Exploring Crete in May: Archaeology, Nature & Food
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Peter Sommer Travels is proud to offer this spectacular land tour of the legendary island of Crete.
The Exploring Crete tour is the ideal opportunity to experience this fascinating island to the full. You will visit its most important ancient sites, including the famous prehistoric Minoan palaces, but also veer off the beaten track to explore many of Crete’s hidden gems. The tour includes a vast variety of different landscapes and ancient sites, bringing you into direct contact with its coasts, mountains, gorges and fertile plains, as well as its historical villages and towns.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and its historical significance is second to none, ranging from Stone Age seafarers and Neolithic farmers to the mysterious and fascinating Bronze Age civilisation of the Minoans. The island’s renowned Classical cities and the rich remains of the Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman cultures, lead us right through to its turbulent 20th century history.
As well as its historical and archaeological riches, the island is a place of extraordinary natural beauty and diversity. Its inhabitants are fiercely proud of their homeland and maintain its many traditions, including the fabled Cretan hospitality. As a result of its varied nature and past, Crete also boasts one of the most refined variations of Greek cuisine.
This Cretan tour is complemented by excellent meals in carefully selected restaurants and tavernas, as well as wine tastings from regional vineyards. At night, you will be staying in beautiful surroundings, ranging from elegant Venetian palazzos to traditional inns and agriturismos in serene mountain villages.
Your tour guides, have excavated, surveyed, researched and travelled around Crete and are passionate connoisseurs not only of its archaeology, but also of its landscapes, people, traditions and products. Their in-depth knowledge will be your shortcut to a superb experience of one of Europe’s most celebrated destinations.
If you have never visited Crete, this expert-led tour is the perfect way to explore this wonderful and fascinating Greek Island; if you have been before, we are sure you will see it afresh and from a completely different perspective – in the company of two archaeologists who know the island intimately.
ADDITION RATE INFORMATION
Single supplement: £600
Day 1:Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Arrival in Iraklio (Heraklion). Transfer from airport about 15 minutes away. Welcome drinks and dinner in a traditional taverna.
Day 2:Malia, Crete, Greece
We drive eastwards along the coast to the extensive remains of the Minoan Palace at Malia and its surrounding town, founded over 4,000 years ago – a perfect introduction to Minoan archaeology. We drive up into the Dykti mountains to the celebrated Lasithi Plateau, 1,000m above sea level and famous for its white-sailed windmills. In the afternoon we take a panoramic walk to one of the region's sacred caves, before returning to Iraklio. Before dinner, we stroll through the Venetian heart of the city, once known as Candia.
Day 3:Gournia, Crete, Greece
We begin exploring East Crete by visiting the scenic Hellenistic city of Lato, boasting wonderful views over the gulf of Mirabello. We stop by the Byzantine/Venetian church of Panayia Kera with its famous frescoes and continue to the incredibly well-preserved Minoan town of Gournia, where we can walk along 3,500-year-old lanes. Our village hotel to the east is situated in a picturesque mountain village.
Day 4:Palaikastro, Crete, Greece
This day is devoted to the island’s easternmost region, where we visit three archaeological highlights: the museum of Siteia with the famous gold-and-ivory Palaikastro Kouros, the Minoan town of Palaikastro itself, and the town and Palace of Zakros, where rich finds have provided much information on Minoan trade. After a beachside lunch, we return to our hotel.
Day 5:Heraklion, Crete, Greece
We return westwards for a highlight of the tour: we explore Crete’s most famous archaeological site, the great Minoan palace of Knossos, followed by lunch and a wine tasting in the lush Peza region, the heart of Cretan wine-making. We continue south into the Asterousia Mountains, towering above the rugged southern coast.
Day 6:Agia Triada, West Greece, Greece
A morning visit to the beautifully located Minoan town of Agia Triada, which may have been a summer residence of the Bronze Age rulers of southern Crete, and to the Minoan palace at Phaistos, the most impressive of its kind, in a panoramic setting overlooking the huge Mesara Plain and the snow-topped peaks of Mt. Ida. In the afternoon, there is time to relax and enjoy great views across the Libyan Sea.
Day 7-8:Chania, Crete, Greece
We investigate the island’s Roman capital, Gortyn, with an array of excavated buildings and other largely unexcavated ruins scattered among the olive groves. We continue into the western half of Crete, to enjoy lunch and a tasting at a famous winery in the most fertile part of Crete. We end the day at a lovely seafront hotel in the beautiful Venetian city of Chania.
Day 8 is a free day, yours to relax or explore the lanes and vistas of Chania. You are free to choose your own options for lunch and dinner.
Day 9:Chania, Crete, Greece
A stunning drive along the edge of the White Mountains to Souyia on the south coast. We walk (approx. 3km) through a rocky gorge across to rarely visited Lissos, one of the loveliest ancient cities in Crete, set in a cove only reachable by foot or boat.
Day 10:Chania, Crete, Greece
A morning drive to the Akrotiri peninsula to visit the monastery of Agia Triada and its small museum of icons. We drive by the magnificent Bay of Souda, site of the island’s British and Commonwealth war cemetery, to the vast Classical and Roman city of Aptera in its panoramic setting, followed by a village lunch. We end the day in the grand Venetian city of Rethymno, where we stay in a 16th century palazzo.
Day 11:Rethymno, Crete, Greece
In the morning, we visit Eleftherna, one of the oldest and most important ancient cities, set in the beautiful Amari valley and still undergoing excavation. Later, we explore the highlights of Rethymno: its Venetian castle, Ottoman mosques and fascinating architectural details.
Day 12:Heraklion, Crete, Greece
We return to Iraklion to visit the Archaeological Museum, one of the world’s most important exhibits of prehistoric art and artefacts, a magnificent showcase of the Minoan culture. After a relaxing afternoon, we conclude with a final gourmet dinner.
Day 13:Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Transfer to Heraklion airport about 15 minutes away.
Tour Guide: Heinrich Hall and Dr. Maria Girtzi
Maximum: 18 guests
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