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Knossos Palace Skip-the-Line Entry with Guided Walking Tour

1. Knossos Palace Skip-the-Line Entry with Guided Walking Tour

Join a guided tour of Knossos, a complex of more than 1500 interlocking rooms, once an astonishing palace built for a mighty king of the Bronze Age. Knossos is considered Europe’s oldest city. As you wander through the labyrinthine ruins, get the chance to see the original throne of ‘’Minos”, the mystifying sanctuaries, the luxurious domestic quarters of the royal family, Crete’s treasures pantries, and the water-management systems. The first palace of Knossos was erected soon after 2000 BC. In 1700 BC, a catastrophic earthquake destroyed the Palace. A new palace was built immediately, the most monumental of all, and for over 300 years it represented the pre-eminent center of power in Bronze Age Crete. The new palace was an imposing complex with important architectural innovations, splendid frescoes adorning the walls, hundreds of rooms distributed in four storeys, impressive storage areas, specialized workshops, and spacious courts hosting ceremonies and feasts. Learn how during the last decades of the 14th century BC, a series of earthquakes led to the final destruction of the palace. 

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Day Tour: Spinalonga, Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, & Kolokitha

2. Day Tour: Spinalonga, Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, & Kolokitha

You will be picked up from the Heraklion area and taken along the picturesque northeast coast through the gorge of St George, reaching the small fishing village of Elounda. Today Elounda is a popular holiday resort, often visited by celebrities for the luxurious white beaches. From there, take the boat to the small island of Spinalonga. The history and the culture of Spinalonga are laced with different diverse strands of history. In Ancient Greek times it served as a natural guard for the city of Olous; later it was used as a hide-out for Saracen pirates, turned into a fortress by the Venetians, and later settled by the Turks.  After your guided tour of the island, escape to the small sandy pirate bay of Kolokitha, where the boat will be anchored. Swim in the crystal clear waters, and then savor a delicious barbecue served on board. Later the boat returns to Elounda, where you take the bus to go to the picturesque town of Agios Nikolaos. Enjoy shopping, exploring and marveling at the bottomless lake there. At the tour's end, the bus will take you back to Heraklion area.

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Day Tour of Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda & Plaka

3. Day Tour of Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda & Plaka

Reach the cosmopolitan city of Agios Nikolaos on the Gulf of Mirabello, passing the north-east coast and St. George’s Gorge. Agios Nikolaos is famous for its picturesque bottomless lake, explored by the ocean researcher Jaques Cousteau and the subject of numerous legends. Discover the pretty city on your own, stroll through the shops, or relax in one of the cafes and watch the world go by. Continue to Elounda, enjoying some of the most beautiful views of Crete. Look across the Elounda Lagoon at the enchanting islands of Spinalonga and Kolokitha. Spinalonga has been an important place throughout history: for the ancient Greeks as natural protection for the city of Olous; for the Saracens as a hiding place for their pirates; for the Venetians as a fortress; for the Turks as a settlement; and for a long time the island served as a leper colony. At Spinalonga Island you can choose to join an English guided tour or explore the island by yourself. If you do not wish to visit the archaeological site at all, you can join a one-hour boat trip to a secret location with a surprise, and dive into the crystal clear water. After a short drive you will reach Plaka, a small fishing village directly opposite Spinalonga. From there a 10-minute boat ride takes you to the island. Plaka was the ferry port of the leper colony, whose history was documented in a book and a Greek television series. Visit the filming sites, enjoy lunch or have a refreshing swim. The last stop of the day is Elounda, a former fishing village but today a famous holiday resort with the most 5-star hotels in Greece. Take plenty of time to stroll through the picturesque harbor and have a cup of coffee before heading back to your accommodation.

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From Heraklion: Chania, Lake Kournas and Rethymno Tour

4. From Heraklion: Chania, Lake Kournas and Rethymno Tour

Depart Heraklion and journey west by coach to the stunning city of Chania. Learn about its Minoan history and see sights from different civilizations, including the Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian eras. Get a view of the lighthouse in the port, wander the narrow streets of the old town and enjoy some free time for lunch in the pretty harbor. Look for gifts and souvenirs in the famous agora (market) and more. Then, make your way to Lake Kournas and get back to nature in the lush green hills. Keep a look out for rare birds and marine life, including eels and turtles. Go for a swim or take an early afternoon walk in the protected wetlands. Drive back towards Heraklion and stop in the city of Rethymno along the way. Wander the enchanting alleys of the old town, see the domes and minarets of the Ottoman-era mosques and marvel at the 16th-century Venetian fortress.

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Heraklion: Food Tastings Walking Tour

5. Heraklion: Food Tastings Walking Tour

Get an introduction to the best food that Heraklion has to offer by treating your palate to traditional Cretan dishes and exceptional local wines! Go on an unforgettable tasty journey through Heraklion’s local neighbourhoods. After meeting your local guide, start off with a traditional Greek coffee also known as ellinikós kafés. Learn why Greeks love coffee and see it brewed the traditional way in sand and be taught “cup reading”, a centuries-old tradition that reads your future. Enjoy Heraklion’s well-known bougatsa in a family-owned business that has mastered its bougatsa technique since 1922. Consisting of semolina custard, cheese, or minced meat filling between layers of phyllo, bougatsa is a must-taste pastry that you shouldn’t miss while being in the city. Continue to a local market where you’ll meet the local vendors and learn about their products. Sample some of the basic elements of Cretan cuisine such as olives, rusks, and cheese. Become a cheese-tasting expert by receiving local hints and learn how to spot the best local cheeses. Taste the island’s famous olive oil and find out why organic Cretan olive oil is one of the best oils in the world. Sit down for a local organic meat dish or if you want to show yourself how brave you are, sample a dish that is loved by most Cretans: fried snails. Move on to your last stop and taste some local Cretan wines in a family-run shop. Keep in mind that winemaking in Crete has a long history that dates back to the Bronze Age. Before you go, don’t forget to ask your local guide for more tips on what else to see, do and eat during your stay.

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Rethymno: Private Cretan Food, Drinks & Sights Tour

6. Rethymno: Private Cretan Food, Drinks & Sights Tour

Explore Rethymno like a local, hearing stories, visiting classic sights, and tasting traditional Cretan food and drinks on a private guided tour. Start your tour with a freshly-brewed Greek coffee in a local kafeneion, or Greek café, mingling with locals and learning how conquerors from East and West influenced Crete's culinary diet. If you're feeling curious, find out what your future holds by reading your Greek coffee cup — a centuries-old tradition. Then, stroll through Rethymno's windy streets through Sabbionara to the cobblestone labyrinth of the old Ottoman district. You'll pass by impressive mansions with unique door frames and external decorations, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled. Learn about how the Venetians also conquered the city, and as you walk along you'll discover the different layers of the city's rich history. See mosques, Catholic churches, and temples dotted around the city's streets, and on your way, visit local craftspeople as they work in their workshops. Next, get familiar with the secrets of the famous Cretan diet by sampling local nibbles, including the traditional sesame break ring called koulouri, local fresh cheese, olives, and Cretan olive oil — which is considered as one of the best in the world. Continue your tour through hidden back alleys of the old city, snapping photos of the picturesque districts and authentic life. Visit a secret garden neatly tucked in the center of the Old Town, your final stop, where you'll take part in a unique wine tasting of local, award-winning wines. You'll discover that vine cultivation and wine production in Crete dates as far back as 1,600 B.C.

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Cretan South Coast: Private Adventure Tour

7. Cretan South Coast: Private Adventure Tour

Get out of town and venture off the beaten path to the southern coast of Crete. You’ll meet your guide and begin your Chania tour by taking a private vehicle towards a local village, away from the usual tourist areas. Upon reaching the small sleepy village by sea, you will start your adventure with a light organic breakfast with local products. Then, you will kick off your walk to the ancient city of Lissos. After an easy trail in the shaded palm trees, you can walk up a hill that boasts amazing views of the gorge beneath and the sea in the distance. Where the rocks meet the sea, you will find the ruins of the ancient Asclepieion (a healing temple dedicated to god Asclepius) built in the 3rd century B.C. This walk is fairly easy and along a trail. It will take about 90 minutes (including stops), with elevations of 250m upwards and almost 400m down. Once you reach the historic city of Lissos, you will have an hour to walk amongst the ruins and drink from the gushing healing spring water at the foundation of the Asclepieion - the reason Lissos was so famous in the ancient world. Then, we will embark on a fishing boat from the small peddled beach to continue your exploration of the south coast. In half an hour you will arrive at a sandy beach with fine pebbles. You have two hours to dive into the crystal clear waters or relax under the sun with some fresh fruit. Next stop is a quaint remote village where you’ll enjoy a 3-course farm-to-table local menu with local wine. In the evening, before you depart for Chania, you can independently explore the promenade, as well as the streets in the coastal town of Paleochora. By the end of the day, you will have explored a unique and unspoiled region in Crete away from the usual tourist spots.

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Rethymno: Gourmet Walking Tour by Night

8. Rethymno: Gourmet Walking Tour by Night

With a local by your side, wander around the old town of Rethymnon and discover the unique culinary treasures of the region. During this four-hour Cretan private walking tour, you’ll be introduced to the best flavors, tastes, and wines that Rethymnon has to offer. Start by meandering along alleys and back streets of Rethymnon’s oldest neighborhoods, while listening to “spicy” local stories and food traditions. Before kicking off your culinary delights, stop at a local kafenion for freshly brewed Greek coffee. Learn about coffee tradition in Greece as you see it brewed the traditional way on sand. Continue through the labyrinth streets of the old town. Visit a 100-year-old bakery where you’ll sample yummy Kalitsounia, filled with cheese and spinach, fennel, or wild local greens. Stop at one of Rethymnon’s most unique cellars where you’ll participate in an exceptional wine and food tasting session presented by a qualified sommelier. Learn all about Cretan viticulture and local wines while sampling red, white, rosé, and dessert wines, all accompanied by delicious food plates. Sweeten your palate by visiting a local sweets shop famous for its fresh sweet delights that are produced from local, organic ingredients. Have you ever tasted baklava with ice cream on top, made from a local-farm sheep’s milk? Quench your thirst by heading to a local art venue instead of a tavern. Sample some locally brewed beer paired with a local meze and chat with the artist finding out how Cretan land and soul never fail to inspire artistic hearts. Finally, visit a hidden spot for a glass of an exclusively-for-you signature cocktail, based on liquid royalty, raki, the grape-based spirit of Crete. Before you go, your guide will be more than happy to make recommendations for what else you can do on the island.

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Chania: Private Wine, Food and Art Adventure Tour

9. Chania: Private Wine, Food and Art Adventure Tour

You will start your experience by visiting Dourakis winery in the Apokoronas region of Chania, where you will enjoy five wines. Whilst here you can explore the Dourakis wine cellar as well as their beautiful gardens, as you learn all about about wine making. Your next stop will be the nearby village of Paidochori, to which you will enjoy a beautiful and picturesque drive to meet a renowned Greek ceramist and artist. This local artist will exclusively open his home and atelier for you, displaying the famous Greek hospitality. You will enjoy a small tour of the beautifully renovated village home and his artwork to work up your appetite, before you sit down to enjoy a meze lunch and wine pairing of five wines from indigenous Cretan grape varieties. Each wine will be from a different winemaker and wine region from the island of Crete.

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Chania: Sightseeing & Tastings Tour

10. Chania: Sightseeing & Tastings Tour

Find what makes Crete’s cultural capital so marvelous. Explore some of the Old Town’s best sights, while discovering the lesser-known Ottoman and Jewish quarters. Get ready to experience Chania with all your senses! Begin at the Dimotiki Agora (Municipal Market), which denotes the old and new town boundary. Sample local delicacies while exploring the market and find out why Crete is home to one of the healthiest diets in the world. After fulfilling your taste buds, stroll around the old town district by passing through its maze of hidden back streets and narrow laneways, visiting Venetian and Ottoman monuments, and discovering doors to secret gardens. Hear stories, myths, and legends about kings, sailors, merchants, heroes, lovers, and artists. Figure out how this city has been a crossroad between the West and East for centuries. Next, you’ll have the unique chance to see local craftsmen producing their handmade products. Hear their stories, and possibly test your skills. Meander through the old Jewish and Ottoman neighborhoods and learn how multiculturalism has changed locals’ life through the centuries. Finally, after walking along the historic harbors' promenade, relax your muscles in a local-favorite spot where you’ll enjoy an enticing table with Cretan Mezedes (local tapas). End the tour here and continue your own exploration through the city or head back to the starting point. Before parting ways, don’t forget to ask your local guide for more hints and tips on how to get the best of your trip in Chania.

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What people are saying about Crete

Our guide,Joanna made the trip for us, she really was fabulous She made the site come alive and helped us to envisage it as it was at its peak. But also she put it into a social and anthropological context. Very thought provoking and engaging throughout. Highly recommend!

Knossos was amazing, and our guide brought to life the history inside the myths! I had previous knowledge about both the Minoan civilization and general Greek mythology, but our tour taught me a surprising amount! This is a testament to the quality of our guide!

I can't imagine visiting Knossos without a guide to help bring it to life. My guide was waiting for me at the entrance with my name on a sign - couldn't have been simpler! Worth the extra money to get the most out of this incredible place.

Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. She made the experience so enjoyable and gave us insights into not just history but the mythology and facts behind the myths. Awesome!!

Quality excursion, value for money and impeccable organization.