Rolling hills, picturesque villages, rich history and enchanted monasteries — welcome to a pilgrimage tour in Crete! This round trip is a spiritual adventure. See ancient culture and holy places in a palette of rugged mountains and charming coves. Stroll in bustling cities and meet natives in hospitable villages. It is a good chance to meet friendly people and experience day to day life with its traditions and religion.
Arrival at Heraklion airport. Transfer to hotel in Kato Gouves.
In a guided tour through the compound of Lychnostatis you will marvel the Cretan architecture, a restored wind mill, a trashing floor and workshops of weaving, ceramics, fragrance distillery and plant dyeing wool activities. A stroll in the garden shows the fruit trees, the bright coloured flowers and aromatic herbs.
After the museum visit, re-board the coach to travel to Dicti Mountain. On your way visit the Kardiotissa nunnery, a 14th century convent housing late Byzantine frescoes.
At Seli, the gateway to the Lassithi Plateau (850 m) stands a significant group of windmills and from here you will enjoy a fantastic view over the plateau. In the chalet style restaurant, viewing the plain, you can taste delicious local specialities.
Continue by coach as you travel through the small villages located around the plain. Visit Psychro, were a path is leading to the Dicti Cave. Going up a steep cobble path it is fifteen minutes on foot or by mule to the entrance of the cave, which is at an altitude of 1025m. The cave has several chambers with fine stalactites and stalagmites, and is also associated with the birth of Zeus (Jupiter).
During this tour you will be taken back 4.000 years to the time of the oldest civilisation in Europe. The Minoan palace of Knossos, centre of the Minoan civilisation, will leave you breathless as you wonder over the technology and facilities of that period.
After this fascinating tour, you will board the coach onto Heraklion for the museum visit. You will have a guided tour through the extraordinary Archaeological Museum, viewing the unique items from the Minoan culture. Guided sightseeing on foot in Heraklion along the Saint Minas cathedral and the market street. Enjoy a visit to the Saint Catherine church nowadays a museum with a large collection of icons.
Heraklion, the capital and business centre of Crete is a colourful and lively place in the pedestrian quarter you find the Byzantine Saint Titus church and the Lions Square with the Morosini fountain.
Travel via the national road and through the spectacular ravine of Selinari with a short stop at the Saint George monastery. Further on to Kritsa the whitewashed mountain village with hell blue and green doors and shutters is famous for its woven handicrafts and its Byzantine church Kera with frescoes from the 13th century.
Further on to Elounda, a quiet fishing village sheltered within the Gulf of Mirabello. From here by boat (20 min.) to the island of Spinalonga, a former leper colony. The Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman Empires have all left their mark on Elounda's heritage. During a walking tour of approximately 1-hour through the narrow main street you will get an insight into the difficult situation in former times. Spinalonga inspired the author Victoria Hislop to write the bestseller ‘The island’.
When returning to Elounda there is free time to make a stroll along the shops and harbour side, and/or to have a lunch in a tavern.
Enjoy the panoramic views over the coastline and the Mirabello Bay when driving by coach to Saint Nicholas. The small lake in the centre is the landmark of this picturesque harbour town. Walk around and take delight in the panoramic view on the lake and the harbour, and make as well a stroll in the narrow streets with a lot of shops and stores offering a large assortment of typical goods and fine jewellery.
Departure with luggage.
During this tour you pass through some of the most beautiful areas of Crete. Full of vineyards and olive trees you will travel via the Agia Varvara Pass to Southern Crete.
You visit Gortys, the old Roman town with its famous law stones, Roman amphitheatre and the ruins of the Saint Titus basilica - the first Christian Church on the island. On the south coast you stop at Kali Limenes, the place where Saint Paul landed, see here the small church in the rocks. Visit Saint Pauls church near the village Agios Ioannis. Continuing your journey on to the village of Matala, a former hippie village surrounded by rocks and caves. Here, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the Libyan Sea leaving you time to enjoy a leisurely Cretan lunch at a beach tavern. Via the village Spili return to the north coast.
Driving to far western Crete. We stop at the Allied WWII Cemetery at Souda Bay. Visit the Gonia Monastery and its museum with a collection of rare icons. Then visit of the Orthodox Academy Crete, for an information and discussions about religious life, and the works of the Orthodox Academy. After these inspiring visits drive to Chania. This city of exceptional beauty, full of colourful aromatic flowers and rich cultural heritage has a remarkable natural charm. 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's on buildings, castles, walls, antiquities, monasteries and churches. Sightseeing tour by coach along monuments of ancient and modern ages, and the municipal market hall. In a guided city walk you have the chance to see the old centre with its picturesque neighbourhoods', the Venetian harbour and day to day life.
A scenery drive leads to Eleftherna for a visit of the ancient city-state Archea Eleftherna, which had flourishing trade with the mainland and Egypt. The museum displays objects of art and everyday life, and a walk in the ancient city-state shows the ruins of the houses, tower and graves. In a convent we get an introduction to live in a monastery. Meet and talk with the nuns and see their works in the monastery. You enjoy a monastery meal at the guest room. During a guided city walk in the narrow streets of the historical centre of Rethymnon you see monuments and facades of Venetian and Turkish empires.
Free time till departure transfer coach to Heraklion airport.