! I don’t see your Tourist map at the end. It looks like the map and legend were meant to be links, but they don’t work.

    • Vincent

      Thanks Amy!

      There is no map at the end of this article about Knossos Palace.
      I think you were talking about another article. Do you remember which one (so I can go and put it back)?
      Thank you.

      Enjoy your stay in Heraklion and Crete!

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