15 days | THE TOUR OF CRETE GASTRONOMY-NATURE-HISTORY A fly & drive tour with car rental and the full support of our experts

This 15-day trip in Crete is a self-guided Tour of the island, with car rental and with the full support of our agency (https://sway.office.com/9RefQhoAuD2oDixc?ref=Link&loc=play ).
It combines classical visits in Crete, but also discoveries of exotic and little-known sites off the beaten track.
It is mainly addressed to couples, small groups of friends, who are interested in getting a global idea of the history, gastronomy and culture of the island, as well as the lively cities, traditional villages, local life and, of course, the versatile and magnificent landscape which combines the characteristics of three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.

The essentials

  • 15 days - 14 nights.
  • Quality 2-3* hotels, double rooms or apartments with breakfast, Wi-Fi, air-condition and hospitable owners.
  • Car rental with mix insurance free kilometers.
  • Short olive-oil tasting in a traditional olive-mill.
  • Short wine-tasting in a winery in the famous wine routes area of Archanes.
  • Our constant assistance and especially ... our suggestions for tours that suit your needs.

The highlights  

  • Cities of Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Retyhymnon, Chania
  • Archaeological museum of Heraklion, Cnossos
  • NATURAL PARK of Sitia / GEOPARK of Sitia (UNESCO geological heritage)
  • MOCHLOS island - archaeological site
  • AZORIAS / KAVOUSI - archaeological site
  • Archaeological site of Kato Zakros (the 3rd most important Minoan 'palace' in Crete
  • The Minoan tombs at the "Gorge of the Dead"
  • The legendary leper island SPINALONGA
  • Toplou Monastery
  • Arkadi Monastery
  • Village of Kritsa
  • Church of Panagia Kera with the frescoes of the 13th c.
  • Palm groove of VAI - Protected area by the European legislation
  • Natural History Museum of Crete- Sitia Department (located in Ano Zakro)
  • Crystal clear beaches all over Crete
  • The wild region of Sfakia
  • Various activities such as sea canoeing
  • Easy nature hikes
  • Tasting of delicious dishes from the famous Cretan cuisine

 

Detailed program

 

Day 1: Welcome to Crete!

Arrival at Heraklion airport and transfer by taxi to your hotel which is located in the city center. There you will be met with our representative who will deliver you the documents for the trip (travel-book, maps) in order to make a thorough discussion with him/her about the trip.

Depending on the time of your arrival*, you could start exploring the lively city center and dine in one of the marvelous taverns or restaurants that we could recommend you (if you wish, we can also book one for you). Or we could organize for you a marvelous tasting experience with our expert, in order to be introduced to the world of olive oil and the famous Cretan gastronomy.

Another option (in case you arrive very early) is to start exploring on foot the unknown Heraklion (with a guide-on request or by yourselves, with our advice).

What is this alternative visit of the unknown Heraklion?

We will help you discover the unknown and unusual parts of this city but very often neglected by most visitors. With a map of the old town (that we will give you), you will walk on a pedestrian path, laid out along the Venetian fortifications. You will pass by the most important monuments and places which reveal a history dating back more than 2000 years. You will discover the life of sailors, soldiers, politicians and traitors, musicians and writers, prostitutes, engineers, immigrants, martyrs, or popes ... you will discover the history of these people from all backgrounds, of all nationalities who have left their mark on the walls of Heraklion. Whether they were Turkish, Venetian, Cretan, Greek, Italian, Arab, French or German ... they lived here and bequeathed their history over the centuries.

At the end of your excursion (around 2 hours) you will arrive in a district occupied by artists where graffiti and paintings have transformed the rather derelict urban landscape into an open-air gallery. For 3 years these artists have been involved in a project to rehabilitate the old town under a difficult socio-economic context linked to the economic and migratory crisis **. Finally, you could choose to have a quality dinner (optional, at an additional cost) in a typical Greek / Cretan tavern/restaurant with a reputation among the locals for its grandma cuisine. In this case, we will order for you a meal around the theme: “Venetian gastronomy or eating habits during the Venetian occupation of Heraklion city”.

 

* it is always best to arrive as early as possible to make the most of the day.

** due to recent migratory flows from Eastern countries

 

Included : Accommodation, transfer by taxi to your hotel in the city center, meeting with our representative at the hotel, discussion on the trip and delivery of the travel-documents (detailed road maps and a detailed travel book, specially edited for your day to day trip)

 

 

3* hotel in Heraklion

 

Or: City hotel 3 or 4* in the city center, with breakfast, wifi and air-condition, breakfast.

 

 

Day 2:

Discovering the great Minoan Civilization: Minoan sites and wine routes: Knossos - museum - Archanes

Today after your breakfast, you will be delivered the car in the hotel.

You can decide to visit the archeological museum of Heraklion, one of the most important in Greece. In this case, we will arrange the car delivery right after your visit to the museum.

You take your luggage and you drive towards the areas of Cnossos, where is located one of the most traditional olive mills, where they produce an extra extra virgin olive oil and other excellent sub-products of the olive tree. You will have the opportunity to visit the area with a passionate person of the olive mill and right after that you will continue to the village Alagni for the next visit of the day: a quality winery, where you will participate in a tasting of local varieties of wine.

Right after these visits, you return to your hotel in Heraklion.

 

Included: Accommodation, breakfast, tasting in a winery, visit of 1-2h in a traditional mill, car rental

Travel time : Entre 1 et 2 heures

 

 

 

 

Day 3: Vai palm groove, Sitia, Itanos, Kato Zakros

With 1h30 drive you can find yourself at an incredible area at the east extremity of Crete… In particular, after a short visit at the charming city of the poets, the city of Sitia, you continue to the Monastery of Toploy, an architectural ornament in the desert-like landscape of East Crete. At Toplou, except from the visit to the monastery and its winery, where you can participate in a wine and olive oil tasting, you can also visit the strange Taffony formations at a nearby gorge that belongs at the Unesco Geopark’s routes, important for the geological heritage.

5 min from the monastery of Toplou and its olive groves and wine production, you think you are in an oasis… a route with palm trees, takes you to the beach of Vai from where you can definitely admire the palm forest bus also the sand-dunes of the nearby little beach.

Last but not least, the incredible sandy beach of Itanos, with the ancient ruins dispersed everywhere… Like in Fairy tales..

You continue to Katos Zakros where you overnight.

Travel time: 3 hours in total 

Trekking Time:  between half an hour & 3-4 hours  

 

 

Accomodation: Traditional Appartments in Kato Zakros

This family traditional apartment is situated at the exit of the majestic gorge of Deads, inside an impressive garden with over 30 big trees and many flowers.

Outside every apartment, there is a wooden canopy and comfortable seats, as well as hammocks and areas for daydreaming…The interior as well as the furniture are wooden, while the beds are either made of stone or of a combination of wood and stone. In the kitchen, one can find all the comforts required for the preparation of  meals. There is also air-conditioning, communal washing-machine and iron, necessary things when one’s vacations last long.The breakfast is offered at a communal open-air kitcken and it is self-service (the apts offer the material –marmelade, honey, butter, olive oil, coffee, tea and other local herbs and fresh bread every morning at 8h30).

 

 

Day 4: Kato Zakros, The dead's gorge, Xerokampos, Kato Zakros

Same hotel.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Hiking to the "Gorges of the Dead", with the old caves (tombs of the Minoan era). The gorges connect the villages of Zakros and Kato Zakros effortlessly. The gorges got their name because of the ancient tombs that have been discovered here and you can observe the traces through the gaping holes on the rock walls throughout the valley.

At the end of the excursion, you pass near the Minoan Palace of Kato Zakros, one of the largest and most important in Crete. A brief visit to the archaeological site is strongly advised! 

Travel time : 9 + 9 km (from Kato Zakros to Ano Zakros and return)

Driving time: Kato Zakros – Xerokampos (30 min by car)

Trekking | walking time: Between 1 & 2h30 (depending on you wishes).

Included : Car rental, accomodation, breakfast

 

Optional

Participation in a programme for the local wild herbs of Crete

 

 

 

Day 5: Kato Zakros - Kritsa, Ancient Lato, Elounda

You change destination and you drive towards Elounda. On the road, we will ercomend you several stops in order to visit amazing places, such as the fishing village of Mochlos, the ancient olive of 3200 years old, the site of Azorias, the traditional village of Kritsa, the lato archeological site and the charming city of Agios Nikolaos.

etc..

Later, you arrive at Elounda and you settle into your room. 

Travel time: Kato Zakros – Elounda : 2h00 

Included : Car rental, accomodation, breakfast

 

 

 

ACCOMMODATION

(Depending on the availability)

Overnight at a 3-star hotel at the entrance to Elounda village, from where you have a breathtaking view over the Kolokitha peninsula and the island of Spinalonga │ Double room with 2 single beds or with a double bed (if you have a special preference, please inform us) │ balcony per room │ Restaurant with excellent cuisine │ Services of very good massage and relaxation on request

The hotel is simple, typical, clean and with nice owners.

Basic services of the hotel included in your price: European breakfast, WiFi and air conditioning.

 

Day 6: The zone of Elounda – Spinalonga

Breakfast.

Today you will be met with several different facets of a particularly interesting history of one of the most cosmopolitan areas of Crete.

At first you will ‘meet’ a sweet but at the same time so hard story... The story of the island of Spinalonga that hospitalized for many years the lives and souls of the lepers of Crete.

Furthermore, you could go for a walk around the harbor of Elounda and discover abandoned salt mines of the recent past with the remnants of the mills and other stone-constructions.

At the end of the day, you could try to visit the stunning archeological site of Lato, and/or the incredible frescoes of the famous church of kritsa as well as enjoy a juice by the legendary lake of Agios Nikolaos (depending on your mood).

Possibility of swimming in several places that we will suggest you.

Return back to your hotel - same as previous day.

Travel / driving time: 1h

Trekking time: Walks in the port of Elounda and in the island of Spinalonga

Included in the day: Accommodation, breakfast, car rental

Not included: Guided visit INSIDE Spinalonga, neither the admission fees for the archeological site and the boat.

 

Optional, with an extra cost:

NAXOS-ELOUNDA - The ancient OXA- A visit off the beaten track - with an archeologist

Amazing view to all the bay of Merabelo and Elounda. Full of ancient constructions

 

 

Day  7: Moving to the village Kamilari

After your breakfast, you could visit the mountaineous village of Zaros eith the picturesque lake of Votomos and maybe a part of the gorge of Rouvas.

At the end of the day arrival at Kamilari and settling into your room.

Travel / driving time: 2h30

Trekking | walking time:  1 - 2h .

Included : Car rental, accomodation, breakfast

 

 

Accomodation - traditional appts in Kamilari

 

 

 

Day 8: In ther hermites’cave of the southernmost mountain of Europe (not suggested if you have a problem with vertigo)

Today you discover the most authentic part of Crete. You drive to the mountainous village of Kapetaniana following a curly road and you arrive to the mountain resort where you will meet our collaborate. He will drive you by 4X4 to the coast from where you will start discovering by yourselves, with our road-book, the cost that hosted 400-500 years agoa big community of hermits and monks. A short walk along the cost, in a hilly path, very easy is included.

Also, a swim in the isolated incredible beaches you will come across. Coming bac and before you are driven back to Kapetaniana, you will enjoy a refreshing drink a an meze to the little tavern of Soula.

Back to Kapetaniana from where you take your car to go back to Kamilari for another overnight there. Diner at Vasiliki, at the tavern of an excellent cook.

Travelling time: 2h00+130 by 4X4 (total time go and return).

 

 

 

 

 

Day 9: Visit to the Archeological Sites of Messara: Festos, Matala, Gortyne, Kommos

Breakfast

The reason we have chosen this traditional house for you is not only because it is cozy, comfortable, clean and with excellent hosts… it is also because it is located in one of the most significant archeological areas of Crete. The extended valley of Messara. Such a fertile plain, surrounded by the most sacred mountains of central Crete, could not but attract so many tribes and civilizations that passed from the Mediterranean the last 10000 years.. The archeological sites found and excavated in the plain of Messara are just… innumerous!

This day, we recommend you to visit the most important ones and if you desire, we could arrange for you to have a certified English speaking guide so that you have a deep plunge into the history of those sites.

Step 1: Visit to the archaeological site of Phaistos, the second most important archaeological site in Greece after Knossos. Excavations have revealed historical monuments and important remains dating back to the Minoan period, Geometric and Hellenistic times.

Step 2: Visit to the archaeological site of Gortyn. The ruins of Gortyna, one of the most powerful cities of Crete which was the capital of the island during the Roman and Byzantine periods, slightly north of Phaistos between the villages of Agioi Deka and Agios Mitropoli. Its 6000 years old history make it is one of the richest archaeological sites. The ruins of a Minoan villa found near Mitropolis indicate that the entire area has been inhabited since the end of the Neolithic period.

Return to the hotel

Travel Time: Around 1 or 2 hours in total (depending on the extra visits in villages you will chose to do, following our advices in the travel-book we will give you)

Accommodation: Same apartment at kamilari village

Included: Accommodation, breakfast, car rental, mix insurance

 

 

 

Day 10: Heading to Rethymnon city, passing from the valley of Amari

Today you change destination. After your breakfast you start driving towards the North traversing the valley of Amari. Here you are visiting some typical villages, some archeological sites and the beautiful gorge of Patsos with the sanctuary of Ermes, and/ot the Monastery of Arkadi.

[Possibility, depending on your mood, to visit the beautiful areas of the Dunes of Agios Pavlos.]

Arrival at Rethimnon and settling into the room.

Travelling time: 2h00

Travel / driving time:  2h-2h30.

Included : Car rental, accomodation, breakfast

 

 

Hotel 3* à Réthymnon

 

 

Day 11: Rethymnon – Kissamos. Visits to the hinterland of Chania. The must-see areas of Crete. Travel to the most famous city of Crete - Chania

Breakfast

Today you change destination. Direction West, towards Chania. The route we chose for you, takes you from the Apokoronas areas, with the lake of Cournas and the water springs of Argiroupoli. In the itinerary we will prepare for you in the detailed travel book we will deliver you, we will also suggest other visits to give you the opportunity to choose (according to your wishes) between simple classical visits, or to explore the landscape discovering gorges, trails and sometimes workshops and producers.

Arrival at Kissamos.

Settling into the rooms and resting.

Travel / driving time: Rethymnon – Kissamos : 1h30

Included : Accommodation, breakfast, car rental, mixed insurance

 

Hotel / villa in Kissamos

 

 

 

 

Day 12: Visit of Balos lagoon 

Breakfast. Visit to the most famous lagoon of Crete: Gramvousa or Balos. After this unforgettable visit (especially at a non-touristy period of year), we will prepare for you an itinerary that will take you through the villages of Chestnuts to admire the rich nature and small hidden villages with excellent suggestions for local cuisine...

Travel / driving time: About 1 hour to go + return

Walking time: About 1 hour round trip (according to your preferences)

Included in the day: Accommodation, breakfast, car rental, mixed insurance

 

 

  

Day 13: Exploration of the south ancient coasts and swimming in the lagoon of Elafonisi

After breakfast you start heading south. Today, you will visit the monastery of Chryssoskalitissa, the Elafonisi lagoon (a very important protected area for its biodiversity and one of the most emblematic of the island, which is featured on countless postcards), as well as the coastal-beaches of Kedrodasos. Here, dunes of white sand and the ancient cedars cover the whole vicinity. The main beach is sandy and boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters; along the coastal path from Elafonisi to Kedrodasos are small deserted coves. All of them are exceptional in terms of beauty but also in terms of their particularly interesting geological phenomena that have taken place there (over hundreds of years, faultlines have lifted the ancient coasts more than 8m above sea level… ).

Return.

Time/distance of trekking: Walks 1-2-3h

Travel / driving time: Kissamos - Elafonisi 1h aller + idem pour le retour.

Included : Car rental, accomodation, breakfast

 

 

 

Day 14: Visit in the city of Chania - Driving back to heraklion

You start driving to Chania, the “pearl of Crete”. Here, the Old Town and the Venetian Harbour have remained almost intact, giving the city a special Venetian character, unique in the Mediterranean. Thus, the visitors of Chania are attracted by the beauty of the scenic narrow streets, the imposing lighthouse at the entrance of the small harbor and all the amazing monuments that make up the transcendent magic of Chania.
Later, you drive back to Herkalion for the flight of next day. Arrival at Hertaklio, settling into the room and free night!

Travel / driving time: Kissamos – Chania: 0h30 | Chania - Heraklion : 2h30 min

Included : Car rental, accomodation, breakfast

 

 

Alternative: A different visit in the city of Chania with a passionate local expert

 

 

 

Day 15: End of the trip

Breakfast.

Back to Heraklion.

Flight.

Travel time: 3 hours

 

Included in the price

  • Assistance at the airport and the hotel (providing the maps and printed material for your trip and talking thoroughly about the itinerary)
  • A detailed manual specially prepared for your trip (with references, texts, photos, maps and proposals for wonderful treks etc.)
  • Breakfast in all hotels and apartments
  • 3* hotels or traditional apts of high quality
  • Car rental all the days (starting from the second)
  • Short tasting of olive oil as described on day 2
  • Short tasting of wine as described on day 2
  • Transfert by 4X4
  • A meal in an exceptional place
  • Support de notre agence 24h

 

Not included in the price

  • International flights
  • Guided tours and entrance fees to museums and organised archaeological sites, except when it is mentioned in the above offer
  • Thematic guided tours as described above (extra costs are mentioned separately)
  • Beverages (soft drinks), tips and personal expenses
  • Petrol
  • GPS for the car
  • Personal insurance
  • VAT for accommodation (it depends on the type of hotel): it varies from 0.50 to 5 euros per day, per room to be paid by you directly to each hotel.
  • Anything not mentioned above

 

Payment terms

In order to confirm your reservation, you must pay a deposit of 50% of the total amount of your file (namely ………… GBP) by credit card or by transfer, by clicking on the link that will be sent to you by our local agent. The balance is due 30 days prior to departure at the latest.

 

Conditions of cancellation

All cancellations need to be done by e-mail to the local agency. The money to be paid varies depending on the date of the cancellation:

  • more than 50 days from the date of departure: 100 euros per person for the cost of the ‘planning of Dossier”
  • 49-30 days from the date of departure: 20% of the price
  • 29-21 days from the date of departure: 50 % of the price
  • 20-8 days from the date of departure : 70% of the price
  • 7-4 days from the date of departure : 90% of the price
  • less than 3 days from the date of departure or after the date of departure : 100% of the price

 

SERVICES RENDERED

  Services not used

  • All trips which are cut short, or all services concerning land, rivers, sea or air if they are not used for any reason, there will be no reimbursement by the local agent.
  • It is the traveler’s responsibility to draw an insurance contract based on which he will be able to be reimbursed in case services are not rendered.

 

 

Notes:

OTHER PRACTICAL NOTES

• The timetable with the exact hours will be sent to you once the flight times will be finalised.
• The photos of the hotels that we are sending you with this proposal are NOT necessarily the ones we will book for you. Booking is made upon availability. The photos you see are representative of the type of rooms (or the hotels) that we cooperate and that we will book for you.
• Paths that are well marked can be found everywhere and you can go on beautiful walks or excursions. In the detailed book, we will give you upon your arrival, we suggest all the things that we think you would appreciate.
• We suggest that you do many different things every day and that you explore and visit many places so that you can make the most of your holiday. We know that sometimes you will not have enough time to visit all the places, but we have decided to select for you the most interesting spots that you can explore and then let you choose which one you prefer.
• GPS for the car: In case you do not have your own GPS or a new generation mobile: Have in mind that navigation around Crete is much easier if you combine a GPS with good maps. As far as maps are concerned, we will give you the best maps in the market, road maps and trekking maps separately. However, if you also need a gps, this is rented with an extra cost of around 5-8 euros per day. However, you can download free of internet programmes such as NAVIGATOR.com or MAPS.ME in a smart phone and it works the same with a gps.
• Regarding the meals. Except from the breakfast, which is included in almost all the hotels you overnight, for the rest of the day-meals we prefer to recommend you restaurants, taverns or small kafenia (local cafes), so as to give you the freedom of choosing among them. This choice is an important part of your exploration in our island ... the kafenia and the small taverns are the soul of Crete ... Moreover, in the travel-book that you will be delivered upon your arrival, you will find useful information about where and what to taste…
INFORMATION
Duration: 15 days (14 nights)
Dates: Open dates. Suggested period: all the year.
Location: All Crete
Difficulty: None
Languages: Support in English, French, German
Cost: Upon request
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