Captivating Crete Vacation for Active Travelers

A 8 day trip to Greece 
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Let the natural journey guide you on this holiday meant to take you on a unique outdoor adventure through Crete. Feel the breeze on your cheeks and the history at your back as you cycle through the sensational landscapes of Greece’s largest island. From the famed Knossos Minoan Palace to the hidden seaside villages, the Libyan Sea to the vibrant facades of Chania’s harbor; the sweet fragrant sea surrounds you, the divine Cretan cuisine beckons to you. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Crete—Heraklion, Knossos, Phaestos, Rethymnon, Chania, Omalos, Samaria Gorge, Libyan Sea coastal path, Zaros

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: A Raki(ous) Welcome 

Let the venturous vacation begin with your arrival outside of Heraklion, Crete’s capital, and your journey into the hills and the town of Archanes. The village has been restored giving it a vibrant sheen in the Cretan sun. Vines run along the walls of the colorful homes and restaurants in the central plaza. You are welcomed with the herbaceous and traditional drink Raki, a distilled spirit made from grapes and with a perfume of anise. The streets are narrow and lead into the surrounding hills which are covered in olive groves. Outside of the village is Fourni, a Minoan cemetery that was in use for over millennia. Beehive tombs texture the hillside where everything from human remains to bulls, knives to scales have been found. It is easy to get lost in history within Crete, from the sensational ruins of Fourni to the restored beauty of Archanes, your adventure through Crete has just begun.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Where A Minotaur Treads

Within the borders of Heraklion sits the famed ruins of Knossos Minoan Palace, where the myth of the Minotaur lies. You may not find the labyrinth that once housed the infamous half-man half-bull but what remains of the Minoan palace is nothing less than impressive. Large stones are strewn throughout the vast area commemorating where walls once stood, creating the large base of homes, warehouses, and the palace itself. Along the steps of the propylaea are two large murals where the colors burst from the wall, from the paint and from the vibrant red pillars before it. The murals decorate the entire wall and show servants carrying water or wine in jars. Placed next to the stairs are large ceramic jars that look to weigh a ton each. The bath hall is a grand representation of the natural world without human beings, a place where fish and vibrant dolphins swim freely, bordered by glistening geometric shapes. The splendor of the palace isn’t just in its size but also the remains of its art representation of history.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, tour

Day 3: A Gorge(ous) View

Today you will climb into the mountains 2,460 feet above sea level to the mountain village of Zaros. Known for its mountain spring water, which is refreshing and crisp at any time of day, Zaros is also known to be situated centrally along the island where the cool blue water of Lake Votomos sits nearby. The lush scent of olive trees and a wide berth of carob trees surround the lake. Venture along the steps of Rouvas Gorge where the oldest oaks on Crete shade you from the Mediterranean sun. A calm breeze billows through the leaves. A rainbow of color comes into view, from purple anemones to red poppies, blossoming orchids to violet irises, all sitting beneath the wondrous perfume of fresh herbs. Back in the village you can settle into the soothing sounds of Greek music lingering in the streets.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 4: The Fame of Antiquity

The ruins of Phaestos are some of the most remarkable of any Minoan palace left today. Stairs create a flat basin that gives the palace a square structure that surrounds a main plaza. Many inscriptions were found and remain unable to be deciphered making everything known about the site based upon information from the ancient writers and findings from Knossos. Mythology states that it was the city that gave birth to Epimenidis, one of the seven wise men of the ancient world. Today the old palace continues to adorn the settlement made of ashlar blocks giving the arid scent of historic earth to the site. Large terraces give a view out into the valley beyond, where the lushness of the foothills shimmers in the afternoon light.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 5: Along Venetian Lines

Within the country hills outside of Rethymnon is the village of Spili, 1,358 feet above sea level. The cobblestone streets and whitewashed walls give an inviting elegance to the village. The pink dome and arches of the church stand out against the rising grass of the hillside. The pride of the town is the old Venetian fountain. 19 lion heads are lined up in a row as local spring water falls from their mouths. The fresh mist and trickle of the fountain lifts into the air. There is a lingering scent of  savory lamb as it is slow roasted in a clay pot in traditional Cretan style. The serene streets and friendly people offer gentleness to the evening as it beings to roll over the sky. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 6: Along Cave Lines

Outside of Rethymnon is the village of Melidoni known for its typical Cretan styling and for its caves. The cave itself is a treasured memorial for the island where an immaculate altar and cross stand beneath the dripping stalactites. The undulating roof looks textured in the light that washes over the cave. There air is cool and sheltered from the sun. At the water’s edge of Rethymnon is the Fortezza, a dominating reminder of the Venetian’s occupation of the island. The fortress was a public area only to be used as a last resort in the event of a siege. Today the walls stand over the lull of the sea with imposing bricks and girth. The East Gate is impressive with its height and power. Archways roll along the upper boarder of the fortress as the main gate is both welcoming and arresting. The grandeur of history sits within caves and fortress, and along the edges of the sea.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 7: Enchanting Sea

Today you will venture to Chania arriving as fast as your legs will take you. Travel along the coastline where you can look out into the Mediterranean and feel like the sky is reflected in the water. The ocean has never looked so perfect. In Chania the Venetian spirit of the city is very much alive. Colorful buildings rise along the harbor, where a circular quay wraps around the crystal water. Fresh grilled seafood drifts from the open patios that stretch beside the walkway. Part of the joy of exploring is the hidden gems within the narrow streets for which Chania is known. Tiny restaurants mark the streets with tables and chairs that barely fit, offering an intimate and tasty meal to anyone and everyone. People are alive and fun, boisterous and romantic within the Grecian Venice, where bougainvillea wrap along the buildings to cool the air and add an extra zest of color to the city.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 8: The Wonders of the West

Today the road can take you various places along the paths of Crete. Those that have booked an 8-day tour through Crete will have their final morning along the crystal clear waters of Chania before making their way to the airport and eventually to home; however, with the beauty of the island and the sensation of the wind brushing against your cheeks, there is always an opportunity to extend. After an exhilarating ride to Omalos you will begin your descent into the Crete’s largest Gorge, Samaria Gorge, beginning the tour’s 4-day hiking excursion. The fresh scent of lush trees gives way to the earthy limestone. The craggy walls rise over you and stretch along the basin. The gentle trickle of water stems from the cold-water stream beside you. At the opening of the gorge are the multitudes of peaks that claim the sky, brushing against the clouds.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 9: Step Into New

Climb the steep wooden staircase that brings you up the foothills of the gorge, known to be Europe’s longest. The warmth of the afternoon sun is hidden behind the trees, offering you the refreshing shade as you continue up the stairs. The rush of the stream below echoes off the gorge walls. Birds call out into the mid-morning sky. Arrive at the pebbled sands of Agia Roumeli, a town only reachable by foot or by boat, and revel in the gorgeous waters of the turquoise bay. With the White Mountains surrounding you and the spectacular waters in front of you, when you dip your toes along the shoreline you are touching the tip of the Libyan Sea; beyond the horizon is the northern most point of Africa.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 10: Hidden Gems

Along the southern shores of Crete you will venture to the charming village of Sougia. Along the way is Lissos, one of the healing sites of Aesclepion in Ancient Greece. Closer to Lissos you can see the ancient waterline clearly visible in the cliff, over 20 feet above the present sea level. The path is scented with pine and as you distance yourself from the sea breeze. A smooth cliff looms over the trail. Overlooking a steep drop gives you an impressive view of Lissos; from above it looks like fields and terraces wrapped in a bowl and leading to the sea. People would come from all over ancient Crete to be cured by the mystical waters of the area. Although the main temple was destroyed a grand mosaic has been preserved. Tiles that were once as bright as sunshine decorated the grand temple dedicated to the god of healing. Animals and geometric shapes ran along the floor in full splendor and sophistication.

Continue to the small village of Sougia where the quintessential air of the town has remained for centuries. Sougia is another magnificent village along the expanse of pristine beach where the water glistens like a sapphire in the afternoon light. The serene landscape brings with it the welcome mist of the calm sea and the fragrance of grilled seafood wafting from the boardwalk. Relax along the shores or grab a cold drink from the cafes where you can watch the orange glow sink from the sky in exchange for an evening darkness.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 11: Mediterranean to Libyan (Sea)

Today you will board a boat that will give you a panorama of Crete’s southern coastline. The hills tend the reach back from the shore, blanketed in lavish trees where mountains climb into the sky. The trees give away to craggy cliffs while the water shifts in and out of three different shades of blue. Once in Agia Roumeli the hiking trail beings en route to Loutro. The hike beside the Libyan Sea is one of the most sensational views of Crete’s natural majesty. At Agia Pavlos rocks are pointed and look as though they have melted into one another, more similar to a Dalí panting than to topography. The sea is the brightest blue you will ever see, almost on the verging on florescent. A quaint stone chapel sits along the hillside overlooking the shoreline, said to honor the shipwreck of St. Paul. The water is soft in your ears. The breeze brushes your hair; you can hear goats bleating in and around the hilltops. Once in Loutro you can feel the difference, no cars, no large streets, filled with  the local and ancient charm of a picturesque fishing village where serenity wins out.   

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 12: Almost Home

Your trail guides you to the southernmost tip of Europe as you arrive in Hora Sfakion. The village is filled with the homes of locals and the peaceful calm of a fishing village. Its rugged surrounding has kept it untouched by the hustle and bustle of tourism; the buildings stretch beside the length of the beach. The harbor is small, wrapped along the shimmering blue water. It is from here that you will be meet your transfer and return to Chania where your evening departure home inches closer. You traversed the length of Crete and have found the hidden pockets of myth and magic that have kept the island coveted for millennia. 

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, transfer

Be sure to read reviews for travel agents for Greece and Crete. Find ideas on how to customize your trip further, and see why travelers continue to rely on Zicasso.

Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized Greece vacation packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $350 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $250 per person per day

The customized package will include accommodations, airport transfers and other transportation within Greece, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.