If you're looking for a break from ancient sites when in Heraklion, the Natural History Museum of Crete is the place to go, especially if you have kids!
Why Visit The Natural History Museum Heraklion
When I was last in Heraklion with Vanessa, we added a visit to the Natural History Museum of Crete to our sightseeing itinerary as we had a bit more time on our hands than we'd originally thought.
The museum was one of those places that before visiting, I didn't consider essential when staying in Heraklion. In the end though, I actually came away thinking it was one of my favourite places I'd been to in Heraklion!
I found the interactive displays to be fun and informative, the dinosaurs to be just cool enough not to be kitsch, and the earthquake simulator was superb!
In short, if you're looking for a break from the heat and ancient ruins, the Natural history museum of Crete will break things up nicely. If you have kids, they will love it!
Getting To The Natural History Museum In Heraklion Crete
The museum is located in a distinctive green and glass restored industrial building on Sofokli Venizelou Street on the seafront.
If you have a car, you can park nearby (paid parking opposite if you can't find a free space). The natural history museum is also a stop along the Hop On Hop Off Heraklion bus.
What to expect in the Natural History Museum Heraklion Crete
The museum is laid out over five floors, two of which are below the level where you enter. While some people have described it as quite small, it still takes a good two hours to walk around and see everything.
There are a combination of permanent and temporary displays. The natural history displays show animals from different parts of Crete. There are also interesting curiosities like the optical illusions exhibition.
Kids are going to love two things about the Natural history museum of Crete in Heraklion – the dinosaurs and the earthquake simulator!
Some of the indoor dinosaurs are animatronic, and activate as you walk close to them. Others, like the ones outside are stationary models.
Overall, the displays give a great insight into the natural world of Crete, where you can learn more about animals and fauna as well as the geology. Which brings me neatly onto the next subject…
As you may know, Crete and the rest of Greece are subject to earthquakes. On the lower floor, there is a great exhibition which explains more about why they happen, and how things like the Richter scale are measured.
Also down stairs is the earthquake simulator. It's set up as a mini school room, and the demonstrator will show different earthquake levels.
Having lived in Athens since 2015, I've experienced a few minor earthquakes, but nothing like those on the demonstration. It got us thinking that we really should do something with our wobbly bookcases just in case a stronger one every hits!
What I wasn't so keen on
While I enjoyed the collections and exhibits, on thing I wasn't so keen on were the small display cases with various animals like frogs and snakes in.
To my eyes they seemed a little sad an unnatural. I totally see why other people might be interested in them, but the cases they were in didn't seem big enough or interesting enough for the animals in them.
All in all though, if you're visiting Heraklion in Crete as part of your Greece trip, definitely consider spending at the Natural History Museum – You might just come away thinking it was your favourite activity from your holiday!
Natural History Museum Crete Additional Info
- Allow a couple of hours to see all the exhibitions and displays
- Ask about the times of the earthquake simulator
- Don't forget to go outside for the dinosaur photos!
- There's a souvenir shop, toilets, and a cafe
- Visit their official website: https://www.nhmc.uoc.gr/en/
- Paid parking is available opposite the museum. (Read this to consider if you need to rent a car in Heraklion)
Winter season (November 1 – April 30)
- Monday – Friday 09:00 – 15:00
- Saturday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00
Summer season (May 1 – October 31)
- Monday – Friday 09:00 – 17:00
- Saturday – Friday 10:00 – 18:00
- Closed: January 1st , Easter Sunday, December 25th
You might also want to read:
- Where to stay in Heraklion
- Do You Need to Rent a Car in Rethymnon?
- Heraklion Ferry Port To Heraklion Airport Transport
- Where to travel in Greece
- Is Chania or Heraklion Better For First Time in Crete?
- Happy Journey Wishes And Quotes
Dave is a travel writer from the UK who's been living in and writing about Greece since 2015. As well as writing this travel guide to the Natural History Museum of Crete in Heraklion, he's also written hundreds more travel blog posts about Crete and other destinations in Greece. Follow Dave on social media for more Greece travel ideas: