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Crete Archaeology and Nature Road Trip

  • Off the beaten track
History and nature lovers: this trip idea has been designed from an environmental and anthropocentric approach, covering the most stunning parts of Crete along with some non-touristy sites of the Cretan terrain. Travellers will have the opportunity to come face to face with Crete's unknown gorges, fossil carrier sites, sacred caves full of history, karstic parks, water sources, surf...

History and nature lovers: this trip idea has been designed from an environmental and anthropocentric approach, covering the most stunning parts of Crete along with some non-touristy sites of the Cretan terrain. Travellers will have the opportunity to come face to face with Crete's unknown gorges, fossil carrier sites, sacred caves full of history, karstic parks, water sources, surface and underground aquifers, the peaks, UNESCO-protected Sitia Natural Park, and finally the poljes and highlands, all while journeying through Crete's beautiful trails! 

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Customizable tour itinerary

This tour idea is fully customizable

This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Arrival At The Airport

Arrival at Heraklion Airport. You will be met by a taxi driver who will take you to your hotel. Settle into your room right next to the old Venetian harbour, the Morosini fountain and the ferry port.
Later you can take a stroll through the centre of Heraklion (Lions square, Venetian harbour etc).

Travel Time: 4km to Heraklion, Accomodation: Hotel 3* in Heraklion

Visited:
Heraklion

Day 2: Elounda And The Cave Of Zeus

Breakfast at the hotel. Today you'll head to the eastern part of Crete. The first destination is the area of Elounda which you reach through the Lassithi Plateau. Where the plateau begins you can admire the spectacular  view of the remains of the legendary windmills of the past. Visit the legendary cave of Zeus, the famous 'Diktaion Antron,' one of the largest archaeological sites in Crete. Arrival at  Elounda. Settling into the rooms.

Elounda is a landscape rich in natural beauty and cultural monuments (the Venetian Castle on Spinalonga Island, the ancient city of Olous, the ancient temple of the goddess of love Aphrodite (Venus)  and the of god of war Aris (Mars). A place with many traditional villages with beautiful beaches with organised water sports activities and fabulous tavernas offering typical Cretan food. Walks on the beautiful port and the almost unknown saltworks. Return  to the hotel, a family-owned hide-away on the hillside with cosy roomes and suites offering views over the dazzling waters of Mirabello Bay and Spinalonga island.

Travel Time: 105 km  (2h30). Around 1 hour (return) to visit the cave linked with the birth of Zeus, Accomodation: Hotel 3* in Elounda

Visited:
Heraklion Elounda

Day 3: Direction: Kato Zakros

Breakfast at the hotel. Today you will visit Spinalonga, the famous little island with a sweet but also harsh history. The story of the island that has accommodated for many years the lives and souls of the lepers of Crete is as interesting as it is heartbreaking. It is an island that is an ornament in the beautiful bay of Elounda.

After your visit to Spinalonga, you begin your journey towards the village of Kato Zakros. From Elounda to Kato Zakros you will travel through the charming town of Sitia. We suggest you take a short break to see the sights and relax a bit before carrying on to Kato Zakros. As soon as you arrive at Kato Zakros, you meet our partner, in order to go and settle into your room at a traditional island appartment. Walk around Kato Zakros and get to know the area and later have a swim. 

Travel time: 116 km (2h30 min.) Walks around Kato Zakros, Accomodation: Traditional Appartments in Kato Zakros

Visited:
Elounda Káto Zákros

Day 4: The Monastery Of Toplou And Vai Beach 

Breakfast at the hotel. Travel to the palm forest of Vai. The famous palmgrove covers an area of ​​250 km2. Its 5,000 palm trees extend over 3 km and reach the beautiful golden beach of Vai. This is a unique area in Crete and it is also the largest palm grove in Europe. Here you have the option either to stay on the central beach or to visit a more isolated  paradise like beach, or to go on an excursion to another beach and marvel at the diversified colours of the rocks all along the coastal path. Return to Vai and take a swim if you like!You continue towards the famous monastery of Toplou, a place with a real Eastern essence. Visit the monastery and if you like wine here you can have a wine tasting experience of the local Cretan varieties. Return to Kato Zakros. Take time to relax.

Travel time : 12 km Palaikastro – Vai - Toplou 35 km Toploy – Kato Zakros. For the trek: it varies…it can last 1 or 6 hours (depending on your choice)! Accomodation: traditional appartments in Kato Zakros

Visited:
Káto Zákros Váï

Day 5: Explore The 'Gorges Of The Dead'

Breakfast at the hotel. Hiking to the "Gorges of the Dead", with the old caves (tombs of the Minoan era). The gorges connect the villages of Zakros and Kato Zakros effortlessly. The gorges got their name because of the ancient tombs that have been discovered here and you can observe the traces through the gaping holes on the rock walls throughout the valley. At the end of the excursion, you pass near the Minoan Palace of Kato Zakros, one of the largest and most important in Crete. A brief visit to the archaeological site is strongly advised! (An escort by an archeologist can be organised upon request).

Travel time : 9 + 9 km (from Kato Zakros to Ano Zakros and return), 6+3,5 km = 9,5 km, Accomodation: traditional appartments in Kato Zakros

Visited:
Káto Zákros

Day 6: Karoumes Beach And Kato Zakros R​uins

Breakfast at the hotel. Today you drive to the village Hohlakes. You cross the gorge of Hohlakoi to arrive at  the beautiful beach of Karoumes. This isolated beach is one of the wildest of the island and one can only access it through the gorge of Hohlakes. After the beach and before returning to Kato Zakros you can explore by car the plateau of Sitia.

An unusual area unspoiled by human intervention, with the oldest villages of Crete and hidden ruins between the rocks, faults and caves. In the centre of the plateau, at the village of Karidi, you will find the Information Centre of ‘’Sitia Geopark’’. If it is open, you can watch a documentary concerning this beautiful area and take printed guidebooks and maps with 'GeoTrails' (trails  with geological interest). Return to Kato Zakros.

Travel time: 18 km (Kato Zakros - Hohlakes), 3+3 km, Accomodation: traditional appartments in Kato Zakros

Visited:
Káto Zákros Sitia

Day 7: Xirokampos Village And Herb Gardens

After breakfast, start travelling to Xerokambos, a village that extends along wild creeks not yet invaded. After a swim in the sea, you'll be on your way to return to Heraklion. The road to the west of Xerokampos is really impressive with many turns opening up extraordinary views of  the infinite sea until you arrive to another area with the liveliest villages in the area of Ierapetra (Sacred Stone). You will cross Ziros and Handras, where we suggest you attend a 4-6 hour programme at the herb groves of the village area of Handras where the famous aromatic and healing herbs of Crete are grown.

​The programme includes a presentation by two producers/farmers on location (2-3 different herb groves). During this visit you will be given the opportunity to taste dishes directly from their gardens in an idyllic setting underneath the Venetian and historic village of Voila (in the Sitia region in the eastern part of Crete). Drive to Heraklion and settle into your room.

Travel time : 14km (Kato Zakros-Xirokampos) + 14km (Xirokampos-Hametoulo) 30 km, Walks 

Visited:
Káto Zákros Xirokampos Kalo Chorio Agía Eiríni

Day 8: End of the trip!

Breakfast. Drive to the airport and leave car at the parking space of the car rental company. Flight home - we hope you've had a fantastic time!

​Travelling time: 4 km

Visited:
Xirokampos

Heraklion Elounda Káto Zákros Váï Sitia Xirokampos Kalo Chorio Agía Eiríni

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. $840 / 8 days
Excluding international flights
2-3 Pax  4-7 pax 8-12 pax
Price per person $1,130 $830 $770

Included in price:

  • Assistance at the airport (delivering your car, providing the maps and printed material for your trip and talking thoroughly about the itinerary)
  • Renting a car for the entire trip (category: medium car from a local company)
  • A detailed manual specially prepared for your trip (with references, texts, photos, maps and proposals for wonderful treks etc.)
  • Breakfast in all hotels and apartments
  • 3* hotels or traditional apts
  • Phone support 24 hours a day
  • A guided tour in the world of Cretan herbs in the village of Handras (day 7)

Not included in price:

  • International flights
  • Guided tours and entrance fees to museums and organised archaeological sites
  • Tickets for national parks and boats
  • Beverages (soft drinks), tips and personal expenses
  • Lunch and dinner, unless otherwise mentioned in the proposal above (be ready to pay about 12-17 euros per person in a standard tavern)
  • Rucksack, trekking poles and other technical equipment (unless  otherwise mentioned in the travel proposal)
  • Petrol
  • Personal insurance
  • Anything not mentioned above

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