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Crete Island Adventure Self Drive

Duration
9 Days
Prices From:
US$ 1,289

MODERATE | SELF-DRIVE: Discover the culture, food and wine, and natural beauty of Crete on this self-drive vacation. Travelling east to west, you see famous Minoan ruins in Heraklion, discover Venetian-Turkish medieval ports and fortresses in Rethymno and Chania, and hit up wineries, gorges, sunny beaches, and historic monasteries along the way.


This 9-day Greek vacation takes you across the island of Crete on a self-drive. It features first-class accommodations and independent touring, which allows you to go at your own pace.

Your Cretan self-drive begins in the island’s capital, Heraklion, where you’ll pick up your car and be based for the next two nights. That first night, head to the Venetian port to see the 16th-century Koules fortress, which guards the city from the water. The next day, delve into the city’s Minoan history at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and Knossos, with its massive palace full of frescoes and baths dating back thousands of years. You’ll also have a chance to visit Lyrarakis Estate, a celebrated local winery.

Leave Heraklion behind and hit the open road to reach Rethymno, the third-largest city on the island, known for its Venetian fortress and Rimondi Fountain. Hit up the 13th-century Venetian harbour that evening and dine on classic Greek cuisine at a local taverna. Based in Rethymno, you’ll spend a couple days exploring the nearby historical sites and natural landmarks. Head 30 minutes south to reach Kourtaliotiko Gorge, with its steep stone walls, waterfall, and small church at the bottom of the gorge. Swim off popular Prevali Beach, learn about the Cretan rebellion against the Turks at Arkadi Monastery, and explore the Minoan Palace of Phaistos.

Continue onwards to Chania, known for its old Turkish district and shops selling Cretan leather goods. Spend a day at a nearby beach, whether Bala Lagoon, with its clear turquoise waters, or Elafonissi Beach, which its distinctive pink sands made from crushed sea shells. Alternatively, you can hike Samaria Gorge, which takes the majority of the day. Near Chania, you can also visit the early Christian Basilica near Almyrida, dating back to the 6th century, see the cave of St. John the Hermit, or try out more Cretan vintages at Manoussakis Winery.

At the end of your stay, connect back to Heraklion to drop off the car and head to the airport for onward travels.


 

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Duration
9 Days
Prices From:
US$ 1,289

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Arrive Crete

Upon arrival at the Heraklion airport, pick up your car and make your way to your hotel.
Heraklion is located on the eastern part of Crete and the largest city on the island. It is also the perfect base to explore the island's most important sites. Take it easy today and head down to the port to see the imposing Medieval castle, the Venetian Fortresss Rocca a Mare or Koules. The construction of the fortress was completed in 1540. The building had two floors, with 26 rooms, including prisons. The Turks, who occupied the island in 1669 renamed it ‘Koules’ and decided to continue its construction. It is now preserved in a very good condition and is used for various cultural events.

Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Lato Boutique Hotel

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    Lato Boutique Hotel



    The dramatic views of the Venetian fortress at the old city harbor of Heraklion, and the wonder-filled waves of the Cretan Sea, are among the most photographed tourist attractions on Crete Island. Not many visitors can enjoy the full panoramic grandeur of these contemplative landscapes, …

    The dramatic views of the Venetian fortress at the old city harbor of Heraklion, and the wonder-filled waves of the Cretan Sea, are among the most photographed tourist attractions on Crete Island. Not many visitors can enjoy the full panoramic grandeur of these contemplative landscapes, the way guests at Lato Boutique Hotel can. Standing for more than 40 years above the marina, the hotel operates 365 days a year without interruptions. After you take in the breathtaking views over the Old Port, you can discover the historic center of the city, and it's most remarkable attractions, or visit some of our most important museums, which are all within walking distance of our front doors. The liveliest shopping, dining, and nightlife venues in Heraklion are nearby as well.

    Facilities

    • Service
    • Air Conditioning
    • Bar
    • Business Centre
    • Fitness Centre
    • Hairdryers
    • Housekeeping Service
    • Internet Access
    • Lounge
    • Mini Bar
    • Reception (24 hrs)
    • Restaurant
    • Room Service
    • Spa
    • TV

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    Preferred Hotel
Day 2

Heraklion, Knossos Palace and winery

After breakfast, start your day by visiting the Heraklian Archaelogical Museum. Beat the crowds and arrive early and discover an impressive collection of artifacts from the Minoan civilization of Crete, the first European civilization dating back from 2700 B.C. Take a walk to nearby Eleftherias Square, the city's biggest meeting place leading to the main thoroughfare of Daidalou, a pedestrianized walkway lined with tavernas and shops. Stop at the Lions Square (Morozini's Fountain) for a bite to eat, a popular meeting point for shopping, socializing and people watching.

In the afternoon, take the opportunity to discover Europe's oldest city, Knossos. Located just 20 minutes south of Heraklion, the famous Knossos Minoan Palace is the largest (22,000 sqm) Bronze Age archeological site on Crete. In ancient times, the Palace of Knossos was the centre of Minoan civilization and culture. The palace is also connected to Greek mythology, serving as the residence of the mytical King Minos, son of Zeus. Destroyed by an earthquake, it has been since excavated displaying an impressive colleciton of carved structures, magnificent murals and royal apartments.

Later, for something unique, visit a winery! Warm Mediterranean climates make Crete an ideal place to produce wine. Popular Cretan wines include Vindiano, a dry white wine, Kotsifali or Mandilaria, blends of red wines and Laitiko. The Lyrarakis Estate is a family winery, which has been producing wines since 1966. Visit their wine museum, take a tour of their vineyards, taste some regional wines or enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by picturesque settings. After the visit, make your way back to your hotel.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 3

Heraklion to Rethymno

Check out of your hotel and make your way to Rethymno (approximately 1.5 hours). Enroute, make a stop at the Melidoni Cave, one of the the largest in Crete. Located halfway between Heraklion and Rethymno, pay a small entrance fee and take the 100 steps to the cave chamber. Drive to Rethymno and check into your hotel.

Take the remainder of the day to explore the charming Old Town of Rethymno. The third-largest city on Crete, Rethymno is known for its beautiful beaches and its imposing Venetian waterfront fortress. Wander through the narrow streets and discover an influence of Venetian architcture and Turkish mosques. Pass by the Rimondi Fountain which spouts water from the mouths of three lions and the Fortezza Fortress, used as a defense against the Ottoman empire.

In the evening, head to the 13th-century Old Venetian Harbour and enjoy dining at at taverna for authentic Greek food.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration3 Nights
Accommodation

Atrium Ambiance Hotel

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    Atrium Ambiance Hotel



    ATRIUM HOTEL is a refined and fully renovated hotel that characterizes the quality and comfort, the highest level of friendly environment services with great hospitality and impeccable service. After a few seasons, the hotel has earned the trust and loyalty of many guests that consider …

    ATRIUM HOTEL is a refined and fully renovated hotel that characterizes the quality and comfort, the highest level of friendly environment services with great hospitality and impeccable service. After a few seasons, the hotel has earned the trust and loyalty of many guests that consider Atrium as their second home.

    The location of Atrium in the coastal town of Rethymnon, only 100 m from the largest sandy beach of Crete (12 Km long) enables you to enjoy relaxation, tranquility and restful moments and in combination with excitement and activities, your stay will turn into memorable experience.

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Day 4

Kourtaliotiko Gorge and Prevali Beach

After breakfast, pack your bathing suit and discover the natural wonders of Crete, including a popular beach area! The Kourtaliotiko Gorge is located just 30 minutes south of Rethymno. With over 400 gorges on the island of Crete, these magnificent narrow steep-walled valleys uncover unique natural scenery and breathtaking beauty. The huge cliffs of this canyon reaches to a height of 600 meters, filled with openings and caves, flora and fauna species. At the bottom of the gorge is a small church (Nicholas Kourtaliotis) and the stunning 40-metre-high waterfall of Kourtaliotis. From there, the path leads to the sea to the palm beach of Preveli. The trail will take approximately 2 hours. Prevali beach is also accessible from the large carpark with 400 steps down to the beach or 130 steps to the viewing platform.

Other nearby beaches to discover in this region of Crete are Plakias and Triopetra or 'three rocks', located on the southern coast of the island.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 5

Arkadi Monastery and Phaistos Palace

Today, drive to the Monastery of Arkadi, the most famous and visited monastery in Crete. It played a significant role in the history of Crete, in particular during the rebellion of 1866 against the Turks, where 1000 rebels, women and children took refuge in the monastery. After a long siege in battle, the civilians hiding inside the monastery, sacrificed themselves by gunpowder as a desperate act to remain free. It became a symbol of Cretan liberation and independence.

If you didn't get a chance to see the famous Knossos Palace, drive further south to the Phaistos Palace. The Minoan Palace of Phaistos is a quieter, lesser-visited archaeological site. It's considered to one of the finest and typical Minoan palace. The Palace is also very close to Matala Beach, a popular beach area with a good selection of restaurants and cafes.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 6

Rethymno to Chania

After breakfast, make your way to Chania. Enroute, perhaps make a stop to the village of Vrises (or Vrysses), renowned for its regional goat cheese and yoghurt! Upon arrival in Chania, explore the city at your own pace. Located on the northwestern part of the island, similar to Rethymno, it it has a strong Venetian-Turkish influence, including a fortified Venetian Harbour. Some of the highlights of this charming city include the Old Town, Venetian Harbour and lighthouse, the Turkish District, the Venetian District of the Old Town, the Church of Agios Nikolaos, Marine Museum of Crete and the Stivanadika or 'leather lane' for Cretan leather goods. Take some time to wander through the narrow streets, browse through the shops for local goods and admire the mix of cultures and architecture.

In the evening, head to the waterfront for a selection of restaurants and bars for dining.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration3 Nights
Accommodation

Samaria Hotel

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    Samaria Hotel



    Samaria is a superior 4* hotel conveniently located at the centre of Chania, within minutes walk from the old town and the Venetian Harbour. It is an ideal choice for both business and leisure offering quality accommodation, excellent facilities and friendly efficient service. Museums, restaurants, …

    Samaria is a superior 4* hotel conveniently located at the centre of Chania, within minutes walk from the old town and the Venetian Harbour. It is an ideal choice for both business and leisure offering quality accommodation, excellent facilities and friendly efficient service. Museums, restaurants, bars, shops and entertainment are well within walking distance.

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Day 7

Balos Lagoon, Elafonissi Beach or Samaria Gorge

This day can be dedicated to breathtaking beaches, hiking or a visit to a winery. For active travellers, the hike on Samaria Gorge is the longest in Europe and the most spectacular in Greece. Considered a biospehere reserve by UNESCO, it starts at 1250 meters height for 16 km/10 mi and takes approximately 6 hours to cross. For beaches, to the west is Bala Lagoon or head south to Elafonissi Beach. Bala Lagoon is known for its crystal clear tourquoise and shallow waters. It is one of the most beautiful regions in Greece. To access the lagoon, drive west towards Kissamos and from there, take a boat to the Bala Lagoon. Elafonissi Beach is the popular 'pink beach' on the southern western tip of Crete. The pink colour comes from thousands of crushed shells. Spend the day enjoying its natural beauty, clear shallow waters and fine sand beaches.

Whether you choose to bask in the sun or trek the valley, the day is yours to discover at your own pace!

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 8

Chania and surroundings

On your last day in Chania, head to the surrounding areas just outside Chania to find some hidden gems.  In Almyrida, see the Early Christian Basilica which dates back to the 6th century and well-preserved mosaic floor. In Kydonia, the Monastery of Gouvernato or Our Lady of the Angel, the Venetian Fortress and one of the oldest in Crete.  Visit the nearby cave of St. John the Hermit, the Christian saint known for miracles. Or take time to visit some of the colourful indoor markets and public gardens in Chalepa.  Another option is to visit a local winery.  The Manoussakis Winery, a family run winery located in Vatolakkos.  Take a tour of the vineyards, enjoy wine tastings or eat in their restaurant.  

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 9

Depart Crete

After breakfast, make your way to the  Chania airport to return your car rental.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

Daily

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • 9 day car rental with automatic transmission + insurance (Volkswagen Polo 1.2 or similar)
  • 2 nights first-class accommodations in Heraklion
  • 3 nights first-class accommodations in Rethymno
  • 3 nights first-class accommodations in Chania
  • Breakfast daily (excluding Day 1)

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Excursions, entrance fees and visits 
  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals and beverages not specifically indicated
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities
  • Visa fees if applicable

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.


19 Aug 2021
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