Palace of Knossos
Palace of Knossos

We are sorry to inform you that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it has become necessary to reschedule this tour. Your safety and wellbeing are our utmost priorities, so we do hope you understand this enforced change of travel arrangements. A new date will be confirmed shortly. For more information, please read our full statement about the Coronavirus here. If you are booked onto this tour, you can get in touch with our friendly sales team on 01334 657155, who are ready to help.

The Greek island of Crete presents a rich tapestry of archaeological treasures, sleepy villages and lively towns, all set in a Homeric landscape of mountains, gorges and flower-strewn pastures. Crete was home to one of the earliest European civilizations, the Minoans, who roamed these hills some 4000 years ago. Their legacy can be seen all over the island, in particular at the legendary Palace of Knossos.

From this distant starting point we journey through time, from the Hellenic-Roman era to the periods of Turkish and Venetian domination, as illustrated by archaeological remains and buildings which remain in use to this day. We also explore the countryside, which in the spring is carpeted with flowers, driving high into the mountains to visit labyrinthine caves and along the coast where we will see sparkling seascapes and picturesque fishing villages.

What's included?

  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Services of an archaeological expert as tour manager
  • Comfortable coach travel throughout
  • Meals - as per the itinerary

Led by...

Peter Yeoman

Peter Yeoman Tour Manager

Peter Yeoman was, until recently, Head of Cultural Heritage at Historic Scotland, with responsibility for the archaeology and the knowledge base for the estate of 345 properties in their care.

Today's Price

Deposit: £200 Single supplement: £280

Tour highlights:

  • The Palace of Knossos – simply one of the most outstanding archaeological sites in Europe
  • The friendly old town of Rethymnon, rich with Venetian and Turkish architecture
  • Phaistos, one of the most important centres of Minoan civilization
  • Byzantine monuments in the Amari Valley
  • Sleepy fishing villages and the atmospheric island of Spinalonga

Tour details

Dates 28 April 2020 - 5 May 2020
Duration 8 days
Today's Price
Deposit: £200 Single supplement: £280 Balance due by 4 February 2020
Activity Level
Tour code BCRE200428

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28 April 2020: Itinerary

We depart from London on our direct flight to Heraklion in Crete. Upon arrival we transfer to our comfortable hotel, the 3* Hotel Atrion, conveniently located in the centre of Heraklion just a few yards from the promenade. All rooms have private bathrooms, air-conditioning and a balcony. Dinner is served in the hotel this evening. 

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Atrion Hotel, Heraklion

Following breakfast this morning we visit the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, which brings together archaeological finds from all over Crete, covering over 5500 years of the island’s history.

We then travel five kilometres out of town and 4000 years back in time, as we visit a famous relic of the oldest known civilisation in Europe. The Palace of Knossos, centre of the Minoan Civilisation, will leave us breathless as we wonder over the technology and facilities of that period.

We will enjoy some sightseeing and, time permitting, a relaxed walk in Heraklion, the capital city of Crete, before we return to the hotel. 

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Atrion Hotel, Heraklion

Today we travel via the national road and through the spectacular ravine of Saint George, to the beautiful village of Elounda, a quiet fishing village sheltered within the Gulf of Mirabello. We will drive by coach to the even smaller village of Plaka where we will board on our small boat that will take us to Spinalonga, the island that became famous as the setting of Victoria Hislop’s novel, “The Island”. The island was a former leper colony years ago and houses a Venetian fortress - many of the buildings here are awe-inspiring. In a walking tour of approximately one hour through the narrow main street, we will have the opportunity to admire ruins and renovated houses.

Returning to the main island, this afternoon we will enjoy some free time in the picturesque harbour town of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas), with its small lake known as “Voulismeni” located in the centre of the town, at the foot of the cliffs. Walk around and take delight in the panoramic view on the lake and the harbour, and take a stroll in the narrow streets with a lot of shops and stores offering a large assortment from typical goods to fine jewellery. Afterwards, we return to the hotel for dinner. 

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Atrion Hotel, Heraklion

After breakfast we check out of the hotel. Passing through some of the most beautiful areas of Crete, full of vineyards and olive trees, we will travel via the Aghia Varvara Pass to Southern Crete.

The first stop is at Gortyn, an old Greek-Roman town with its famous law stones, Roman amphitheatre and the ruins of the Saint Titus Church - the first Christian church on the island.

Then we visit Phaistos, one of the most important centres of Minoan civilisation, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. It was inhabited from the Neolithic period until the foundation and development of the Minoan palaces in the 15th century B.C. The exact location of the Palace of Phaistos was first determined in the middle of the 19th century by the British admiral Spratt, while the archaeological investigation of the palace started in 1884 by the Italians Halbherr and Taramelli.

We continue to Zaros, located on the south slope of Ida Mountain, and here we will have a stop at the lake, home to trout and turtles. There used to be an aqueduct, which in ancient times supplied Gortyn with water, but nowadays the whole area of Messara is supplied with water from here. We then continue to Rethymnon and the 4* Bio Hotel.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon

After breakfast, we depart on a guided walk through the old town of Rethymnon. The town still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with buildings dating from the 16th century, and Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains. Rethymnon is a mixture of Venetian and Turkish influences, dominated by a Venetian Fortress. Significant buildings have been renovated and today house the archaeological museum, municipality services offices and restaurants. A walk through the charming old quarter shows Venetian and Turkish architecture in the harbour, arched doorways and stone staircases. In the narrow streets, shopkeepers sell a large variety of Cretan goods such as leather, honey, herbs, cheese, yoghurt, olives, and oil.

After an opportunity for lunch (not included), we travel west to Chania. This city of exceptional beauty, full of colourful aromatic flowers and rich cultural heritage has a remarkable natural beauty. It is built on the ruins of ancient Kydonia and it has seen and survived many invaders, but has also tasted civilisations that left their mark on building faces, castles, walls, antiquities, monasteries and churches. We will have a short walking tour of the old centre with its picturesque neighbourhoods and day to day life, followed by free time to enjoy the atmosphere of the Venetian Harbour.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon

Following breakfast, the day is free to relax in the hotel or explore Rethymnon and the surrounding area on your own. Alternatively, join our optional excursion to the pottery village of Margaritas, surrounded by green rolling hills, and the Arkadi Monastery at an altitude of 500 metres above sea level. We also visit the Eleutherna Museum. Lunch at a local taverna is included in the excursion.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon

Enjoy a relaxed breakfast ahead of a slower paced day. We visit the Minoan cemetery of Armeni and two of the many scenic Byzantine monuments found in the picturesque Amari Valley. The valley is surrounded by mountains, the great Psiloritis on one side and the Kedros range on the other.

We return to Rethymnon and this evening gather for a farewell dinner in a local tavern (wine included), an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful sights we have seen in this archaeological and historical treasure trove of an island.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon

Following breakfast today, we will check out of the hotel and transfer to Chania airport.

Meals include: Breakfast

28 April 2020: Additional Info

28 April 2020: Accommodation

Just a short walk from Heraklion centre, Atrion offers elegant accommodation with free Internet access. It has a restaurant, while it is a few yards away from Heraklion’s busy promenade.

Rooms and suites at Atrion Hotel are air conditioned and have a balcony, some with views to the Cretan Sea. Each unit comes with a satellite TV, mini bar and hairdryer, and features voice mail.

Guests can start their day with a rich buffet breakfast containing a wide variety of hot and cold dishes. Traditional Cretan delicacies and international cuisine is served at the restaurant. The inner courtyard is ideal for an evening cocktail.

This property is 2 minutes walk from the beach. The eco-friendly Bio Suites Hotel stands in a quiet location, only 50 yards from the sandy beach in Rethymnon and a 10-minute walk from the Venetian harbour. It offers spa and fitness facilities, 2 swimming pools and a 24-hour front desk.

The 4-star hotel offers rooms and suites with double glazed windows. All units feature a microwave oven, satellite TV and wireless internet connection.

A Greek Breakfast including Cretan and Greek flavours is served at the main restaurant Ariadne, situated next to the swimming pool. The Greek Tavern serves a-la carte meals and snacks by the pool. A buffet-style dinner with Cretan, Greek and European dishes is prepared daily. The bar Nine Muses serves cocktails and drinks.

28 April 2020: Enquiries

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