- Enjoy a unique tour combining the best of Cretan archaeology, wine and cuisine
- Explore the beautiful Mediterranean island’s lesser-known archaeological remains
- Discover Gortyn and its famous 5th century stone blocks, inscribed with the laws of Classical Greece
- Make your way around the huge Minoan palace complex of Malia
- Taste fresh olive oil produced by the monks who still reside at Toplou Monastery
- Discover the fruits of Crete’s winemaking renaissance during local wine tastings
Monday, April 16
We arrive in Heraklion, and enjoy a lecture before a welcome dinner at our hotel.
Tuesday, April 17
Our full morning will be spent at the Heraklion Museum, which houses the world’s greatest collection of Minoan artifacts from the island’s palaces, towns and villas. This afternoon we tour the well-preserved villas at Tylissos before traveling to the lovely setting of Douloufakis Winery, where we sample the fruits of Crete’s winemaking renaissance. We return to Heraklion this evening.
Wednesday, April 18
Today, we travel to the great Minoan palace of Phaistos, where the famous Phaistos Disc was discovered. We continue to the royal villa complex at Agia Triada, beautifully situated overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. After a traditional lunch at a taverna we explore the excellent Museum of Cretan Ethnology in Voroi. This evening we enjoy our second wine tasting, at Zacharioudakis, before returning to Heraklion.
Thursday, April 19
Setting out once again we travel to Gortyn, the most powerful city on the island during Graeco-Roman times. The site is best-known for its collection of 5th
century stone blocks, inscribed with the law codes of Classical Greece. We will also visit Prinias, home to a 7th century BCE temple with unusual Egyptian-style features. This afternoon we continue to Lyrarakis Winery en route back to Heraklion.
Friday, April 20
Today we reach Knossos, the best known archaeological site in Crete, a Minoan palace said to have been built by the legendary architect Dædalus, to house (among other things) the Minotaur. We spend a full morning among the palace buildings, which have been reconstructed and preserved. After lunch we continue to Vathypetro to visit a Minoan villa and the museum at Archanes. We return for a final time to Heraklion this evening.
Saturday, April 21
We travel east to the grand and glorious Minoan palace of Malia. Excavations here have revealed Neolithic habitation, including the first palace, erected circa 1900 BC. After lunch, we take a boat to the fortress on Spinalonga, best known as the home of a 20th century leper colony, although its origins date back to the 16th century. We drive to Ayios Nikolaos.
Sunday, April 22
Today we travel the short distance to the ancient city of Lato, a post-Minoan site complete with Greek agora. Lunch today will be independent in Kritsa, one of the most picturesque villages in Greece, nestled in a steep hillside amongst the olive groves. We tour the area including the Panayia Kira, a nearby church with Byzantine frescoes. We return to Ayios Nikolaos this evening.
Monday, April 23
Today we travel as the Ancient Greeks did, by boat to the tiny island of Mochlos. Here we visit the beautifully situated ruins of Chamaizi, most famous for a Middle Minoan building located on the summit of the hill. This afternoon we return to the mainland and enjoy special access to the archaeological site of Petras, where excavations have uncovered several Linear A tablets. We spend tonight in the charming seaside town of Sitia.
Tuesday, April 24
This morning we tour Sitia Archaeological Museum before continuing to the Minoan palace and harbor town built at Kato Zakro. We continue to the ancient settlement of Palaikastro. Our day ends at the Toplou Monastery, where we view folk engraving and unique icons. Those who wish can also sample the wine and olive oil made the monks who still live and work here. We return to Sitia.
Wednesday, April 25
We drive west to the large and complex site at Gournia. Here we explore the well-preserved remains of a Minoan town; its small houses crowded along narrow cobblestone lanes are laid out much the same as today’s Cretan mountain villages. En route to Rethymno, we stop at the recently-opened Eleftherna archaeological site and museum. We tour Rethymno fortress before an independent dinner in the town this evening, which is home to many excellent local restaurants.
Thursday, April 26
After touring the Rethymno Archaeology Museum we take a scenic drive to the Graeco-Roman site of Aptera, a powerful walled city built on the heights above the bay looking south to Akrotiri. This afternoon, we explore the monasteries of the Akrotiri Peninsula including visits to Moni Agias Triada, Gouverneto and Katholiko. Overnight in Chania.
Friday, April 27
At the western tip of Crete we visit the site of Falasarna, once a fortified Greek harbor,
If time allows, we will also tour the site of Polyrinia, en route to Kissamos. This afternoon is spent at Kissamos Museum — home to exhibits painting a picture of the region’s history from prehistory to present.
We return to Chania this evening.
Saturday, April 28
We drive to Souyia and travel by boat to Lisos, famed in antiquity for its temple dedicated to Asklepios, god of healing. A very beautiful journey across the ‘wine dark’ Greek seas. Back on the mainland, this afternoon we visit the Manousakis Winery at Vatolakkos for a tasting and tour. We return to Chania this evening.
Sunday, April 29
We spend our final day in Chania, first at Chania Archaeological Museum, set in a restored 16th century Venetian church. Continue to ancient Kydonia, on whose former site modern-day Chania is now built. In the afternoon there is free time to enjoy the historic town with its many narrow lanes, magnificent harbor and beautifully restored townhouses.
Monday, April 30
We transfer to the airport for departures home or onward travel.
We stay in a selection of hotels in Heraklion, Ayios Nikolaos, Sitia, Rethymno and Chania.
Prof. David Rupp
Dr Veronica Kalas