Athens & Crete
Arrive at the airport of Athens where our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. In the evening a “welcome” cocktail party will take place followed by a “welcome” dinner. Overnight in Athens.
In the morning, walk with your guide to the world-renowned Acropolis to see the architectural miracles of the Golden Age of Pericles: the Propylea, the Erechtheum and, above all, the Parthenon (temple of Athena, goddess of wisdom). Take in a panoramic view of the city and observe the Agora (marketplace) where many ancient philosophers spent their time. Continue to the center of Athens and admire the National University, the National Library, the Academy, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Constitution Square with the House of Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In the evening you will be transferred to the port for your embarkation on your overnight ferry to Heraklion, Crete. Dinner and overnight in Heraklion.
Arrive in Heraklion. This is the day that really gives you the opportunity to achieve an understanding of the Minoan civilization and of all the forms of its art. Begin with the outstanding Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, the world‘s finest storehouse of Minoan art, which has twenty rooms with findings from the palaces, houses, tombs and caves in Crete. Some of the most important items of the exhibition are the “Snake Goddesses” from Knossos, the “Rock- crystal Rhyton” from Zakros, the “Bull’s Head Rhyton” from Knossos, the “Bull-leaping” fresco also from the Palace of Knossos and the “Fruitstand” of the “Kamares Style” from Phaistos; as well as, of course, the “Phaistos Disc” and the “Aghia Triada Sarcophagus”. After a 20-minute drive arrive in Knossos, the seat of the legendary King Minos. The Palace is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalus and Icarus. This is the largest and best known of the preserved Minoan palatial centers, with four wings around a central courtyard. Explore the royal quarters, the throne room, the shrines, the workshops and store rooms and discuss the controversial restoration carried out by Arthur Evans. Other interesting monuments of the site are the “Little Palace”, the “Royal Villa”, the “House of the Frescoes” and the “Caravan serai”. Back to Heraklion for dinner and overnight.
Day free. Dinner and overnight.
In the morning, go south to Gortys (Gortyna) which was, according to tradition, the first city of Crete to accept Christianity. See the Roman Odeion, the Gortyn Law Code (5 th century B.C.) which was based on Minoan tradition, and the cruciform Church of St. Titus, the first bishop of the island. Continue to Phaistos (Festos), the most wealthy and powerful Minoan center in southern Crete, to admire the old and new Palaces with their terraces, central court, royal quarters, store rooms, workshops etc. This is where the intriguing Phaistos Disc was found, now on display in the Heraklion Museum, which you can see the following morning. In the same museum you will see the painted Sarcophagus found at Aghia Triada (Holy Trinity), the site you visit next. In the Royal Villa of Ag. Triada notice the typical features of palatial architecture it presents and, a few steps away, examine the “Agora” with its shops, the Mycenean Settlement and the Cemetery with the tholos and chamber tombs. Later drive to Matala, a picturesque village by the sea. Dinner and overnight in Heraklion.
Day free. Dinner and overnight.
This morning your day will start with a tour to Rethymnon. A fascinating walking tour through the narrow winding streets of Rethymnon, see the old houses with their wooden covered balconies, as well as the Venetian and Turkish monuments. A walk through time, this stroll will help you gain an understanding of how the city's multilayered history has unfolded, with visits to its most important sites as the Loggia, the Fortezza and the Rimondi fountain. After free time in Rethymno you will drive to Chania. Our tour will begin with a walk around the old town of Chania. It used to be surrounded by the old Venetian fortifications, of which only the eastern and western parts have survived. Despite being heavily bombed in World War II, Chania's old quarters is Crete's most beautiful urban district, especially the crumbling Venetian harbour with its 15th century lighthouse. We will make our way through colourful neighbourhoods, learning about the traditional lifestyle in this town. Our walking tour will allow you to visit the most important sites (the Archaeological Museum, the Cathedral, the ‘leather lane’ and the Market Hall) but also plenty of exciting, hidden spots off the beaten track - spots that reflect the eclectic mix of influences that has given Chania its very unique atmosphere. Drive back to Heraklion for dinner and overnight.
This morning you will enjoy a tour to Lato, Kera, Kritsa, Gournia and Mochlos. This tour offers a good taste of Crete’s culture and landscapes, taking you to archaeological sites, a mountain village, a Byzantine church and a coastal fishing resort. Our first stop will be at the ruins of the ancient Doric city of Lato, lying a few kilometres from Agios Nikolaos, between two hills, offering an astonishing view over the Mirambello Bay. We will continue to the nearby 15th century church of Panagia Kera to admire its magnificent frescoes, then we drive to the picturesque village of Kritsa with its charming alleys and old houses. Driving towards the east, we will stop at the archaeological site of Gournia, situated on a low hill at the isthmus of Ierapetra. It is one of the most characteristic Minoan settlements and is called “Pompeii of Minoan Crete” because of its excellent state of preservation. Our tour will end at the small fishing village of Mochlos. Separated by a steep road winding gently down from the national highway, it enjoys a perfect waterfront setting with a number of traditional Greek tavernas and a small sandy beach. The view of the tiny islet opposite with its archaeological remains, which many swim to, adds to the quiet appeal.
Day free. In the evening you will be transferred to the port for embarkation on the overnight ferry to Athens.
Early arrival in Athens. Your farewell dinner will take place in a Greek taverna in Plaka. Overnight at the hotel.
Fly back home full of wonderful memories of your trip to Greece.