Crete, the largest Greek island, offers a wide range of attractions: from sandy beaches to spectacular walks through gorges and ravines – there is something here for everyone! The island’s history – from the Minoan civilisation of 2000BC onwards – is remarkable. Crete has amazing landscapes, with opportunities for walks taking in some of the main historical and natural sights, such as the Saint George Ravine and Spinalonga. This two-centre walking holiday will get you close to the real heart of this wonderful island from the Gulf of Mirabello in the east, to the Botanical Park in the west.
- 7 nights half board accommodation at 4* hotels (3 Gouves, 4 Rethymnon)
- 3 varied guided walks
- Visit to Elounda and Spinalonga
- Services of a tour representative
- Return direct flights including transfers
Flight to Heraklion. 20-minute transfer to your hotel in Gouves for three nights half board accommodation.
At leisure in Gouves, or you can take an optional excursion in the afternoon to see the ancient ruins of the Minoan Palace of Malia.
Walk 1. Kroustas and the Gulf of Mirabello. This is a full day with a guided walk in the morning and guided tour of Spinalonga Island in the afternoon. After a scenic drive through the spectacular ravine of Saint George, the walk starts in the narrow streets of the mountain village of Kroustas. Leaving the village, you enter a cultivated area of almond and olive trees. The route, which crosses the Kroustas valley and has amazing views over the Mirabello Gulf, ends near Pirgos. This is a downhill 4½ mile walk with 500m of descent and 50m ascent. At the end of the walk, you transfer to the coastal village of Elounda, from where you take a 20-minute boat trip across to the Venetian fortress island of Spinalonga – a leper colony for the first half of the 20th century. After a guided tour of the island, you return to your hotel. 72 miles of coach travel today.
: Today you leave for Rethymnon in the west, for four nights half-board accommodation, with an included walk en-route.
Walk 2: Ancient Eleftherna. The walk starts near Eleftherna and ends in the village of Margarites. Using dirt roads and paths in lush, green scenery, you can see the ruins of Ancient Eleftherna and an amazing stone bridge well over 2000 years old and still in use. After some free time for lunch and to explore Margarites with its small ceramic workshops, you continue to Rethymnon. The walk is 4½ miles, with 180m ascent and 270m descent. 82 miles by coach today.
Rethymnon has a pleasant beach and resort area, but by contrast with your first centre, is quite a large town, with 40000 inhabitants, including a sizeable student population. It has an impressive Venetian fortress and harbour, and some interesting museums.
Included morning walking tour of Rethymnon. Walk into town with your guide via the promenade through the charming old quarter to the Venetian harbour, and then through narrow streets and squares with Turkish and Venetian architecture. During this pleasant walk, you’ll see in a local workshop how the Cretan musical instrument, the ‘Lyra’, is made and, at a pastry shop, how to make the wafer-thin phyllo dough for traditional pastries.
Day Six and Seven:
In Rethymnon with an included walking excursion.
Walk 3: Therisso and the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete. You travel towards Chania in the west and then inland via the magnificent green Therisso Gorge to the village itself and the starting point of the walk. With the famous White Mountains as a backdrop, the walk takes you through olive groves near the village of Meskla. 5 ½ miles with 100m ascent and 300m descent. From here you have a short coach transfer to the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete. Here you can walk the peaceful trails along the hill slope with herbs, shrubs and trees from all over the world. But don’t be late for your included lunch in the beautiful restaurant with magnificent views across to the mountains! 106 miles coach travel today.
There is also the chance to take an optional excursion to Southern Crete. You visit Phaestos, the second largest Minoan Palace in Crete, on a hill and overlooking the olive trees and greenhouses of the Messara Plain. Your lunchtime break is in the seaside village of Matala. It still retains the charm and character of a quiet fishing village, and the laid-back, hippy lifestyle of the 60’s and 70’s lives on. Here, you can have a dip in the Libyan Sea and still have time for a leisurely Cretan lunch at a beach tavern. On the way back to your hotel you stop in the mountain village of Spili to see the Kefalovrisi, a series of 25 Venetian lions heads spraying water from their mouths.
Free time until your departure for the airport, just over an hour away. Depending on flight timings, there may be time for some last-minute sightseeing en route.