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Operates from Monday to Thursday
Duration: 4 days / 3 nights
Monday: Heraklio – Diktaion Adron – Lasithi Plateau – Agios Nikolaos – Sitia (L-D)
Meeting with the guide and departure to visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklio, one of the greatest museums of Greece and the best in the world for Minoan art as it contains the most notable and complete collection of artefacts of the Minoan civilization of Crete. After visiting the museum, we continue our tour by driving up the Dikti mountain 900m. above the sea level, where the Diktaion Adron, the cave where according to the legend Zeus was born, is situated. After visiting the Diktaion Adron, we continue to the Lasithi Plateau, the largest and most beautiful of Crete and then down to the port city of Agios Nikolaos. Following lunch at Agios Nikolaos we depart to visit we continue to the seaside city of Sitia, an attractive town built amphitheatrically on the side of a hill with a big open harbour backed by a wide promenade lined with taverns and cafes. It is a friendly place enjoying an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, where tourism is fairly low-key and the farming of wine and olives are the mainstays. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Sitia.
Tuesday: Sitia – Vai – Toplou Monastery – Ierapetra – Zaros (B-L-D)
Breakfast at the hotel. We depart Sitia to visit the palm beach of Vai, famous for its white sand and the palm tree forest. Vai futures the largest natural palm forest in Europe and its belong to the Toplou Monastery which we visit next. At the 15th century monastery of Toplou, we visit the museum with its priceless collection of icons. The monastery has a long history which played a significant role in the struggle of the Cretan people for freedom. We continue our tour to the most southern city of the island, Ierapetra, where we have free time for swimming and relaxing on the beach before lunch. Ierapetra is an old city with rich history. In 66BC was conquered after putting up a fight, by the Romans who realized the importance of the city’s location and reconstructed it, giving it the push needed to flourish and reach its peak, financially and culturally. During the Byzantine Empire, Ierapetra continued being a flourishing city. It was destroyed 3 times, one by the Arabs in the 9th century AD, then by the Venetians in the 13th century and by the Turks in the 17th century. In the afternoon we depart Ierapetra and drive to the pretty mountain village of Zaros, famed for its spring waters which are now bottled and sold all over Greece. Dinner at the hotel followed by Cretan night (traditional Cretan music and dances). Overnight at the Hotel in Zaros.
Wednesday: Zaros – Gortina – Phaistos – Spili – Vatos – Lampini – Arkadi – Rethimno (B-L-D)
Breakfast at the hotel. Starting from Zaros at the valley of Messara we find the ruins of Gortina. Gortina was the Roman capital of Creta et Cyrenaica and was first inhabited around 3200BC. After Gortina we visit Phaistos archaeological site and its Palace, the most important center of the Minoan civilization, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. We continue on the road towards Rethimno making a stop at the traditional Cretan village of Spili located at the foot of Mt.Vorizi. Spili is known for its Venetian fountain with a long row of 19 stone lion heads splashing cool water into the trough below. Along the way to Rethimno we make another stop at the village of Vatos to visit a typical Raki Boiler used to produce the popular Cretan Raki – drink, (Tsikoudia), at a Herb producer’s house. We continue for lunch at Vaggelio’s House, serving dishes made with natural produce provided by the nearby Farm and cooked by the lady chef – Vaggelio. After lunch we drive to the mountainous village of Lampini to visit the church and the museum of Panagia. The church is inscribed with a cupola, and depicts frescoes of the 12th and 14th century.It was an Episcopal church, since the village of Lampini once accommodated the seat of the famous Episcopate of Lampis, which had existed since 431. Coffee at the village’s Coffee shop “Kafenio”. Continue towards the Monastery of Arkadi, which constitutes a landmark of architecture and civilization considering the magnificent facade of the church, the highly developed spiritual tradition as well as the flourishing development of fine arts. However, the holocaust, which took place in 1866, gave the monastery an eminent place in history, elevating it to an eternal symbol of freedom and heroism, which is acknowledged the world over. We continue to Rethimo in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Rethimno.
Thursday: Rethimno – Imbros Gorge* – Chora Sfakion – Komitades – Fragokastelo – Rodakino – Myrthios – Preveli Monastery – Rethimno (B-L-D)
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure for Chora Sfakion. Arrival at Imbros Gorge**. Imbros Gorge is the second most known gorge in Crete after Samaria Gorge. Its length is about 8km of spectacular views and takes no longer than 2,5 hours. The path is not particularly difficult to walk. The gorge is fairly narrow with plenty of trees, so you will have shade most of the time. After a 2 hour walk you will end up at the village of Komitades where you will meet the bus to continue the tour to Fragokastelo, Rodakino and the village of Myrthios for lunch, overlooking the Libyan sea. After lunch you will visit the famous Byzantine Monastery of Preveli (10th Century) near the southern coast of Crete. The Monastery has a glorious history due to the active and leading involvement of its fellow monks in all national endeavours for freedom and education of our people. Thus, it merits specific recognition and respect throughout the island of Crete. After visiting Preveli we return to Rethimno for dinner and overnight at the hotel.
*sturdy walking shoes are necessary
**In case you do not wish to walk through the Gorge, while other members of the group are hiking, you can continue with the bus to visit Chora Sfakion (Sfakia) for a few hours of relaxing, shopping and a swim at “Vrissi” (the Spring), a well organized sandy beach with crystal-clear waters, sunbeds and umbrellas, at the western end of Sfakia.