Crete off the Beaten Track

Upcoming Tour Date:

  • 11 October–18 October 2020 – Just added
8 days
from £1,749 pp
Tour code: AGT1150

Tour Features:

    Book Now

    Upcoming Tour Date:

    • 11 October–18 October 2020 – Just added
    8 days
    from £1,749 pp
    Tour code: AGT1150

    Tour Features:

      Booking Enquiries

      Quick Tour Facts:


      Tour Code AGT1043
      Max Group Size 26
      Single Supplement £250
      Start/End Point Heraklion / Heraklion
      Tour Manager TBC

      Tour Map:


      Extras and Add-ons:


      Would you prefer to fly from your local airport or spend a few days at the end of your tour on the beach? We are happy to help you arrange any additional requirements you may have from airport parking and hotels to pre and post tour hotel stays. Whilst the majority of our tours use group flights from London airports it is often possible to offer regional departures or connections – give us a call on 01425 480600 and let us help make your trip as comfortable as possible.

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      Although Crete is part of Greece, it is very much a land separated from its country not just by the Aegean Sea, but also by a character, style and history unique to the island itself. A spellbinding land of mountain villages, dramatic gorges and the beautiful beaches awaits your discovery.

      Crete was once the centre of Ancient Minoan civilisation, its history encompassing legends which have been told throughout the centuries, including the tale of King Minos, Theseus and the Minotaur. The island’s strategic position between East and West has played a significant role in its long history, with control passing from the Romans to the Saracens, the Byzantines to the Venetians, the Ottomans and, after a short period of independence and several bloody battles, Nazi Germany, before finally achieving liberation. As such, Crete’s culture is an intriguing amalgamation reflecting its unique and varied past.

      Our tour will provide you with a flavour of the ‘real’ Crete. An in-depth look at the island’s cultural riches, the tour includes visits to some of its most striking sites and areas, as well as more ‘off the beaten track’ experiences. We will dine in traditional restaurants and tavernas, soaking up the relaxed atmosphere enjoyed by the locals, who are full of stories to tell. We will learn about Crete’s history throughout its various stages, from Minoan sites to the role of the island in World War II, and how they each left their mark on the island’s captivating culture and a fiercely proud population. Of course, Crete’s golden, sandy beaches and enticing turquoise waters are also not to be missed.

      Words from Your Tour Coordinator…

      “The largest of the Greek islands, just a stone’s throw from the African coast of Libya, is one of the most enticing and unique places to visit in all of Greece. I first came to Crete in the early noughties at the beginning of my travel career and was struck by a number of things. Firstly, although I have been to Greece many times, the character of this island is so different to the mainland and the people are so fiercely proud of their heritage – you could almost be in another country. Secondly, the hospitality of the locals was overwhelming.

      I remember having the best lunch sat by the ruins of a submerged Roman harbour and watching the world go by in a lazy heartbeat. The fish darting amongst the archaeological remains, the sound of the water lapping against the jetty, the sun beating down… several glasses of raki later, I was in heaven.”

      Alexander Oliver

      Highlights

      • Explore the island’s capital, Heraklion
      • Visit the ancient Minoan site of Knossos
      • Boat trip to the haunting islet of Spinalonga
      • Drive down the WWII ‘Abduction Route’
      • Appreciate the incredible Samarian Gorge from the Plateau of Omalos

      What’s Included

      • Return British Airways flights from London Gatwick to Heraklion
      • Seven nights in four-star accommodation
      • Daily breakfast, two lunches and seven evening meals
      • All excursions, entrance fees and tips
      • All overseas transport and English-speaking guides
      • Services of a Prestige Holidays Tour Manager

      Itinerary

      Day 1 - Arrival (D)

      Arrival. Check in to the hotel before a guided tour of the city, including a visit to the famous Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which boasts the most breathtaking and complete collection of Minoan art anywhere in the world.

      Overnight: Heraklion

      Day 2 - Knossos / Archanes (B, L, D)

      Visit the court of King Minos and explore the archaeology of Sir Arthur Evans at the site of Knossos Palace. Dating back to hallowed antiquity, uncover some of the stories behind our early ancestors who dwelt here from as far back as the 7th milennia BC. Continue our exploration into Minoan history at the complex of Vathypetro (literally meaning ‘deep stone’), which contains some of the oldest wine presses in the world. Spend the afternoon in the village of Archanes to see the Byzantine churches and indulge in an appreciation of local olive oil.

      Overnight: Heraklion

      Day 3 - Gorge of St George / Plaka / Spinalonga (B, D)

      Enjoy a morning venture along the north-east coast through the Sellinari Gorge with some stunning scenery before a stop at the famous monastery of St. George.

      Take a boat across to the islet of Spinalonga to visit its 15th century Venetian fortifications. Made famous in Victoria Hislop’s The Island, this atmospheric place has a chequered history. It is now uninhabited, though most recently it was one of Europe’s last active leper colonies.

      Overnight: Heraklion

      Day 4 - Phaistos / Agia Triada / Gortyna / Matala (B, D)

      Spend a full day in appreciation of the southern and more remote parts of Greece’s largest island. Included are some of the most prominent archaeological sites on offer, Gortyna and the Minoan palace of Phaistos, famous for the disk of fired clay (of the same name) whose language continues to defy deciphering today.

      This afternoon, transfer to the wonderful beach at Matala with its breath-taking view of the Libyan Sea.

      Overnight: Heraklion

      Day 5 - Rethymnon / Anogia / Chania (B, L, D)

      Following the path of the renowned adventurer, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and the ‘abduction route’ of his escapades in World War II, the tour goes east towards Rethymnon. In the mountainous and picturesque village of Anogia, there is a chance to explore and also to hear the modern tragedy of Nazi brutality that this village endured as a direct result of Leigh Fermor’s actions. A traditional village lunch is taken in Anogia before a visit to the natural wonder that is Sfentoni Cave.

      Overnight: Chania

      Day 6 - Chania / Omalos (B, L, D)

      The western region of Crete is known for orange-growing and the hills of the imposing White Mountains, where, upon reaching the high Plateau of Omalos, one can really appreciate the famous Samaria Gorge.

      Explore other famous sites in the vicinity of Chania before a comprehensive walking tour of this city and its charming harbour front.

      Overnight: Chania

      Day 7 - Rethymnon / Preveli (B, D)

      Today includes a visit to the Renaissance city of Rethymnon, followed by a stroll through the historic monastery of Preveli. From here, you can gaze across the azure waters of the Libyan Sea towards Africa. This evening, there is a farewell dinner.

      Overnight: Chania

      Day 8 - Departure (B)

      Transfer to the airport for departure.

      Prestige Holidays’ booking conditions apply. Price is based on twin/double occupancy. Single rooms are on request at a supplement of £250 — subject to availability. Itinerary may be subject to slight alterations due to operational restrictions. Hotels are subject to change and a hotel of similar standard in the overnight locations may be provided. Flight times are provisional and subject to change due to airline schedules.

      Call us today on 01425 480 600

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