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Ultimate Cultural Tour in Crete (8 Days)

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Ultimate Cultural Tour in Crete (8 Days)

 
Crete – The largest island in Greece...

Crete, an “ark” of rare natural beauty, Mediterranean culture and history. “Whoever touches this island feels a mysterious power, through their veins and into the soul” writes Nikos Kazantzakis, the great Cretan writer, in his book “Reference to Greco”.
Crete enchants each visitor. It captivates and captures the senses with its impressive and majestic landscape, but also with its spirit, history and people. You will visit the most important sights of Greece – such as the Minoan Crete palace, Knossos and Phaistos.


You will have the chance to admire the most famous monastery, the historic Arkadi Monastery and magnificent churches of the 15th century. Visit one of the most famous beaches of Crete, Matala. Discover the secrets of the Cretan diet – the Cretan cuisine is considered to be the best example of the Mediterranean diet, internationally accepted as the most healthy and complete diet plan.

ITINERARY
 
Day 1. Arrival and reception at Heraklion airport.

Upon arrival at Heraklion airport, you will be met by your personal English speaking driver. If you are arriving in the morning, you will enjoy a traditional Cretan meal with a variety of dishes, and then drive west to the Veneto Exclusive Suites.

For guests arriving after lunch, your driver will meet you at the airport and offer you a snack and water for the 70-minute transfer to the hotel. Check in to your room, and relax and explore your surroundings before joining your dinner made with a variety of local Cretan foods – your first taste of the flavors of Crete. (Dinner)

Day 2. Western Crete – Chania

Depart at 9.00 AM traveling west to Chania – a scenic city that combines the strong traditional color of living history with the virtues of a modern city. The traces of all cultures and nations that dominated the city in the past are more than obvious as the city is a living museum where architectural styles and cultural attitudes have been harmonically blended together.

Visit the Chania town market dating from the 1900’s – it is a cross-shaped gallery that houses over 65 food stores, presenting fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, bread, legumes and anything else you may like, such as cafés, restaurants and shopping, the to the old town of Chania for one hour. We lunch at the old harbor of Chania with a variety of local specialties. After lunch, we drive back to our village. Break at the villa of Georgioupolis where we buy and taste the famous bread of Georgioupolis with a unique smoky taste, made the same method for the past 150 years. Back to our village late afternoon. Dinner at the hotel restaurant with a variety of specialties. (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)

Day 3. Western Crete -The city of Rethymnon and the waters of Argyroupolis

Depart at 10.00 AM. We drive slowly through the vineyards and small villages of the region and our first break are the city of Rethymnon, the capital city of the region. It bare's traces of the many different periods of its long history. A beautiful fine, sandy beach surrounds the city. During the Venetian occupation, the city was considered to be the commercial and cultural center of Crete. Byzantine churches stand alongside the Turkish minaret and characteristic stone Venetian buildings which show the traditional character of the city. You can visit the castle of Fortezza, built on the hilltop that overlooks the city, Lotzia which is an archaeological museum, the Rimondi fountain, the remains of the Venetian fortifications and a number of residences characteristic to the Venetian architectural style. Walk the narrow streets with hundreds of small tourist shops. Visit an old 16th-century monastery and finally at the waters of Argyroupolis where we lunch with a variety of Cretan specialties and grills. Back to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the day exploring the city of Rethymnon. Dinner at the hotel's restaurant. (Breakfast – lunch – dinner)

Day 4. Southcentral Crete – Monastery of Arkadi, the Palace of Phaestos / Matala and Kokkinos Pyrgos

A combination of culture, food, and history. We stop first at the historic monastery of Arkadi.

Because of its strategic location, the monastery becomes a major revolutionary center during the Turkish occupation and played an important part in all revolutionary movements that took place on the island of Crete. During the 1886 revolution, the monastery came under siege by a Turkish force consisting of 15,000 men. After days of continuous fighting, the Turkish forces entered the compound. The defenders of the compound withdrew to the building of the powder magazines and in order not to be captured, lit the fuses of the magazine and committed the ultimate sacrifices, killing at the same time numerous enemies who were entering the monastery’s main yard. After these tragic events, Arkadi becomes the symbol of the struggle against oppression. The visit to the monastery is a mystifying and extremely elevating experience.

Ending the visit drive west to the palace of Phaestos, the second most significant archaeological site of the Minoan civilization. Phaestos is located in the southern region of the prefecture of Heraklion in the valley of Messaras. The site of the ancient city is very impressive and the palace compound, although not as extensively restored as the compound of Knossos, offers a detailed insight of the everyday life of such a historically remote period. According to mythology the king of Phaestos was Rhadamanthus, brother of King Minos of Knossos, and superior judge of the underworld. We continue driving to visit Gortys, the ruined capital city of Roman province that included not only Crete but also much of North Africa. Including an impressive theatre, the Basilica of St. Titus the eponymous saint converted the island to Christianity and was the first bishop, the Odeon, and the Law code. Next stop the beach and caves of Matala which is by far the best-known beach in the Heraklion province. These are believed to be ancient tombs first used by Romans or early Christians to more recently inhabited by a sizeable hippie community. Visited by modern artists such as Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, and Joni Mitchell, who mentions Matala in her song “Carey”. Lunch will be in the fishing village of Kokkinos Pyrgos at a seafront restaurant consisting of fresh seafood and fresh local greens specialties. Back to the village later in the afternoon. Dinner at the hotel. (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)

Day 5. Mountain tour of Central Crete – St. Lakinthos, the forgotten monastery of Halepa and the village of Drossia.

Depart at 9.00 AM towards Mount Nida (Psiloritis). First, stop at the mountain’s unique small church made of stone, St Iakinthos (Orthodox Saint Valentine) built by the well-known songwriter and singer Loudovikos of Anogia. Down the hill towards Anogia. Here you will find the best quality of cheeses – Kefalotyri & Kefalogryere. Break for a cup of coffee. Next, the village of Axos and then to the small village of Drossia, known by the local people with the Turkish name Geni-Gave. Break for lunch at the finest little restaurant on the island of Yiannis Petoussis known as Tsangaris (shoemaker). Authentic, natural and indescribable tastes. After lunch visits the two monasteries of Halepa and Vossakos. We will have the opportunity to visit a forgotten treasure – a small almost collapsed and forgotten small 15th-century church with beautiful wall paintings and frescoes. Drive to the hotel afternoon. Dinner at the hotel. (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)

Day 6. The Palace of Knossos / City of Heraklion / Doxa and Marathos

Today we visit the Palace of Knossos. When visiting the island of Crete everyone must see the ancient palace of Knossos, built 3,500 years ago. Walk the center of Heraklion city, break for lunch at a small mezedopolion at the heart of Heraklion with a variety of dishes. After lunch drives 20km north-west from the city of Heraklion where beautiful virgin nature is perfect pasture for bees. Old traditional bee-keeping methods ensure honey and other bee products are ecological, clean and free from any additives. The first honey of the season is collected from spring thyme blossoms and this golden yellow honey is a perfect source of nature’s ingredients. We do a short hike and reach the place the bees are located, then later walk down to a small local café / restaurant run by the owners since 1949. The owners (two brothers) have been beekeepers all their lifetime, carrying on the business from their father. Therefore, we taste honeycombs straight from the beehive and learn everything about bees and beekeeping as well as enjoying a kind of pancakes called ‘tiganites’ – small cheese pies with honey, accompanied with local wine and a shot of Cretan ‘raki’. You will definitely feel the positive effect on your body and soul. A visit to a "Homemade pastry industry" from women's at the nearby village of Marathos, where they make very special and unique pastries - a type of bread – called ‘xompliasto koulouri’. Then drive back to our hotel late afternoon. Dinner at the hotel. (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)

Day 7. City of Rethymno and cooking class

The last day we will join some courses Veneto restaurant runs, 3 – 5 sessions presenting modern and creative Greek gastronomy.

The courses include –

Short lectures on Greek cuisine, raw ingredients, wine, olive oil, etc.
Practice cooking and preparation of Greek food specialties
Practice food and wine tasting
Lectures and practice on how to combine food with the proper wine

Day 8. Transportation to the airport for the flight back home

WE PROVIDE:

Accommodation – 7 nights hotel accommodation in Veneto – an historic 4 **** boutique hotel / double occupancy in an exclusive suite / (breakfast + dinner)
Transportation – Airport / hotel on day of arrival and hotel / airport on day of departure
Tours – 7 days chartered vehicle with English speaking driver well versed in the culture of Crete for all tours / tours of the island
Meals – 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches at selected spots during the cultural drive, 7 dinners at the hotel with Cretan and Greek flavours to satisfy your gastronomic desires, in a place whose 700 years of history will take you to another dimension full of scents and images of the past which will uplift your senses
Drinks – Table wine, water, soft drinks, and for every 2 persons, one bottle of local wine during the meal
Cooking class and wine tasting – 1 day hands on cooking class and wine tasting
Fuel

WE DO NOT PROVIDE:

Entrance fees at archaeological / historical sites – guiding – tips, anything not mentioned above or below

UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES:

• Visit Chania’s town market dating back to the 1900’s and taste the famous bread of Georgioupolis
• Visit Argyroupoli where the area is renowned for the springs of Agia Dynami
• Visit Monastery of Arkadi – the symbol of the struggle against oppression.
• You will visit the caves of Matala – by far the best-known beach in the province of Heraklion. Visited by modern artists such as Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell, who mentions Matala in her song “Carey”
• Visit the palace of Knossos. It was built 3,500 years ago and was the seat of the wise King Minos. Intriguing myths of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur and Daedalus with Icarus, are linked to the palace of Knossos
• Visit the palace of Phaestos – the second most significant archaeological site of the Minoan civilization
• We will visit a place where honey is cultivated ecologically with respect for the environmen
• Visit a women’s co-operative who make unique pastries and breads – called xompliasto koulouri


  Price:- From from €3,180 per person. Please contact us seasonal rates and availability 

 

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