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Archaeology and Nature Trails in Crete

Tour Overview

History and nature lovers: this trip idea has been designed from an environmental and anthropocentric approach, covering the most stunning parts of Crete along with some of the most authentic sites of the Cretan terrain. Travelers will have the opportunity to come face to face with Crete’s unknown and less explored landscapes, where one can find the remains of ancient times scattered everywhere. Archeology, nature, history and gastronomy in their most authentic form in the island of Crete.
This trip is addressed to people you wish to make a self-guided tour around Crete, with a constant support by our Team, by English speaking experts and a very detailed booklet with day to day information and high quality road maps. We make sure that you receive all the necessary amenities in order to facilitate your exploration and at the same time, retain the magic of the unexpected (discoveries).

Tour Highlights

  • Panoramic views and tranquil surroundings
  • Experiencing authentic local culture
  • Fresh, locally produced food
  • Beautiful scenery and traditional villages
  • Unique flora and fauna
  • Magnificent gorge without the crowds
  • Getting to grips with the wonderful Cretan way of life in the mainland of Chania

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at Heraklion airport. Our partner will meet you, to provide you with the maps and the printed material that we will have prepared for your trip. Moreover, we will have a thorough discussion on your itinerary either at the café of the airport or at the Hotel. After our coffee, you can start driving to Archanes, where your hotel is situated. Arriving at Archanes and settling into the rooms. Walks in the center of the beautiful village and dinner at a high quality local restaurant/tavern. (Archanes is a village 17 km from Heraklion). The reason we propose to you to go to Archanes instead of Heraklion is because it is very near and it is very beautiful and full of must-see places.
Travel Time: 17 km to Heraklion

Day 2: Exploring the flavors of the most healthy cuisine in the world. After breakfast, you start your exploration in one of the most flavorful days of your journey to Crete thus far. Not far from your hotel is an olive mill where you can explore the majesty of olive oil, the cradle of the Cretan Diet. This “liquid gold” as Homer referred to it, holds the secret to long and healthy life that brought Cretan Diet in the center of scientific and medical attention. In this stop, you will be able to see how the old philosophy of olive oil making meets the new practices and industrial progressions in order to create a fabulous product. The passionate owner will guide through the olive oil making steps and continue with some olive oil tasting that acquaint you with the qualities of this glorious product.
After this visit we would recommend you in the evening to continue your journey through Dionyso’s ‘juices’ with our specialised oenologist (and at the same time producer of cretan wines) and join our tour of Aroma of Cretan Wines (need to be purchased separately). A trip for wine tasting and acquaintance with the Cretan “terroir” in the most famous wine-area of Crete. How many secrets are in reality hidden in the grape and in the cultivation of the vine? In the ‘Aroma of Crete Wines’ tour, we explore the ‘terroir’, which corresponds to the soil, climate, cultivation and personality factors, that make a wine unique and special.
The indigenous Cretan grape varieties are ancient and the ways they combine the natural environment of the island will surprise you with the ways they are expressing the rich flavors of the land which had nourished them. Our wine specialist will guide you through the amazing local wines and the great efforts of the local winemakers that try to reflect their personalities, as well as, the local character in their wines. Return to Archanes. Same appartment.

Travel Distance: Archanes-Spilia-Agios Vasilios-Xoudetsi-Archanes 25 km

Day 3: Delving Into the World of the Mythical Minoan Civilization. After breakfast, you will discover, with our proposals written in the booklet you will be provided, one of the most amazing era of the human mankind, the Minoan era and civilization.

Day 4: Visit to the Archeological Sites of Messara. You drive to the village of Zaros through the entire Mesara valley and its important archaeological 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.
Step 3: Arriving at Zaros and settling into the rooms. Walks in the village
Step 4: If you still have energy, you can visit the nearby monastery of Brontisi a very important monastery of Christianity or/ and the beautiful artificial lake of Votomos, surrounded by the majestic south peaks of Psiloritis mountain and the gorge of Rouvas.
Travel Time: Archanes-Zaros 50km, Zaros – Gortys: 22 km, Festos – Gortyna: 28 km,
Running time: Walks

Day 5: Agiofaraggo. The Gorge of the Saints!. On this day you will head to one of the most beautiful beaches of Crete. To get there you will drive towards the Monastery of Odigitria. It is a type of fortified monastery of the XV century (the first foundation of the monastery, located a few kilometers before, even back XI century, in 961). From there you will have a 30 mins walk to the end of the gorge that leads to a very rewarding and stunning looking beach.
The walk into the gorge is very short and very easy and we strongly recommend it to you, as you will discover the cave-residences of many hermits of the past.
Return to Zaros village – same hotel
Travel Time: 30 km Zaros – Sivas – Agiofaraffo + return (in a dirt road of a relatively good quality)
Walking time: A stroll of one hour (round trip)

Day 6: Travel from Zaros – Ancient Eleftherna, the village of pottery and the monastery tears. After breakfast, you start crossing the island to the north, towards Rethymno, passing through the valley of Amari, to the foot of the Psiloritis Mountain. The destination is Ancient Eleftherna. The city was founded by the Dorians in the ninth century BC. Located at the crossroads between Kydonia, Knossos and Mount sanctuary Ida. The excavations during the years 1990-1992 in a necropolis revealed the practice of human sacrifices around 700 BC. After Eleftherna, you continue to the village of Margarites. The people are engaged mainly in livestock, agriculture and pottery and visitors can buy different pieces of pottery and other items from traditional crafts in the village craft shops.
Continue to the Monastery of Arkadi, the most famous and historical monastery of Crete, in an idyllic location! Living history is by itself a very strong emotion.
At margarites you will have the opportunity to attend a 2-hour seminar / presentation that a very talented artist is making for the people who wish to comprehend the rich tradition of pottery in Crete dating from Minoan era. He has a workshop and is struggling to survive the tradition of pottery that has passed to him by his grandfather. He is not doing anything folklore, that’s why we are recommending him to you. You travel to Rethimnon where you overnight
Driving time: Zaros-Eleftherna: 60 km / Eleftherna – Arkadi Monastery: 7, 5 km
Arkadi Monastery – Rethymno: 27 km
Walking Time: According to your desires

Day 7: Rethimno. A visit in the historical city of Rethimnon. Here, you will have the opportunity to walk the medieval streets of Rethymno, discover the extraordinary view from the Venetian fortress of the city, walk to the marina and taste different flavors found in the charming restaurants of the city. Rethymno is a lively town all year round, but life has very calm rhythms despite the busy summer pedestrian streets of downtown.

Day 8: End of the Trip. Breakfast. Drive to the airport of Heraklion and leave car at the parking space of the car rental company. Flight home – we hope you’ve had a fantastic time! Travelling time: 82 km

 Important Tips

  • Travel Bite date and/or time might be modified or cancelled due to weather conditions and in this event the option of an alternative date or full refund will be given.
  • We would recommend to bring with you trekking shoes & spare shoes in case the first pair gets wet, raincoat and a jacket, hat, sun glasses & sunscreen, small towel, spare shirt in case the first one gets wet, trekking poles, swimming costume, a camera, a hat, sunscreen
  • Single occupancy with extra charge 300 euro per person (in case of interest please send email from contact us section or here)

Tips & Useful Info

Starting point: Heraklion Airport N. Kazantzakis, Heraklion, Greece
Languages: English, Greek
Included Amenities: Public Liability Insurance, local guides & activity instructors for activities included in the itinerary, car rental from local provider (with mixed insurance ) for the whole trip, cost for all activities included in the tour program, all local taxes, assistance at the airport (delivering your car, providing the maps and printed material for your trip and talking thoroughly about the itinerary), Phone support 24 hours a day, Breakfast in all hotels and apartments, seven nights' accommodation at a local 3-star traditional apartments of high quality
Excluded Amenities: Personal Travel & Health Insurance, personal expenses, gratuities, meals not mentioned in inclusions, Airplane (international and domestic) tickets, single room supplement, Sea view supplement, Regional Flight supplement (if needed), Hotel transfers to/from airport other than those mentioned in inclucions, meals not stated in the inclusions (be ready to pay about 12-17 euros per person in a standard tavern), Beverages and alcoholic drinks during meals (except for house wine), optional activities that are not included in the day-to-day itinerary (like Aroma of Crete Wines), tour leader for the whole trip, fuel consumption & tolls, Guided tours and entrance fees to museums and organized archaeological sites, unless otherwise mentioned in the itinerary above, Tickets for national parks, boats and buses, Full insurance for the car which has an extra cost of approximately 7 euros per day, Gps with extra cost of 5 euros per day, rucksack, trekking poles and other technical equipment (unless otherwise mentioned in itinerary), Anything not mentioned above
Minimum number of guests needed: 2
Maximum number of guests: 8
Physical Level: No difficulty. Previous experience is not required. Basic level of agility and fitness is needed.

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