CRETE, CULINARY TREASURE HUNT
All Year Round
How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness…” Nikos Kazantzakis, this great son of Crete once stated.
Noted as the cradle of Minoan civilization, Crete will never disappoint you. According to Mythology, goddess Rhea hid the newborn Zeus here, and it was here that Zeus disguised as a bull, took Eyropa so that they may enjoy their love together.
Crete is more like a small country than another Greek island.Rising like two broad shoulders from the sea,Crete is the largest Aegean island and the southern part of Europe.
A crossroad between 3 continents Europe , Asia and Africa. Somewhere here, pirates, refugees,merchants, ambassadors, artists and intellectuals,peasants, craftsmen and sailors in love knitted their fates together.
A blessed land where all the languages of the world have been heard and multilingual prayers have raised into the Cretan sky.
But Crete is also world-renowned for its mouth-watering cuisine and is a food lover’s paradise.It’s fertile soils and unpolluted waters make for an endless supply of locally sourced fresh vegetables, fruits,cheeses,meats and seafood not to mention the regional herbs , the green “gold” of the island the outstanding olive oil and honey.
The Cretan diet is a factor of health and longevity and you’ ll have the opportunity to taste and explore it through your road trip.
DESTINATIONS & SIGHTSEEING
Day 1: Chania Welcome drink; Chania sunset city tour with wine & food pairing.
Day 2: Chania Tracing the olive tree, Elafonissi beach, village cooking class.
Day 3: Chania Wine routes, Seitan Limania beach, Agia Triada Tzagaroli Monastery wine tasting.
Day 4: Rethymnon Arkadi Monastery, Patsos gorge, bake bread in wood-fired oven, Rethymnon gourmet sunset city tour.
Day 5: Rethymnon Argyroupoli village, Plakias beach, seafood dinner with a view.
Day 6: Heraklion Food safari tour in the city, Knossos at sunset.
Day 7: Heraklion Following the vine circle visit an organic winery and Raki distillery.
Day 8: South Heraklion Region Participation in rural / farming activities at Asterousia mountains.
Day 9: South Heraklion Region Boat ride day or Hike to hermitages and secluded monasteries.
Day 10: Elounda Enjoy local delights at Kritsa village, Visit Spinalonga.
Day 11: Elounda Cook at a shepherds hut and learn how to make fresh cheese.
Day 12: Heraklion Drop off the car and bit farewell to Crete.
Welcome to Chania, Crete! Check-in time at your hotel in Chania is after 14:00 so we recommend choosing a flight that arrives in the early afternoon. We will meet you at the airport and you will enjoy your private transfer to the hotel. Take your time to relax. In the evening you will have your first taste of Crete. If wine is your thing, you’ll be glad to know there’s plenty of it in Chania, as well as good food, strong spirits, and mythical tales hidden down back alleyways.
We check it all out and more after sunset on this tour that visits the spots only Locals Know. As part of this tour, you participate in a high-quality local wine tasting session while pairing your wine with fresh local products from regional farms and vineyards.
Included: Pick up transfer, Concierge welcome drink, Chania by night food tour with wine pairing (optional tour), Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 0 km
DAY 2 CHANIA
After breakfast depart for Kissamos region where you visit an olive oil press that uses traditional methods of production and learn everything around Crete’s “green gold” olive oil. Snap photos of the Olive tree of Vouves, probably one of the oldest olive trees in the world! Continue your drive to a remote almost abandoned hilltop village.
From pure olive oil to organic wines, locally produced cheese to a unique smoked apaki, get your grip on local cooking with a farm to table experience. Taste some treats, learn about local flora, and pick up a few tips for making your everyday life more environmentally friendly.
Next, drive south to Elafonissi beach. Relax and swim in the crystal blue waters of this beach paradise and stay until sunset.
Included: Your preferred car, Guided tour of an organic Olive Mill,Traditional recipes hands on cooking class at a remote village tour, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 160 km
DAY 3 CHANIA
Follow our map guidelines and head to Seitan Limania. Even though the infamous name (it means the Devil’s port!!) this small canal of azure waters is high on the list of Crete’s most beautiful beaches. After some cliff diving and sunbathing, channel the life-affirming spirit of Zorba the Greek as you explore the unique nature of the Akrotiri peninsula.
Breathtaking views and pretty monasteries abound as we get off the beaten track and discover the real Cretan countryside. An organic wine and olive oil tasting in a magical monastery is followed by a trip to Zorba’s beach to watch the sunset, glass of raki in hand. The simple pleasures in life don’t get better than this; Zorba would be proud!
Included: Your preferred car, Optional guided tour with olive oil & wine tasting at Agia Triada Monastery Tsangarolon , Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 50 km
DAY 4 RETHYMNON
Travel through time and discover what rural life was like on Crete back in the late 19th century. Spend a day in the great outdoors exploring the rich Cretan culture, villages, and hiking trails that don’t see too many tourists. Visit a medieval town, pass through the oldest olive groves in the Mediterranean, see iconic historic sites like the Arkadi Monastery, learn the culinary secrets of the island with a hands-on cooking class (bake bread in a wood-fired oven), explore an abandoned monastery, and even trek through a gorge! Adventures await!
Included: Your preferred car, Optional guided tour of Arkadi Monastery, Optional hands-on-bread making cooking class, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 130 km
DAY 5 RETHYMNON
After breakfast, head out to explore the “Water-trails” of Rethymnon. Your first stop is at Argyroupolis village. The village is full of traces of ancient and modern culture. Inside and around the village there are excavated parts of the ancient city, Roman remains, Venetian buildings with magnificent doors and Byzantine churches.
The area is famous for the springs of Agia Dynami, a verdant place with water flowing from every point. Here one can rest in one of the taverns or get acquainted with the local products while on a tour at the Cretan Gastronomy Center.
Next, drive to the south coastline and enjoy the coastal village of Plakias. Grab a table next to the water and enjoy the local catch of the day while the sunsets.
Included: Your preferred car, Optionaltour at the Cretan Gastronomy Center, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 80 km
DAY 6 HERAKLION
Crete Is a Foodies’ Paradise, and Heraklion is the Capital! Go on a food and wine tour of Heraklion that will treat your taste buds to authentic Cretan dishes and local wines! During the three-hour walk, you’ll be introduced to the best food that Heraklion has to offer.
The Cretan cuisine is one of the healthiest and tastiest diets in the world and the base of the Mediterranean diet, and you’ll find out how Crete’s culture, history, and geography have all helped to create the region’s unique cuisine. On this Crete food tour, you’ll take a stroll through Heraklion’s local neighbourhoods eating along the way.
In the afternoon, head to the famous Palace of Knossos. The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th c. After a guided tour, indulge your senses to the beauty and greatness of an important era, that of The Minoans, which remained in history as the Pinnacle of Peace and Prosperity by attending one of the live performances at The Minoan Theatre.
Included: Your preferred car, Optional food tour of Heraklion, Optional guided tour of Knossos ,Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 81 km
DAY 7 HERAKLION
When two-thirds of Crete’s vineyards are found in the Heraklion region and the region accounts for some 80% of the island’s wine production then it is no wonder that you can’t leave Heraklion without following its wine routes. The history of the European wine begins 4,000 years ago in this southern part of Greece. Here the Minoans cultivated and sold their famous wine throughout the Mediterranean,and the world’s oldest grape press was found here, in the area of Vathipetro just outside Archanes village.
And if in Roman times the aristocrats drank exclusively the wine of Crete at their banquets, in the Middle Ages the whole of Europe swore in the name of the famous sweet Malvasia, which in addition to Monemvasia was produced by the Venetian-occupied Crete.
With all the winery routes on your App, you will be spoiled with selections! End the day by learning the secrets of another famous grape product-Raki. Tsikoudia, also often called raki in the eastern part of Crete, is an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Cretan origin that contains 40% to 65% alcohol by volume.Tsikoudia is made by distilling of pomace, what remains of grapes pressed in winemaking. The pomace ferments for about six weeks in a tightly-sealed barrel, and is then distilled.
Included: Your preferred car, Optional guided tour of a winery and raki distillery, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 80 km
DAY 8 SOUTH HERAKLION REGION/KAPETANIANA VILLAGE
The exotic beaches, the enchanting gorges, the wild mountainous beauty and the history of Southern Crete are enough to fall in love with this place. The southernmost mountain range in Greece, Asterousia is a mysterious and evocative place. Ascetics and monks took refuge in the gorges and caves of their barren slopes during the first centuries of the spread of Christianity. At their southern end, begins the magnificent beach of Agiofaraggos, with perhaps the most beautiful blue waters you will ever see.
In the historic village of Kapetaniana, nestled in the Asterousia mountains, lies Thalori Retreat – a place where nature and its gifts are combined with fine accommodation and the best in traditional Cretan cuisine. The name ‘Thalori’ comes from the Greek: Thalassa (sea) and Ori (Mountain) – two words which describe the geographic position – a rare coupling that provides a unique accommodation experience in southern Crete and your stomping ground for the next few days.
Get ready for adrenaline, action, exciting explorations, nature activities and rare opportunities for contact with the local culture that will take off your stay here.
Overnight Kapetaniana Village
Included: Your preferred car, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 105 km
DAY 9 SOUTH HERAKLION REGION/KAPETANIANA VILLAGE
The village of Kapetaniana is built in a truly privileged location, on a natural “balcony” overlooking the Libyan Sea and the sacred peak of Kofinas. Here, where the horizon meets the sea, spend the day exploring the secluded coves on a private boat trip or take the opportunity to go on one of the many hikes that are available in the area.
Overnight Kapetaniana Village
Included: Your preferred car, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 10 km
DAY 10 ELOUNDA
Hike, swim, eat, and cruise your way around the island during this action-packed day. Soak up awe-inspiring scenery, eat traditional Cretan food, and explore old fortresses on the tiny island of Spinalonga. This the best of the Cretan countryside all in one day!
Your immersion into the heart of Cretan life begins with a drive away from the coast, through lush olive groves and ancient woodlands. Your first stop will be the traditional village of Kritsa, the gateway to the stunning Kritsa Gorge.
Kritsa Gorge isn’t as well-known as other gorges on the island, but it is just as beautiful, if not more so because the peace and tranquillity of the place are rarely disturbed by large groups of tourists being herded through it.
Next, you will learn the secrets of making one of the most famous and beloved dishes in all of Greece, dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with rice). Enjoy your culinary creations alongside a traditional and delicious Greek lunch of salads, tzatziki, dako (rusks with dressing), and other small seasonal plates, with a glass of wine or a shot of local raki, of course.
With your bellies full, leave for the village of Plaka where speedboats will be waiting to whisk you off to the fortress island of Spinalonga, located in the Gulf of Elounda.
Here you will have time to wander around by yourself and discover the turbulent history of this tiny islet; conquered by the Venetians in the 16th century, the ancient fortifications were built to act as the first line of defense in the ferocious wars with the Ottoman Turks.
After all that fun in the sun, your speedboat will escort you back to your start point. But before you say goodbye, talk to your in-the-know local guide if you want the inside track on where to eat, drink, and visit during the rest of your stay on magical Crete.
Included: Your preferred car, Optional cooking class at Kritsa village, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 50 km
DAY 11: ELOUNDA
Journey into the heart of Crete for an unforgettable taste of country life that has barely changed for centuries. Driving through the hills, past dreamy olive groves and ancient ruins, you will be welcomed at a traditional metoxi farm where the shepherd lives like a king, despite having no electricity. Learn his secrets as you enjoy a traditional Cretan lunch amid fresh mountain air and glorious sunshine.
Included: Your preferred car, Optional Live like a shepherd tour, Accommodation
Today’s Distance: 77 km
DAY 12: ELOUNDA-HERAKLION
Drive back to Heraklion city for some last minute shopping before you fly out.
Included: Your preferred car
Today’s Distance: 70 km