Hersonissos is a small town 26 km east of Heraklion and the Heraklion airport. It is the most developed tourism area in Crete and there are hundreds of bigger or smaller hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs.
Hersonissos is preferred by younger tourists who want to have fun at the beach and enjoy the nightlife. If nightlife is what you want, then Hersonissos is the place for you: several bars and clubs will entertain you until the first morning hours.
There are several beaches in or close to Hersonissos with facilities and watersports offered in most of them.
In Hersonissos there are many shops selling from souvenirs to furs and jewelery. At the end of the tourist season you will find some very good offers there.
Hersonissos is close to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, the Minoan Palace of Knossos and the Minoan Palace of Malia. Transportation is easy as there are many public buses to/from Heraklion.
If you rent a car then your horizon will expand a lot more. Drive to the nearby village of Ano or Old Hersonissos and Koutouloufari. Personally, I prefer Ano Hersonissos for dinner and Koutouloufari for breakfast, when everybody else is still asleep. The traditional Cretan architecture is preserved in these villages and they are less than one km far from the beach.
Avdou is also nearby and you can easily visit it and enjoy a walk in the narrow streets of this traditional village of Crete.
If you look for more traditional villages, then take the road to Stalis and keep driving up to Krasi. Krasi is a small village on the way to Lassithi Plateau, with a huge plane tree in the village's main square.
Another place of interest is the Lassithi Plateau, the plateau with the windmills.
Have your camera loaded as there are many photo opportunities, especially early in the morning and in late afternoon.
Diktaion Antron, the cave where Zeus was born, is located here. Have shoes with good grip with you, as the stairs leading down to the cave are quite slippery.
There is a lot to do and see in Lassithi Plateau, just be ready to park your car, get out of it and explore a bit. Usually, the best has to be discovered.