- Reconnect with nature in the heart of the Cretan countryside: stroll through olive groves, pick fresh oranges and savour delicious dishes
- Discover the cultural delights of Heraklion and Rethymno with a private guide
- Round off your holiday with a few days of sailing and sunbathing on the coast near Chania
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TOUCHDOWN IN CRETE
Your holiday to the beautiful Greek island of Crete starts today. Head to the airport, whizz through security and enjoy some nibbles and refreshments in the airport lounge before departing on your four-hour flight to Heraklion. On arrival, collect your rental car and travel to your first accommodation: an elegant guesthouse in a peaceful nearby village, where you’ll be staying for the next two nights. Spend the rest of today settling into your new environment. We recommend heading to one of the charming beaches that surround Heraklion for a stroll along the beach and a dip in the ocean before heading back to the hotel this evening for a delicious meal based on local ingredients.
VISIT AN ANCIENT PALACE AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSUEM
Today you’ll be taking advantage of your location near Heraklion to enjoy the cultural offerings of the island’s capital. The city’s name pays homage to Heracles (a.k.a. Hercules), a divine hero in ancient Greek mythology famous for his strength and adventurous spirit. In the company of a knowledgeable English-speaking guide you’ll first visit the Palace of Knossos, the largest and finest of the Cretan palaces. At its peak, more than 300 people lived in this opulent complex, including the royal family. According to Greek mythology, the labyrinth of underground passages housed a minotaur - a half-man, half-bull believed to be the king’s son. Continue on to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, the second largest museum in Greece and one of the most recognised in the world for Greek antiquities. This is a great opportunity to delve into the magical world of ancient Greece, from the beginning of Greek civilisation right up until the Roman period. The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to spend discovering Heraklion and its surroundings at your own leisure. If you want to continue with the day’s cultural theme, you could head out to the abandoned monastery of Valsamonerou or Phaistos, the main archaeological site on the Messara plain. If you’re ready for a dose of nature, we recommend visiting the blue-green Zaros lake and the holly forest of Rouvas, or perhaps renting mountain bikes and riding through the fragrant Mediterranean flora of the countryside.
VISIT AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
Your adventure across Crete continues today. After a delicious breakfast this morning, hop back into your hire car and travel to Axos, a beautiful village on the slopes of Mount Psiloritis. The journey takes just one hour, however we recommend making a few stops along the way. The small archaeological site of Tylissos houses the ruins of an ancient city that flourished during the Minoan and Greco-Roman periods. There are also plenty of tiny villages on the route to Axos where local producers are based and where Cretans tend to do their shopping. On arrival in Axos, check in for three nights in a beautiful estate surrounded by classic Mediterranean countryside. The rest of today is yours to spend settling into your new home. We recommend simply enjoying the area in and around your hotel. There is a beautiful swimming pool on site, as well as plenty of hiking trails in the surrounding hills. This evening, tuck into a hearty meal based on local produce.
REST AND REJUVENATE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
The next two days are all about slowing down and connecting with nature. Axos’s greatest asset is its tranquil natural setting: everywhere you look you’ll find beautiful flora, such as olive trees and holm oaks. The village is set high on the slopes of Mount Psiloritis, far from crowds, distractions and noise. This is the time to relax and unwind: read your book under the shade of fragrant orange trees, take a dip in the refreshing pool and enjoy leisurely strolls through the countryside. When you’re ready for a dose of culture, take a walk through town, admiring the many relics of its ancient beginnings, as well as its splendid Byzantine churches. There are also plenty of agricultural villages in the area, including Veni, Zoniana, Garazo and Anogia, all of which harbour local customs and traditions.
RETHYMNO WALKING TOUR WITH A LOCAL
Today you’ll be continuing your journey west across the island. After a hearty breakfast this morning, jump back into your hire car and travel through splendid Mediterranean countryside to Vamos, a beautiful village in the foothills of the White Mountains. The drive takes around an hour and a half, however you’ll be making a stop about half way through to soak in the cultural delights of Rethymno. On arrival in this charming coastal city you’ll be met by a friendly local who’ll be guiding you through Rethymno’s history and culture. The old part of town is a treasure trove of beautiful sites, including an Ottoman quarter, a collection of beautiful residences and grand Venetian buildings. Round off your tour of the city with a visit to a local music workshop followed by a delicious aperitif of local nibbles and a glass of wine. Continue on to your next accommodation: a charming villa surrounded by nature, where you’ll be spending the next four nights.
SUN, SEA AND SAILING
For the last three days of your Greek getaway you’ll be mixing the delights of your countryside villa with the endless scenic gems of Crete’s northwestern coast. By now you’ll feel at one with the Mediterranean nature that surrounds you and, just like in your other accommodations, there are plenty of walking trails nearby, perfect for leisurely strolls. You are also in striking distance of the coast and its many picturesque coves, some alive with a hum of activity and others quiet and remote. On one of the next three days you’ll have the opportunity to embark on a morning or afternoon boat trip along the Cretan coast. This is a great way to discover the more isolated coves and beaches, as well as to try a spot of snorkelling to admire the rich seabed. We could also arrange for you to spend a day visiting Imbros Gorge and South Chania in the company of a private guide. The gorges are a whopping 2,000ft deep and full of beautiful trails lined with orchids, almond trees and oleanders.
Sadly the time has come to pack your bags one last time and embark on the journey home. After a tasty breakfast this morning, head to the airport in Chania. Drop off your hire car, whizz through security and take the opportunity to stock up on any last-minute souvenirs before boarding your four-hour flight back to the UK.
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GUIDED TOUR OF IMBROS GORGE AND SOUTH CHANIA
As well as being just as spectacular as those of Samaria, the Imbros gorges also have the advantage of being less crowded. It is therefore possible to walk along the trails and enjoy the landscapes at your own pace. The natural wonders on display here are immense: from the colours of the orchids and almond trees to the dramatic feel of the caves and waterfalls. Your hike continue to the south coast, where you’ll be rewarded with picturesque beaches, azure waters and plenty of charming taverns. Round off the day’s adventure with a visit to the pretty village of Chora Sfakion.
WITH A FEW MORE DAYS… VISIT KAPETANIANA
Kapetaniana is an isolated historic village in the south of the island, on a rocky ridge in the Asterousia massif. The village has been skilfully restored to its former glory: its cobbled streets, stone houses and tiled roofs breathe the beauty of yesteryear. Settle in for a handful of nights in a traditional farmhouse surrounded by nature and less than six miles from the ocean.
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