Discover Crete and the sites and treasures of the ancient Minoan civilisation as well as its Venetian, Ottoman, Greek and Byzantine heritage of its towns, villages and ports
Heraklion - 4 nights
Rethymnon - 3 nights
Crete, the largest of the Greek islands and steeped in history, is almost a separate country. The present capital, Heraklion served as the port for Minoan Knossos. Roman, Byzantine and Arab occupation, followed by a period of Venetian and then Ottoman rule until the Greek War of Independence united the island with Greece.
Exploration naturally begins at the Minoan Palace at Knossos whose restored ruins mark the site of the palace c1700BC. Vast, absorbing and puzzling, its ruins are deeply associated with mythology – the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur comes to mind.
Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum houses the world’s greatest collection of Minoan art including the hall of frescoes, statues and artefacts such as the Phaestos Disc, Bull’s Head, Gold Bee Pendant, Double Axe and Octopus Vase and other discoveries from Minoan sites.
Heraklion also reveals a wealth of Venetian architecture as befitting its one-time position as Venetian capital of the Aegean.
A journey south across the fertile vine-covered central plain reaches the ancient sites of Gortys, by whose famous plane tree according to legend Europe and Zeus made love, Agia Triada and Phaestos, the latter destroyed by its rival, Gortys and thus with palace remains more purely Minoan.
Western Crete reveals the 5th century monastery of Arkadi, famous for the heroic resistance to the Turkish siege in 1866 and the Venetian harbour of Chania, once the Turkish capital and known for its big cruciform covered market. Rethymnon is the intellectual capital of Crete with Venetian, Renaissance, Ottoman and Byzantine features.
Culture & Countryside
Jules Verne Sightseeing
Local Expert Guides
Group Size: 8 – 25
Day 1 Fly to Heraklion. Transfer to the central, 5-star Aquila Atlantis Hotel for four nights.
Day 2 Visit Heraklion’s old harbour, site of the Venetian Fortress. A walking tour includes the churches of Agios Minas, Titos and Markos, the Loggia city hall and the renowned Archaeological Museum. (B)
Day 3 Visit the Palace of Knossos, excavated in 1878 by British archaeologist, Arthur Evans who uncovered and reconstructed part of the Palace. A scenic drive into the hills to the traditional farming village of Archanes. Enjoy a cooking demonstration with tasting of the local food and wine specialities. (B)
Day 4 Visit Gortys, once the capital of Crete after the Roman conquest, the Law Code of Gortys, Byzantine Agios Titos and the Roman Odeon. Continue to Phaestos, the second largest Minoan palace with views of Messara Valley and Ida Mountains. Visit Agia Triada, an ancient Minoan villa. (B)
Day 5 Travel to the village of Margarites. Visit the museum of ancient Eleftherna, Arkadi Monastery and the cave-built chapel of St. Anthony at Patsos Gorge. Continue to Rethymnon for three nights at the 4-star Theartemis Palace. (B, D)
Day 6 A walking tour of Rethymnon visiting the Renaissance Old Town and churches. Visit the Historical and Folklore Museum in a restored Venetian town house. Cocktail at the hotel’s Gin bar. (B)
Day 7 Travel to Chania, built over the ruins of the Minoan city of Kydonia. Visit Aptera, the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Tzagarolon Monastery and Venizelos Tombs at Profitis Ilias. Free time to explore the Venetian port, covered market and churches. (B)
Day 8 Return flight from Heraklion. (B)
A modern 5-star hotel in central Heraklion, close to the Archaeological museum. Restaurants, bar, pools, spa and WiFi (free). 164 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-fridge, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A stylish 4-star hotel, 20 minutes walk to the old town and 5 minutes to a sandy beach. Restaurants, bars, pools, spa and WiFi (free). 245 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, mini-bar and satellite TV.
per person in a twin/double room
EasyJet from Gatwick
Supplements per person
Single supplement £215 (Jun-15 Sep £255)
British Airways from Gatwick – nil (Sep only)
British Airways Club Europe from £295 (Sep only)
easyJet from Manchester £90
Extra nights – Heraklion
Aquila Atlantis Hotel
(per night) £50 (Jun-Aug £60)
Single supplement £38
Extra nights – Rethymnon
(per night) £40 (Jun/Sep £60; Jul/Aug £70)
Single supplement £25 (Jun-Sep £35)
Arrival transfer add £18
Departure transfer add £59
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 7 nights’ accommodation, breakfast daily, 1 dinner itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, optional excursions, entrance fees, accommodation tax, tipping, porterage, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
An accommodation tax is payable locally, currently €4 per room per day (Heraklion) and €3 per room per day (Rethymnon). Entrance fees are not included and are approximately €50.
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