- Enjoy Crete in complete privacy as a couple or family
- Heraklion, Rethymno and Chania: three historic cities by the water's edge with private guides on hand to explore them
- Explore the Cretan hinterland with a sociologist, experiencing its hilltop villages, olive oil, pottery and wine tasting
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EXPLORE CRETE’S CITIES
While crowds of tourists flock to Crete in summer, spring and autumn see mild temperatures and very few visitors, making them the perfect times to explore this beautiful island. This trip focuses on three historic coastal cities and is ideal for couples and families alike. Explore the rich and diverse history of these cities, with their Minoan, Venetian and Turkish influences, while enjoying authentic food and beautiful landscapes. Blend old and new by exploring ancient alleyways lined with chic designer boutiques, pottery workshops and little cafes.
YOUR TRIPUpon arrival you will be privately transferred to the bustling centre of Heraklion.
Flight to Heraklion
Welcome on arrival, private transfer and overnight accommodation in the bustling downtown area. The hotel is modern and practical, and has a huge sustainability focus. The interiors are understated and elegant, making use of white, wood and period photos to highlight Cretan culture and landscape.
Heraklion - Rethymno
The itinerary includes the Knossos Palace and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, with a private guide. Knossos Minoan Palace, with the breadth of its design and elegant decor, shows the high level of sophistication achieved by the Cretan civilisation of the Bronze Age. Legend has it that King Minos lived in it and that he built the maze trapping the Minotaur. The representational frescoes are remarkably vivid, and many of them enjoy well-deserved fame. To round off your visit to the palace, go to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, home to some of the most prominent collections in Greece. They bear magnificent witness to the Minoan arts.
Private transfer to the hire car and pick up the rental car. Next up is your journey to Rethymno along the coast to the west. The steep, rocky coastline alternates between breathtaking views and serene sunbathing spots. The road only veers off to climb some arid hills, dotted with traditional villages. Upon arrival, you will spend three nights in a small former primary school in the heart of the old pedestrian city. Surrounding a small courtyard shaded by orange and palm trees and a swimming pool, here are fifteen rooms with a warm atmosphere and a countryside feel. A palette of light colours, parquet flooring and bouquets of flowers provide a joyful and friendly atmosphere. At the restaurant, you can choose delicious wines from the owners' cellar, and sample the fine Cretan cuisine.
A central city in the island's north; the small harbour was founded in ancient times is now Crete's third largest city. Over the centuries, Venetian and Turkish influences have had a profound influence on its walls and architecture. As you walk through the city, you will explore the fortress with its Venetian influence and prayer towers which were erected during the Sublime Porte rule. It has a characteristic Mediterranean blend that is full of charm.
The itinerary includes a historic and culinary journey through the city with a private guide. Also included is a visit to the ancient Nerantzes mosque with its slender prayer tower and two Venetian landmarks - the Rimondi fountain and the loggia transformed into a mosque by the Turks. You will then head to the north of the city and the Venetian fortress of Rethymno, which looks out over the city. Built between 1573 and 1580, it served as a refuge for inhabitants during the siege of 1646, which was won by the Turks. There you'll be able to see Agios Theodoros Church, St. Catherine's Chapel, a mosque, ancient prisons and other buildings that have a strong sense of charm. The walk ends in the heart of the ancient city, on the terrace of a local tavern, where you will sample Cretan specialties and the local alcohol, Tsikoudia.
Option - A day to explore the region, from the gorges of Agios Antonios to the Arkadi monastery.
Rethymno - Chania
Then you'll continue your journey west to Chania. Spend three nights at the old harbour in a small, charming, renovated Venetian building. The attentive service and wine bar facing the port and out to sea are particularly great.
The itinerary includes a tour of the old city with a private guide. This specially arranged walk around the Old Town and the Venetian port will uncover Chania's status as a cultural hub. Discover a beautiful city with its rows of Venetian facades, Ottoman mosque and peaceful harbour. You'll be able to get involved in liveliness of the market and take a stroll through 1866 Square, the popular hub of the city.
For the rest of the day you are free to explore. With its 55,000 inhabitants, Chania also has a the pace of a modern city, which is a stimulating contrast to the tranquil atmosphere of the hills. As soon as you leave the historic area and reach this spot, you are struck by the traffic, horns, roaring, whirring, rushing and zigzagging of a modern city. Where the ring of mobile phones has replaced the call of the goldfinch.
Your itinerary includes a private tour around Chania. This is a fantastic way of exploring Crete with a passionate sociologist who will teach you all about mythology, the history of Crete and the daily life of Cretans and their customs. You will visit the ancient city of Aptera and the Turkish fort, then cross the fertile plain of Apokoronas with its springs, olive trees, orange trees, cypress trees and hilltop villages. It's then time to visit the Cretan Feast, a family-run cooperative of producers of organic olive oil, essential oils, herbs and soap. The centre of the village is home to the beautiful Kamares estate, a historical site dating back to the Venetian era (14th century). You'll then head to the village of Paidochori to a pottery workshop. The tour ends with a tasting at an organic wine producer or, alternatively, a local aperitif in the shade of the towering sycamore trees.
Chania - Heraklion - Return Flight
Now it's time to head back to Heraklion, drop off your hire car at the airport and catch your flight home.
A la carte
TRIP AROUND RETHYMNO AND THE GORGES OF ANTONIOS AGIOS AT THE ARKADI MONASTERYA whole day dedicated to exploring the area around Rethymno. The trail begins near the cave and the Agios Antonios chapel, a place of worship which is party built into rock and has been dedicated to Saint Anthony since Minoan civilisation. You'll cross a stream over a bridge and marvel at the canyon, before reaching the gorge. The tour then continues into the ancient city of Eleftherna, where the new archaeological museum is dedicated to four millennia of history. Built like an ark, the museum houses a collection of the region's rich and turbulent history, which has seen several ancient civilisations come and go. The walk ends on the hills above Rethymno, with the tour around the monastery of Arkadi. It is of huge symbolic value to the Cretans. In 1866, 943 resistance fighters found refuge here, preferring to die rather than surrender to the Ottomans. A blend of Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance architecture, the building dates back to the 14th century and reflects the Venetian influence in Crete at that time.
Option - Private guide.
A Rough Idea of Price
- International flights to Heraklion with a scheduled airline
- Airline taxes and fuel surcharge
- Private transfers
- Six-day car hire, unlimited mileage
- Overnight stay in Heraklion in a double room with breakfast
- Three-night stay in Rethymno in a double room with breakfast
- Three-night stay in Chania in a double room with breakfast
- Half-day tour of Knossos Palace and Heraklion Archaeological Museum, with a private guide
- Half-day culinary joinery through Rethymno, with a private guide
- Visit to Old Chania with a private guide
- Half-day exploration of Chania's surrounding area, including the ancient city of Aptera, the Apokoronas region, a visit to an organic cooperative, a pottery workshop and wine tasting, with a private guide
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