Classical Crete - 7 Days / 6 Nights
The Best Time to Travel ...
We recommend the months of April - October
We use the international airport in Heraklion Crete, Nikos Kazantzakis (HER).
Day 1: Arrival at Heraklion airport or port
transfer by private A/C vehicle to the hotel at Agios Nikolaos.
Overnight in Agios Nikolaos.
Day 2: Kritsa-Spinalonga-Agios Nikolaos.
Pick up from the hotel with A/C private vehicle and licensed guide and drive towards to Kritsa Village. Kritsa is one of the most picturesque towns in Crete, built amphitheatrically on a rock hill. It is located 11 km from Agios Nikolaos.The village is known for its handicrafts workshops and its 13th century Byzantine church of Panagia Kera with its magnificent frescoes. In Kritsa people keep the old Cretan customs and the traditions and the town is considered one of the most important centers of the Cretan folk and weaving art.
We continue our visit to the Venetian 16th century fortress of Spinalonga, one of the most famous on Crete. This once-in-a-lifetime experience brings you to the sparkling sea of the Mirabello Bay in East Crete. After a short cruise across the clear blue waters (not private boat) we reach the tiny island of Spinalonga. With its amazingly rich history, Spinalonga is a truly magical place. Due to its strategic location at the entrance to Elounda Bay, the Venetians created a fortified stronghold on Spinalonga – ‘The Rock’ - in the 16th Century AD. This fort protected East Crete from invasion by pirates and its extremely strong walls, even after so many cannon ball strikes, stand proud to this day. In the middle of the 17th century Spinalonga was attacked and conquered by the Turkish Ottoman Empire and remained a Turkish stronghold until the liberation of Crete in 1821. In 1903, historical circumstances gave Spinalonga another role, that of Leper colony. For more than half a century the unfortunate ‘living dead’ were taken to live out their lives in an isolated community upon Spinalonga. The village with its tiny houses, shops, church, workshops and sanitarium still stands today. British author Victoria Hislop has immortalized the heartbreaking story of the lepers in her internationally acclaimed book ‘The Island’ and the story, based on true fact, has now been made into a film using Elounda and the village of Plaka across the water as its setting. After the visit to Spinalonga we head back to Elounda.Our exciting tour will continue to the picturesque town of Saint Nicholas where you may take a stroll around the ‘bottomless’ lake, the pretty harbor and cosmopolitan shops and tree-lined avenues. Enjoy a relaxing coffee in any of the lakeside cafes and sit back and watch the world go by in this beautiful setting. Back to Hotel.
Overnight in Agios Nikolaos.
Day 3: Sitia-Vai-Moni Toplou.
Pick up from the hotel with A/C private vehicle and licensed guide. This tour will lead you close to the very end of Crete towards the east side. Sitia is a small and pleasant coastal town, built in a semicircle on the western side of the Bay of Sitia, a typical, peaceful Mediterranean port. It is the capital of the county with the same name and is sited 69 km east of Agios Nikolaos. Sitia existed during the Late-Minoan period and until the Venetian period. During the Venetian occupation the town of Sitia was destroyed three times. In 1508 by a terrible earthquake, in 1538 by the pirate Barbarosa and in 1651 by the Venetians so as not to fall in the hands of the Turks. For two centuries Sitia ceased to exist as a town, until 1869. The present city was built in 1870. Since then, Sitia is developing to one of the most important urban areas in Crete. Although the town is increasingly developing, it keeps its traditional character and the hospitable character of its people. An unforgettable memory awaits you at the next stop of this tour.
The unique Vai palm-forest occupies an area of 250 square km. It is a tropical landscape which is an exception in Greece. Its unique beauty is reminiscent of tropical locations as 5.000 palm-trees extend for two miles and reach the beautiful golden beach which attracts scores of swimmers in summer. It is the largest known palm tree forest throughout Europe. Continuing the tour you will visit the monastery Moni Toplou. The monastery of ‘Toplou’ or of the Virgin Mary of the Cape ‘Panagia Akrotiriani’ constitutes the most important fortified monastic complex of northeastern Crete, with an imposing bell-tower decorated in renaissance style rising on its western side, above the main gate. This impressive monastic complex – which up to this day operates as a male monastery – was developed gradually from the 14th century onwards and, as confirmed by archival sources, gradually developed into a vibrant convent of great spiritual radiance from the 15th century onwards. The monastery is built around a courtyard on three floors with ramparts, covering an area of approximately 800 square meters. Its construction took place in the last years of Venetian rule, when the upcoming Turkish threat was obvious. Today it functions as a museum of Byzantine icons and engravings, which you will visit .Walk around the rooms with historical exhibits which reflect the monastery's role in the historical events which formulated modern Greece.
Overnight in Agios Nikolaos.
Day 4: The Windmills of Lassithi .
After our breakfast we leave from Agios Nikolaos with luggage and drive towards the spectacular Lassithi Plateu. The Lassithi Plateau is one of the highpoints of Crete, both in altitude and atmosphere, therefore it is unique: a green carpet hemmed in on all sides by the Diktean Mountains, snow-capped into April and irrigated in summer by windmills. During the centuries the plain was irrigated by white – sailed windmills and even though only few are in use today, it still makes a splendid sight against the mountains. Drive along the marvelous route to Mountain Dikti to the Lassithi Plateau.At an altitude of 800 m. enjoy the spectacular view over the plain, the windmills and the mountain Dikti arising nearby. Lassithi Plateau is one of the most beautiful places in Crete, It is a unique combination of natural beauty, mythology, history and traditional lifestyle. Then we will reach Psihro Village. The worldwide famous cave due to its achaeological significance lies after a just 30-minutes walk to the south of Psichro village, at an altitude of 1025 metres. The locals know it as Psichro cave. A little before 1900, it was given the name Dikteon Andron, and it was correlated to the mythological birth of Zeus Cretagenis (Zeus born in Crete) in it.The cave goes 130m deep and the rock formations are incredible .
Overnight in Gouves.
Day 5: Knossos Palace & Archaeological Museum.
Pick up from the hotel with A/C private vehicle and licensed guide via national high way and we reach the famous Knossos Palace. Let us take you back 4,000 years in time! To the world famous Minoan Palace at Knossos, the home of the legendary King Minos who gave his name to Europe’s oldest civilization. According to Greek mythology, the monstrous Minotaur – half man, half bull – lived at Knossos and fed on human flesh and bone. He was eventually slaved by the brave and mighty Athenian prince, Theseus, within the hidden Labyrinth. Parts of the ancient Palace have been excavated and reconstructed by the British archaeologist, Sir Arthur Evans, and today one can get a clear understanding of the function of the Palace and its complicated and mystical Labyrinth. Led by your experienced and official guide, you will visit the Throne Room, the Royal Apartments, the Central Courtyard with its shrines and other fascinating areas within the Palace; you will learn the history and myths surrounding this wondrous and most interesting site. Continue to Heraklion city and visit to the famous and newly opened Archaeological Museum, one of the largest and most important museums in Greece, and among the most important museums in Europe. It houses representative artifacts from all the periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The singularly important Minoan collection contains unique examples of Minoan art, many of them true masterpieces. The Herakleion Museum is rightly considered as the museum of Minoan culture par excellence worldwide. Free time in Heraklion for lunch, coffee or shopping. Back to the hotel.
Overnight in Gouves.
We drive towards the fertile vallleys of South Crete .Visit the Roman ruins of Gortys .The area of Gortys was inhabited already in the Neolithic Times, as finds from this period have been spotted in the plain and the hills, few of which of Minoan origin. Gortys was one of the largest cities of Crete. In the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. it was the head of one of the three city unions and in the 2nd century B.C., when Rome intervened in the internal affairs of Crete, Gortys took the side of the Romans. After the Roman conquest it became the capital of the Roman province of Crete and the Cyrene and experienced great building development. In the early Byzantine period the administrative and urban centre of the city was transferred to the Christian neighborhoods in the modern village Metropolis, while a second centre of the early Byzantine city was located at the church of Agioi Deka. After the Arab conquest, Gortys was ruined. After Gortys we drive to the palace of Festos, one of the most important, Minoan palaces and the second in size (about 18.000m2) after the one of Knossos, is built on a rise in the western part of the large and fertile plain of Mesara. From this point the local ruler- king controlled not only the products of the plain but also the exit to the sea and the ports of the gulf of Mesara (positions Kalamaki, Kommos and Matala). This low hill belongs to a series of small hills which extend towards the east, between Mount Ida in the north and Asterousia in the west. According to mythology, the dynasty of Rodamanthus, the son of Zeus and brother of Minos, reigned in Faistos. The Palace of Festos is considered to be a typical sample of a Minoan palace, due to its excellent architectural composition and its perfect construction. The first palace of Festos was built in the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C., on the top of the lowest hill, which was leveled and appropriately shaped. Our trip continues to Matala Beach, famous for its caves that hippies occupied in the past years. A safe natural harbor on the Bay of Messara, blessed with a gently sweeping sand and pebble beach, the place in legend where Zeus swam ashore in the guise of a bull with Europa on his back. Many people make this village their base for Cretan holidays, as it is so central on the south coast, and away from the over-development of the north coast. The beach is 250m long and 45m wide. Free time for swimming, lunch or coffee.
Overnight in Gouves.
Day 7: Departure Day.
This the end of out trip. Transfer back to Heraklion Airport/port.
The archaeological museum of Heraklion on Mondays opens at 13:00hrs.
Knossos Palace,Spinalonga ,Phaestos ,Gortys, visits, involves a lot of walking on inclines and uneven surfaces .It is limited access for people with movement problems.
The Diktaion Cave: visit involves a lot of walking on inclines and uneven surfaces– approx. 20 min uphill. It is hard to follow for people with movement problems.
Monastery Toplou is open to the public daily, from 09:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 18:00. As with other Cretan monasteries, you should be appropriately dressed. Photography is not permitted inside the museum and the church.
The days' sequence might change without altering the content of the program.
Pick up/ drop off from to hotel.
Private A/C vehicle for the whole transportation and visits as per program,(including arrival and departure transport).
Meet and Greet during arrival by our Staff .
English speaking guide throughout the tour.
Entrance fees as mentioned in the program.
On 3* Hotels on HB basis.
All Accommodation (6 nights in double rooms or single) .
The trip Net prices are based on double and /or single occupancy.
Flight /Boat transport to and from Crete.
Gratuities for driver, guide.
Sunday or Public Holiday Guide Supplement 75%.
Meals and drinks.
Any other services not specified in the itinerary.
Classical Crete Booking Form